Article by Steve Schmidt
As a seasoned angler whose adult life has revolved around fly fishing, I’ve witnessed our sport go through significant changes in materials, equipment and techniques. More than anything, the game has gotten easier over the years. Where we once had to learn to cast a fly rod, we now have products and techniques that limit the need for actual casting—the sport’s beautiful and defining skill. Now, it seems, we’re drifting away from what attracted us to fishing with flies in the first place: the challenge.
We’ve sacrificed the need to cast a fly rod and learn to fish with abbreviated ways to catch them. Granted, the object of fly fishing always has and will continue to be to catch fish. Yet these days, we are catching more than our fair share. Technology, techniques and an industry focused on attracting more participants have accepted shortcuts with little regard for the ramifications.
It’s a troubling conundrum. Our fishing skills diminish, yet we catch and show off more fish. At the same time, we’ve done little to recognize the impact of maximizing successes or to teach proper fish-release skills to protect fish—or even the value of those practices. Given the state of our fisheries and the growing number of new anglers, these should be priorities. I’ve had concerns about this for decades, and after another record year of heat, low water, river closures and declining runs, my concerns are even more so now.Read the rest of this article here.