Pointless Wastes of Your Time

Kim Jong Angler?

Kim Jong Un is upset. With the current tensions emanating from the Korean Peninsula, one has to wonder if perhaps Kim Jong Un might benefit from a little chill time—perhaps a few days off to do a bit of reflecting on the situation at large. A time out, as it were. Maybe even do a little angling.

Assuming of course that the benevolent leader of North Korea does partake of recreational fishing, one must ponder the type of angler he is. It’s safe to assume that His Omnipotence sees himself as a skilled fisherman; a rather accomplished angler, if you will.

As he sees himself: Kim Jong Accomplished

 

But given the fact that the North Korean regime has a reputation for speaking in less than truthful ways, we would not be remiss if we were to suppose that the Boy Leader is considerably less accomplished as an angler than he sees himself (most of us are, right?).

As he really is: Kim Jong Un-accomplished

 

Welcome to the club, Kim Jong Un-accomplished. Let’s send him a sticker.

UA stickers arriving soon via US Air Mail.

 

A kinder, gentler, Rugged Eddie Bauer Man

Most fly anglers I know are not casual about their passion for the sport activity: it’s an obsession, or at least it becomes one after a period of time. Be it for better or worse fly fishing eventually consumes them as it becomes woven into the very fabric of their lives, and for those with OCD tendencies, channeling that intensity and restlessness into a productive* activity is paramount to maintaining sanity. To that end fly fishing calms the beast within. (* Nobody ever said fly fishing was productive)

I need something more…

Let’s take one particular individual for example: Rugged Eddie Bauer Man.  We first met him over a year ago, HERE. The man we encountered was intense and stern; humorless. His all-business expression suggested that he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders as he dabbled in a variety of meaningless activities, seeking to squelch the fire that burned in his belly. Neither climbing the masts of sailboats, toting large cargo nets nor carrying heavy rope could provide the escape he needed from a cruel reality. These empty endeavors did not speak to him; nothing satisfied his thirst for more. When we left him last he was deep in contemplation, wondering perhaps, “What else is there?”

A year later, we caught up with Rugged Eddie Bauer Man. The first thing we noticed was that he seemed somehow…different; the powerful jaw, while still prominent, was no longer clenched intensely.

He definitely seemed more relaxed; more at peace with himself and the fast-paced world around him. The smile appeared genuine; not contrived.

 

No longer fiercely comptetitive, Rugged Eddie Bauer Man had become the guy who would  reach out with a fingerless wool glove-clad hand and help a brother cross the street as opposed to throwing him under the bus.

 

He appeared, for all intents and purposes (not intensive purposes), to have become the guy who would engage you in a friendly conversation and perhaps even tell a good joke, or at least laugh at one. Warm hands, warm heart.

 

Rugged Eddie Bauer Man seemed to be less about work and more about play.  He appeared to have embraced recreation for the pure enjoyment of it, rather than as a means of competing against and dominating others.

 

Sure, there were moments when Rugged Eddie Bauer Man would lapse into images of his former self, but these moments were short-lived. And cut a guy some slack—he’s not perfect. But he is obviously making a concerted effort to not take things so seriously.

 

Like an addict in recovery, at times Rugged Eddie Bauer Man seemed troubled by his serious past and would give pause to ponder where he had been just a year earlier. During these episodes we step back and give him space while at the same time letting him know we are there for him; rooting him on:  “You can do it, Rugged Eddie Bauer Man—resist the darkness…lighten up.”

 

Fortunately that steely resolve which made him so intense also served to bring him back around and it wasn’t long before the muscles in his face and neck had relaxed once again. Maybe it was the new corduroy blazer that made him happy again; whatever the case may be, the lighter side won out. Rugged Eddie Bauer Man had fully embraced the notion that it takes fewer muscles to smile than it does to frown.

 

And he got himself a dog. Dogs are good for people. It’s been proven that man’s best friends have a calming effect, and Rugged Eddier Bauer Man’s best friend certainly brought out the best in his master. The former Rugged Eddie Bauer Man wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing a cardigan sweater. Time changes a man. Fred Rogers, rest in peace, would be proud.

So what was the cause for this transformation? Had Rugged Eddie Bauer Man taken sensitivity training? Did he have a an epiphany? Perhaps a brush with death that made him appreciate life? Or had that intensity simply been channeled productively** into an activity that tempered his fiery soul? The transformation was remarkable. One can only conclude that Rugged Eddie Bauer Man had found fly fishing.(** Again, nobody ever said fly fishing was productive)

Welcome to the club, Rugged Eddie Bauer Man. Let’s go wet a line, brother.

