A Thought on Definitions in Fishing

Is a Clouser minnow a fly or a jig?

The pragmatist in me says that because it’s cast using fly line then it is a fly. The puritan in me says it’s presented the same as a jig and therefore isn’t necessarily a fly. If you tipped a nymph with a piece of a wiggler and let it drift downstream are you still flyfishing?

The nihilist in me says it doesn’t matter, while the existentialist in me says that’s correct and the only thing that matters is that it catches fish!

I guess I tend to be more of an existentialist than I’m willing to admit.

It seems as though the question, “but is that really fly fishing?” comes up more often than one might think.

Culturally, fly fishing might best be defined as delicately casting a small dry fly to a rising trout in a high-elevation mountain stream. It certainly isn’t casting weighted marabou to carp rooting in the mud flats.

Spiritually, though, I think fly fishing is a relatively primitive method of fishing. What’s more basic than feathers and fur on a hook, line, and rod? Yeah, there’s usually a reel involved, but it’s typically just a glorified line-holder. Even the cheaper spinning and closed-faced rod and reels are technically more technologically advanced than hand retrieving line with a fish on a hook.

The line between presentations and techniques isn’t distinct, which are the definitions, I guess, that we’re looking for. Cane pole fishing with crickets versus drifting nymphs under an indicator can be very similar. There is the live bait versus artificial lure factor so while the presentations maybe similar the techniques are absolutely different. We can all certainly agree that there’s a huge distinction in fly fishermen and cane pole fishermen.

I personally think that a Clouser is both, a fly that is jigged. It’s a blend of technique and presentation, which I think is fairly common in fly fishing — just ask those dirty nymph-ers.

It’s not always easy to delineate where the distinctions lie; however, definitions certainly do matter.

See, I’m no nihilist just a jig fisherman.


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