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Tradition

Welcome Jon Ingham (Speybstrd) to Mangled Fly Blog and his first Contribution.

 

tra·di·tion– noun trə-ˈdi-shən
: a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time

This is the common definition for 2 things near and dear to my heart- fly fishing and whisk(e)y. I like my Bourbon from Kentucky and my malts from the British Isles.  I like to catch trout and steelhead on my own flies tied late at night, with visions of a huge snout sipping in my dry or getting my two handed rod yanked out of my hand from that viscous pull on a swung fly.How can bourbon be from MI, Indiana or heaven for bid, Tennessee?  For me, it needs to be from 51% corn and aged for at least 2 years in in newly charred American oak barrels. It has to be made by old men with first names like Booker, Bill, Elmer or Jim, who have taught their children, grandchildren and possibly their great grandchildren the art and science of mashing, fermenting & running the pot still.  They also will have taught the next generation how to choose the “right”oak for their barrels, how long to age them and what it should taste like for their family style. You can’t teach passion, you either have it or you don’t, but enthusiasm is contagious, while tradition is passed down from those who are devoted unequivocally to their passions for generations.When it comes to fly fishing, far and away my two favorite techniques for fishing to salmonoids are traditional- dries on the surface and wets on the swing. I love stalking that elusive rising trout, casting to them from downstream, floating the fly right down the feeding lane, all the while keeping the fly line, leader and tippet out of their view. Waiting for their snout to break the surface and suck down my offering is full of suspense.  Sometimes the take is so dainty and stealth, you barely see their nose, just the rings of water after your fly disappears. Then, there are those other times where it’s like you’ve handed me a thick Ribeye medium rare,  after a long day of fishing and it’s devoured in a lustful binge of violence- the fly is gone and the fish is screaming downstream afterwards to its favorite “hidey”hole, much like me to the couch with a glass of bourbon in my hand.When it comes to fishing the swing, I do it 7/8ths of the year. If I’m trout fishing and there are no fish eating bugs on the surface, I’m going to cover as much water as I can swinging soft hackles and wets while walking downstream. Sometimes, if the trout are slashing at the bugs on the surface, I’ll take the same approach with my flies and swing a fly tied to “match” the hatch.

Now, Steelhead fishing, it’s all about the tug on a well swung fly, getting that aggressive fish to move to your offering.  It’s the wait, the eternal wait, watching that line swing in front of you, slowly working its way through a greasy seam on its way to the hang down. It’s about hoping that the tension in the line increases and I mutter some of my favorite words, “hmmm, that feels funny”. It’s about the jolt of electricity and all your synapses going ape shit as the rod jolts forward, the drag sings it’s fateful tune and you watch a bar of silver leap it’s way downstream.

If you see me fishing for steelhead with any other method, I’m with one  of my guide buddies, boat and we are “checking out new water”.  There have been more than one occasion that I have been introduced to a fellow fisherman and they look at me and say “Oh, you’re that dude who is always swinging flies at_ _ _ run”. It’s how I was taught to fish for our magnificent foe, Mr/Mrs steelhead, which is a tradition we borrowed from my/our ancestors across the pond for fishing Salmo Salár, aka the leaper.

If you see me fishing for steelhead with any other method, I’m with one  of my guide buddies, boat and we are “checking out new water”.  There have been more than one occasion that I have been introduced to a fellow fisherman and they look at me and say “Oh, you’re that dude who is always swinging flies at_ _ _ run”. It’s how I was taught to fish for our magnificent foe, Mr/Mrs steelhead, which is a tradition we borrowed from my/our ancestors across the pond for fishing Salmo Salár, aka the leaper.

We usually learn our fishing from family and friends, most likely your father or someone else’s father. Maybe a brother. We are taught the skills to catch fish by these mentors and if you are lucky, the why’s too.  My father took me fishing whenever he could manage when I was a kid.  He isn’t a fly fisherman and I did not learn to fly fish until I was in my late 20’s when I moved to Wyoming and go into cahoots with some guides.  I had not fished in a long time, but it was in my soul from the times my dad and I went. I think of him often when I am fishing and thank him for passing on my for love of the outdoors and tell him so frequently. My love of the brown stuff comes from him too- he once told me that while having some J&B, “Scotch is an acquired taste, son”. I’ve certainly acquired it!

I heard lately that we stand on the shoulders of the great fisherman who have come before us and we should honor them by our actions a stream. We should also honor those great distillers who have taught this latest generation of young bucks. I appreciate some of the innovations that we are seeing in the whiskey world, but we should never forget where it all came from.  This past summer, of the greats left our world. Elmer T. Lee, we miss you. May your apprentices and disciples please you.

If you see some Elmer T. Lee on the shelf of your local, buy it, because the supply will all too soon dry up. It’s a full bodied, traditional mash with a tempered and restrained heat I have come to expect from a well made Kentuckian beverage. Soft caramel notes with hints of honey with a twinge of smoke and spice on the finish.

You can thank me later by offering me a wee dram stream side. I will be taking my own advice soon and buying a few bottles and hiding them in the basement, only to bring out for special occasions or for friends who understand, for hoarding whiskey is a tradition too!

Slainté.