The Fly Fishing Addict ~ Am I? Are You? Is Anyone?

by Rebecca on March 30, 2010

in Fly Fishing

 ”I’m still waiting to find another human who knows what that (fly fishing addiction) really means…….” Via a comment left within my website from Bigerrfish (a recently reformed fly fishing addict) who aptly writes the fly fishing blog:  BigerrFish. 

Fly Fishing Addict — Or — Fly Fishing Addiction. Does the meaning of Addict truly represent the deep and undeterred, never quite satisified desire some of us angler internally feel when it comes to our fishing time? Or has the lack of an adequate word simply forced the passionate angler to use the shallow, but powerful and implied emphasis the word addiction gives off?

Now, I haven’t necessarily liked describing myself as a fly fishing addict, but I’ve done it, because it’s a cheap and easy expression to let others know, “Hey, I’m not screwing around here. If you take away my flies or fly rod I’ll break your arm first and ask questions later.” See, isn’t that sweet of me? Is that the mentality of an addict? Probably.

But in all honesty, after a quick Google search on true addictions, it’s clear I’m not an addict. What I do isn’t a detriment to my life. My fly fishing doesn’t harm me and it doesn’t hurt or harm the people around me….unless they count boring them with fish stories a form of torture.

Yes, I sneak off and fly fish alone a lot, but it isn’t secretive and I don’t spend the kids college money to do it. Yes I’ve skipped work or other responsibilities for an afternoon on the river, but I didn’t lose my job or friends.  I suppose if I forgot all my fly boxes at home I’d probably get a bit frothy around the mouth (withdrawal) but I wouldn’t knock the first fly fisherman I saw in the head with a rock to steal his flies. My froth would be a civilized non-addict meltdown.

So if I take away the addiction implication, I recognize I am still left with a non-negotiable, insatiable need that doesn’t provide an appropriate word to define it. Fly Fishing is the first thing that comes to mind when I realize I have 2 extra hours to myself in a day. It’s also the first thing that comes to mind when I’m feeling sad, frustrated, happy, pissed, lousy or fantastic. It seems, no matter what scenario I encounter, everything falls under the damn good reason to go fishing category. A bit like the alcoholic who finds every reason from self soothing to celebration for a beer.

I’ll assume some of us, past and present, have choosen the questionable phrase of fly fishing addict to express to the outside world that we cannot live without our fly fishing. (Well, maybe I could, but ho-boy I would turn into a snarling gnarly monster to live with) I believe it’s an innocent attempt at letting others know their fishing goes beyond a weekend summer activity. Like an addict, their fishing is a need that remains near the surface of daily thought, never completely satisfied or resolved…..only impatiently postponed until the next (hit) trip.

So today, I admit, I don’t know what a Fly Fishing Addict really means, so I’ll no longer use it to describe myself.
Like Bigrrfish asked, does anyone?

However, I do know I’m a fly fishing something or other, who looks forward to a lifetime of trying to figure it out.




{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Hank HewittNo Gravatar March 30, 2010 at 12:29 pm

I’m glad to see there is at least one woman on this planet that understands the call of the fly rod.

First, those who say one fishes too much don’t fish enough themselves.
Second, flyfishing is not a pastime, nor addiction, it’s a lifestyle.
Last, it is true that one never steps in the same stream twice. Everytime the fly angler steps in the stream they are learning everything they know all over again. The addiction is not to the pursuit it’s to the rewards of it.

Well written!!!


RobNo Gravatar March 30, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Yeah…strip line…cast…. strip line….repeat until dark. It’s even better when you do this from a kayak over miles of unending grass flats….


trout whispererNo Gravatar March 30, 2010 at 12:33 pm

reb…. your young … doesn’t typically call yourself in the first person a “fly fishing addict”..or “a trout bum” .its usually bestowed on you……..just ask two of my ex wives…


KirkNo Gravatar March 30, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Addiction is a strong word. Obsession is perhaps a kindler, gentler term to describe the fly angling affliction. Whatever the case may be, embrace it. The only cure is more fishing.


