Fly or Lure?
When I was a kid fly fishing in the Missouri Ozarks, jigs like the one above were considered flies. Things have probably changed with the Internet, but I bet there are still probably a few old-timers fishing with fly rods, who would say they are fly fishing, who primarily use small marabou jigs almost exclusively.
I tied the jig above for a reason: I think jigs in baitfish colorations will work great on summer floats on the Yellowstone River, and I’m going to have clients try them this summer.
The question arises. Is it a fly or a lure? I say it’s a fly. Why?
- I tied it like a fly.
- My clients will be fishing it on a fly rod.
- It contains no scents or similar attractants (which would make it bait).
Those are my criteria. The first two are the real keys. If you tie it like a fly and fish it like a fly, in my book it’s a fly.
Some might argue that the molded lead head makes it a lure. To me, there’s too fine a distinction between tying a “marabou streamer” with a tungsten bead and a jig with a lead head. The latter aren’t legal in Yellowstone Park, but neither are lead barbell eyes, articulated flies with more than one intact hook point, or flies using soft rubber materials like the Squirmie Wormie, so legality isn’t a clear marker of “fly or not,” either.
On the other hand, this definition definitely leaves out some popular “fly rod artificials.” Chief among these are beads. These aren’t flies, in my book. I think that’s the main reason I disliked fishing them when I was up in Alaska. That and I found they tore the fish up far worse than the egg flies I brought and used against the guides’ wishes (the traditional egg flies worked as well as the beads, in my experience, and every fish that one came in hooked right in the corner of the jaw). Though perhaps that’s due to the enormous Gamakatsu egg hooks the guides insisted on using with beads.
There are also borderline cases. The biggest I can think of was the Gummy Minnow a rep trying to sell us on the… invention… constructed in front of us when I was working in Parks’ Fly Shop. He used the soft plastic “Chewy Skin” of which these things are made and superglue, but nothing else. He didn’t like it when I said it was cool but not a fly. Yet I have seen some of these things tied with at least a few turns of thread. Is that enough to make them flies? Another case: pom-pom eggs. I tie (make?) these with little pink pom-poms from the craft store, orange thread, and super glue (my favorite fly tying adhesive). Yet the poms aren’t actually tied down by the thread. The thread’s just there to provide something for the glue and pom to stick to. I make a thread base, coat it with glue, and then slid the pom over top. So these aren’t “tied” at all. Yet I happily fish them even though I dislike beads, and they resemble normal eggs made from McFlyFoam or Glo Bug Yarn in all respects.
Does any of it matter? Probably not. It just the sort of thing you think about on a cold winter day…