St. Patrick’s Day, Unaccomplished Angler style.

I’m not Irish, though I do admire those who are. Irish accents are right up there at the top of my favorites, second only to the Scottish accent. There are a good many other reasons to like the Irish, however.  Most notably, St. Patrick’s Day.

For those of you who think that St. Patrick’s Day is simply an excuse to wear green and drink more beer than is typically acceptable, you’re not alone. Apparently there’s more to it that that. Here’s a brief history:

St. Patrick’s Day began as a religious holiday to celebrate the Irish patron saint by the name of Patrick. Over time St. Patrick’s Day has become a secular celebration of the Irish culture.  Because he lived in the 4th century, not much is known about St. Patrick and much of what has been said about his life has probably been twisted, embellished and exaggerated, like the rumors that he rid Ireland of snakes (the Emerald Isle never had snakes in the first place).

Without anyone to tell us otherwise we can probably assume that St. Patrick was also a fly fisherman. With the luck of the Irish on his side he was probably a damned fine angler, too. And back in the 4th century there were more fish to be caught than there are today, so he very likely was a most accomplished angler. The folks at Montana Fly Company are honoring the heritage of St. Patrick the Angler, sort of,  by holding a “Lucky Limerick Contest” on their Facebook page.

If you’re not on Facebook you’re a shrinking minority of people. If you are on Facebook, then  jump on over and “like” the page for Montana Fly Company (what’s not to like about it anyway, right?). Once there, please find my limerick entry (it’s the 20th entry) and give it a “like”. It doesn’t matter if you don’t actually like it–I’m just asking you to “like” it. The contest runs until St. Patrick’s Day and the limerick with the most “likes” will win millions of dollars in cash and prizes. The guidelines are fairly simple: Write a limerick about the luckiest or unluckiest day you’ve ever had fishing.

It was an easy decision for me to choose the latter theme for my limerick:

The Spey rod makes an awkward sweep,
the line piling up in a pitiful heap.

I look like a dork
with two hands on the cork

I should pay for a lesson but I’m way too cheap.

At the time of this writing there is one other entry with 12 “likes” to my “6”. I’m not by nature a competitive guy, but I hate to lose. If you do decide to help me win this contest, leave a comment here (don’t email me) stating that you “liked” my limerick on the Montana Fly Company Facebook page. I’ll check to make sure you’re not cheating. If I win, I’ll throw all the names of those who voted for me into my lucky fishing hat and draw a winner who will receive a Montana Fly Company rainbow trout fly box.

Thanks for your support, and happy St. Patrick’s Day. I’ll be drinking several green beers in your honor.

Trout camo – just wear it.

Camouflage is an essential means of survival for many wild critters. Nature lends a wide variety of unique color and pattern variations to keep these critters well-hidden from predators, and those same predators also employ effective camouflage as a means of making them more stealthy and able to sneak up on their prey.

Many fish have dark coloring on their dorsal side so that predators from looking down from above cannot easily spot the fish against the dark field of water in which the fish swim.  Similarly, those same fish are light-colored on their bellies so that predators lurking below do not easily see the fish against the light from above. Obviously this varies from one fish species to another, and some are much more specialized when it comes to natural concealment: certain types of fish are experts at blending perfectly into their surroundings while others take a more general approach. For example, the spotting on a trout’s backside doesn’t exactly replicate their environment, but the spots serve to break up their outline in much the same way as do the spots on a guy with say,  full body leopard spot tattoos. This makes it difficult to see the trout, just as it makes it difficult to look at the guy with the tattoos.

Being apex predators, we humans have devised ways to overcome our lack of natural concealment by cloaking ourselves in clothing that allows us to blend in to our environs. For example, you can just barely detect the man below sitting on his couch because his camo Snuggie hides him so effectively, making him appear to be no more than a lump of decomposing vegetable matter, or something.

