fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)

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what to do when someone whispers “gumball”

It’s likely that many of you have never seen “The Gumball Rally.” I have. I’m likely one of the few to see it on the silver screen (as a kid). This weekend, I’ll have my own little Gumball Rally.

I can’t say whether my opinion is biased because I saw “The Gumball Rally” before “The Cannonball Run” (1984) and its sequels. But to this day I think “The Gumball Rally” is the best car-centric movies about an illicit coast-to-coast race than any of the Cannonball films.

Sure, it didn’t have A-list stars (it did help move along the careers of Gary Busey as his nutty self and Raul Julia as Italian loverboy and Le Mans winner Franco Bertollini) and one has to get past the initial shock of its 1970s production quality. But it’s a better film.

Gumball Rally Poster“The Gumball Rally” starts in New York. “The Cannonball Run” starts in…Connecticut? Both end up in Los Angeles.

A comparison of all the cars in each film is a wash. However, the lead characters in “The Gumball Rally” (Michael Sarrazin as Michael Bannon and Nicholas Pryor as Professor Samuel Graves) drive an AC Cobra while the protagonists in “The Cannonball Run” (Burt Reynolds as J.J. McClure and Dom DeLuise as Victor Prinzi) drive a souped-up Dodge Tradesman ambulance. Hal Needham and Brock Yates’ actually drove a Tradesman in the actual 1979 race upon which both movies are based, but I’ll take the painfully quick and sexy Cobra any day. The stunt driving by 1960s Cobra racer John Morton lends realism to “The Gumball Rally” and, overall, the cars in “The Gumball Rally” are more beautiful.

If you want stunts, “Cannonball Run” wins. But the scenes of pure speed in “The Gumball Rally” don’t get in the way of funnymen being funny and vice versa.

I love the one liners peppered throughout “The Gumball Rally.” Erstwhile race organizer Michael Bannon: “Some of you won’t make it, but for those of you that do there will be no glory, no headlines. Just a few magic hours flat-out against the red line with no catalytic converter and no 55-mile-per-hour speed limit.” Then there is Raul Julia’s race car driver character’s commentary, with a somewhat corny but appropriate Italian accent, on the rear view mirror: “What’s behind me is not important.”

A final showdown in the L.A. River puts “The Gumball Rally” over the top. (The actors reportedly drove the cars throughout most of the movie, even in the river.)

This Monday I’ll be leaving Palm Desert with my wife, driving a Lincoln Town Car to the San Francisco Bay Area as a “hired driver.” I’ll be Jose from “The Gumball Rally,” the down-on-his-luck mechanic who hired on drive a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow without telling the owner would be racing cross country, to my wife’s Angie (Jose’s girlfriend).

It’ll be like my own personal Gumball Rally. Except for the high speeds, a paint-peeling sandstorm or trophy.

It’ll only be 500 miles instead of 2,800, but with the right attitude, any road trip can be fun.

( I dedicate this trip to all of my Gumball crew from Perris High School, Class of 1981. It was what I did with you that led to my so-far 27-year career.)



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.

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the conundrum of working-class guy’s fly fishing vehicle

Ask around, do a little research and you’ll likely find that the question “what’s the best vehicle for fly fishing” is often answered “truck.”

But I’m still paying into social security so others can fly fish when they want a working stiff. I need transportation that is, first and foremost, reliable, and just as important, economical. I have to spend money on gas to make money, and the less I spend upfront the better.

During better weather, the Honda CB750 and its 45+ miles per gallon is a fine option. But it’s difficult to load the necessary fly fishing gear, and the cooler of post-fishing beer, on a motorcycle. I’ve tried.

Being a bit obsessive about conducting research on anything that will cost more than $50, I’ve been thinking — probably too much according to those around me — about the vehicle that, in about 1½ to 2 years, will replace my current 2003 Honda Accord. Since I’ll likely buy a certified pre-owned car, it’s going to be something currently on the market. My current car gets 30 to 32 mpg most of the time, and on long trips to fishing venues, I’ve seen 34+ mpg. But over 80% of my driving is commuting to and from work.

I’ve debated the merits of various models, including sport utility vehicles and all-wheel-drive cars. A hybrid is out of the question; too heavy and not enough clearance for the occasional Forest Service road. Subaru is a commonly offered up make as an all-encompassing solution. But I’ve noticed two things: most Subaru owners talk about the sportiness of the ride, the go-almost-anywhere capability, but rarely praise their cars’ mpg, and it seems to be a roll of the dice when it comes to build quality. That might be said about any make, but that’s my experience.

Despite the fact that I’ve been a Honda owner for well over 20 years, I opened up my consideration to other options, particularly now that the mpg on midsize sedans is edging up.

But, and a bit ironically, it’s fly fishing that helped firmed up my decision. At least for now.

I’ve driven my Honda on a good many, only slightly improved, Forest Service roads. Sometimes for miles, over the relatively soft dirt along the Upper Owens River, for example, or over rocks on my way to the Little Walker River, and on washboard roads in the hills behind the cabin.

Still, the doggone car doesn’t squeak or rattle.

I’m hoping this will still hold true for my next car, until that someday when I can justify a dedicated fishing truck.

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a little fishwrap on Friday

I’m in the doldrums…taxes need to be done, it’s another four weeks before the Trout Opener, the cold, rainy November weather we didn’t get in November is here now…and seems to be hanging on in Vermont while Hendricksons are hatching early in the East. The anticipation of our Opener usually brings about a focus, but the gear’s long been sorted, flies tied, new reel set up…with little to do but wait, my attention span seems pretty short these days.

