Bear with me here as I’m breaking with standard protocol for a moment. Rather than posting about a fishing misadventure of some sort, or a gear review (which I don’t do, by the way) I’m going to wander off course and talk about something that might initially seem a little out of place on this blog: Kilts.
No, I’m not of Scottish descent, though my maternal grandfather did describe himself as being “Irish, Scotch and Dutch.” My father’s side of my family is fairly well German, and so to claim any Scottish heritage would be blasphemous and wishful. But there’s a lot I like about the Scottish people:
•Their accent is the best (and particularly Robin William’s imitation of it)
•Scotch. While I’m not a huge fan of their whisky, preferring a Canadian blend, I have done some extensive taste testing of several breeds of Scotch at my brother-in-law’s house (he is Scottish, by the way), and a couple weren’t too bad. Recently I had a chance to sample some Glenlivet, and if forced I could probably become a fancier of the stuff.
•Golf. I loathe the game of golf, and if the Scots did in fact invent the game, I won’t hold it against them.The Highland Games more than make up for the shortcomings of golf anyway.
•Bagpipes. They rock, literally – AC/DC, while from Australia, made sure of that. And Angus Young was born in Glascow.
•Lassie. She saved Timmy countless times.
Furthermore it’s been said, and Wikipedia (the internet authority on all things everything) supports the assertion, that modern fly fishing is “normally said to have originated on the fast, rocky rivers of Scotland and England.” That’s good enough for me. Then of course there’s the matter of a certain river in the northeast of Scotland, which happens to be the second longest and the fastest flowing river in that country: The River Spey. There is no refuting where Spey casting originated. Suffice it to say there’s plenty to like about the offerings of the Scottish people. Now, add the kilt to the mix. I’m comfortable enough in my own heterosexual skin to admit that I think they’re cool.
The traditional kilt is, as I understand it, part of a formal Scottish dress uniform. Maybe they’re also worn for casual occasions, but like I said, I don’t really know much about them other than I think they’re cool. I will, however, admit a bit of practical skepticism, as the traditional wool would seem a bit uncomfortable on hot days, and certainly there is the itch factor which cannot be dismissed. But the kilt has evolved over time, as the American made Utilikilt is a testament to. Men are free to embrace their inner Scot by wearing a garment that would make Carhartt proud.
For those who poke fun at the kilt as being somehow feminine, I would ask you to reconsider your position. Mel Gibson’s character in Braveheart, William Wallace – was he somehow a limp-wristed cross dresser? What about Liam Neeson’s portrayal of Scottish folk hero Rob Roy MacGregor – just another girly man in a skirt? I think not. I’ve never been one to think of a kilt as a “dress” as a few of my less secure friends on Facebook referred to them in a recent and lively “wall discussion”. I had simply posted mention of the fact that if I were of Scottish descent I would get me a wading kilt: One made of breathable Goretex-like material, similar to our waders. My statement was met with less enthusiasm than I had imagined. In fact, I’m fairly certain that at least a couple people have dismissed me as being completely daft. Frankly I’m a little surprised at the less than warm reception of my idea. Anyone who thinks a wading kilt would look ridiculous needs to take a good long look in the mirror the next time you’re wearing your chest waders – at least the kilt wouldn’t make your butt look big, and it would be perfect for the wet wading months. A wee tad chilly for winter steelheading, perhaps, especially since nothing is supposed to be worn underneath a kilt (or so I’ve only been told). But if you’re man enough to wear a kilt you won’t be bothered by a little cold weather, and a fleece-lined model could be designed for certain applications.
And the functionality doesn’t stop there. Anglers are constantly searching for the perfect gear-carrying device, be it a vest, lumbar (fanny) pack, chest pack, lanyard (for the minimalist), shoulder sling, etc. So, why not a wading kilt? It could have waterproof zippered pockets for fly boxes and flasks of single malt, retractors for things that go on retractors, a fly patch, loops for spools of tippets, etc. And it could even boast an integrated feature found on fish fighting belts: One of those reinforced slots for the butt of your rod when you’re playing that really hot fish. Like a big tuna.
Laugh all you want – I think I’m on to something big here. And in a year when Orvis announces their new breathable River Kilt, who’ll be laughing then, eh laddie?
In the meantime I’ll be digging deep into the roots of my family tree to see if I can’t unearth just enough Scottish blood to warrant my wearing of a wading kilt.
Gird your loins, and stay tuned.