IGFA...Irrelevant Game Fishing Association?

IGFA...Irrelevant Game Fishing Association?

Tracy&James | Thursday, 21 December 2017

Ok, perhaps irrelevant is a little harsh and I’m sure that IGFA do a lot of notable work, but their records list is, in my opinion, a relic of past times when attitudes and behaviours were different. To me an IGFA record is synonymous with the ‘hero’ photo of an angler on a sun scorched wooden dock, a once beautiful big fish strung up by the tail, dripping blood and desiccating in the heat, next to it - a chalk board declaring the name, weight and tippet class etc. The ultimate prize for killing the fish? – the angler gets their name on a list, alongside all the others who have also caught a big fish but on a different tippet.

This must be a very significant document for the IGFA disciples, however as far as I’m concerned my weekly shopping list holds more importance. I wonder how many fish have met their end as a result of anglers targeting a mention (e.g. page 8 of the 2004 edition, about three quarters of the way down, do you see it)? For every ‘record’ fish there must be dozens weighed in that don’t quite make the grade, how does that go – “just sling it over there for the bull sharks, we’ll go and try again but this time with a lighter tippet”?

In my 35 years plus as a fly angler I’ve met a lot of fellow fishers from all over the world, more so in recent times with the advent of the internet, and in that time my perception of the level of interest, amongst the fly fishing community, in IGFA records is that it’s virtually nil – can you name a single one? I know I can’t.

However, I’m clearly not talking to the right people as a recent FB conversation started by Bernd highlighted that, for some, IGFA is God’s word on all things fly fishing.  The most evangelical of whom made the point of quoting ancient scriptures:  

God: “…Moses, one more thing before you go, number eleven – IGFA maketh the rules for fly fishing”

Moses: “ok, sounds good – I’ll go and tell my people”

God: “I was thinking about putting something in about spin fishers too”

Moses: “hmm...go on”

God: “something like; twelve – spin fishers shall burn in hell for all of eternity”

Moses: “sounds a bit harsh, the Israelites love cranking a Toby lure”

God: “you’re probably right, but the IGFA commandment stands”.

Ok, I made that bit up, but comments such as “If you’re fishing 20lb plus tippet then you’re not fly fishing”; “You void your warranty (referring to the rod) if you fish a 20lb leader”, “You’ve never caught a legit fish” and “IGFA does make the rules for fly fishing” implies an almost cult-like following.  There’s also an underlying message that fly fishing is a sport in which we must compete to land the biggest fish on the lightest tippet.  If that means hooking it and then running it down in a motor boat in order to touch the leader and then snap it off, then so be it.  Fist pumps and ‘yeehahs’ all round and on to the next one.  If you’re not competing then apparently you’ve no reason to be out fishing, so ‘get off my boat and come back when you’ve got the correct attitude’! 

Out of interest I downloaded the IGFA fly fishing ‘rules’.  If you use a rod of less than 6ft in length then you’re not fly fishing.  If you use two or more flies then you’re not fly fishing.  If the distance between the rod butt and the centre of the reel is more than 6 inches then you’re not fly fishing.  If your leader is over 30ft in length then you’re not fly fishing.  If you strip more than 120ft of line prior to casting then, guess what? – yep, you’re not fly fishing.  

So let’s get this straight, IGFA makes the rules (and silly ones at that) for the IGFA ‘club’ only, for everyone else, and that’s the vast majority of fly anglers, it’s totally inconsequential. To say fishing non-IGFA compliant outfits is not fly fishing is simply ridiculous.  You make your own rules and bollocks to anyone who tells you otherwise.

As a parting shot, none of the photos are mine – they came from Googling ‘IGFA fish’.  If you needed proof that the association has an image problem then here it is.

Have a great Xmas break if you’re taking one,