The hunting industry is inundated with more camouflage patterns than you can shake a foliage branch at. From intricate designs that look like marsh grass to conifer trees and everything in between, including snow (which is amazingly not just a field of white), companies like Realtree and Mossy Oak offer just about everything imaginable. If you want to see the many camo patterns available, just attend an outdoor sports expo. Though cleverly disguised, there will be hundreds if not thousands of attendees blending into their environment.

Can you see the plaid-clad hunter in this photo?

Before the invention of modern camo patterns, plaid jackets seemed to do the trick of breaking up the hunter’s outline and sufficiently concealing big game stalkers from their colorblind quarry. Similarly for hunting waterfowl, canvas coats in drab shades of brown and tan seemed to be all that was needed to effectively shoot a generous limit of ducks, which do see color. But it’s the 21st century, and in this world of specialized gadgets and gizmos, camo manufacturers know they have a viable market and they do an effective job of advertising to their audience. Case in point, yours truly has several different camo patterns for waterfowl, turkey and deer/elk hunting.  It all seems to work reliably well, having kept me sufficiently concealed and unsuccessful in my many days afield. All the cool camo in the world cannot make up for being an unaccomplished shot.

An argyle fishing sweater hides this angler.

The fishing industry is not quite on par with the hunting world when it comes to offering a range of camo for the pursuit of watery inhabitants. In fact, there are scant few options available to the angler who has been convinced that an argyle sweater or dull-colored clothing isn’t sufficient for remaining stealthy in the eyes of fish. What exactly a fish sees may be up for debate, and certainly I am no Piscatorial Opthalmologist.  However, there is information based on the study of fish eye anatomy to suggest that fish do see in color, even though they do not appear to have the keen vision of say, a turkey (who will scope you out unless you’re wearing the latest and greatest forest camo specific to the time of day in your exact county).

Many things affect a fish’s vision, including the amount of light on the water, the depth at which the fish are holding, water clarity, etc. Personally I’ve never worried too much about what color shirt or jacket I’m wearing when I go fishing. I tend to wear muted colors, but mainly because brighter shades don’t go well with my skin tone and eye color, nor do bright colors match my wading boots. I’ve never experienced a higher catch rate based on the color of my clothes, but for those who seek to boost their angling confidence by donning something a little more technical, there are a few choices.

Aqua Design Voyager shirt, 3D water camo

Aqua Design offers a full line of apparel that feature a variety of water patterns/colors. Their tagline says, “Blend into nature (and get close to those smart fish)”. It’s pretty cool if you like that look.  I suppose it makes good sense that if a fish looks up and sees you wearing this shirt, they’ll mistake you for water (albeit water wearing sunglasses and holding a fly rod) and be more inclined to take your fly. I wonder what the shirt looks like when it gets wet?

Fishouflage pullover featuring Bassouflage pattern

Another line of camo fishing apparel is made by Fishouflage, which is a clever use of “fish” and “camouflage”. Upon initial view it may appear to be just another woodland camo pattern, but closer inspection reveals that it is actually an underwater setting, complete with structure and a fish or three (maybe more). Certainly the familiar weeds and submerged branches will put any wary fish at ease should they happen to see you wearing this clothing. The fish may even leap out of the water and try to wrap your line around your clothing in an attempt to snap you off. I have a love-hate relationship with structure.

Pattern Master's Kiddy Fishing Camo

I discovered another interesting camo pattern but could not locate any clothing featuring this particular design by Pattern Masters. It seems a rather non-threatening pattern for the trout, bass or catfish that an angler may pursue.

The Trout Underground also came across some interesting camo patterns that are certainly worth a quick look. But look quickly, then quickly look away.

Hey, look— it's a funny fly fishing shirt!

Barring an actual camo pattern, if the goal is to hide one’s intentions and present oneself as no threat to the fish, another option might be to simply wear a funny fishing shirt. Humor is, after all, a great way to break the ice and make oneself moderately amusing, if not completely appealing. I mean, who doesn’t love a funny fishing t-shirt, right?