I can’t resist and The Wife chuckles knowing that it’s never going to be in the budget, but I would gladly own a vehicle for every day of the week; and two for Sundays…as long as I had the garage space. I can’t buy but can still look, and anyone my age as young as I might love their next fishing vehicles to be one of these recent concepts from Jeep.

Jeep J-12

The Jeep J-12 Concept…a knock off of the always macho J-20…

Jeep FC

The FC concept is as a tribute to the unique Jeep Forward Control that was sold from 1956 and 1965.

You could, however, get your mitts on this oldie but goodie…I remember the first one I saw, in Tuolumne Meadows I believe, in green.

A 1970 Jeep Jeepster Commander…with a special and patriotic Hurst package…

A 1970 Jeep Jeepster Commander…with a special and patriotic Hurst package…

On stopping a damn dam: Could it be that all those Californians that long-ago brought a housing boom to Washington State brought more than their luggage? We in the not-anymore-so Golden State are too familiar with the fight over water and the damming of rivers, and now Kirk Werner of is asking for help…and we should give it. A movement is afoot to stop in the preliminary permitting process a small hydroelectric dam proposed for an upper section of Washington’s Skykomish River. I’ve not fished the Sky, but have hopes that as the years wear on that I might get to know it and other Washington rivers in my pursuit of a native westslope cutthroat.

…And you can’t help but like the little guy, but maybe I pushed my luck actually following through with the threat that I’d drop by to get his signature on a set of “Olive the Woolly Bugger” books…but Kirk seem more than willing to sign copies of his books without you hovering over him if you make a Kickstarter pledge that could launch an Olive iPad app…a good idea for fly fishing fathers who figure they could receive the wife’s approval to get more new gear if only they could only pass their current gear down to their kids. I don’t need the books but I’m keen on something that might keep me entertained in the off season interest kids in the hobby.

I lied, so forget what I wrote. I will buy some new gear at the club auction next week, if I can fend off other bidders. A club member (and fantastic woodworker) donated some nice handmade nets big enough for optimism but more in keeping with the size of fish I land. I’m guessing I’m in for some combat bidding.


consideration of a vehicle as fly fishing tackle, and finding there’s no mid-life crisis car for fly fishermen

In the year of my 49th birthday, I’m talking to myself a bit more than usual. Sure, people tend to carefully back away when this happens, but it’s not what you think.

Lamborghini LM 002 : A fly fishing vehicle?

The LM 002, probably the only Lamborghini suitable for fly fishing decals/stickers.

Most of this mumbling is in the car on the drive to work during the early morning darkness — courtesy the early hour, daylight savings and welcome rain — and its rooted in an all-too-common internal dialogue, this time debating the vehicle that might best replace my trusty and economical 2003 Honda Accord sedan in about two years.

By now, putting two and two together would suggest this is about a ‘midlife crisis car.’ I prefer to think that it’s more a reflection of a better financial position, and certainly not indicative of compensation for some perceived inadequacy.

Why the heck would I think about something so far in advance? I’m a big proponent of saving a few thousand bucks buying a certified pre-owned vehicle, which are often covered by a warranty as good as, or better, than those covering new cars.

Unlike those who are retired or freelance from home — with a commute fueled only by coffee — my decision-making process involves a bit more pragmatism. It boils down to a reliable conveyance to the place of work, hopefully with a modicum of comfort at minimal cost.

But all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Sporty would be nice.

When it comes to fishing, that better mileage certainly won’t be frowned upon during longer drives to trout waters. Maximization of fishing time requires space for a fully rigged 9-foot rod or three and all the associated fly fishing gear. Until a dedicated fly fishing vehicle joins the fleet, it’d be nice to have enough clearance for the occasional drive down a graded forest service road.  That eliminates sports cars.

Though the EPA ratings of many small SUVs/CUVs are in the 30 mpg range, my Accord regularly hits 32 to 34 mpg on many fishing trips, in the real world, even if that entails traversing both sides of the Sierras. And driving 250 miles a week to work adds up when gas is $4-plus a gallon. Wanting any replacement vehicle to do as well, or better, eliminates any truck and many crossovers. Sure, a Subaru is worthy of consideration, but only the revised 2013 Imprezza and its crossover version (the new XV) offer hope of better mileage, but seem to fail in the real world. The new Mazda CX-5 warrants some consideration, but it’s expected to earn an EPA rating about equal to the Accord. The Toyota’s RAV4 and Honda’s CR-V fall in the same range.

My conclusion is that I have no reason to impress the ladies there is no vehicle to satisfy all of the above requirements.   

Years ago I thought, as I took up fly fishing, that I’d get by with a single rod. While I’m not a rabid rod collector, in a few short years I’ve already accumulated half dozen rods, with each dedicated to specific types of flies, conditions or species. 

But as far as a vehicle goes, and for now being limited to one, it appears that practicality will win this round.

P.S. We’ve been through this before: an improving economy doesn’t lift all boats equally, but always lifts the price of gasoline. Maybe I’ve been desensitized to it, but the price of petrol here hovers near record levels, again, and will likely rise a few more nickels before California’s general trout opener. The journey, the food, and the companionship are all part of the experience. But how much money are you willing to spend on getting to that skunkin’?


the ultimate fishing truck, or the fishing truck you didn’t know you needed, until now

Thanks to our vigilance and hard work we’ve found THE fishing vehicle for big river and stillwater fishermen. You only have to choose between Gibbs Amphibians’ 30-foot, 500-horsepower turbo diesel powered Phibian or the 21.5-foot, 350-horsepower V8 driven Humdinga (pictured).

Gibbs Humdinga

Gibbs Humdinga