Somethin’s fishy in AdPharmville

I was staring blankly at the TV the other night when something caught my attention: a commercial. Specifically, a commercial for Symbicort. Symbicort is a drug.  No, not a drug for erectile dysfunction (I had to defuse that before the peanut gallery chimed in). Here, according to Wikipedia, is the definition of the drug:

Budesonide/formoterol is a combination formulation containing budesonide and formoterol used in the management of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the EU. It is marketed by AstraZeneca under the trade name Symbicort.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s look at the ad in question, which is posted on a site called

(I’ll pause while you watch the video, HERE)

Now that you’ve seen the commercial, I’m sure you noticed that something’s amiss. Let’s examine more closely, shall we?


Exhibit A (insert added to show closeup of fly fishing hat)

1. (Exhibit A) The main character is clearly a fly fisherman, as evidenced by his vest and lucky fishing hat which is covered with fishing flies. Nothing wrong with that.

Exhibit B

2. (Exhibit B) To further convince the viewer that the main character is clearly a fly fisherman, we even see a couple rods with fly reels mounted. We know without a shadow of doubt that those are fly reels, spooled with yellow fly line. However, something’s not quite right here, but the commercial moved too quickly for me to put my finger on it right away.

Exhibit C

3. (Exhibit C) A close-up of a fly reel eased my trepidation momentarily. I did wonder why the reel was spinning so fast when the rods weren’t even strung up yet, but I chalked it up to dynamic cinematic effect. I was willing to overlook that creative liberty, but from here on out things began to go awry rather quickly. Look at the grip on the green rod in this screen capture. Where is the telltale foreward grip of the fly rod that you know? But that’s only a problem I noticed with the one rod….

Exhibit D.1

Exhibit D.2

4. (Exhibits D.1 and D.2) Just as I suspected earlier on (Exhibit B), the other rod looked a bit out of place. Like the green rod in Exhibit C, this rod is also missing the telltale, long fore-grip of a fly rod. But check out the lower grip section on this rod: that’s more than a fighting butt on a typical fly fishing rod. Hell, it’s more than the underhand grip on any Spey rod I’ve ever seen!  Could it be…perhaps, a saltwater big game rod?  I’ve used salmon rods like that. Seems a bit overkill for the skinny stream we see in the background of Exhibit D.2. At this point I’m also noting that the vest he’s wearing is not a fly fishing vest–it’s more like something one would purchase for an overland safari. This isn’t going so well for Symbicort…

Exhibit E

5. (Exhibit E) And what of that first line guide you see there on the rod? Does that look like a standard stripping guide to you? Hardly. In fact, it looks like definitely the bottom guide on a gear rod…and yet there’s evidence of the fly line, so once again I began to doubt myself…

I began to think that maybe it’s some sort of specialized fly rod, the likes of which I’ve simply never seen. After all, I am no expert nor do I claim on any given day to be one.  I mean, who is the Unaccomplished Angler to assume a position of authority anyway, right?

But then came the final straw…

Exhibit F.1

Exhibit F.2

6. (Exhibits F.1 and F.2) They’re using bobbers.  No, not nymphing with Thingamabobbers, but lobbing actual bobbers as would one lob a bobber with a spin casting setup. Only they’re using fly reels and fly line. And at least one salmon gear rod.

Exhibit G

Thankfully they released the fish, assuming it was a wild trout (Exhibit G). And you have to respect the wholesome background message in commercial: getting out for some quality time with the family, passing down traditions from one generation to the next, and seeing the thrill in a youngster when they catch their first fish. That’s all good and righteous stuff.

I don’t mean to poke fun at the product, which undoubtedly helps many fly fishermen like the one in the commercial enjoy time with their families. But I would like to go on record as suggesting that the agency, who produced the ad, hire a consultant the next time they want to shoot a fly fishing-themed commercial. I am an expert and I’m available for a very reasonable fee. And clearly I have time available.

You may contact me at: unaccomplishedangler (at) gmail (dot) com.