Just when I thought I’d exhausted all possibilities of camouflage for the discerning angler, Marck sent me a photo taken of him at a Nike outlet store. Ladies and gentleman, I believe Nike has produced the ultimate in trout camo! Of all the things that would put a wiley trout at ease, it would be looking up and seeing another trout. Even though this jacket was marked down to $120 (regularly $400), in the end Marck did not buy it for the obvious reasons: it makes a very bold statement. I’m not sure the fishing world is quite ready for this cutting edge design just yet.  Until it becomes a fashion accepted by mainstream angling industry, it would require a person with very little self respect to actually wear it on the water, or anywhere else for that matter.

I want one.

Nike Trout Camo—Just wear it.

Top Six Stupidest Fly Fishing Cars

Before we get too far into this and people begin to declare me some sort of vehicle snob, please remember who you’re dealing with here: The Unaccomplished Angler. Man of very little pride and/or self-respect when it comes to anything fishing related. That having been said, I do have my limits. Especially when it comes to cars.

But wait – what does this apparent rant about stupid cars have to do with fly fishing?  Well, last I checked, we angling types need a way to get to our fishing destinations, and barring a public transit system that will take us to our specific angling locales, most of us probably drive a car (for the purposes of this competition the term “car” is an all encompassing reference to any motorized vehicle be it a truck, SUV, van, coupe, sedan or other). The only criteria was that eligible vehicles had to be a 2010 model year or newer, therefore eliminating the Pontiac Aztec, AMC Pacer, and Isuzu VehiCross from eligibility. Performance, economy, comfort, build quality or other redeeming qualities were not considered in the selection process. This was a non-scientific, seat-of-the-pants compilation of worthy vehicles.

And now, the list of the Unaccomplished Angler’s Top Six Stupidest Fly Fishing Cars: vehicles in which I would not want to be seen passing through Idaho and Montana, or any other state:

#6 Stupid Fly Fishing Car: Nissan Quest

6. Nissan Quest. This one takes me beyond my general contempt for mini vans. I will admit that mini vans are in many ways versatile, practical cars. I even rode to and from Yellowstone in one, and cannot deny that it was a very comfortable way to travel. They may be fine for you. Just not for me. Years ago when we started our family, I breathed a sigh of relief when Mrs. UA declared that she did not want a mini van. I’ve never loved her more than at that very moment, nor have I ever met a mini van that I considered good looking. But thanks to Nissan you can now drive the stupidest looking one ever. It’s as if Nissan’s designers sat down and said, “Let’s really try to make this look cool and stylish.”  Well, it’s a mini van. They’re not supposed to look stylish or cool, because they’re not. If you’re looking for something stupid looking, look no further than the Quest. It’ll carry an army of anglers and all their gear, and look bad doing it.

#5 Stupid Fly Fishing Car: H2

5. Hummer H2. Now some of you may be thinking, “Wait just a minute! This doesn’t deserve to be on your stupid list–this thing is a rugged, manly beast!” True, it’s a beast. But if you’re going to make a bold statement, at least have the cajones to get a real, military-inspired H1 Hummer and not some watered-down, Chevy Tahoe on botox. These things clearly scream “I’m over-compensating!” and I’d be wrought with shame if I were seen in one. Yes, it may get you deep into the woods over washed-out roads where some other more civilized SUVs dare not go, but chances are if you’re driving a Hummer H2 it will have chrome wheels and low profile tires, making it better suited for trips to the hair salon, or the gym. In this day and age of heightened environmental sensitivity, the H2 is far from anything remotely green.

#4 Stupid Fly Fishing Car: Dodge Magnum

4. Dodge Magnum. I’m not sure what the folks at Chrysler were thinking when they designed this thing. I’m not sure that they were thinking.  It’s a station wagon, and an ugly one at that.  Putting a Hemi under the hood does not make it any less of a station wagon. Chopping the roof does nothing to increase its sporty factor. It’s still a station wagon: a station wagon that also looks like a hearse, and I wouldn’t be caught dead going on a fishing trip in the Dodge Magnum. They’ve been redesigned for 2011 and while they may be a bit better than their predecessors, they’re still stupid.

