7 Types of Fly Anglers You’ll Meet on the Water


The pale light of dawn had just begun to shine on the surface of the river as we slid along the bank towards the water. It was one of those mornings when I felt good. My buddy Nate and I couldn’t wait to get out on the water to start casting our Spey rods for rainbow trout. We arrived at the head of a long fishy run and had just started assembling our rods when another angler suddenly came out of the trees. “Shit,” Nate said. “He will flee before us.” I looked at the other fisherman. He was busy rigging a rod and not caring about us and I saw he was wearing an old navy sweatshirt and was putting on what looked like neoprene waders over a pair of leggings.

“No worries,” I said. “She is a nymph. He’ll go tail-fishing and won’t get in our way. Nate looked at me questioningly. “How can you tell?” He asked. “I just can,” I said.

There are many different fly anglers in the big fishing world and although they are not all the same, they can be classified into different categories. Although being able to identify these categories may seem difficult – and perhaps silly – it is an important skill to have because, as I have just shown, when you meet a fisherman on the water, he is good to know who you are dealing with. Like knowing your entomology, knowing if that snake on the trail is poisonous, or if that sound in the woods behind you was a squirrel or a grizzly, being able to identify anglers around you can be vital to your angling success. fly.

The Nymph

Often seen in pajama bottoms and mud boots instead of waders, Nymphers believe in comfort. This is because they tend to spend all day standing in the same place, throwing themselves in the same pool over and over again. Nymphs are also often frightening to watch, as staring at strike indicators all day eventually causes their eyes to pop out of their heads, making them look a lot like Gollum from The Lord of the Rings in search of his precious. They also have a fantastic reaction time constantly placing hooks at the slightest hint. So a pretty easy way to test if a fisherman is a Nympher is to sneak up behind them, then scream and throw a rock at their head. If they turn around and grab it, they’re definitely a Nympher.

The purist

Very rarely seen fishing, purists usually find themselves wandering the banks, sweating profusely in their tweed overcoats and Stetsons. While rumor has it that they can actually fish, it seems they spend most of their time stoically staring at the water, watching the sun reflect off the finish of their bamboo poles, and staring at their fishing boxes. dry flies, while sighing deeply with fish. Satisfaction. You can always tell you’re talking to a purist since 90% of what they say is recycled quotes from Norman Maclean and Izaak Walton – Me: “How’s the fishing today?” Purist: “God never made a quieter, quieter, more innocent pastime than angling, I am haunted by the waters, good scholar.”

The Streamer Junkie

Trembling and stumbling on their own feet, since they are not used to walking on land, the Streamer Junkies are largely shunned by the rest of the fishing community. With their overdeveloped casting arms and the inevitable back issues that come with casting 7-10 weight rods for hours at a time, Streamer Junkies look very Quasimodo. It’s usually hard to see exactly what they’re wearing because their clothes are so covered in old marabou and bucktail fibers from their own giant fly patterns that they look like multicolored shag carpets. It’s important to never make any sudden moves around Streamer Junkies as they are constantly on the edge after spending weeks on the water and not catching anything, so they have a bad habit of going wild. Several fly fishermen die each year from infected Streamer Junkie bites. Never strike up a conversation with a Streamer Junkie, because although they rarely catch a fish, they still retain an almost photographic memory of all the fish they have ever seen behind their fly and if they get the chance , they’ll tie you to a bar stool and tell you about each one.

The reducer

You will usually hear a Gearhead before you see it. They’ll come rattling along the river like a dog with a brand new collar. This is because of the massive amount of small metal instruments they have attached to their person. And just like a dog, when they see you on the bank, they’ll rush over to greet you with a happy panting smile so they can show you their toys! Reducers are great fishing partners because whatever problem you have – from a bad knot, to a broken rod tip, to a bleeding head injury – they’ll have a doohickey to fix it. . The other trick you can use to positively identify a Gearhead is that they dress like a walking billboard. Orvis shirts, Simms waders, Patagonia vests, etc. No Gearhead goes fishing without making sure they’re decked out and represent at least half a dozen different brands.

The guru

Materializing in the morning mist or suddenly appearing beside you on the riverbank, gurus only show up when they are least needed. They are usually dressed in worn flannels and hats with worn flies. Most will also sport long white or gray beards, except of course in the case of female gurus, where the beard will be slightly shorter. Beard color and length are critical in identifying gurus, as all gurus are well over 40 years old. Anything younger than that and they’re simply known as the Lucky Bastards (meaning “Did you see how many fish that kid caught?” “Yeah, the Lucky Bastard.”)

Gurus usually spawn right after you fish skunk on a stretch of river. Once you’ve completely given up and thrown away your rod out of frustration, a guru will appear by your side saying “Do you mind if I fish behind you?” The Guru will then go upstream to the section of water you just fished and catch all the fish running into what you thought was a completely fishless body of water. The guru will look back at you every once in a while as he catches his fish, flashing a smirk or two as you stand there dumbly with your mouth hanging open. Then they’ll usually hand you the fly they were using, stroke their beards and nod, then vanish into the ether. You can’t chase them either, because you’ll be too busy trying to figure out what their fly looked like before so many fish chewed on it.

The recruit

Like gurus, recruits seem to materialize out of nowhere. Unlike Gurus, they always seem to appear right after you’ve just landed a fish. It’s easy to tell a rookie is approaching by the constant splashing and swearing noises in the distance that start as soon as you log on. Once you net the fish, a Rookie will spawn, usually tangled in their fly line and with a hook or two stuck in their hat, coat, or ear. Often they will tow sticks, grass, or branches in their wake because in their rush to come see your fish, their hanging leader gets dragged to the bank and gets tangled up in all sorts of things. A friend of mine even told me once about a Rookie who came to see him with a whole uprooted aspen accidentally strapped to his back.

Once you hear a Rookie approaching, it’s best to quickly remove the fish from the net or even give it some slack to loosen. Because if a Rookie sees you with a fish in your hands, he’ll go into attack mode – “What kind of fish is that?” “What did you understand? “Can I take a picture of it?” “How do you throw? This barrage of questions can quickly drive you crazy and cause you to give up fly fishing altogether.

The tramp fish

“Hey man, do you have any spare flies?” Emerging from under decks or under tarps in the back of worn and dirty truck beds and drift boats, Fish Bums are found on nearly every major water in the world. Although few can remember how they got there. They are easy to spot, dressed in their sun-bleached and torn shirts, cracked sunglasses and tattered hair under frayed trucker caps. Fish Bums are often considered the woes of the fly fishing world. Still, if you can stand the smell of cheap beer, woodsmoke, and constant BO, talking to a Fish Bum can tell you more about a river than any dozen books. They freely give information, as long as you provide the right incentive. This can vary from a handful of extra patterns of stoneflies to a case of beer to a cup of Ramen noodles. It all depends on which Fish Bum you encounter and how hungover it is when you find it.

Know your role

These are all general guidelines to follow, but sometimes things can get confusing when trying to identify a random fly fisherman. Sometimes you may come across a hybrid, like a Nympher/Guru or a Gearhead/Streamer Junkie. Sometimes you can misidentify yourself, like when you think you have a purist in your hands when in reality it’s just a beginner who is good at poker. The truth is, you never know who or what you’ll encounter on the water, so it’s best to be prepared. Angler ID is an essential skill to have because it not only shows you who you’re sharing the water with, but once you’ve put on all your gear and are ready to hit the water, it will show you who is looking back. you too in the mirror.

Featured image via Tosh Brown.

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