Matt Klara | Sunday, 25 March 2018
A race or species of fish evolves and adapts to its unique environment over time, isolated geologically from other populations, becoming ideally suited to its habitat through natural selection or learned behaviors.
Fly anglers, their tackle and techniques, also tend to evolve and become adapted to the unique environments in which they spend most of their time. Before the internet, anglers were far more geographically isolated than they are today. Techniques, tackle, flies, and ethics developed separately, over time, with minimal influence from outside sources. Geographic isolation allowed for the evolution of fantastically diverse fish species, as well as diverse angling methods, tackle, and traditions.
Don't believe it? Just look on the Sexyloops board. Nearly every thread about techniques or tackle has some regional influence. Like a post on the best lines to use for fishing streamers. I voted for a super dense, but short sink tip because that meets the demands of pocket water bank bashing on my favorite fisheries in Montana. Rich likes a longer, Teeny-style line for keeping the fly deep longer on broader drifts on the Midwest fisheries. My friends that fish the Bocas in Argentina use longer, full sinking heads with thin mono running lines to meet the extreme distance casting and deep presentations requirements of those unique fisheries.
It's these regional influences on both fish and fishing that really get me excited. Ever caught a golden trout? A golden mahseer? A golden dorado? You need to travel to the ends of the earth to experience the fantastic biodiversity in fish. But now, thanks to the internet, all you need to do to learn about the diverse techniques that have evolved on unique fisheries all over the world is log on to Sexyloops.
It's very exciting too. Imagine if we all just fished the same flies for the same fish. Not much to talk about there. We all are fortunate to live and fish in a time that unlike any time before or after, is defined by an incredible transfer of all the unique and diverse angling knowledge and traditions that have developed in relative isolation before the existence of the internet.
So, is the internet destroying the diversity of anglers the same way that stocking non-native fish has destroyed biodiversity in some areas? Maybe. I hope not. Until we've bulldozed every river in the world into an armored trapezoidal channel, and filled every lake with water that supports the same insects, our techniques will still need to be modified to match the local environment. Techniques may be developed with less isolation between anglers, but the unique waters and fisheries are still the driving force of evolution (no matter what the tackle manufacturers think).
What's next? I can envision a time when anglers intentionally isolate themselves from the internet literature in order to develop more creative methods outside of the influence of global angling communities. In some ways, it's very exciting to explore and discover on your own. I find myself doing that on occasion already, but I also love to adapt methods I learn from talking to other anglers (including bait anglers and gear anglers).
A last word. It's very easy to get caught up in petty arguments about who knows the most and who is using the right flies and lines and rods. This is certainly the wrong thing to do. What is important, is that we all try to describe the angling situations, the unique rivers, fisheries, and conditions, that influence the tackle and techniques that we all share here in Loops. That way, we can all learn, and maybe adapt those diverse angling methods and traditions to our own fisheries.
Take Care and Fish On,
PS – I actually wrote this piece for the FP ten years ago – March 2008. I recently rediscovered it and felt that it was still relevant. The internet has exploded even more since 2008. Social media has become a primary driver of information transfer. For better or for worse, we may be getting less diverse as a result. But, I still think how I did back in 2008. And I still do all I can at times to shelter myself and think differently and without influence, in hopes of evolving my own angling.