NerverackerNo Gravatar March 30, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Kirk, you should be the one embracing things! Nymphing for steelhead EMBRACE!


ShoremanNo Gravatar March 30, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Here’s my take on it.
1. A person who fishes once ot twice a year.
2. A person who fishes occasionally.
3. A person who gets out every chance they can (that would be us).
4. A person with gold fever (Yes, it does exist. This I know from personal experience)and it consumes your every waking hour.
5. A fly fishing addict.



ColoradoAnglerNo Gravatar March 30, 2010 at 3:34 pm

All I know is, as soon as I leave the water, I’m already thinking about the next outing.

I sit in meetings, and see that people are talking – yet, my mind always seems to wander back to the water and I fail to hear what they are saying.

I walk by a stream, creek…or puddle and look for spots where fish will park.

I read other people’s postings, and my palms begin to sweat.

I see other people’s pictures, and my heart begins to race.

When I feel the set on a nice fish that I’ve been targeting, the rush is intense – pure adrenaline…and it’s addicting.

My name is Ron, and I’m a junkie…and I ain’t looking to get ‘clean’.


AustinNo Gravatar March 30, 2010 at 4:42 pm

I can relate to almost all of the statements there. Streams, puddles, raging rivers… how would I approach and fish that body of water. Plus, most of my meetings my mind drifts to fly fishing.


ColoradoAnglerNo Gravatar March 31, 2010 at 7:08 am

Austin – I can’t tell you how many times my mind has wandered when I should have been paying attention (ie meetings, during the sentencing phase, when the ex was talking, etc).

And I KNOW that I’m not the ONLY one that has looked at a fish tank (like my son’s) and thought “…if I tied a #28, I bet I could hook one…”


RebeccaNo Gravatar March 30, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Hi Ron.
Welcome to the meeting.
You are surrounded by understanding company who have experienced the same fly fishing inspired symptoms.


ColoradoAnglerNo Gravatar March 31, 2010 at 7:02 am

It’s always nice to be surrounded by those that understand….now let’s go fish!


AustinNo Gravatar March 30, 2010 at 4:40 pm

I prefer the term enthusiast. Or maybe passionate enthusiast. It doesn’t add the negative connotations, and reinforces the concept that we’re talking about passion, love, and “I’d rather be fishing than standing here talking to you about fishing” mentality. My two cents.


BigerrfishNo Gravatar March 30, 2010 at 5:08 pm

First,, right on for writing about this
Balanced perfectly with my immediately Family, Fishing, is the most important thing to me, over money or anything better. I dont even have to think about it,, every time my Mechanical Heart valve ticks,,, it sends another burst of the mo-jo through my blood stream. It’s all I know It’s all I want. Thanks for the respectfull mentionings Rebecca!!


NerverackerNo Gravatar March 30, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Hi, I’m Dave, and I’m, ummm ________ (insert synonym for addiction here) to fly fishing. At least with fly fishing, we don’t have FFA (Fly Fishers Anonymous) or any other 10, 12, 14, 16, size.. errr step program to break our incessant behavior towards all things fly fishing… YET. Although, my wife may want to start one soon.
OH! and Rebecca, I’m planning a trip towards Eastern Oregon/ Western Idaho sometime a little later this year. So, I’ll be looking for a “guide” and some insight to this area! I’ll be more than happy to tie some flies for assistance!


ClifNo Gravatar March 30, 2010 at 6:33 pm

If anyone asks, just say “I like to fish.” Isn’t that all there is to it?


ken morrowNo Gravatar March 30, 2010 at 8:50 pm

i know people who have lost their families, ruined themselves financially or chosen extreme bohemianism over material comfort, and even ended up in jail over their addiction to fly fishing. that’s pretty textbook as far as addictive behavior goes.

but it’s sort of become hip to have an addiction. not ending up in jail or a gutter alone and destitute doesn’t mean your less passionate about something than the folks who did. it means that…for whatever reason…you still have your balance. some folks lose it. we either call them legends or addicts.