 

Bring on the skunk

Strikeout. Goose eggs. Whatever you choose to call it, a skunk by any other name still stinks. And I’m no stranger to defeat, especially when visiting the evil and cold-hearted temptress known as the Yakima River. Because of that I’m always looking for something to increase my odds of success reduce my odds of failure. Shy of power bait, I’ve not come up with many solutions.

However, I recently stumbled upon (not using Stumbleupon.com, mind you, but rather just surfing the old-fashioned way) something I felt compelled to share with the ten of you.

Something about this pattern stinks.

The image comes from a website titled, PikeFlyFishingArticles.com. Now, I’m not a pike fisherman. Never even seen one of those toothy critters, although I did fish the lower Bitterroot River this summer, where Pike are known to be found. I did not find one. But to say I got skunked while pike fishing would not be accurate, either. We were fishing for trout, in water that just happened to also have pike. I did not get skunked while trout fishing, fyi.

One look at the “Feathered BW Streamer” tells me two things:  First, while descriptive, it was misnamed; and secondly, it looks like a pattern that would catch fish. Big fish.  After all, it takes a big fish to munch on an animal the size of a skunk. Even a baby skunk would be a mouthful for all but the nastiest of carnivorous trouts, like, say, a Hawg Brown.

I realize that using artificial scent on an artificial fly is either illegal (depending on regulations) or at the very least frowned heavily upon, but a little dab of something from the south end of a skunk would really be icing on the cake when fishing with the Skunk Express “Feathered BW Streamer”. Luckily you won’t have to go out and harvest the stuff yourself–you can buy it in a bottle. I imagine you wouldn’t want to spill this stuff in your waders, so be careful when you use it.

The best way to fight fire is with fire. The same should work for fending off a skunk, right?

Angling Ascots

It’s no secret, if you pay any attention at all to news in the fly fishing industry, that numbers are down. There are fewer participants than in decades past, and coupled with the trying economic times endless recession and meltdown of the global financial system, that means the industry is seeing reduced revenue. Nutshell: fewer people spending fewer dollars.

One reason for the shrinking market is that the fly fishing industry, admittedly, has a long-running PR problem that it must overcome in order for it to flourish. I touched on this earlier this year with a plea for help from Clint Eastwood. That apparently fell on deaf ears, and so we forge ahead on our own.

Collectively we, and by we I mean everyone who cares about the health of the industry, need to dispel the myth that it’s a sport for the elite, the wealthy, the high-brow. To many outsiders, fly fishing conjures up images of tweed-clad well-to-doers as they delicately present dry flies on fine bamboo rods to lovely trout on British chalk streams, or employ the use of two-handed Spey rods adorned with vintage Hardy reels for Atlantic Salmon on noble Scottish rivers that gave rise to the long rods.

At this pivotal time when the faltering economy is dealing a particularly hard blow upon the fly fishing industry I personally feel it’s irresponsible, if not completely negligent, for companies to be producing anything that perpetuates the image of fly fishing as being an activity for the aristocratic types.

In addition to tweed and Barbour jackets, consider if you will another icon of the affluent: the ascot. What is an ascot? As best I can tell it’s some sort of ornamental neck device worn under a collared shirt, often accompanied by a smoking jacket. Personally I’ve never met anyone who wears an ascot and I certainly don’t own one myself. But I have a preconception of those who wear ascots as being uber-sophisticated wealthy types that saunter about a social stratosphere that is far above my means. Whether or not that may or may not be the case, the presence of an ascot automatically suggests that the person is somebody, even if they may be nobody. Perception is everything.

We all know who Cary Grant was: the consummate Leading Man. A man who wore an ascot.

Nigel Powers looking debonair while sporting an ascot.

Justin Timberlake in synch with an ascot.

Angelina Jolie's famous husband rocks an ascot like nobody's business.

Some unidentified famous guy who won a Golden Globe for Best Ascot.

Another unidentified famous guy, obviously very proud to be sporting an ascot.

An unidentified, obviously very funny guy sporting a killer 'stache and an ascot.

An unidentified but obviously very important ascot fancier.