#3 Stupid Fly Fishing Cars: Nissan Juke

3. Nissan Juke. Stupid name for an odd looking car. What is it supposed to be anyway, an SUV or maybe a sports car—perhaps an awkward cross dressing crossover? I don’t know. It fails to successfully be anything other than stupid. In fact, it leaves me feeling juked and it would make a stupid fly fishing car. And don’t drive on the beach. That’s just not cool. If you’re gonna fish the beach, park on the shoulder of the road and walk down. Walk quickly and try not to let anyone see you get our of your car, if your car is the Nissan Juke.

#2 Stupid Fishing Car: Smart Car

2. Smart Car. I know what you’re thinking: this should be the #1 Stupidest Fly Fishing Car. While that may have been an obvious choice, it would have also been too easy. If ever there were a vehicle inappropriately named, it’s the Smart Car. I understand that if you live in Manhattan and need a car to scoot around the city, where parking is nonexistent, this might be something that would appeal to you. But why not just get a scooter instead? Aside from resembling something a toddler would play with, I doubt there’s room for a pair of waders and a fly box in one of these. Aesthetics aside, they sure look like a death-trap to me and I wouldn’t be caught alive in one. Just for giggles I would like to see a rod carrier mounted on this thing with a couple of 14 foot Spey rods attached: you’d have to affix red flags to the rod tips as they would extend 8 feet past the rear of the car. Make sure if you do this your rods have good warranties. Thank you, Daimler, for the smart car: it’s stupid. Almost stupid enough to be #1.

1. Nissan Cube. The top honor goes to Nissan. Mrs. UA and myself were recently driving down the freeway, minding our own business when one of these caught our attention violated our tranquility. We’d never seen one before and it caused us to simultaneously blurt out, “That’s stupid!” In fact the Nissan Cube was the sole inspiration behind this list. It really bothered me. These things are just plain wrong on so many levels that I won’t even listen to anyone who tries to tell me that the Nissan Cube has any redeeming qualities. What’s with the stupid, asymetrical, wraparound, one corner rear glass, anyway? It’s out of balance and would look horrible slathered with fly fishing stickers. I’m sorry, but if you own one of these you’ll eventually come to your senses and realize the stupidity of your ways. Congratulations to the designers at Nissan: you’ve produced three of the Top Six Stupidest Fly Fishing Cars.

So, what do YOU drive? I hope it’s not one of the stupid fly fishing cars from this list. If it is, I’ll send you a sticker:

Fishing alone while in Montana may be a crime

Never fish alone in MT if you're a woman.


A friend and regular follower of the UA informed me recently of an interesting law in Montana. The law states:

“In Montana it is illegal for married women to go fishing alone on Sundays, and illegal for unmarried women to fish alone at all.”

Now, I’m a reasonably intelligent person and suspect that this is an old wive’s tale.  I’ve Googled the matter and the same verbiage comes up on several different websites, but none of them are what I would call reliable sources:, These websites are likely just spreading falsehoods and simply adding fuel to a fire that shouldn’t even be burning. Over at Single Barbed this and other ridiculous fishing laws across the land were also called out.

Makes you wonder if these laws are, or ever were, real. If they were real at one time, what lawmaker got paid to write them and how did they make it through the legislative process?  And assuming these laws were written during a time of considerable social conservatism, how could modern lawmakers not revoke such antiquated legalities? If these laws are simply the result of some lonely jokester sitting in a dark office posting outrageous claims to the internet, then what a pitiful life that individual must lead.

Whatever the case may be, I must ask myself, “Why let them have all the fun?”  The Unaccomplished Angler would like to throw his lucky fishing hat into the mix and declare himself an authority on Montana fishing law: I confirm that it is in fact, illegal in Montana for married women to go fishing alone on Sundays, and illegal for unmarried women to fish alone at all.

So, heed my advice when you ladies are fishing in Montana: Know the laws. Avoid judicial persecution.

No charge for the legal advice.