I spent a couple days drifting flies down a river this fall. Mid-afternoon of the second day I had an epiphany. It dawned on me that all I was really doing was something I had done probably since the first day I ever fished–watch a bobber.
Sure, fly-anglers like to sophisticate-it up by calling them “floats”, or in this case a “hopper dropper”, but in practice, what I did was sit and watch for that ‘hopper to go under water. I was bobber-watching!
Is not that the essence of fishing? Is not that the quest that has us “hooked”? There are creatures below the surface; big, beautiful, aquatic creatures, and we want to touch them. The first indication that we have made contact is a bobber bouncing under the surface.
Does that ever grow old?
If it does, you need to take up golf.
Yes, we mature and master a variety of fishing skills. Then, we wait for a surface strike, or watch for the line to twitch, feel a “thump” through the rod. At that magical moment when that occurs, sometimes in the first five minutes of fishing, sometimes after five hours, “contact”! We have interacted with an alien creature living in an alien world. Our mind races as we imagine what it could be, how magnificent, how large?
Practically speaking, floats or bobbers come in an infinite variety of shapes, sizes, colors and uses. I have blogged before about their use, and if you ain’t using them, you are not catching fish that you could be (Bobbers Ain’t Just for Kids, Kid’s System). Bobbers have accounted for hundreds, thousands of fish my partners and I have caught, a variety of species, a variety of sizes, including some of our biggest fish.
I am anxiously looking forward to the ice fishing season that is just around the corner! Like most of the ice-fishing world in recent years, I have spent hours watching a depth-finder dial and detecting bites by feel and watching my line. Believe me, I would not change that. However, there still are times when a “dead rod” with a bobber will catch fish. Furthermore, there are days when a bobber on the ice rod is THE best way to catch fish.
A fly-fishing purist I am not. My philosophy is to use whatever gear is the best tool for the job. There certainly are times when that best tool is a fly rod. Just do not tell the purists that there are also times when a long float rod, a spinning rod, and a bobber can present their same baits with more efficiency. Oh, and while you are at it, call ’em “floats” instead of “bobbers”; they will find that less offensive too.
Bobbers, long may they live. May your tackle box be full of them. May you never grow too old to use them!