Saturday, March 28, 2015

Presentation. Presentation. Presentation.

Our Hero
“You must tie your fly & FISH your fly so the trout can enjoy & appreciate it.”

     The James Leisenring quote placed under the banner of this journal is there for a particular reason. It is there because I believe that short statement expresses the core working ideal of fly fishing. Like all truth it is fractal. A koan, if you will. If one meditates on it long enough one might attain enlightenment. The quote can be broke down into parts (& actual schools of thought have arisen to embrace the individual active assertions). Any species of fish can be substituted for “trout”. As it is a particular interest that some of us are drawn to, this journal for the most part devotes itself to the ‘tie your fly’ aspect. However, I’m fairly certain Leisenring meant the advice to be taken & practiced as a whole deal. Sure, he & his cohort Pete Hidy wrote a book dealing with fly tying without saying much about presentation, but the focus of that book was fly design (though the Leisenring Lift technique briefly described in a paragraph contains more practical usefulness than entire chapters I’ve read in some books). But in their articles & letters Leisenring & Hidy stress presentation. Indeed, material ‘movement’ is the fundamental element of their simulative fly designs, & that movement, that breathing obfuscation, meant to enhance presentation. Of course.

Presentation is the game. Those of us who are tying nerds are well-served to be reminded from time to time. And you can be sure Leisenring carried a selection of splitshot when he fished.

Recently a journal with the intriguing title Amber Liquid Anglers and Sportsmen showed up on the radar, written by a guy named ‘spike’, so I had to check it out. And I was immediately impressed – the journal has a white page with black print, & a distinct Victorian motif (is there a neo-classicist underground operating with abandon ‘neath the glossy marketing veneer of our sport?) Spike’s succinct prose is definitely not Victorian. I like the way this guy writes.  An essay on presentation:      


  1. Steve -

    Very kind. We love the Soft~Hackle Journal in our little crew.

    Of note. Gave Hughes has a passage in _Wet Flies_ of a conversation he had with Pete Hidy late in Mr. Hidy's life (not able to fish any longer) where Pete relates that Mr. Leisenring always intended to write the technique volume as a follow-up to early work and never got around to it. The famed Leisenring Lift was but one of a multitude of techniques used with wet flies in the New World.

    I suspect there is more to this conversation than made it into the mention in _Wet Flies_. Someone ought to contact Mr. Hughes about it and ask. There's probably a good contribution to the wet-fly mantra that ought to be available from the Leisenring-Hidy-Hughes connection of first-hand sources.

    I know Syl Nemes did a great job of piecing together a big part of the codex from historical sources but I've always thought the technical end of what is possible on-stream has not been codified as accessibly as it deserves.

    I could be wrong. Has happened before.

    Love the Journal.

  2. Spike, I think the field is wide open to any writer who'd like to attempt to compress the technical codex. Far too nuanced for me. I'm too windy & circumlocular. My mind spaghettis at the bazillion details. Nature of the thing. Easier shown than described. And each cast, each drift, each piece of water, a unique situation, considering the variables. Way easier for me to duck out saying stuff like: "Just present it as you would a live bait. Make it act like a live one as much as possible, by whatever means at your disposal, whatever it takes." Or: "Think like a fish -- let the fish tell you how they want it."

    See? I'm not the guy to frame it. And maybe it is better for the fish (& our fishing spots) that the knowledge remain ambiguous & only attainable through deprivation & long practice.