Is Fly Fishing An Art?

Trevor Kugler

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I've been an avid angler for more than twenty years, and for most of that time my favorite type of fishing has been wading in the current of a river or stream, attempting to catch the beautiful trout. Because of the fact that my passion is fishing for trout, I constantly get asked the question of whether or not I fly fish. This problem became even more prevalent when I moved to the mountains of Montana 6 years ago. In the west, every time you utter the words “I love to fish", almost immediately someone pipes up with, “Yea, I like to fly fish too. " In my opinion this is all because of the marketing fly fishing has received over the past couple of decades making it out to be some sort of art form. So now it seems that many of the lemmings who claim to be “fisherman" think that they're cool if they fly fish. And even worse, people who don't even fish, think fly fishing is the cool way to go.

To me it doesn't matter if fly fishing is an art or not, what's important is that we all enjoy fishing. What I could do without is the elitist attitude that many fly fishermen seem to take on. Fly fishing doesn't make you any more of less of a fisherman than any other type of angling. The goal is the same, no matter what type of fishing you engage in. To catch a fish. The entire concept of one method being better than the next is totally ludicrous.

The bottom line is this. I trout fish with ultra light gear and four pound test monofilament line and live bait. I use some techniques that many anglers don't, and have always caught a lot of trout. I practice catch and release fishing, and rarely keep any trout that I catch. I enjoy the fact that I can catch a fish and release it to fight another day. My point is that the techniques that I use and the manner in which I fish are every bit the “art form" that fly fishing has ever proclaimed itself to be. How does flailing a stick back and forth with feathers that you put together yourself constitute an art?

I think true artists, that is individuals who create things out of their own imagination, would have to frown at the fact that the word “art" is attached to the term “fishing", no matter what type of fishing that might be. Although, as you can tell, I don’t fly fish A River Runs Through It is still my favorite movie. In that movie the reverend McLain states, "Anyone who does not know how to catch a fish should not be able to disgrace that fish by catching it". I couldn't possibly agree more with that statement, no matter what type of fishing is employed. The bottom line is that we just want to catch a fish for God's sake.

Trevor Kugler is co-founder of and an avid angler. He has more than 20 years experience fishing for all types of fish, and 15 years of business and internet experience. He currently raises his three year old daughter in the heart of trout fishing country…. . Montana!

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