Upfront Notes

Upfront Notes

  • By: Greg Thomas
Greg Thomas

When I started fly-fishing I couldn’t see past trout and dry flies, and that cost me some good years when I could have carried a 12-weight in my hand and gone mano-a-mano with tarpon, sailfish and marlin. When I finally caved in to pressure and spent springs in the Florida Keys, my desires narrowed to this: I need two more lifetimes, and enough cash to buy an 18-foot Maverick and a 150-horsepower Yamaha.

Oregonian Scott Sadil feels the same way about large saltwater fish and a place where the best advice is eat or be eaten. This issue, Sadil details that piscivorous hierarchy and all possibilities to be found in Baja, Mexico. And he doesn’t mince words; if you want to think, go trout fishing, he suggests, and if you like to wrestle fish until your knees shake, head to Baja and throw flies from a panga.

Equipment has advanced to the point where some of us might take a shot at a great white shark slicing behind the boat in a chum slick, although Sadil notes that he could have done just that with an enormous hammerhead, but he “declined” the invitation.

Hammerheads? Great whites? Marlin and roosterfish? Have we lost it? Or are we just discovering the breadth of the fly-fishing world and all the possibilities it holds?

You don’t have to fish salt water to adopt modern techniques and tackle, because the trout game has changed, too. While mayfly, caddis and terrestrial hatches still offer quintessential angling experiences, a lot of us are prone to banging the banks with a new wave of streamers that mimic freshwater baitfish in color and, especially, movement. I dragged a box full of those flies around southwest Montana last spring, looking for fish that were too big to bother with bugs. And the results were valid: three- to five-pound browns and rainbows that many anglers may not even believe exist.

The thing is, just when I’m about to stand on a podium and preach the modern method, along comes a newfound resurrection in tenkara, the ancient minimalist approach to fly-fishing that John Gierach details in this issue. When it comes down to it, I’m glad we have so many ways to catch fish, and that we have such varied waters and species to experience. And I’m glad that we can share such a broad mix, and all aspects of a big angling world, in the pages of Fly Rod & Reel.

– Greg Thomas

Fly Rod & Reel saw major change in late December, when Joe Healy resigned as associate publisher and took the role of director of marketing and communications at St. Johnsbury Academy, a private school in Vermont. During his three-year tenure Healy brought a fresh, smart vibe to our pages. From HQ in Maine and the remote office in Ennis, Mont., we wish Healy and his family continued success.