Man Against Nature, Man With Nature
“If fishing is like religion, then fly fishing is high church.” -Tom Brokaw
The contest begins with a plan. The warrior angler chooses his adversary and readies his weapons. The battlefield is named as he marches towards victory with a quiver full of specifically chosen flies, and perhaps the most important tool of all, patience. The day is long, but there is no regret; a bad day fishing outshines a good day of work.
In its purest essence, fly fishing is less about catching fish, and more about connecting with nature. Its quality lies within the journey—a creekside hike, a river wade, a riparian battle—rather than the quantitative outcome of fish caught. As pole fishing’s technically-advanced younger sibling, fly fishing requires a learned skill that takes a lifetime to master.
“For me it is more up close, personal and athletic,” explains Mike Phillips, owner and outfitter of Slack Line Fishing. “It’s about the process, not the quantity of fish but the quality of the fishing experience.”
A quick glance at Central Oregon’s landscape reveals endless waterways home to trout and steelhead of all sizes. Hundreds of fishable waters are split between the Deschutes, Metolius, Crooked and Fall Rivers, along with dozens of lakes and reservoirs. Correctly-named one of “The Best Fishing Towns in America” by Field and Stream magazine, Bend has gained international recognition for water-based playgrounds.
The art of fly fishing uses hand-tied “flies”—or lures—that are made to resemble natural invertebrates, baitfish, or other food organisms. The artificial flies are created by fastening hair, fur, or other materials to a hook. Each fish and locale require a different fly, depending upon what the fish eat. The fly is cast using a fly rod, reel and weighted line. As opposed to spin or bait fishing, the weight of the fly line caries the hook through the air and gently drops it on the water’s surface. With so many variations according to each environment, expert fly fishermen spend a lifetime honing their skills.
“It’s important to master your casting, wading, and water reading skills,” says Phillips, who has guided hundreds of eager clients on the Lower Deschutes River. “Learn to present natural presentations to the fish, and to sight and stalk the fish.”