Words are spoken beside rivers, questions asked, & in the following silence of leaf & twig, stone & sky, slant of light, the rushing water answers. In that observed moment, the mind engaged yet not busy, the ambiguous stream reveals something.
Perhaps it serves to perceive tradition as a stream. I prefer that to thinking of tradition as a museum of old things. O there is that. There are actual things that are iconic to the fly fishing tradition, objects to be admired for their beauty & utility, the thought & craftsmanship contributing to their making – & these beautiful tools, the fine rods & reels, brilliantly conceived flies & gear, do serve as visual, working proof of a tradition holding rich craft & aesthetic values. We love looking at these things. As one who has sipped an entire glass of whiskey while savoring & admiring a single well-tied salmon fly I am no exception. Many find a lifetime of pleasure collecting the trappings of our sport, & some collect while seldom or never wetting a line. Ours is a faceted passion. And though I take pleasure from all aspects & elements of the fly fishing tradition, I won’t lie, more than anything I love to hook fish & feel a tug, so it is the ideas & concepts behind those things in tradition, born of observation, experience & connection through time on the water, that interest me the most. Tradition is the archive of what worked. Something works enough times to be truly noteworthy, & it is kept. Tradition is a living river, its authentic elements fractal & expansive. We may take what we need from that nourishing stream, & what we take, we may duplicate, refine, or carry in a new direction.