82 thoughts on “Somethin’s fishy in AdPharmville”

  1. Bud says:

    That is way too funny Kirk…well done.


    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Thanks, Bud, but I’m just passing along the obvious!

  2. Michael in Seattle says:

    I noticed almost the same things when I was watching the commercial. “Wait a minute…a large arbor on a small stream? Well, OK, Grampa normally fishes salt water, but he’s getting the grandson hooked on fishing…why didn’t they put some flies on the vest? Wait a minute…I must not have seen…oh no they didn’t…seriously, a BOBBER?”

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Shhhh, not so loudly.

  3. Jen Hansen says:

    I totally saw this commercial the other night and noticed some of the discrepancies, but didn’t pick up on all of them that you did! I too wondered if they even considered consulting someone with actual fly fishing experience — and if they did…yikes. I guess that wasn’t what the commercial was about and I wonder what percent of people watching would have even noticed the mishaps anyhow. It make me laugh though :)

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Apparently I didn’t pick up on everything according to Paul’s comments. I must sharpen my observationary skills and get some glasses!

  4. Patrick says:

    The fact that you might consider medication for apparent insomnia notwithstanding, that guy looks suspiciously like Bass Pro Shop’s Uncle Buck…

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Say now, you could be on to something…I wonder if you can buy Symbicort at Bass Pro?

  5. Wade Wright says:

    Love that back cast. So smooth!

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      It’s almost a Spey cast, although the D-loop sagged a bit.

  6. Chris says:

    Great observations! I have seen the first commercial several times and have noticed this.

    1. Chris says:

      That should be “Never” noticed this.

    2. Kirk Werner says:

      Makes one wonder how many others saw the ad and noticed. I represent all those people, whether they like it or not 😉

  7. cofisher says:

    Those bastards! I’ll suffocate before I use their product.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      You and me both, Howard! Although with your fires down there, you may want to pick some up…stay safe, friend.

  8. Being a rod builder I noticed it right away. I laugh because my first fly rod growing up was a spinning rod with an automatic reel. Never used a bobber with a fly rod though.
    Thanks for the laugh

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Glad to oblige, and thanks for stopping by Robert. My first rod was a combo fly/spin rod with a full cork grip and no reel seat. One could slide the reel, be it a spinning or fly reel, up and down to suit one’s needs. It saw more time as a spinning reel and I had a lot of good times with that rod.

  9. River Mud says:

    Salmon fly rod? That’s an ultralight spinning rod. This is just the beginning, I’m afraid, as an entire generation grows into the demographic of soooo many pharma products…

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      That looks like a pretty heavy duty pole to me (not the green one). America is being drugged, and now we’re hallucinating. Or at least the ad agency who produced this is…

  10. Cory says:

    Very well done sir! Sad that a Pharma company can’t get it right or at least spend a little to get a consultant to help them out (I am pretty sure this drug isn’t $3 a prescription).

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Thanks, Cory- and welcome to the back room. I’m sure it doesn’t cost $3 either, and frankly I hope I never have to find out!

  11. Poppy says:

    Yes the ad may not be correct from the standpoint of tackle. Having said that I’ll also say some of my most cherished memories from my childhood are fishing with a red and white bobber. They’ve taken a kid fishing, something many of my customers don’t seem to have time to do. Angling should be about one’s pleasure and it clearly looks as if they are having a good time. So if you want to spend more quality time with your son/son-in-law and grandson instead of sitting at home in your chair, get some. Works for me.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      I agree, Poppy. My first experiences, as much as I’d like to remember them with a bamboo rod tossing dry flies, was with a bobber and a worm, or maybe even just a worm. Or maybe just a bare hook. I just wish they’d have taken the time to hire me as a well-paid consultant. I need the work.

  12. Paul says:

    He also has spinning lures on his hat. One of them is a Jake’s Stream-a-Lure. I know cuz that’s one of my favorite standard tackle gear items.


    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Good eye, Paul! Wish I’d noticed that, but I need glasses.

  13. Ed says:

    …It’s probably a rubber fish. I can’t see how any self respecting trout could be duped by such an egregious tackle error on the part of the ad company.


