July2013

Guest Post: The debacle on the Yakima River

This week’s drivel is a mostly-unedited guest post by none other than Morris, the 2012 Firehole Rookie Ranger. He has an unhealthy obsession with fly fishing that I’ve had the pleasure of watching intensify over the last year or so. We writes good, and has no oconcern for character count so sit back and enjoy a bowl of popcorn and a read about a day on the Yakima River befitting an Unaccomplished Angler.

Prologue

When the Unaccomplished Angler asked me to write a post about my debacle on the Yakima River, first I was like no chance in hell, then I thought why not – If the UA can do it, then so can I. Although, sometimes it feels like I only have a fourth grade education when it comes to writing the English language as I have lost almost all what my elementary teachers taught me, but as both UA and myself graduated from one of the top universities in the country Eastern Washington, I was convinced I could do it – really, how hard can it be. Not to mention, I am a published author in my own right. Recently, I was forced extremely happy to submit an article to a widely read industry magazine – Quality something. Don’t be fooled, a handful of nuclear power plant operators actually read this magazine or at a minimum leave it on their desk to appear intelligent – at least this is what I typically do. (By the way, I promise to stop striking out phases, but I just love the way the UA does it to confuse the reader).

 

The beginning

It all started as I walked through the sliding glass doors at work Friday morning 8:00 AM sharp. I was wearing my favorite Simms fishing shirt and donning my polarized fishing glasses. I happen to work for a fine company that requires employees like myself to merely show up  to get paid for the day. As I grind the way to my desk, I start to contemplate just how long I have to sit there as I mentally go through my fishing check list ensuring nothing has been forgotten. Promptly at 8:30 AM, I find myself creating a web of lies to our administrative assistant who guards the front door like a Doberman and probably logs our time in and out. “I have an outside appointment today, but plan to return after lunch,” I lie. She does not buy into my dishonesty, and probably knows the car is packed with my fishing gear as it is most Fridays. In hindsight I should have left my shirt and glasses in the car, and I was a tad too enthusiastic for the mundane appointment, but I was getting that goin’ fishin’ feeling and that was all I could think about.

As I pull into the empty parking lot at 10:00 AM to a not so secret fishing spot Marck recommended on the upper Yakima Canyon. I believe Marck is his secret UA alias; this is not his real name. I know this since I fish regularly with Marck and have known him since middle school. As I string up my rod, I am gracious that life affords me sunny Fridays on the Yakima, flows around 3100cfs, time to explore nature, and attempts to master the art of catching large trout. Selecting my old 5 weight Sage, large dry with a lightening bug dropper, I am set.

Part I: The miss

As I cautiously approach a large fallen tree in the river, I am eager to see what lies below. Now on top of the tree, flunking weak casts at my feet. I should have previously declared that I am strung up with 9’ of 5X leader, 3’ of 5X flora, and 2’ dropper: all making log casting to ones feet a challenge. With too much line in the water and a poor rod to water angle, a large rainbow grabs the dry while launching completely out of the water where I probably could have bear-hugged him if I was more nimble. As I attempt to set the hook, it is obvious my approach was flawed. The hog spits my bug and is gone. As I regain my composure, I say to myself, “not a great way to start the day, but it can only get better from here.”

Part II: The poison

As I leave the large log for a stretch up river where I will have more room to cast, I decide to hightail it through the brush and grass and not follow the slow shore of the river. This will turn out to be the infamous “fork in the road’ decision that will affect the rest of my day. As I trudge through very high grass and weeds and other unknown plant species, I get disoriented and somewhat lost. As my pace quickens, I trip and fall to the ground a few times and eventually make my way back to the river. After fishing for a bit, I notice some pretty large blisters forming on my arms and legs. I ignore them and get back in search of my next victim which I am sure not to miss. As the morning meanders on the itching and swelling continues to be a nuisance. But it wasn’t until my eye started to swell shut that I started to ponder calling it a day. I tried feebly to continue casting, but as the discomfort grew so did my anxiety. Fishing alone has its advantage and disadvantages as we all know, but when I used the camera on my phone to take a picture to see how bad my eye was, I knew having a friend there to tell me all is well or not so well would have been nice. As my casting deteriorated further and grew impossible with one eye, I decided to seek safety.

Old One-Eye

Part III: The scared girl

I scurried back to the parking lot so I could use the car mirror to inspect my eye and make the ultimate decision of fish or hospital. Again to save time, I head back into the tall unforgiving grass. As I broke free from the brush in delight, I happen upon a pretty college aged lady sunbathing near a small tributary in nothing but a slight bikini. Instead of staring at her girl parts and making stupid old man commentary, I hastily shoved my left eye in her face and asked if it looks ok. She nods, but I sensed she was uncomfortable and not really into my whole eye issue.

Part IV: New location

After a thorough eye exam in the dirty side mirror of my car with the one good eye remaining, I decide to fish on. Playing it safe though, I decide to drive further down river into the canyon where there is less vegetation. After a few small fish during the heat of the day, everything is starting to feel better up to the point when I find myself on a large rock in the river and in need of a new fly. Instead of heading to shore like a wise person would, I commence with the fly change. Opening my dry bag I forget to notice all of my belonging as I dig for the fly box. As I precariously balanced on the rock with a red deep rash all over and one good eye, needless to say I ended up face down in the river. As I came to my feet I noticed the dry bag was still open and filled to the top with water. Luckily nothing had vanished to the river and the only real damage was to the iPhone and luckier still, it was a work phone.

