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I love Kirk Deeter like a brother, but I’m afraid he has lost his mind.

Im his recent article, “Is It Time For Bobber-Free Water?” Kirk calls for a ban on strike indicators on some trout rivers. I can’t help but respond to this idea, partially because Kirk has intentionally hung a target around his neck, and in the hope that reason will carry the day and maybe my friend will get some much needed psychiatric help! So let’s have some fun.

If you have not read Kirk’s article, I suggest you read it now. – “Is It Time For Bobber-Free Water?”

Kirk, buddy, I’ve read your manifesto a couple of times and I think you need to come down out of the clock tower before someone gets hurt.

The assertion in this article is that, strike indicators ruin the water for dry fly anglers. That somehow nymph fishermen are cheating and that fishing an indicator is not real fly fishing and guides who allow their clients to use indicators are irresponsible. Kirk goes on to suggest that anglers who practice the “art” of dry fly fishing, the anglers he calls, “the most dedicated,” should enforce a “code of conduct” under which anglers using indicators would be second class citizens relegated to fishing poor water and conditions. A code which would establish a formal class system where guides and guided anglers would have to fish dry flies and bobbers would be reserved for lowly DIY anglers and beginners. Maybe Deeter himself will administer some kind of test to determine which flies, tactics and water anglers may fish according to merit.

Deeter goes on to malign “neophyte guides” and “newbies” for turning the grand old sport of fly fishing into a “numbers game” that’s all about “how many more than how.” and “about what more than why.” He even goes so far as to blame the decline of fishing on the Missouri over the last fifteen years on “the Bobber.” He suggests that indicator anglers are killing fish disproportionately, while he seems to feel it’s ok to target fish on redds as long as you use a dry fly.

trout-fishing-a-days-catch-big-lagoon-1908-photo-print-4Tell me Kirk, have you ever looked at the old B&W photos of our proud forefathers, holding their expansive stringers of huge trout? Why do you suppose fish limits were created in the first place? If nymphs and bobbers are the recent inventions of neophyte guides and their newbie clients, how were those old fellows in the photos killing all of those fish? Harpoons? Or perhaps dry flies?

Today’s bobber-lobbing fly anglers are the same ones you’ll see on Facebook holding their fish in the water, not by the gills or on Twitter, rallying to fight the Pebble Mine. They are, in larger numbers than ever before, women and teenagers, environmentalists and activists. Even when they are a “twenty-something guy with a beard and a trucker hat” they are breathing new life into fly fishing. It was the old guard, the Thurston Howell III crowd and their elitist, private club ethics that almost killed fly fishing. Not the bobber.

Deeter’s argument simply doesn’t hold water.

“I’m 100 percent convinced that in some rivers trout only eat tiny nymph patterns because they are bombarded with nymphs all day, every day. Give them a break, and I’m sure they’ll readjust to eating dry flies,” he argues. Come on Kirk? I know you’re smarter than this. Fish are only eating nymphs because they see so many nymphs? That makes no sense at all. If everyone else is fishing nymphs, shouldn’t that make your dry flies that much more appealing?

The truth is very simple. Fish eat tiny nymphs because actual tiny nymphs are their natural food source. It’s called matching the hatch, except that in this case, there is no hatch and you are artfully presenting your dry flies to nothing. Fly fishing is about understanding the fish and outwitting them. I’m sorry but the fish don’t know that they should only eat dry flies offered by gentlemen anglers in proper fishing hats. If you’re not catching fish on dry flies, don’t blame the guy who understands why.

Like everything, fly fishing evolves.

It has evolved from a single dimensional game where the angler has a single tool in his bag to one where we choose from a myriad of techniques, and adapt to conditions and use a bit of our own ingenuity to overcome the challenges and catch an educated fish. That’s the game. Not pin the tail on the trout, where we continue to employ the same old tactics and expect a different result.

The funny thing is that I’m not really a big bobber fisherman. I don’t even think it’s the most effective way to fish nymphs. I use them from time to time, when appropriate, but it’s not my first choice. Neither are dry flies, unless I have reason to believe that’s the ticket. I just don’t think it makes any sense to tell other anglers how they can or should fish, any more than it makes sense to tell a fish what it should eat. And I think the idea that fishing an indicator somehow spoils the water for “better” anglers is simply absurd.

Let’s be honest. Fish do not know what strike indicators are.

If they are not eating your fly, it isn’t because they know what you’re up to. It’s because you are not adequately imitating their food source. They aren’t refusing your fly because someone else is “cheating” but because you aren’t on your game. Take responsibility for your own angling failures and leave other anglers out of it.

No, it’s not cool for a guide to row into water you are fishing and have his clients fish over you. That’s poor etiquette but it has nothing to do with bobbers or nymphs or how many fish anyone is catching. It’s simply being an *******. Just like trying to tell another angler how he can fish. If we are going to “actually teach people something,” maybe it should be respect for each other. That would include respecting their space as well as their approach.

Deeter says he has nothing against bobbers.

At first read, this is hard to justify. He seems to have quite a bit against them, but after reading a couple of times I agree. He doesn’t have anything against bobbers, but he seems to have something against the anglers who use them. In fact, there seems to be quite a bit of distain in the rhetoric of this piece of writing. Enough to make me wonder if the bobber is actually what has Kirk so steamed.

DSC_7140Tell me old friend, what’s the real problem? Is it that strike indicators are just too effective? Is it that they are catching all the fish who might eat your dry fly? Is it that these young guides just don’t understand how difficult fly fishing really is? Is it that we are all just taking the easy way out? Or is it something else? Is it that fly fishing is moving on without you? Is it that you and your buddies at the Harriman Ranch just aren’t relevant any longer? Is it that these bearded whippersnappers with their flat brimmed hats, who by the way read Trout Magazine and Fly Talk and therefore pay your salary, just have no respect for their elders?

Come on buddy. I know you’re better than this. Don’t sit in that quiet eddy and let the world pass you by. Maybe it’s time to forget about tradition for a while and try something new? Actually learn something new about fly fishing. Maybe you need to take a year and fish a car key. Remember what William Boroughs said. “Evolutionally speaking the only way we can’t go is back.” If you don’t like the way fly fishing is headed, then use all of your vast experience and fishy instinct to come up with something better. Don’t just say the rest of us are cheating.

You’re right. Something does have to give. You. You have to give up this one-man war on the bobber. It takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong, and you are as big a man as I know.

I can't believe I spent the time doing all this...we'll see if it sticks
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