    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Or they grabbed one from the seafood department…I guess we can be glad it was even a trout, and not a rock perch or cod.

  14. Jay says:

    Very enjoyable post. I too have observed such fallacies. I rea;;y don’t understand why they forget to hire a technical consultant… or just ask somebody when they go to buy their props. Any associate at the Cabela’s could have at least made them look somewhat legit.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      I agree, but then again they probably figured nobody would notice, or at least nobody would take the time to out them like this. I’m not sure how that makes me appear- probably on the margin of insanity 😉 Thanks for stopping by, Jay.

  15. Jay says:

    *really… oops wrong key! Typing on a tiny keyboard in the dark.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Sounds like you’re hiding from someone…

  16. Rebecca says:

    In the case of commercials gone astray, I’ll claim to be an expert for hire as well. Even I could get it right in this example.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Maybe we can form a fly fishing commercial consultancy?

  17. David G says:

    So… This isn’t how you are supposed to fly fish? I need to rethink my methods. You still use worms though, right?

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Worms, but only from a sustainable resource. IN the absence of that, powerbait.

  18. Kevin says:

    There’s another one I forget the product but it shows a guy casting out in the middle of a stream. Casts just like he’s throwing a spinning reel but then zooms in close to a perferct presentation as a dry fly touches down on the water. LMAO! I guess I need to work on my cast. And the Trout being release is actually a stunt Bass made up to look like a Trout. Wag the dog!!

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      The outrage continues! Thanks for the comment, Kevin.

  19. HarryL says:

    Noticed the large arbor reel mounted on the spinning rod the first time I saw the ad, but missed the bobbers! Not the first ad I have seen that have similar errors in them.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      These ad producers really need to consult us more often, Harry 😉

  20. Pam says:

    Does anyone know the name of the grandfather in this fishing commercial? It is driving me crazy because I am trying to remember the name of a movie he was in.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      I can’t say as I recognized him, Pam. I figured he was just a commercial actor. And clearly not a fly fisherman in real life…

  21. Kathy says:

    I just saw the commercial and started thinking, “What the heck is with the bobber on a fly rod? ” Good grief, I’m a woman and I knew better!

    BTW great post!

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Thanks for the comment, Kathy. The commercial had many eyes rolling, for sure.

  22. sean says:

    That is actually a center pin reel. You use them with floats (aka bobbers). The rods are typically very long (like 11ft or more). They are VERY effective at drifting your bait or fly in streams and rivers.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Thanks for pointing that out, Sean. I’ve heard of but am not familiar with center pin reels. My hunch is that the ad agency did not know what they were portraying, regardless. I’d be willing to bet the Creative Director said, “Let’s feature an ad with a fly fishing theme.” Chances are they didn’t specify center pin reels. I could be wrong 😉

  23. Sanders says:

    Are we sure that these pills aren’t in fact meant for ED? With all of these discrepancies one can’t be so sure…I mean, after fishing with a grab bag of fishing equipment like this, I’m sure after four hours you are to immediately consult a physician, or at least take a bath on the lawn like in the Cialis commercials.

    I’d hate to think what would happen if they tried to portray a family outing of Tenkara fishing. Such a blatant attempt to piss off the fly fishing community can and will not stand. Damn you Simbicort and your skullduggery!

    p.s. this is the third time I’ve tried to post…keep getting a spam message with the previous entries (I wonder why?)

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      I agree with all that you said, Sanders. If it were for ED, they would have probably featured 15 foot Spey rods, just sayin’. Sorry about the spam message- not sure what was going on. The important thing is that you kept at it. The perseverance of a fly angler is always impressive.

  24. Patricia Aspland says:

    I am so relieved to have found your site regarding the “Symbicort”fishing commercial, if you can call it that. My husband, an avid angler, was ‘aghast’ when we first saw the advertisement. I was wrapped up in my weekend reading, when I hear a voice across the room ranting about the incorrect fishing equipment being used in this innocent commercial. I have read your comments and am grateful to know that we were not losing our fly fishing smarts!

