fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)


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folks might think I’m one of those guys, but I’m now old enough to not care

This is how my journey of self discovery (one of many recently) started this week:

“The new seat for my custom motorcycle seat arrived today. I’m going to test ride it tomorrow,” I told my brother, realizing that its arrival Monday sort of made it a birthday gift to myself.

“Cool. How much did that cost?” asked Mark.

“Oh, about $400…”

“You mush like your tush…”

The conversation went on with justifications about spending that kind of money, talk about long rides that have been planned for some as-yet unset date.

I’m certainly not wealthy, but with a bit of scrimping and saving in other parts of my life, I can equip myself with motorcycle (or fly fishing) gear that increases my enjoyment. Good gear is worth it: not thinking about how my butt may start to go numb is priceless.

Stuart Smalley

“I deserve good things, I am entitled to my share of happiness. I refuse to beat myself up. I am an attractive person. I am fun to be with.” Three out of four ain’t bad. Dig the sweater.

I’m tough on all my gear, but the big name waders I purchased almost five years ago only recently needed repair after hiking through brambles and blackberries, scrambling over boulders, only to be unceremoniously crumbled and thrown in the trunk until their next use or being unpacked and hopefully cleaned at home.

There’s also that one rod I use most, even when it’s not an exact match for my quarry, even when it’s a bit too long for the brush-lined banks of relatively small water. It’s the one that casts best. I don’t have to accommodate the rod, it fits me. Like that motorcycle seat, I don’t think about it, it just does its job. Also like that seat, my favorite wasn’t cheap. But it does everything that I ask of it, without me asking.

In some respects, I was a fly fishing snob in my formative fishing years, arguing that landing a 14-inch trout on my less-than-$100 rod was equivalent to a 21-inch fish on more expensive gear. Back then, I figured waving around a more expensive rod would scream “poser.” Perhaps I’m wiser now. Or, like that honey badger, I just don’t care.

Luckily, my wife’s been the most ardent support of my purchasing good stuff. I’ve just been a bit too miserly to listen. So when the bill comes, she can’t complain. She started it.


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we’ll be asking Santa for a second set of waders

“Uncertainty and expectation,” according to William Congreve, “are the joys of life.” Among fly fishermen, uncertainty is part and parcel of the sport.

This uncertainty plays into casting, fly selection, finding the fish and the water itself. A spey cast and wet fly swing can be used cover wide swaths of a river in the search for secluded fish. Innumerable “searching patterns” directly address any uncertainty as to the location of fish or even the existence of fish in a stretch of water. Weather and wildfires threaten fishability with flooding, drought and habitat destruction.

But fly fishermen forge ahead. There’s an enjoyment of unfamiliar waters, or the challenge of hooking a fish on that day when the fishing is mediocre or worse, or the choice of a fly made in frustration, one that doesn’t make any sense but fools an unexpected trout nonetheless. For all the science that the unknowing ascribe to fly fishing, those intimate with the sport know there can an equal amount of guesswork and, sometimes, plain ol’ dumb luck. Gilda Radner would have called this uncertainty a “delicious ambiguity.” More esoteric explanations claim that in uncertainty, the execution of the activity becomes secondary to the intellectual problem solving and decision making; two big parts of fly fishing.

My problem is that the uncertainty of today may affect my enjoyment of any uncertainty on the water next week. Currently, I’m a fly fisherman without waders.

My Simms waders had served me well the last four years. But last time I was out and up to my waist in a river, I felt a dampness that shouldn’t have been. Though it could have been the result of traipsing through blackberry bushes all those years, I was more suspicious of the seam. Availing myself of the warranty, I shipped the waders to Simms, where they were declared not repairable. Thankfully, a new pair has been authorized, but I have yet to hear that they’ve shipped. And no, I don’t have a back up pair. Yet.

Being without waders isn’t so much of an issue this time of year, if one were to fish after the hills have been warmed by the sun. But fishing early, as I often do, is still a chilly proposition in waters that aren’t too distant from the snow that is its source.

So, until the day I’m supposed to be fishing, I’ll be watching for the UPS guy.


In all fairness, I will also comment on Orvis’ customer service. I returned to Orvis a Safe Passage Sling Pack for replacement because of defective stitching that I thought could allow a seam to come apart. I shipped the Sling Pack (from California) to Orvis’ return center in Roanoke, Va., about two weeks ago on the same day the waders went to Simms in Bozeman, Mont. My replacement Sling Pack was in my possession earlier this week.