Awhile back I posted this article on trolling with a fly rod (bucktailing). It has been a couple years and quite a few saltwater fishing trips since I wrote that. My feelings have not changed and have only grown stronger.
What I am confused about is the total grip this method of fishing has on the Pacific Northwest fly fishing industry. I am not talking about individual blogs or posts of fly fishing forums but fly shop blogs and videos and well known Northwest saltwater "fly fishing" destinations.
What is interesting is that bucktailing is not the go-to technique inside Puget Sound for the fly fishing industry. With six million pinks and another large return of coho expected this summer there is no mention of trolling flies along the shorelines. It is all about casting flies from the beaches and boats.
Why the disconnect out on the coast and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca? Is it the lack of beach fishing? Or is it that the vast majority of shop employees who talk about these fisheries have virtually zero experience fishing them?
My guess is that the latter is correct although decades of describing trolling as "fly fishing" has had a major influence in this discussion. We have chapters in fly fishing books discussing this technique on equal footing with actual fly fishing techniques. The worst is the "fly fishing" guides in destination fisheries that promote trolling as fly fishing. They are straight up lying to their customers. The other difference between the offshore and inshore fisheries is the numbers of anglers. There is a long history of true fly fishing inside Puget Sound which makes it easier for new anglers to learn how to fish. Our industry does the exact opposite offshore. The lack of knowledge pushes them to promote gear fishing with a fly rod, not because you cannot fly fish offshore but they don't have a fucking clue how to find fish in a large expanse of water.
It is a huge disservice to our sport for bucktailing to be included as a "fly fishing" technique.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying bucktailing for what it is. It can be a fun way to fish when you are on a boat with non-fly fishermen who are trolling. It can be fun and is totally legal. The only thing bucktailing cannot be is fly fishing.