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      I’m so glad to find out that there are others out there who were as outraged as me 😉 Thanks for the comment, Patricia!

  25. Pam says:

    Even though I have not discovered the name of the actor, my husband and I were watching TV last night and he pointed out several of the mistakes in the commercial. You’d think the makers of Symbicort could hire an advisor on proper fishing gear.

  26. Don Davis says:

    Can Symbicort be used for FFD? Fly Fishing Dysfunction?

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      I believe so, Don. Take one pill, grasp the rod firmly, and hold on! Thanks for stopping by with a comment!

  27. MattVDiLeo says:

    Very funny! I just saw that commercial myself and googled here to see if anyone else saw it.

  28. Kevin says:

    I was so astonished at the bewildering plethora of anomalies in the commercial, I came to my computer to see if I was the only one noticing! Thank goodness there are othe equally obsessed fly fishers who were appalled, and amused. Now, think of that whole casting scene, when they are supposed to toss out the fly line with a bobber, and the director saying, “how the heck should I know, just throw the damn thing out there!”

    I bet it was Take 17 before they got it right. And yeah, as for the fish, $100 says it was dead and cold from a local fish market.

  29. rk says:

    Not a fly reel guys, its a centerpin reel, and they were float fishing..

  30. Mike says:

    This is a center-pin set up (a free running reel with no drag) and yes they do use bobber’s and is a very sucessful way of catching trout

  31. Perry says:

    That so called fisherman gives Nimrod a bad name (although I know had to explain to my friend that Nimrod was a great sportsman and not a dufous). Fly fishing with a clear bobber and a spinning rod on clear mountain lakes works great.

  32. Don says:

    The ad agency responsible for this commercial is pathetic. Both the agency and the art director need to be fired. First the fly rod and reel is for BIG GAME, read this as ocean fishing. This would be like taking a 10 gage shotgun to kill a fly in the house. There is no attempt to show proper fly casting technique either. Lastly, NO fly fisherman would be caught dead with a bobber.

  33. Jack says:

    Yup, centerpin float fishing…. if you guys had ever fished for a real fish over 1lb… say in the 15-30lb range, like a steelhead or salmon you would understand. Oh and yes, when these fish run upriver they find their way into small streams and creeks to spawn. You use a centerpin set up and float so that you can get an absolutely natural drift on a fish without them seeing your main line. I think the director may have known what he wanted, but obviously the general public has no clue.

  34. bigcat says:

    Thanks for your commentary! Hopefully, the people responsible for the ad will do better in the future. I guess I watch too much TV!

  35. Paul says:

    Well, are you really SO naive to think there is only one methd of fishing with a round reel “looking like a fly reel” ? Really? Maybe you should do a little research next time before putting forth so much effort in something like this article…LOL

    The method/set-up the guy was using in the ad is called a centerpin set-up or float fishing set-up. And the ad was pretty spot on if you ask me on this particular method…And YES, I really am a seasoned expert on this particular method.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Paul, you are not the first, second, or even third to point out this whole centerpin debacle. You may be right. Personally, I still think they were using fly reels (and fly line) on salmon gear rods to chuck bobbers.

  36. ED says:

    I was glad to see your breakdown of this commercial, well done! As a long time
    Fly fisherman I have to laugh out loud every time I see it on T.V. Where do they
    get these ad agency’s anyhow?

  37. Dennis says:

    An example of how not to fish, my son.

  38. Clayton says:

    Quite amusing. I also take issue with the copy of the commercial whereby the fisherman with COPD states a couple of times that Symbicort “significantly” reduces his COPD symptoms. For those of you who are not versed in statistics and medical journals, “significantly” is a really important buzz word that purports to show how effective a treatment would be when the test results are compared to what would expected.. I doubt that the average American uses “significantly” in his daily language about the miracle drugs he uses ( or would that be utilizes….)

  39. sara says:

    That’s Hulk Hogan!

