Every season something comes along to remind me how long I’ve been doing this thing called fly fishing. Usually it’s something so old that it’s new again. The most recent case is a technique for tying a Humpy demonstrated by Charlie Craven in his new book “Charlie Craven’s Basic Fly Tying” published this year. The book is a good one and it’s packed with tips and techniques that make fly tying easier.
However, when it comes to the Humpy Charlie wrote “ I have come up with my own version of the Humpy, cobbled together from a variety of different tiers’ techniques.” I have no doubt that Charlie believes his “cobbled together” technique is new but the first time I saw a Humpy tied that way was in a book written by Jack Dennis called “Jack Dennis’ Western Trout Fly Tying Manual.” Jack’s book was published in 1974.
There are many similar examples in both fly fishing and fly tying. Soft hackled wet flies like the Partridge and Orange almost died away but today are a fast growing segment of most fly fisherman’s fly selection. Fly Rods also are going retro. If memory serves me it was just last season that almost every fly fishing magazine sported an article about fiberglass and bamboo rods making a rebound
On February 6th, right here in little old Fairfield, Maine there will be a bamboo rod gathering called Superboo. Superboo is an annual event celebrating it’s 7th year and each year people visit to “re-discover” bamboo.
They haven’t showed up yet but I’m expecting we’ll soon see reels as a sub-category at Superboo. Why? Well, because click and pawl reels are also on the rebound. People are realizing drags are dangerous when using light tippets because it’s just too easy to use more drag than you should.
Early on people realized that fly reels needed a devise to stop free-spooling and prevent backlash and the click and pawl system did just that. Since then drags have become progressively stronger and disc drags have become the norm. Disc drags strong enough to break tippet. So what do you do if you’re breaking fish off because of too much drag?
You try to remember to set your drag light enough to protect your tippet and think “the next reel I buy will be a click and pawl” so you won’t have to remember. Of course that train of thought jumps the track the next time you hook into a bigger fish and need that drag. I can tell you Jeremy was happy for a good smooth drag when he was fighting the landlocked salmon he’s holding in this picture.
Fly line tapers are another segment of fishing where old is new. When weight forward lines were introduced they were just as the name describes. All the weight was in the front of the line and names like “Rocket Taper” were apt.
Today’s weight-forward lines have morphed into a long front taper and they provide a delicate presentation. Much like Double Tapers. So much so that the front taper on most weight-forward lines is the same as that found on a double taper.
So have the Rocket Tapers gone away? Nope. Rocket Tapers faded out but came back but today we call them “integrated shooting heads.” Yeah, Rocket Tapers are so old they’re new again
But I figure that’s all to the good. Fortunately as these ideas get recycled they are almost always improved upon in one fashion or another. Those new “integrated shooting heads” come with a new fly line coating that doesn’t have as much memory. The new “click and pawl” reels are fully machined instead of cast. The new tying techniques come to you illustrated in full color or better yet with a web address from which you can download a step-by-step video. Yep, it’s all to the good and the constant reinventing of our sport keeps things interesting and improves on what we had – bring on that new (old) idea – I’m ready for it.