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Fly Fishing is a stickery business.

It’s been said that the type of car one drives says a lot about that person. That may be true to some degree, but the stickers that one adheres to their car say even more about that person.  Many people put stickers/decals on their cars to show an allegiance to a cause, or dedication to a brand or product, or simply to make a statement (which sometimes they ought not do – just sayin’). As a micro sampling of society, fly angling folks seem to be even more prone to the practice of decorating with decals than any other group of peoples, except maybe surfers.  But I digress. Even with fly fishing folks it’s a generalization that all are sticker-hoarders because clearly not all who angle with a fly slather their vehicles with adhesive-backed messages.  However, many do and that is the focus of my report.

I’ve had a few stickers on my vehicles over the years, but until recently I kept the habit in check.  The downward spiral started innocently enough when I purchased a 2003 Toyota Tacoma that came complete with a Leer canopy on the back. That rear canopy window was prime real estate just waiting for development, and the vast empty expanse of glass taunted me. Being desciplined, I started slowly and tastefully with a lone Sage sticker applied top center. When my buddy Marck went and applied a much larger Sage sticker to his Toyota Forerunner, I got competitive and devised a plan: my mission became that of, “Marck ‘s may be bigger, but I’ll have more.” And so began my quest for domination. I like to rep the local fly fly shop, so on went an All About The Fly decal. Next I decided I should fly the colors of the Coastal Conservation Association and the Euro-style STLHD sticker from Moldy Chum to profess my fondness for the anadromous fishes.  That trifecta provided a nice clean look: simple, balanced.  Being a graphic designer I like order, and design principals call for odd-numbered groupings (such as 3 and 5). Three was good, so 5 would be better, right?  Simple algebra, so a couple more were applied. Then came the annual  trip to Montana and Yellowstone Park which resulted in a couple more stickers from the Stonefly Inn & Outfitters and Blue Ribbon Flies. I paused to take stock of what was happening on the canopy glass and reassured myself that it wasn’t too bad. So I added a couple more.

Mrs. Unaccomplished Angler took notice and commented on the growing collection. “I see you got some new stickers,” she said in a tone that was clearly one of judgment being passed more than a simple observation being made. I shrugged it off as jealousy and went about sifting through the stash of stickers I had collected over time but never applied. I extracted a few strategic samples and placed them in an orderly arrangement flanking the perimeter of the window glass. I told myself that as long as I maintained an order I wasn’t out of control. Soon after that I got my hands on an Airflo sticker that didn’t fit neatly into the existing arrangement so I put it where I could and acknowledged that it marked the beginning of chaos. Mrs. UA now just rolls her eyes each time she notices a new sticker.

But I am not completely alone in this strange obsession, and misery loves company. Today I’ll take a look at a few folks – some of whom I know in person, others whom I know virtually in the interweb sorta way – all of whom are passionate about fly fishing and have something to say about the stickers on their vehicles. Disclaimer: It is the responsibility of the press to report the news, not impart opinion or edit facts to suit the personal needs of the reporter. To that end I have not edited any of the information, nor do I necessarily agree or disagree with what has been stated by others. Edward R. Murrow would be proud, for journalistic integrity is not dead.

Mike Nutto: Scandalous Fly Fishing Brothers blog

“I only have companies I think are good on my truck. There is a ton of garbage out so I wont support them. I wouldn’t even support them if they asked me to be sponsored by them! So it is like that when it comes to stuff on my truck. I try a lot of stuff out and if it fails me once I’ll take the sticker off my truck, I have a Ross Reel sticker on my computer. I hate my Ross Reel so much and I hate that the sticker is on my computer now so I’m slowly covering it up!”

A fly fishing sticker on a computer is cool. However, a computer sticker on a fly fishing vehicle is not. I love my Apple G5, but I’m not putting an Apple sticker on my truck. I’m not one to judge, but I will say that I’ve got several Ross Reels and I’ve not had any issues. In fact, I like ’em all. Making a product that can stand up to the rigorous demands of every hardcore fisherman is a tall order. Speaking of tall, our next featured fisherman is Josh Mills.