RebeccaNo Gravatar March 30, 2010 at 10:42 pm

@Hank ~ The Fly Rod that is resting against the wall next to my computer is always beckoning to me. Never shuts up =) And thank you!

@Rob ~ I know the cast, strip line, cast…I know not the Kayak!

@TroutWhisper ~ =) Is that how it’s supposed to work? I worked my weekly required fishing time into the relationship contract. Non-negotiable

@Kirk ~ Good point! The only known cure to a fly fishing obsession…more fishing.

@Shoreman ~ I do believe you nailed it. I’ll rate myself a very strong 3 who touches on 4 occasionally.

@ColoradoAngler ~ Hey! I resemble that comment! (and I replied in your comment box)


RebeccaNo Gravatar March 30, 2010 at 10:54 pm

@Austin ~ Someone mentioned enthusiast on my facebook page today and I instantly connected with it. I like it! < ~~see the entusiastic exclamation.

@Bigerrfish ~ Your welcome, you inspired it. Now that you are the fly fishing freak, I need to figure out my new claim. My kids tell me I have a one track fishing mind. That could be a start =)

@Nervewracker ~ Call me, Rebecca zee outdooress who shall attempt to guide! Come on over and we’ll stalk some fish. By the time you get here I’m sure I’ll have figured out the standard fly charge rate and we’ll square up ;)

@Clif ~ keeping it simple, I need to do that more often. The writer type in me likes to complicate the basics when it comes to words and expression. Thats a whole ‘nother fanatical issue of mine…

@Ken ~ Well. I have two children that have kept me grounded enough that I can’t do what I’ve always wanted to do which is rubbertramp it for several months out of the year..or more. Someday though! I can’t imagine ruining my life over fishing, I guess I’ll leave that for the true addicts/legends and go about my unbroken ways.


trout whispererNo Gravatar March 31, 2010 at 5:38 am

im old enough not to worry about it anymore……lady i fish…..sunlight or nightime…addict or not..i dont care …its me in the water …..its me in my happy place…all the best to you……tw


EdNo Gravatar March 31, 2010 at 8:36 am

Addiction doesnt necessarily have to be destructive or damaging, although in many cases (most that are readily associated with addiction) it is. But, since it’s a behavior and not a substance or stimulus, i would lean more towards compulsion. And i do. Constantly. Cumpusively fish or think about fishing.

11:30 already…? Time for the pond-side lunchbreak.


WolfyNo Gravatar March 31, 2010 at 9:18 am

I’m CERTAINLY absorbed by all things fishing – my wife would say addicted. Interestingly, though, for a 5 year period, from 1996 thru 2000, I ONLY fished with a fly rod. I’ve always loved to fly fish, but never exclusively. In that period, I sampled some of the more exotic stuff – tarpon, bonefish, stripers, Atlantic Salmon – and loved it. But I actually missed picking up a casting rod and throwing big bucktails for pike. And – I found out that, while you CAN catch most anything with a fly rod, it is not always the best way to catch that particular fish. I’d point to stripers as an example. So, when a move to the midwest – away from my beloved trout – happened in 2001, I started back into the “General Fishing” mode. Now, I happen to miss fly fishing for trout more than just about anything, because it is no longer readily available.

Bottom line for me – while I used to think about NOTHING but fly fishing – and, yes, I’ve often pondered how the neighbor’s aquarium fish would fight on my 2 wt. – it is now a part of my overall appreciation for all things fishing.

Maybe I won the battle but continue to lose the war?? And, just maybe, it’s a war I don’t want to win.



Kentucky JimNo Gravatar April 16, 2010 at 6:00 pm

I agree. I am not a “fly fishing addict”. That term gets bandied about far too much. But it seems that fly fishing, more than other forms of fishing, is a kind of “total immersion” sport. I think that it captivates our imagination in a way few other things do. It’s that time on the river spent daydreaming about nothing but a fish we can’t see, that makes it so compelling for us. And that probably makes us seem a little goofy to those who don’t know much about the sport. :-)


TroutdawgNo Gravatar April 27, 2010 at 6:43 pm

I’ve been told I have a problem


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