Aging fishermen’s used, abused joints deserve a new platform

ďIím getting too old for this.Ē

Those were the words spoken by one of my fly-fishing buddies as we hiked back to the truck over big rocks and up a hill that was steeper than it was on the way down in the morning. I have to admit, he said it seconds before I did.

That was followed by watching another one of my fly-fishing friends, who actually works in a fly shop, imitate an aged farrier as he tried to stand up. Fly-fishing is getting more difficult for those of us with used and abused joints in our bodies.

After seeing how abuse takes its toll on those of us who have reached a certain maturity, I realized we have two choices: We can quit fly-fishing altogether, or we can change how we approach it. My choice is to make a change in the approach. That adjustment is where and how one stands when fly-fishing.

It now seems obvious to me that walking down steep narrow trails to stand on big slippery rocks is not meant for those with a plethora of orthopedic problems. If a high cubic-feet-per-second water flow is added to the mix, old age can be something only thought about as you are swept downstream.

The first thing you have to do, if you havenít already, is get a wading staff. The third point of balance this provides can save you from many a fall. Even if youíre wading in calm water on a relatively flat surface, water produces slippery stuff. And, slippery stuff is the first part of a formula guaranteed to produce a nasty fall.

That said, how can a used and abused fly-fisherman continue to participate in the sport?

The platform change I suggest is to get out of the deep, fast rivers inhabited with big slippery rocks. Further, go places that donít require a long walk.

That sounds easy. But how does one who lives in mountains full of great streams and rivers do this? Well, if money is no object, and youíre retired, spend the winters on the flats in the Bahamas. For those who donít fall into Obamaís tax plan, there are other alternatives close at hand.

I enjoy wading the shores of nearby lakes. Many lakes have gently sloping bottoms that are soft and easy to stand on. They also will produce more than just trout. Bass, panfish, carp and pike can be taken from the easy-wading spots at many lakes.

If a lake drops off to deep water very quickly, a float tube is great. In fact, a float tube will allow you to fly-fish without any pressure on the knees and hips.

If you donít like floating and wading a shore line isnít your cup of tea, then I suggest a boat. It doesnít have to be a big, expensive boat. It can be an inflatable twin-pontoon boat with a trolling motor or an 18-foot aluminum boat with a 15-horsepower motor.

A canoe works well. If youíve never fly-fished from a canoe, practice really close to shore in 2 feet of water. The reason will become obvious in a hurry.

If the sound of moving water in a stream is just too much temptation, make some changes that take your physical condition into consideration. Go to streams that you can approach in a vehicle without long walks in and out. Stay with streams that have a low flow and a gravel bottom.

Becoming a fly-fisherman who is on the verge of being an old codger is not for sissies. But giving up fly-fishing is just not an acceptable option.

Be careful, make some changes, and Iíll see you on the water.

Reach Don Oliver at

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