OK, before the elitist, Orvis-bedecked types get their feathers ruffled (or hackles up, to milk the pun), know this: I love fly fishing. I love the whistle of the line through the guides, the graceful loops, and the sight of a well-constructed streamer flicking under the surface with a more realistic action than any conventional lure can muster. Fly fishing is artful, old school, and, at times, unbridled fun. But it’s still a raging pain in the keester. If you haven’t fished in a while, your line comes off the reel like a Slinky. Backcasts collapse like a government-run program, and leaders mysteriously tie wind knots that would make a seamstress gasp. Fly line has an unnatural knack for snagging any obstruction it can, transforming even the most soulful of anglers into quivering, profane sub-humans. And when fishing from a skiff on a windy day, controlling your line is a tedious, character-building exercise. To compound matters, the flies themselves seem to crave human flesh. In fact, every longtime fly fisher I know has engaged in unintentional body piercing. I myself have a few such tales, including the time a buddy planted a heavy zonker deeply into my right ear. Fun.
Sure, you can point to less-than-epic fly fishing skills as the reason for my angst, and I wouldn’t disagree. I’ve spent far more time with spin rods and plugcasters, and I don’t pretend to be the next Lefty, or even the next Righty. But I’m, well, righty when I say fly fishing is a pain in the ass. A glorious, addictive, enchanting pain in the ass. If I can compare it to anything, it’s a stunningly beautiful, high-maintenance woman. You live for the next time you’ll see her, but in the morning light you find yourself thinking about that little country girl who laughed when you’d fart. If you know what I mean.