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Coarse fish

There was once a time in the history of our sport when most considered that angling for anything other than trout or salmon on a fly was simply indecent and reprehensible. All other species of fish were considered “coarse”, and this can be probably be traced to the earliest traditions of fly-fishing in England. Historically, there were three types of fishing: coarse, sea, and trout or salmon and these three classes of fishing had their participating social and economic counterparts. The lower classes fished for coarse fish with bait, the middle classes angled with hardware by the sea, and the aristocratic class fly fished for both trout and salmon in the Highlands.

 In North America, up until only a few decades ago, it was considered politically incorrect to fish for anything but a trout or salmon with a fly. Complete heresy to the puritans that dominated the sport, and at best, a dubious proposition.

 In many respects, the trout paradigm in fly-fishing retarded the sport for so many other species. It was only after the war that fly fishing broke away from convention and out-of-the-box thinking pioneers began targeting species such as bass and pike, or even using the long rod to target fish in the brine. Today it is not uncommon to fish for bass or even sailfish on a fly. It is all possible. Fortunately for us fly-fishing for many species is still in its infancy. Its final frontier remains the sea, which hold multitudes of new opportunities for those willing to break beyond conventional limitations and try new methods.

 Most other fish are also much easier to catch on a fly than a trout or salmon. In the dog days of summer when it is futile to go searching for trout, a nearby canal or irrigation channel can usually be counted on for roaming schools of willing crappies, pumpkinseeds, or bluegills, and sometimes even largemouth bass. With some of these fish technique can be a little lackluster, presentations somewhat questionable, and hatches can go unmatched, yet one can still get fish to rise. Under such circumstances, trout would often refuse to participate. This is not necessarily the case with some of the “lesser fish”. The funny thing about coarse fish is that nobody seemed to bother telling these fish that they were any less sporting than the salmonids. Try having that discussion with a thirty pound carp on the end of your line. Its argument is more than a little convincing.

 And given the fact that our waters harbor more coarse fish than any other fish, it would only seem natural to concentrate our efforts on these species of fish that are readily available at our back door, even though they lack the aristocratic pedigree of trout or salmon. Imagine the world of possibilities. Could trying to catch a sturgeon, paddlefish, or gar, for instance, on a fly be anything less challenging than raising an Atlantic salmon to your bomber? Imagine fighting a 60 lb. Alligator gar on a nine weight?

 As my laid-back Californian angling buddy Timo would say `Hey dude, that’s rude!“

 No, I correct him, it’s coarse`!

There was once a time in the history of our sport when most considered that angling for anything other than trout or salmon on a fly was simply indecent and reprehensible. All other species of fish were considered “coarse”, and this can be probably be traced to the earliest traditions of fly-fishing in England.

Historically, there were three types of fishing: coarse, sea, and trout or salmon and these three classes of fishing had their participating social and economic counterparts. The lower classes fished for coarse fish with bait, the middle classes angled with hardware by the sea, and the aristocratic class fly fished for both trout and salmon in the Highlands.

In North America, up until only a few decades ago, it was considered politically incorrect to fish for anything but a trout or salmon with a fly. Complete heresy to the puritans that dominated the sport, and at best, a dubious proposition.

In many respects, the trout paradigm in fly-fishing retarded the sport for so many other species. It was only after the war that fly fishing broke away from convention and out-of-the-box thinking pioneers began targeting species such as bass and pike, or even using the long rod to target fish in the brine. Today it is not uncommon to fish for bass or even sailfish on a fly. It is all possible.

Fortunately for us fly-fishing for many species is still in its infancy. Its final frontier remains the sea, which hold multitudes of new opportunities for those willing to break beyond conventional limitations and try new methods.

Most other fish are also much easier to catch on a fly than a trout or salmon. In the dog days of summer when it is futile to go searching for trout, a nearby canal or irrigation channel can usually be counted on for roaming schools of willing crappies, pumpkinseeds, or bluegills, and sometimes even largemouth bass.

With some of these fish technique can be a little lackluster, presentations somewhat questionable, and hatches can go unmatched, yet one can still get fish to rise. Under such circumstances, trout would often refuse to participate. This is not necessarily the case with some of the “lesser fish”.

The funny thing about coarse fish is that nobody seemed to bother telling these fish that they were any less sporting than the salmonids. Try having that discussion with a thirty pound carp on the end of your line. Its argument is more than a little convincing.

And given the fact that our waters harbor more coarse fish than any other fish, it would only seem natural to concentrate our efforts on these species of fish that are readily available at our back door, even though they lack the aristocratic pedigree of trout or salmon. Imagine the world of possibilities. Could trying to catch a sturgeon, paddlefish, or gar, for instance, on a fly be anything less challenging than raising an Atlantic salmon to your bomber? Imagine fighting a 60 lb. Alligator gar on a nine weight?

As my laid-back Californian angling buddy Timo would say `Hey dude, that’s rude!“

No, I correct him, it’s coarse`!

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One Comment

  1. Posted March 15, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    interesting article and beautiful photograph.

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