Hear me out on this one before you send the hate mail (when you do send hate mail, please make it attention Tim Romano…). We have so many classic “flies only, catch-and-release” waters in this country. And to me, that’s all good. It promotes fly fishing, it helps sustain the fish and the resource, and all of that. But you ultimately have to ask yourself if dragging nymphs through a run beneath a strike indicator is really fly fishing, really good for the resource, and ultimately really a good way to inspire fly anglers to push their limits, embrace the learning curve, understand entomology, and expand their horizons in this sport.


This post is prompted, in part, from a note I received from a fishing friend and industry insider who refers to strike indicators as “dude bobbers.” That’s exactly what they are. And beadhead nymphs, as much as I love them, are really effective because they essentially help an angler hit trout in the head with a morsel that looks somewhat appetizing. That isn’t “classic” (call it snobby if you want to) fly fishing. And streamer fishing is bass fishing for trout… let’s be perfectly honest about that.

So what if we took the bobbers and the beads (and streamers) out of the equation, on a trial basis, in certain stretches of classic trout water? Say, for example, Cheesman Canyon in Colorado. Or the “A Section” of the Green River in Utah. Or the West Branch of the Delaware. What if we tried that, just for grins?

Well, the first thing we’ll do is cut down on the foul-hooked, and lip-ripped trout mortality. The second thing that will happen is that the “production” fly guides will actually have to start thinking (and stop netting) for a living. And it might just inspire the everyday angler to jump on a learning curve that actually grows interest in the sport, grows product sales, and makes fly fishing an educational commitment. Is it ultimately about a photo op, or about a lifestyle and a passion?

I understand the need to make fly fishing accessible, and that success breeds interest and involvement. I really get that, trust me. And there should be many places where that happens. But have the bead and the bobber put our fly fishing brains on hold, and, in effect, stalled this sport to an intellectual (and growth) standstill?

I’d be willing to find out these answers, in select places. I’d sure like to see some trout heads popping more regularly on heavily- pressured waters, and I’m certainly not afraid to raise the bar, if only to separate the players from the pretenders.

What say you?