Part V: Early departure / Good Samaritan

As evening approached with anticipation of the late hatch, I sat quietly by the riverside pondering the day’s events. This time, I was approached by a weary traveler in search of some help. After some pleasantries, he asked if he could borrow my phone to call for help. After explaining to him the difficulties there, I offered up a ride to town where he could find some real help. Before I could recant my offer as my mind turned back to the hatch, he accepts and I hastily depart for town. I thought that perhaps being a good Samaritan might put me back in grace with whatever force I upset this morning. Now missing the evening bug fest along with my hope of redemption, my one-eyed-drive back to Seattle was uneventful. Until I arrived at home and realized that in my hurried blurry departure I did not shore up my tackle and badly damaged my favorite Ross reel.

Final act

By the next morning I had fixed my reel and most of the rash and swelling were gone yet my legs where still covered with scrapes and bruises one typically finds after a hard day on the river. Looking back now I realize that not every fishing trip is going to the perfect experience but it is still and will forever be better than a day at work.

And the Ugliest Fly Rod is…

In the fly fishing industry we have manufacturers of all manner of gear, each constantly striving to invent or reinvent that one product that will attract the attention of the masses and become a huge success. And of all the gear offered it seems as though rods garner the most attention, and every year new rods are rolled-out, and the public is told that they need to buy the latest offering.

And I’ll admit, sometimes these new rods sound almost too good to be true. And each new generation results in thinner, lighter, faster (or, lately, slower), more sensitive sticks that nearly cast themselves. But sometimes these new offerings are met with resistance from a segment of the audience for which they’re intended to appeal. On one occasion it may just be a poor color choice that draws groans from the marketplace, or the wrong style of grip. Sometimes the price turns customers away. Other times everything is acceptable but the name. It’s a very tough crowd out there. You can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Or, can you?

I’ve been giving this matter some serious thought and believe that the solution may be as simple as issuing forth a challenge to the industry: a call to arms for all players to design and produce the ugliest fly rod possible. Cosmetically, that is. The rod must otherwise be a fully functional, high-quality rod with a price tag of no more than $350.

This endeavor will be a dream come true for the design teams. The marketing departments may even forego pay to work on their campaign strategies. The press will eat it up. And the customers will wait with baited breath to see the results of the challenge.

Just how ugly will these rods be? They’ll be algebra ugly: so ugly that they’ll be things of beauty, with results can be nothing but positive. These rods will be like the homely, homeless puppy: so unsightly that everyone will want to take one home if not out of shear pity then to annoy others and be able to say, “My rod is uglier than your rod.” And given that brand loyalty runs rampant in the industry there’ll be something for just about everyone—any manufacturer that doesn’t participate may not survive to regret it.

Here, in no particular order, are just a few possible names of potential ugly rods to help get the lathes turning:

 

Sage DONE: First they brought us The ONE, now The DONE. One and done. Maybe not the result they’re hoping for but then again everyone is always in search of a good marketing schtick.

Orvis Fireball: The current Helios is named for the Greek word for Sun, which is essentially nothing more than a large ball of fire. Orvis has long-sought to shake the perception that they are the high-brow manufacturer of your grandfather’s fly rod. Think of the cross-marketing possibilities with the maker of Fireball whiskey? Nobody who wears tweed drinks Fireball.

Winston Moron: This one was just too easy.

Loomis Armored Transport: This baby will be bulletproof, heavy and will cost a truckload of money. And Loomis will pick up vast numbers of unintentional visitors to their website who came looking for something completely unrelated and wound up with a new fly rod.

 

Echo Echo: After all, what does an echo do? It repeats itself. Besides the other rhyming word, Gecko, is already in use. Do not hate on the Echo Gecko.

Redington Verktyg: This is the Swedish translation for “tool” which could be either a reference to the rod or the caster. Wonder what color the grip will be?
(Alternate name: Redington Stepchild)

 • Scott Baio: It’s inevitable that this rod will quickly be nicknamed “The Chachi” and the rod will be popular with the ladies who were teenage girls during the Happy Days era. Not so much with the guys, however. More and more women-specific gear is being offered; there’s no reason the ladies shouldn’t have ugly stuff as well.

St. Croix, Batman: Unless you habla French you probably didn’t realize that St. Croix translates to English as, “Holy Cross.” And anyone familiar with the old Batman TV series from the 60’s will recall the Boy Wonder’s tendency toward enthusiastic proclamations such as, “Holy priceless collection of Etruscan snoods, Batman!” Get it?

Allen Handsome: Not only is this name redundant (because the meaning of the name “Allen” is, in fact, “Handsome”) but given the nature of this ugly rod contest, it’s also an oxymoron. Seems rather fitting for a
butt-ugly rod, right?

Loop Not: This is an exceptionally clever play on words that should be self explanatory. If not, then you’re either a bit slow or it wasn’t nearly so exceptionally clever.

• TFO LOL: FYI

The challenge has been issued. Who will be the first to throw down the gauntlet? I hope the industry is listening—it’s time to get your ugly on.