The preceding photos suggest that even if the person isn’t famous, they certainly appear very successful and give off an aura of elite sophistication because of one thing: the presence of an ascot.  And since perception is everything, the fly fishing industry needs to be mindful about how it portrays the sport and its community members. If an ascot is perceived in a certain aristocratic light, wouldn’t it be prudent of the fly fishing industry to avoid promoting the purchase and wearing of this high fallutin’ fashion accessory?

While difficult to see this Angling Ascot because it's camo, there is no hiding the fact that the man behind it is a powerful, well-to-do angler.

The Angling Ascot can change the image of even a bass angler into a successful, wealthy sportsman.

An Angling Ascot being worn by a wealthy angler, on his way to trade-in his Jeep for a Range Rover.

A full-coverage angling ascot is pulled over this wealthy angler's head but still it cannot provide protection from negative public perception.

I may not be able to do anything about the tailspin of the economy, but you can bet your 401K that I’ll be doing my part not to perpetuate the myth that one need be wealthy and successful in order to participate in the sport of fly fishing. I suggest you join me in not purchasing an Angling Ascot anytime soon, but if you elect not to boycott the Angling Ascot then I urge you to look no further than the Trout Underground for a possible solution at how the industry might be saved using bluegills.

Rugged Eddie Bauer Man

As I pack the last of the things for my trip to Montana and Idaho, hoping that I remember the critical items before getting there, I wanted to leave my 8 loyal followers with one last, worthless post.  If for some reason I don’t return, I want to be remembered for having left you all with a blog entry that is so unworthy of your time that it’s not even deserving of a “Weekly Drivel®” designation (and thus is appropriately filed away under the category of “Pointless Wastes of Your Time”). I should probably have deleted this before ever publishing it, but hey–a guy needs traffic for his Google Analytics, right? That, and I like to keep the SPAMMERS employed.

Eddie Bauer, the rugged man

Eddie Bauer wasn’t always just a clothing retailer. Seriously. My first fly rod was made by Eddie Bauer, back in the days when you could actually buy outdoor recreation gear at the one Eddie Bauer store in Seattle. Back in the mid 70’s I had a backpacking tent made by Eddie Bauer, and down jackets and sleeping bags filled with Premium Eddie Bauer Goose Down were the shit–the seriously good stuff (which I never had because I was allergic to down). You see, Eddie Bauer (the man) was an avid outdoorsman, and the company reflected that passion. I won’t go into detail about him here because I don’t know much about him other than what is provided on several websites. Suffice it to say Eddie Bauer was serious about his love of the outdoors: he was an avid hunter and fisherman and it would appear that he was a fly fisherman as well because he sold trout flies and made fly rods. He also sold tennis racquets and badminton shuttlecocks. Hey, he wasn’t perfect – nobody is. At least he didn’t sell golf equipment. While an article int he latest Angling Trade talks about the similarities between golf and fly fishing that provide potential new ventures for the fly fishing industry, I prefer not to recommend hybridization. But I digress.

In the many decades that have passed since Eddie Bauer (the man) sold his company, Eddie Bauer (the company) has wandered farther from its roots and has become synonymous with clothing. While a far cry from the outdoor industry that gave rise to the success of the brand, the company is holding onto the proud, rugged history of Eddie Bauer as evidenced by its summer catalog Summer Resource Book. Gracing the pages inside you’ll find Rugged Eddie Bauer Man. And he is just that: rugged.

Here he can be seen climbing the mast of a sailing vessel, holding on with one hand while he looks down with contempt toward his undisciplined crew. Clearly he is a man of few words, and even less humor.

And why shouldn’t he be? Afterall, there is nothing funny about carrying a large cargo net and a gasoline can, and getting your new shirt covered with grease and grime. It’s serious work. It calls for a serious man. A rugged man.

Here, Rugged Eddie Bauer Man can be seen looking at a thick rope. He appears lost in thought, as if deeply troubled. If he were to speak, one could imagine the few words, “Who the hell tied this knot?”

But lest one should think that Rugged Eddie Bauer Man is all work and no play, we see him here–embarking on a recreational endeavor. His face still wears the stern expresson of a humorless man, but he does seem a bit more relaxed.

But no matter what he’s doing, Rugged Eddie Bauer Man does it with serious conviction. Maybe serious is the only way he can be. And we wouldn’t want it any other way, would we?

We can only assume that like Eddie Bauer, Rugged Eddie Bauer Man is also a fly fisherman. And a seriously good golfer, too.

The rugged Eddie Bauer Man

 

You have my apologies for this blog entry.