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Thread: Is Flyfishing In Your Dna?

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Default Is Flyfishing In Your Dna?

    I poached this off FAOL. I thought it made good reading.

    By James Castwell


    I got to wondering a few days ago if fly fishing might be hereditary or not. My wife said at the dinner table where I brought it up, that I should go in right after dinner and write it up. I said I needed to gnaw on it a while yet. I wasn't sure of the question and darn well not the answer.

    Wouldn't it be funny if it was hereditary? Like red hair or brown eyes? Where a guy could marry a girl who likes to fly fish and the chances that the kid would like it would be great. We could even breed a specie of selective trout fisherman. We could get even or at least catch up with the evolution of the fish. They get more and more selective, well, we could get better and better.

    But alas, I fear I have gone over my hipper's again. In fact, I think perhaps even the opposite might be the case. I have seen many a gent try to successfully plant the fly fishing bug into an offspring only to be defeated at every bend. I wonder if there is some rapport with the outdoors which might be passed along though. If a person tries to instill a sense of stewardship in a child will he then at some time of his choosing, decide to become a fly fisherman?

    Notice I said become, become a fly fisherman. It is a state of mind, not a recreation. Not all who profess to angle with the fly are thus a fly-fisher. My point is it takes more than fishing with flies to be, or become a fly fisherman. It is a matter of choice. Of making a decision at some exact time on ones cycle of events where the status quo is not enough. The catching of fish of one sort or another with worms, lures or bait no longer excites. It no longer satisfies. It leaves a vacuum. Something must be inserted to make oneself whole again. Perhaps the mere commission to ones self that he shall be one of those. He shall be a fly fisher. The statement alone might be enough.

    I once made such a oath to myself. Or was it perhaps more of a promise. No, not that either, simply I remember saying that I wanted to be known as a fly fisher and the way to be known as one was to go do it. So, I did and I'm still doing it. And now I am known as a fly fisher. Success right?

    Hardly. Over the years I found that there is a bit more to being a fly fisherman than simply fly fishing. Although, just doing it is always enough at the time, each element is its own reward. Each and every little event, success or failure, goes to make up the whole. The whole being a fly fisherman. For many of us, these small elements, increments, facets are the warp that keeps us afloat during the week so we may live on the weekend, or the vacation, or the trip or, just whenever we can get a fly rod in our hands and find a piece of water. Reading catalogs, buying gear, tying flies swapping fish stories with close friends or watching a lone caster on a mist clad morning stream.

    Can we make anyone into a fly fisher? I don't think so. It's something inside of us. We can even be a fly fisher and not have been on the water for a long spell. Some things take up our time. A 'honey do' list when we retire can be an example. Diminishing health or economics can play a role as well.

    So, can you or I do anything that might help someone else get into fly fishing? Sure we can. Something like preparing the soil before you plant the garden. Location is important. Sometimes turning the soil over may be required, maybe even some weeding might be in order. When the season is right and the conditions correct then you plant the seed and try to nourish it occasionally. You might have the opportunity to fertilize it, or in some way help direct the course of growth. If you are lucky, you will and if so, remember to be grateful for the chance. We don't all get it.

    "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink," it has been said and likely true. After living in the west for several years I also found out that, "you can lead a horse to drink but you can't make him water," is also true.

    So, we can lead a guy to fishing but we can't make him a fly-fisher. Nope, that's a personal choice, but I think we can be involved. If we want to. ~ James Castwell
    If everybody is thinking alike, nobody's thinking - George Patton

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Western Cape


    Interesting question. i dont think flyfishing specifically is hereditary, but there definatly is a fishing gene. My grandfather was a great rock and surf fisherman, my father fished a bit, and my sons are fishing crazy. It's like you get horse racing families, motor sport families and golfing families. etc. Perhaps some there is a specific gene relating to some sporting codes, ours has just been directed to fly fishing. Wheather or not some genetic specialist can identify the gene, remains to be seen, but it is also the way you grow up. If you are exposed to stuff as a kid, good chance you will carry on with it.
    It's not only genetic stuff you inherit from your parents, but behavioural patterns as well. Fly fishing goes along with the whole out doors life style, and if you are brought up to appreciate nature and the great out doors, good chance that fly fishing will appeal to you. Perhaps another question to ask hesr, is the existense of natural talent. Why do some guys become so good at flyfishing, and others really have to work at it. Like golf. At one stage I really enjoyed golf, but was a terrible golfer. A buddy of mine who started at the same time, became really good very quickly, although we played together and roughly the same number of times. Perhaps he had a natural ability, and i didn't.
    Disclaimer.... none of my posts are intended to be "expert advice"..just opinions from someone who is willing to help where he can.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Pretoria Gangsters Paradise


    Yeah I'm not so sure about the genes thing Andre.

    Grandpaw was a carpenter in his spare time, no fishing.

    My dad had no patience to fish, so he took us lighties fishing a grand total of 10 times or so, but he would walk around and take pictures, look at birds, etc.

    My family historically was known as bear hunters (Baren Hart, heart of a bear) and there is even a bear's head on the traditionally accurate family crest, not a lion like most people misinterpreted it as and is using it currently.

    I am however fully in agreement on the appreciation of nature/outdoors thing, hell yes, we grew up spending time in the Kruger Park and Tsitsikamma and he would drag us off to every single cave, trail, mountain he could find, allthough I'm not sure if it was because he had a major desire to be outside or if it was driven purely by trying to give us as wide an exposure as possible to as many things as possible.

    The funny thing is that subsequently I became totally addicted to fly fishing and my brother, quite seperately on his own became hectically into his Art Lure Angling and he's also now making his first baby steps into flyfishing, though he doesn't debarb his treble hooks so I'm not so sure it's because he is into appreciating nature.

    Maybe the reason behind why we fish can found in our desire to express our abilities and prowess in the hunter gatherer sense of the word by outfoxing our intended quarry...
    Last edited by Scythe; 24-08-07 at 09:25 AM.
    "Hierdie drol het baie vlieŽ" - Ago 2014.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    A, A


    I do not think this holds true at all, the gene thing, and I can even go as far as preference to be in the Outdoor.

    My father only took me fishing a total of 5 times, and that only because we moved to live in the at that time small little town of Hartbeespoort. I nagged until he got me a rod, an old Fiberglass 5 or 6 foot rod, and then nagged until he took me fishing. We wnt to the Krugerpark, but only I am sure because he had to go show it to us. We never really went on hikes, only once with a church father son hiking trip. His father from what I could gather was not into any outdoors activity either.

    My mom's family however was a bit more outdoors minded. My earliest recollection of my Grandfather on my moms side was him building a huge caravan, which when he retired he used to move to Mesina in winter and back in summer, there they spend their time visiting family on their border farms, and living the outdoors life. But we only visited them there once or twice. There my grandmom(rest her good ol sole) used to show me things like trees and telling me about them, different grass species, animals etc.

    With all this said, I bait angeled for a few years, then met some art lure guys did that for a few years, then lost my art lure equipment in a car accident. Endured a few years with no fishing in them at all and one day decided I want to try Fly Fishing, that was that, done deal, ans I've been doing this like a maniac ever since.

    No one in my family fished, and no one in my family fishes now except for me, my wife, and my two sisters four sons who I introduced to the passtime.

    Genes, not likely, but the luck of making a very good decision somewhere in my life yes.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008


    my uncle hates fishing, he used to go as a boy with my granddad. every time he struck too late, he would get a smack behind the head...

    we used to laugh at the story, but now we know why he hates fishing so much!.

  6. #6


    Sorry I have to believe it is in the family.
    no not at. to many variable to be that simple


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