  40. Tom says:

    I too found this article while doing a google on the subject because I get crazy EVERY time I see the commercial. Center Pin? OK, Pretty obscure way to fish in the good old USA, I do believe, and not what the commercial producers were trying to portray.
    If you want your national ad to appeal to a national audience you should at least use equipment and methods that can be found on the first 20 pages of the BPS or Cabela’s catalog. Movies, television and advertising are notorious for making mistakes in accurate portrayal of hunting and fishing and camping. These are some of the most popular recreational activities for most of us, unless we live in LA or NY, yet the media do very little to get it right. I see it over and over again. The only mostly accurate fishing that has ever come from Hollywood was Robert Redford’s “River Runs Through It”. I too would be glad to offer my services as a television, film hunting, fishing, camping, consultant.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Best comment to date, Tom. You sum it up nicely. If it is centerpinning, then—as you alluded to—WHY? In my professional opinion, it’s stupid.

  41. Wally Powers says:

    I’ve been building custom fishing rods for 30 years, and my take on the green rod is that it is a 6.5-7 ft. spinning rod with a split handle. I wasn’t sure about the other rod, although the butt guide was a high-frame “match” guide. Both are way too short to be centerpin (or “mooching”) rods. The Real McCoy is at least 10.5 ft. long and is built specifically for drift fishing rather than casting. No matter what we disagree on, we all can say that the set-up in the commercial was clownish. It reminds me of seeing other fishing commercials where a spinning outfit is being used upside-down, or the so-called fisherman is holding the spinning rod at the very end of the but section.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Thanks, Wally. I must admit that with your comment I think I can finally rest easy knowing that the commercial was poorly done in one way or another. Now, onward to the next…

  42. bridgetondude says:

    The whole commercial is fake. The “fisherman” doesn’t give a believable performance – to mechanical. And, imagine someone who can’t find a special fishing spot – “not easy to find.”

    They have run that commercial so much that I am sick of it and reach for the remote to mute. Will the agency please stop playing It?

  43. Dr Bob says:

    I appreciate the lack of authenticity regarding the fishing, but what makes me furious is the way this guy can talk for 2-3 minutes without taking a breath. After 30 plus years in practice I have never seen a patient with COPD who can speak more than one short sentence without wheezing,gasping, and reach ing for his O2 supply. At least they could recruit an actor who has the disease and is using this medication !

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      And there we have it — the Doctor is in the house! Thanks for the comment, Dr. Bob.

  44. David Williams says:

    Is the fly fishing grandpa a know actor? He looks so familiar.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      That I do not know. Maybe he’s not even an actor 😉

  45. Dennis says:

    I was interested in the name of the Actor that plays the grandpa fisherman – and got a load of fishing info :-) Anybody know him? I’m thinking he is from a small community just outside of Michigan City IN?

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Sorry, Dennis—there are no authorities here that can help identify the Actor in question. We here just talk about fishing, very seriously at that 😉

    2. Justin says:

      This is too funny. I just happened to Google some search terms for this commercial and this came up. The actor in the commercial is my father, Richard Gross. He’s an actor, not a professional fly fisherman, obviously. He’s not from Michigan. He’s an LA actor but mostly lives in Northern California nowadays.

      1. Kirk Werner says:

        Wow, I feel like we sorta, almost, have a celebrity paying us a visit—or at least the son of a celebrity! In all seriousness, thanks for taking the time to comment, Justin. I’d be curious to know, from your father’s point of view, if the director of the commercial knew what they were doing: did they have a consultant on site to provide any angling guidance or did they shoot from the hip? Did they realize that the commercial would cause such a buzz in the fly fishing community? Did they intend to portray center pin fishing or was it merely an ill-fated attempt to show fly fishing? We may never know :)

  46. royalwulff says:

    Are you kidding me? The reel is a center pin reel for starters….unreal.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Thanks for the comment. Looks like very few people, myself included, had ever seen a centerpin setup before, as noted here:

  47. Doug says:

    I noticed the problems right away – – why don’t they go to a sporting goods store and hire an adviser that knows what they are doing?
    I have seen very few ads that used fishing gear that had it correct.
    Good job!

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