John Juracek's blog

Allowing for serendipity

Sometimes it pays to ignore experience
Photo: John Juracek

I’m a firm believer that experience and knowledge play key roles in our angling success. They give us a leg up on, say, the rank beginner, whose experience and knowledge by definition are limited, shallow. But I also believe there are times when experience and knowledge can work against us, when they conspire to hamstring success instead of promulgate it.

An observation on the rod market

It's been said that history repeats itself
Photo: Charlie Morgan

“There has been a decided tendency in recent years toward rods which are stiffer and faster in action than those of the past.

To a great extent this is a good thing, as the rods of twenty or thirty years ago were apt to be too slow and soft. But as frequently is the case, a movement away from one tendency has swung too far in the opposite direction. With the advent of the stiffer rod, lines necessarily have had to be increased in weight.”

A question of beauty

Where does the beauty in a fly lie?
Tying a not-so-classic pattern by headlamp at night (photo: T.J. Orton).

For a couple seasons now, one of my fly shop co-workers, Bucky McCormick, has gone retrograde with his flies. He’s been tying and fishing classic patterns. By classic I mean older flies with some degree of historical significance, like the Quill Gordon, Brown Bivisible and Black-Nose Dace. Patterns that practically nobody fishes these days—if they’ve even heard of them at all—especially out here in Montana. (Last time I used one myself was in the early 1980s, gulper fishing on Hebgen Lake.

For the classics

Why is some of the best fly fishing writing disappearing?
Photo: John Juracek

For quite some years now, the classic books of fly fishing have been skating on thin ice. Very thin ice. Recently it appears—at least from where I stand—that the ice has finally given way. With luck a couple of classic titles may flounder for awhile, but the bulk of them seem to be plunging unceremoniously to depths from which only the most intrepid of future anglers might dredge them. Yes, the classics are pretty much gone. I’m taking it hard.

A different reason to improve

Catching more fish is a sound reason to become a better caster, but is it the only one?
Casting on the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park (photo: John Juracek).

When most fishermen decide to improve their fly casting skills, they generally share a similar rationale for doing so. Better casting, they reason, will make them better fishermen, which in turn will lead to their catching more fish. And in my experience as a teacher, this is exactly what happens. Better casters do catch more fish. So that’s a perfectly sound reason for wanting to improve. But is it the only one? Not for me. Not by a long shot. I’d like to offer up a different reason for improving—one rarely talked about these days—but which I believe is equally valid.

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