All sports have record books and all of them contain asterisk.
An * in THE book lets the reader know there is more to the story and often times it has to do with getting tangled up in the rules during some important feat of wonderful.
Luckily the fly fishing record book is not that thick nor that important (to some of us). However the sport of fly fishing and all its nuances, traditions and history can make an angler feel as if he crossed some mythical line now and then and he might feel his success requires an asterisk. No one really is keeping track of the amount of * your fishing soul is haunted by and I am pretty sure it won't count for much when you end up at the gate. The manual explains that to stay aligned cosmically and spiritually in the affairs of fly fishing when receiving an * it is highly recommended you lead with "yeah but....." when glorifying your extraordinary skill to your fishing buds to keep the voodoo away.
Because the original governing body of American Fly Fishing according to some hip boot wearing, silk line, stuffy Catskill dude, never had funding for a Rules, Moral and Ethics committee, there has been a few things left for personal interpretation. Everyone has to look in the mirror or at the picture and decide; is that an asterisk fish?
Lets go through a few:
"Yeah but I was being Guided"= no asterisk.
Unless the guide caught it you did all the hard work. Sure you cut a few corners and maybe a year or so off the learning curve but being guided to fish and eventually catching them was what you paid for. Enjoy, no penalty stroke here.
"Yeah but I was pegging eggs"= no asterisk
There are rules and regulations to follow here, as long as you are playing by the book the fish you catch should not have an *
This is however NOT a Fly so that opens up a chapter in a totally different manual.
"Yeah but it was on the Squirmy Worm"=no asterisk
All of Europe would love to have an asterisk next to the last 4 Youth World Championships. Its no secret that doll hair/ furry ball material in pink, brewed in the mountains of North Carolina has changed the fly fishing world forever. But they actually have a rules committee and they decided the junk is legal. No asterisk. "Junk"=* because junk in my world is good
All the hate surrounding fishing with worm and egg patterns just comes from their unsophisticated nature within this sport that seems to thrive on complicating things. I'm starting to suspect there is a secret society of Beards trying to prevent the holy grail from being discovered and protecting the difficult nature of catching trout on a fly.
Stocked fish in wild trout water=*
"Yeah but it was a Great Lakes Steelhead"= no asterisk
So? "Yeah but it was a B run"= no asterisk
So? "Yeah but I didn't catch it on the swing" = no asterisk
God sometimes we are just to hard on ourselves. When your quarry is a migratory fish that technically is not interested in eating and maybe swam like 700 miles to get to you you can go ahead and drop any unnecessary explanations.
As we have waded deeper into fly fishing in Merica we have come across some interesting little rapids to navigate. At one point Beadheads, Indicators and even Nymphing had an asterisk attached to their incredibleness. Hell, tying with synthetics was a big time sin not long ago.
A Maniac* I know puts it best "It's just fishin"