A new generation discovers fly fishing – and finds in it the long-awaited connection to Nature (and to a whole world more beautiful Gadgets).
Eyes on the run, bar down, roll in line – now! And missed. A lightning fast bite, our first chance after just over four hours. We can almost hear the beast laughing.
Fly fishing has only a limited connection with catching fish, this must be understood and internalized, especially if you go home without a catch after a day on the river under “ideal conditions”, as our guide assures us. The trout is fast and moody and much smarter than people think. She sees through inexperienced beginners right away, and sometimes she just does not feel like it.
Fly fishing is a sport for everyone
Fly fishing was once a local thing and was simply used for food by those who lived along the river. Then people started traveling farther and farther to find the perfect place and spend significant sums on better and better equipment. Fly fishing is often considered an elite sport for busy people from Barack Obama to Emma Watson. But in fact in North America or Scandinavia it is a sport for everyone, from redneck up to the president, and here in the country, more and more people are getting a taste for it. People who are drawn out and looking for ways to bring themselves into a self-absorbed, totally focused state of mind. Because otherwise fly fishing is simply not possible, says JP Vollrath.
Jean-Pierre Vollrath, known as JP, has been fishing for half a century. As a child at the streams around Oberammergau – sometimes, he says, his bare hand was enough. At that time, an uncle took him on a fishing trip on Ammeren, and if the fish would not bite, we got mushrooms in the evening. After studying forestry, he worked as an outdoor photojournalist and lived in Canada for five years, learning what fly fishing means from the real cracks on the Yukon. Then he came back and founded the fly fishing school in Upper Bavaria in his hometown 20 years ago. Above all, people come to him who want to put down their mobile phones for a moment and forget about everyday life, who allow themselves to be swallowed up by a rhythm that is not set by themselves, but by the place where they are. You have to learn to read the water, you have to observe insects and study plants that can almost have a spiritual quality, because you learn a lot about yourself in the process.
philosophy and technology
“There was no clear division between religion and fly fishing in our family,” begins Norman Maclean in his autobiographical novel, Down Below Runs a River, whose adaptation flung the fishing industry, the state of Montana, and a young actor named Brad Pitt into overnight stars. Even though the latter himself had doubled in the famous “Shadow Throw” by Jason Borger, a legend in the scene. It’s not hard to get into the sport, but to refine it, where you can cultivate your whole life and yet never finish it, is. Fly fishing requires experience and a certain mindset, but also complex technique. A good cast is worth at least as much as a caught fish, and it takes a long time to master it.
JP Vollrath is a quiet guy and one with infinite patience; Patience that he may well need on this day. But, he comforts us, most fly fishermen still do not look for dinner, but for foreplay and the exercise that follows the bite. Barbs are given and most will carefully release the defeated fish where it is allowed. Even though it does not have such a good image in Germany; hunting without prey as a sport sounds reprehensible to some, but for Anglo-Saxons it is a matter of course. In return, the serious fly fisherman reciprocates with respect and a deep interest in the ecosystem that serves as a playground. Fly fishing does not need leveled slopes, and it does not do much with straightened rivers. On the other hand, Vollrath can tell you a lot about bank vegetation and water quality, about spawning habits and all the other components of an extremely fragile ecosystem. Those who love fishing also care about its conservation.