Josh Mills: Chucking Line and Chasing Tail

“I have to keep it somewhat classy in the advertising field… so I keep my logo’s to three:

1.  The Silver Bow–my buddy’s fly shop in town, and a really cool logo if I must say
2.  Moldy Chum’s steelhead logo…cause it’s all I want to fish for
3.  The original Moldy Chum fly…cause I dig it and it looks classy. I also added the license plate holder.  My wife says that if I add more, a line will have been crossed – the invisible one that separates normal from nutty.”  [Josh also sent along a photo of the sticker collection belonging to his father, Old Man River, who reportedly out-fishes Josh every time they go out.]

Classy?  What’s that? Cross that line, Josh.  Throw caution to the wind and publicly jump into the waters of nuttiness –the water’s fine!

Which raises an interesting point: When is too much of a good thing a bad thing? As far as I am concerned, never. Unless the mass of stickers becomes so dense that the driver can no longer see out the rear window of their rig.  One way to avoid that is to apply the stickers to the side windows, like Cameron Mortenson has done.

Cameron Mortenson: The Fiberglass Manifesto and Fishy Kid

“At last count I have almost fifty decals on the vehicle which represent TFM and Fishy Kid sponsors, friends, or just companies that I think are doing a good thing.  The badged-out Element has been a great conversation starter and a way to spread the word about Fishy Kid and TFM.”

Roger that, Cameron. Your rig certainly would be worthy of inquisition – great job with Fishy Kid and thanks for the photos.

Speaking of photos, the next offering was provided by Rich Schaff, who takes some amazing photos, and not just of his stickered truck.

Rich Schaff: East Fork Fly Photography

“You guessed right I’m a ’DECAL FREAK’…figured it safer than getting actual tattoos and earrings at my age. Guess they are a mid-life crisis sorta thing anyways… Guess we just want to
stay as immature as long as possible…Hope that’s a good thing.”

Yeah, Rich, I’d say it’s a good thing. And your immaturity makes me feel better about myself. I like the rationale that stickers are perhaps a safer choice than tats or piercings.

You won’t find body art anywhere on our next guest, even though my buddy Large Albacore is big enough that he could host a full size tattoo of the Space Needle on his back if he were so inclined.

Large Albacore:

“The STLHD, Airflo, and spey sticker are all about my love of fishing for steelhead w/ the two handed rod.  The other stickers, UA/Ross Reels/Winston rods are all my attempt to promote quality fishin’ stuff in my small way.  Overall, they communicate that a large part of my life/identity is tied up in fly fishing.  Kind of sick when I think about it.”

I’m not sure how the UA sticker qualifies for “quality fishin’ stuff” status, but thanks for flyin’ the colors. As for it being kind of sick, I would have to disagree. It seems a rather healthy indulgence if you ask me.

And for some like Derek Young, the indulgence isn’t just a personal thing, it’s professional advertising.

Derek Young: Emerging Rivers Guide Services and Fly Fish the Yakima

“To me, my stickers represent a few things. I’m proud to be the only Orvis Endorsed Guide here in WA, and I fly those flags proudly. I also think conservation is important, so I support TU and CleanAngling.org. But, and it’s reflected in my blog, my stickers (I think, anyways) signal my inclusion in the fly fishing culture that I am proud of, and it’s a personal signature of who I am.”

Just when you thought that fly fishing culture was reserved for just fishermen, our next featured angler is girl and an outdoors person through and through. You might even call her an outdooress…

Rebecca Garlock: The Outdooress

“I just got a the new FishCruiser a couple of weeks ago =) About the stickers. I’ve only put one on so far. I recently bought a new Waterworks-Lamson reel and it came with a sticker, so the timing gets credit for the first sticker placement. I plan on slapping a few more on the rig since I figure if I’m going to have an official FishCruiser, I might as well make it look the part. Now I just need to buy more crap so I can get more stickers. An angler can always find a legit excuse for buying new gear right? I should mention I’m also taking sticker placement applications, so if you want the official Unaccomplished Angler sticker on the FishCruiser you can submit the proper paperwork for review.”

Done. Anyone else who wants to apply for representation should contact Rebecca for the paperwork. I can vouch that it’s an easier application process than applying for a building permit.

In sticking with our female contingency, next up is a woman who can outcast most anybody – man or woman – with a Spey rod. I observed Mia Sheppard casting at the Jimmy Green Memorial Fly Fishing Expo and it made me realize I’m not a real Spey caster, no matter how long my rod.

Mia Sheppard: Little Creek Outfitters and Metalheads blog

“Our cars are pretty stickerless currently. Our old guide truck use to be covered in stickers.” But her husband’s ammo can is certainly worthy of mention.

