Masters Old and New

by Herb S.
(Southwest Michigan)

Somehow I missed Les Albjerg’s blog post “Listening to the Old Masters” which produced a great bunch of excellent replies. Rather than add to them here are my comments and a little more.

By all means read the old masters! A great deal of wisdom is being missed with all the plethora of “new” techniques, not to mention the vast improvements in tackle. It’s good to know what the old timers had to do with what they had but even better to learn what they knew of trout lore. Plus many, if not most of them, were really good writers and worth reading for their style as well as their wisdom. Many of the things they put into print hold good today and are being parroted by the new generation. A.J. McClane, Harold Blaisdel, Perry Bliss, George Harvey (Joe Humphreys’ mentor and supreme innovator), Joe Humphreys, Tap Tappley, Ted Trueblood, Vince Marinaro, Charlie Fox and many more are worth searching out for their books and articles (I have a ton of old magazines) to gather their wisdom.

New Masters: I wasn’t aware of Frank Nale until reading Chris’s blog post about going to his seminar and follow up posts about Frank Nale. Of course, I googled his name and got his description of techniques and tackle, his methodology of note taking and tactics as well as his tackle and spinners plus pictures. Wow! To each his own, but I can’t imagine working that hard for “fun”! His tactics and gear are still worth emulating. We have our own premier trout spin fisherman in Michigan, Jim Bedford. I’m acquainted with Jim, who was friends and fished with my best friend. Jim gave several presentations to our Trout Unlimited chapter, including one hawking his book, “Spinner Magic.” A good read. He knows whereof he writes.

Now for something different, “Presentation Fly Fishing” by Jeremy Lucas, a British team competition fly fisherman. It seems that the Europeans have gone beyond the pale. Their line weights start at #4 and go down and rod lengths go up. The absolutely latest development is a 20’ leader with maybe an inch or two of line out past the tip guide or just a leader attached to a light running line. Say what? Yes, it’s leader-only casting. Does that sound familiar? I seem to recall 10 of my rods use monofilament or fluorocarbon lines and leader with no plastic line and no reel either. I bought the book out of curiosity and learned what I’d been doing the past few years and what the Japanese have been doing for 400 years, is now “avant-garde” except that neither I nor my friends compete. Sometimes what goes around comes around.

Happy fishing and reading,
Herb

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