fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)

1 Comment

a benefit to keeping fly fishing one of the smaller sports

I suppose it’s inevitable that with time and age I’ll someday become that “get off my lawn” guy. This week, however, I purposely took a step in that direction.

Over the last few years I have dealt with customer service at Sage, Redington (prior to its acquisition by Sage), TFO, Orvis and Galvan. In every case, response was immediate and exceeded my expectations.

Last month I contacted [name redacted], the manufacturer of a now relatively well-known brand, regarding the replacement of an integrated iPhone adapter. Apparently, I can replace it myself, saving a bit of money, but the part can only be bought from the manufacturer.

Hindsight being 20/20, I should have seen trouble on [name redacted]’s website email form, which stated, “Due to extremely high email volume, if you require order changes or immediate assistance, please call our Customer Service Department,” followed by a toll free phone number and the typical office hours. Heeding this advice, I called. After a cursory “hello,” I described the issue to the customer service representative, offered the model number and was told they could certainly send out the part.

“Can you take a credit card,” I asked. The answer: “No.”

The silence that followed was finally disturbed by the representative telling me that I could send a check or money order. I did so on Oct. 5.

Life interrupted and it wasn’t until earlier this week that I realized the part had not arrived. The check had been cashed, but no part. So I called. And called. And called. And called. And called.

Each of those five calls, no matter the extension I chose, entailed more than a few seconds of silence before an automated message told me that my call was important and a representative would get to me shortly. That message was immediately followed by a click and dial tone. I’ve since sent an email, despite the advice mentioned above, and three days later there has been no reply.

Sidestepping any debate of the merits or problems of growing the sport of fly fishing, it dawned on me this week that the relatively small population of fly fisherman — those who regularly support manufacturers and retailers of fly fishing gear — offers a benefit rarely seen in other consumer segments. Strong customer service.

That’s why I’m now more inclined to encourage only a limited number of folks join the sport. The fewer of us who fly fish, the harder retailers and manufacturers have to work to keep our business. Not necessarily a bad thing.



with the proper attitude fly fishing keeps one young (or, once I was but the learner; now I am the master.)

If the headline got you here, great. But let’s first clear the air…
I’m not the master; I’m more of a jack of all trades and master of none.

My last trip of this trout season to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada was like many before it. It offered solitude and a stillness that can only be found in the fall.

It is possible to spend time on most moving waters here — even those that are well stocked — without any company, and my usual arrival at sunup ensures that it’s just me and the fish for a few hours.

Such was the case on one of those streams, one that also sees a small fall run of spawning browns. I hooked only one of those browns this year, a big one that, after we eyeballed each other, promptly snapped my tippet and headed back downstream. Before and after I lost him, there were plenty of raceway rainbows that were willing to play.

When the sun finally warmed up the landscape enough, four gentlemen waded into the stream downstream from me, and slowly began to work their way upstream. I gave them a welcoming wave. Eventually, they were close enough that I could hear their conversation. Phrases drifted over the water…

“They biting?”
“Some, but that guy up there is getting five for every one of mine.” (‘That guy’ was me.)
“Wonder what he’s using?”
“It’s gotta be a nymph or something ‘cause I’m getting nothing on my Adams.”

During my few years of fly fishing I’ve learned to discern the experienced fly fisherman from those new to the sport. It was clear that despite their apparent age, two of the gentlemen had probably cast a fly rod only once before.

I can’t say whether it was the ego boost that comes with someone’s admiration of my catch rate or a more altruistic pay-it-forward attitude, but since I had long lost count of how many fish had wet my net, I offered my spot to the group. After assurances that I had caught plenty of fish, they gratefully accepted. I mentioned that black nymphs of almost any style might work, offered a bit of advice on depth, and the two more experienced guys helped the other two rig up. I think between the four of them they used four different types of indicators.

One of the gentlemen broke away to chat with me. All four gentlemen were over 70 years old. While two of them were more experienced, that experience was with bass or in Alaska, not so much in the Central Sierras. There was no bragging between us, a simple sharing of information and stories. One of their group was from South Africa and had never caught a trout. He did that morning and gave me one of the biggest smiles you might imagine.

I’d end up showing these guys where to find the fish on this stretch, explaining then showing that during a limited window — when the sun is at the proper angle on this stream — during which dry flies will get some attention.

All of us accepted each other in the common bond of fly fishing. While most fish were caught and released, there was a stringer produced and a few fish taken by one guy who was recently retired, but only after asking if we thought it okay. (He somewhat sheepishly explained that he wife had complained that through all his years of fly fishing, and all the money spent, that not once had he brought home trout for dinner.) There was no dissention, knowing that these were stocked fish that might not last through the winter.

When I left, there were smiles all around. We were friends that might have never met were it not for our shared hobby. It was a good way to end my season.


how to bully your way on to any water, haul friends and beer, and look awesome doing it

On a stream last week my needs (a solid and reliable rod and reel) transcended desires (the latest and greatest gear). Maybe it’s the fact that I landed a good number of fish, and not one looked at my rod in disgust. (I did get the downturned eye of disdain, but only once they were in the net.)

And while that argument has been settled, this week it’s become clear that I’ll forever covet any conveyance that’ll get me to the water with a dollop of awesomeness.

Nothing screams “Get off my lawn river!” like three tons of vintage Dodge Power Wagon.

Legacy Power Wagon

Legacy Classic Trucks brought this beast to this year’s Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show. The Legacy Power Wagon is available in a two-door configuration for the less social fly fishermen and a four door for those friends who bring beer. Engine options are either a 426-cubic-inch V8 with 425 horsepower from Mopar or a 3.9-liter Cummins turbo diesel four-cylinder good for 480 pound-feet of torque. This one would set you back about $180,000. Equal to just a few Helios 2 rods, huh? Best of all, you can pick one up at the workshop in Jackson Hole, Wyo., not too far some decent fishing.