Unfortunately no photos were available of the old guide truck. I hope you get those cars stickered up, Mia– the ammo can shouldn’t have all the fun.

Interesting that the subject of ammunition has come up, because Pat Konsoke applied one of his stickers to deter break-ins.

Pat Konoske: Fishing for Words

Zero Limit (http://www.catchrelease.com/) – While I do subscribe to catch and release, the hope is that advertisement of this principle will allow my car to go unmolested on waters away from home and guarded by fanatical fly fishermen.

Diablo Valley Fly Fishermen logo (http://www.diablovalleyflyfish.org/) – Carefully placed in acknowledge of my turning away from the dark side. This is the club through which I attended an all-day fly fishing class, and for which I now serve as secretary and webmaster. (I never did learn to keep my head down.)

California Department of Fish & Game Warden Stamp (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wardenstamp/) – The first California Game Warden stamp, from which the $5 cost supposedly goes into a special fund supporting game wardens. True or not, it warms my heart that in some small way I may be helping protect our resources. I figure in a few years, among the outdoor sports crowds, it’ll be like the now common “KMA” license plate frames of today. (KMA refers to the prefix of FCC callsigns for many law enforcement agencies.)

That’s my story…”

Nicely stated, Pat- what are you, a writer or something? I see and appreciate your reason for the Zero Limit sticker. Allow me to suggest a firearm sticker not in lieu of but in addition to your Zero Limit sticker for discouraging break-ins. Nothing scares a tweaker faster than an “Insured by Smith & Wesson” sticker.

I wouldn’t wish a break-in upon anyone, but if you were to be granted a welcome entry into the trailer of Rocky Maley, you would be in for a treat. I’ve only seen photos of the inside, and it’s awesome. The outside is like a billboard on wheels.

Rocky Maley: Fly Tier extraordinaire

“I bought it to tie in. It would be a lot cheaper than an addition to the house. And it’s easier than tent camping on fishing trips. I put the stickers on to add character to it.”

Not only cheaper, Rocky, but a whole lot cooler than an addition to the house, too because you can take your tying room with you on the road.

And if that road takes you in the vicinity of Ashton, Idaho, make sure you look up our next guest, Marc “Rowdy” Crapo.

Marc Crapo: Fly Wallets and No Sports Allowed

“I’ve held off for many years when it comes to putting decals on my rig. I hate to advertise for anyone unless they are legit and badass, a sponsor, and or (of course) me.”

Rowdy, you’ve got high, if not impossible standards! Guess those high standards are why your fly wallets kick so much butt.

Anyway, there you have it – a few perspectives from folks who are stuck on fly fishing and fly fishing’s stuck on them (or at least their cars). Fly fishing is more than just a sport, it’s a culture. It consumes and defines many who venture into it, and we fly the flags of our obsession proudly.

It’s no coincidence that this hot topic is being discussed elsewhere as we speak.  Take a click over to  Fishing for Words AND Fly Fish the Yakima for more on this matter of the fascination with fly fishing stickers.

PS– if you have some vacancy on your fishing rig, drift boat or tricycle, please consider adding an Olive the Woolly Bugger sticker. All proceeds go to support Casting 4 A Cure to help find a cure for Rett Syndrome and support those families dealing with this terrible disease. They’re available over at Myflies.com.

24 thoughts on “Fly Fishing is a stickery business.”

  1. Patrick says:

    Kirk, I’ll take the S&W warning under advisement. But funny thing…I am licensed and California Penal Code section 12027 allows licensed fishermen to carry “…pistols, revolvers or other firearms capable of being concealed upon the person while engaged in hunting or fishing, or transporting those firearms unloaded when going to or returning from the hunting or fishing expedition.” It says nothing about any need of reasonable fear of bears or competition from other anglers.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Interesting, Pat. I don’t typically equate sensible laws with California (or any West coast states for that matter), but I am impressed with California on this one.

    2. mia sheppard says:

      Great post! Stickers tell us so much about ourselves. Truely, that we are still just a bunch of kids at heart.

      1. Kirk Werner says:

        Amen to that, Mia- and thanks for both chiming in and being part of my report. I like to think of each new sticker as a reward for having done something good, like having gotten an A on a test, or completed a chore to exacting standards. A new sticker is better than a trip to the ice cream shop for a double scoop cone.

  2. Derek Young says:

    Well done Kirk – I’m stuck on this blog!

