Flyfishermen are an introspective bunch, tending to philosophize a little more than our other fishing brethren. We like to catch big fish and high five about it, but we also like to talk about WHY we fish. I figure that is mostly because it's something we ask ourselves often as we are picking another tangle out, or standing waist deep in frigid and/or shark infested water.
That being said, there are also physical and mental attributes that make a fly fisherman respected among his peers. A few days ago I read a post on Chi Wulff where a list of "reasonable fly fisher skills" for his area was laid out. I thought it was well done and it got me to thinking about what would pass for a good list in my area. Saltwater fly fishers have to deal with a different set of obstacles than coldwater fisherman, arguably separate but equal.
At any rate, I started thinking about what made a respectable salty fly guy/gal, and started asking a few of my more crusty friends for some input. Some were more tongue-in-cheek than others. This is a shortened list of what we came up with
- Tell by looking out at the roadside palm trees in the glow of the streetlight roughly how fast the wind is blowing.
- Be able to tell the difference between the wake pushed by a mullet and that of a redfish or black drum.
- Know that terns always lie, but gulls can lead you to treasure.
- Be able to filter the sounds of jumping mullet from the sounds of bait being crashed.
- Fully load the vehicle and have kayak strapped on top, in the dark, in ten minutes.
- Spot a tailing redfish from over two hundred yards on a good day, from over 50 on a bad one.
- Knows where the most sheltered spots are to get away from the wind, but generally only fishes those on days over 20kts.
- Must be able to two-handed strip at warp speed to trigger mackerel and other pelagic species.
- Must be as comfortable laying in a back cast as a forward cast on target.
- Be able to maintain relative composure as a fish bigger than your duck dog approaches your fly.
- Not locking up when a red/bone/permit/tarpon suddenly appears less than 30' from the boat.
- Effectively pole a boat with and into the wind all day, positioning the caster for best shot on fish.
- Know how to interpret tide chart and mentally calculate the difference in water movement for local area you plan to fish.
- Navigate labyrinth marsh and marl while neither running aground or putting others in danger.
- Be able to wade with ninja-like stealth while avoiding the mine field of oyster shell and stingrays.
- Turn over a fly at 60' into a 20kt wind.
- Cannot drive by hobby stores without wondering if they might have gotten any new foam or tinsel in...
- Willing to endure withering wind and endless staring at empty water to hook the silver king from the granite of the jetty.