Home » Interest of Conflicts: Internet Fly Fishing Arguments

Interest of Conflicts: Internet Fly Fishing Arguments

Let’s be clear: It is a proven fact that Al Gore created the internet so that all the smart people could tell all the stupid people how stupid they all are. And boy, is it working!

Since 1998, each major election has been decided based on on shared Facebook posts.

Every day, religious and non-religious people convert back and forth due to pithy one-liners on message boards.

Plus, blogs allow the world to hear all the information that is too real for those corporate publishers to touch.

But there exists a topic at the nexus of all of these eloquent and courageous displays of truth. The most profound debates, arguments, and other manner of reality-checkings occur in the last spots anyone would expect. Want to know where the real knowledge is dispensed?

Fly fishing forums. Tweets about fly rod companies. Comments under Instagram pictures of female anglers. These are the places where things get legit. Absolute authority is on display. Hyperbole is unheard of. Opinions define the in-group/out-group lines

And if I’m going to be honest (which, even in light of the tongue-in-cheek nature of the post thus far, I am) I think it is all hilarious. Maybe that is wrong and indicative of low moral character, but I am drawn to these fly fishing squabbles like a mayfly to a headlamp. It is like watching a toy train crash. The effect is similar to two beta fish charging, gently thumping their respective plastic cups.

It is people fighting. On the internet. About fly fishing.

Now, I’m not denigrating the respectful explanations of proper fish handling, de-barbed hooks, or abiding by local statutes. Intense but civil dialogue about issues like public lands, conservation organizations, or trends in the sport are part of the culture. If done well, that is just good citizenship. It makes the community better.

What I am thinking of is… well, here are some examples from recent history:

  • Name calling over liking bright-colored reels
  • Arguing about tying with rubber (squirmy wormy: bad, hopper legs: good)
  • Calling out a new fly tyer for using the wrong sized hackle

Opinions are great. We all have them, and there is nothing wrong with that. But I believe that the maxim comparing them to a certain orifice certainly can ring true. This is particularly true when someone unleashes a missive with the fury of a thousand double-hauls on some unsuspecting Facebook group.

It sure can be entertaining. I’ll just scroll and scroll and scroll. I suppose that since I take some sick, twisted pleasure in perusing such back-and-forths that I’m no better than the e-combatants. For all I know, looking at it moves it up the social media food chain where it gets more traction than it otherwise would. So I suppose I should reassess my motives.

But seriously, tone down the rhetoric about the minutiae. Do you think that the tournament bass guys argue about how sparkly-per-square-inch their boats are? Do cane pole anglers get on each other if they bought their rig versus harvesting it from their backyard? Is this just the evolution of the “e-word” that has plagued fly fishing for a few generations? Have we just replaced the tweed and wicker for keyboards and slander?

Maybe the moral of the story is to fish more. Scratch that, fish together more. If you and another person fly fish, you’ve already pegged yourselves as part of the same fraction of a fraction of the population. What does that say about you if you have to find the tiny differences within angling to harp on? If you’re going to fight, fight about religion or politics.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I saw someone online use “there” instead of “their.” I’m really going to let them have it…


  1. Do I hear the drip, drip, drip of a bleeding heart do-gooder? No, but seriously, the Internet fight is the modern version of the cock fight. And don’t we all love cock fights? Okay, I really am serious now Matt. The Internet has given us the ability to start a fight, respond to something we don’t agree with anonymously. It’s the old not take responsibility for our actions because we can do it without identifying who we are.

  2. Gary Emmert says:

    In an effort to better my community and to promote my good citizenshipery, (that’s a new word, you can look it up on the internet), I have to say , “To those of you who are contributing to global warming through the use of disposable lighters , (or non disposable for that matter),and wing burners while tying your Adams; stop now. The pattern calls for hackle tips, not carbon footprint expanding thermally engineered wings!
    The above sentence was intentionally run on and erroneously punctuated in an effort to BAIT the “There/Their Literary Nazi”.
    Fight or Go Fish?

  3. Gary Emmert says:

    That was just my way of poking fun at our ability to be “unheard” because our passion causes us to rant rather than deliberately and rationally DISCUSS issues.

  4. Mike says:

    This concept plagues every enthusiast forum I’ve ever visited on the internet, regardless of the topic/subject. So yes, I bet bass fishing enthusiasts do in fact argue about boat sparkles, or something equally inane. It’s not just fly fishing that has a problem with internet vitriol about minutiae.

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