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      It was a fun trifecta, Derek- I think it was your idea if I’m not mistook, so hats off to you. Speaking of hats, can’t wait for my new ERGS hat!

  3. Rebecca says:

    Great article Kirk ~ You make a great reporter! Since I’m now up to 3 stickers since I gave my first opinion, I’ll consider myself on the path to the dark side. A few more stickers and I’ll be a lost cause.
    I like driving down the road and seeing another vehicle sporting a few fly fishing stickers. Instant roadside respect ~

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      I’ll do whatever I can to weaken your resolve, Rebecca. Bikers have their wave, as do Jeep CJ drivers and other close-knit groups. I figure fly fishing folks shouldn’t miss out on all the fun, so fly your colors and proclaim allegience to the sickness!

  4. mike nutto says:

    Im going to say this , Ross use to make nice reels like the cimmeron ,and the Big Canyon ,which were built well . Im not impressed with the Cla because it has problems with the drags ,Ross was close if they could stop the reel from free spooling when the drag is set low The reel itself is very tough ,but the plastic drag knob and plastic gears have to go !.The momentum has drag problems as well .They have yet to address the issue because they seem to think it isnt a problem .I said something to them about it and instead of say yeah we need to work on those problems they gave me some roundabout excuse . They went to corporate that is the problem .You can tell from the start to now they have gone down hill .No one wants to say anything ,or make waves but I spent money on there product and Im not happy with it . My other friends have had the same problems .So im looking for a better reel and a better company and for what you have to pay anymore I dont care if it is American or not ! Because as Americans we cant seem to make good products anymore without cheating the people who buy them ! That is all Im going to say on this !

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      The best thing a company can do is listen to straight talk from customers, Mike. I’ve heard from others who have had problems with their Ross’s, but as I mentioned I’ve not had a problem. Could be that I just don’t catch enough fish that test the drag of a reel 😉 Thanks for participating in my blog and for tellin’ it like it is. Ross, are you listening?

  5. Tim Miller says:

    Where is your This is Fly sticker? 😉 Great article man!
    Tim

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Thanks, Tim! I don’t know- where IS my This is Fly sticker? Clearly, I need one.

  6. Mike Gamby says:

    Great read… I am glad I am not weird…

    My Element looks awesome with stickers.
    Echo, Airflo, Idylwilde, and Burning Pram.

    oh, and Session Beer.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Mike, whether or not you’re weird matters not here in the back room of the UA, where we’re all a little off center, perhaps. Drive your rig with pride- sounds cool to me.
      And thanks for chiming in.

  7. Mike Gamby says:

    No, thank you for the great read!

    I think I will put another sticker on my rig… my daughter has an extra Belle sticker around here somewhere. :)

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Maybe you (or your daughter) needs and Olive the Woolly Bugger Sticker ; )

  8. Mike Gamby says:

    I need the books, and a sticker!

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Tell you what, Mike- you order a set of books and I’ll send you some signed book marks and a sticker! :)

  9. Amen. I can’t resist. I love stickers. I try to keep the ones on my truck to Recycled Fish partners. One side goes to non-profit partners, the other side goes to companies we’ve partnererd with. My wife says it looks too NASCAR.

    My kayak is fully mine, as is the sled I pull during the frozen winter months, ice fishing. Those get all my affinity stickers, and each one makes my boat better.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Praise stickers, Teeg! Wives and stickers don’t mix, as I know all too well. Really I think they’re just too mature to embrace their inner immaturity.

  10. Zero stickers on my outback. To me, a fly fishing sticker tells crooks that you are likely to have expensive equipment inside. I leave my vehicle all day in remote areas full of camping equipment and a couple of expensive rods. There’s no way around it. I’d rather have my vehicle look like a random day-hiker vehicle. A firearm sticker tells someone that they might score a gun too!

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Well, Chris, you’re no fun. No fun at all. The problem is that tweakers will break into any car, stickered or not. A lot of breakins happen at trailheads, on cars
      with or without stickers of any kind. I’m gonna leave my stickers where they are, and add a Trunk Monkey to my security detail.

  11. Mark Martin says:

    You want more stickers? See our website with over 400 custom stickers honoring rivers and streams across the USA. From the Queets to the Truckee and from the Beaverkill to the Ausable. Henrys Fork to the Yellowstone and South Holston and White River. We don’t have them all yet but we have a lot.

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