Outdoors: Down with the fluff chuckers?

By: By J.D. Richey, columnist
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“I hate fluff chuckers,” a buddy once said to me as we floated past a couple guys who were minding their own business, fly fishing for steelhead on the Trinity River.

He seemed genuinely angry and I asked him what the source of his loathing was.

“Those stinkin’ flea flickers are just a bunch of pompous S.O.B’s,” was the reply. “They think their way is the only way.”

It wasn’t the first time I’d heard such sentiments. In fact, I hear similar stuff all the time – enough, in fact to make me wonder what the heck happened to the fly fishing. Somehow along the way, fly fishing has been tagged with elitist, holier-than-thou stigma and it’s a shame – a shame because it’s a great sport and most fly anglers are just normal folks who like to have a nice day on the water.

I’m not sure where the “all fly guys have attitudes” feelings originated, but my guess is it started with some of the fly shops. I’ve walked into more than a few fly fishing stores over the years and had the ultra-snobby employees make me feel like I was nothing more than an ignorant pile of steaming cow dung. Those kind of experiences certainly don’t help the sport’s image.

I’ve also encountered the guys who will only fish dry flies because “anything else just isn’t fishing.” And then there are the fly casters who won’t “lower themselves” to fish bead head nymphs or use indicators. On many occasions, I’ve had guys with the long rod look down their noses at me while I was baiting up a hook with nightcrawlers or roe.

I once guided a famous fly fishing writer on the Yuba River in the fall. We caught a couple fish on leeches in the morning but the dry fly bite I had told him all about didn’t materialize by noon like it had the day before. So, I found a pod of spawning salmon and switched to a Glo Bug and immediately started catching rainbows. The writer dude wouldn’t change flies and continued unsuccessfully with his leeches while I hammered trout with the egg patterns.

The dry fly bite finally came on and we ended up catching a bunch of fish on Stimulators in the afternoon. At the end of the day, he told me that he was sure glad that the surface action picked up because he didn’t have it in him to fish with eggs.

I feel that that kind of attitude has really helped take fly fishing in the wrong direction. To me, the essence of the sport is to figure out where the fish are holding and what they have on the menu on a given day and then best “match the hatch.” When the grasshoppers didn’t come out on the Yuba that afternoon, I went to Plan B and found that the fish were eating eggs. A quick change of flies and bingo…fish on. I had the hatch matched perfectly but I guess since an egg is an egg and not an insect, it didn’t count as fly fishing in that writer’s eyes.

I don’t know, that kind of stuff just seems weird to me. Isn’t the whole point of the deal to go out on the water, have a nice day and maybe hook a few fish in the process? Who cares what you’re using!

While it may seem like fly anglers are all snobs, I’m here to tell you that that’s simply not the case.

Unfortunately, those discriminatory “fluff chuckers” seem to make their presence very well known. But for every elitist in the fly fishing ranks, there are a million other enthusiasts who simply enjoy the sport and have no attitude at all.

Don’t let that the handful of bad seeds ruin your image of this great angling pastime!