From the cutting room floor: Catch-22

While recently doing a bit of house cleaning, I stumbled on several “drafts” in the backroom of the Unaccomplished Angler: previously written but unpublished pieces of Weekly Drivel® that, for some reason, never made it past the cutting room floor. Many of the pieces I have no recollection of ever having written, but as I sifted through the collection of second rate musings it all came back to me: there was a good reason these had never been published. I’ll be posting a few of these to fill space until I have good reason for offering better content.

From November 2011: Catch 22

I’ve used the expression countless times while ever stopping to ponder the origins of “Catch 22”. Without giving it much thought I suppose I always assumed the expression had its roots in the same ground as “Adam-12” and “Hawaii Five-0”. Upon further investigation I’ve come to realize that “Catch-22” is not a reference to a television police drama.

If you seek the actual meaning of “Catch 22” look no further than Wikipedia, which gives the following definition:

A Catch-22, coined by Joseph Heller in his novel Catch-22, is a logical paradox arising from a situation in which an individual needs something that can only be acquired by not being in that very situation; therefore, the acquisition of this thing becomes logically impossible. Catch-22s are often spoken with regard to rules, regulations, procedures, or situations in which one has knowledge of being or becoming a victim but has no control over it occurring.

In fly fishing terms, Catch-22 has similar undertones as the original definition, but there’s more to it than that. The purest meaning of the expression came to me while recently standing mid-river trying to tie on a tiny midge pattern (probably a size 22, if that). I was employing the use of 6X tippet for some ridiculous reason, and with a brand new tapered leader, the tag end of the tippet was true microscopic 6X- not a slightly thicker section of the taper exposed after cutting back the tip section.

As mentioned, I was mid-river. Knee deep in a fairly strong current. The light was filtered through tall trees in a narrow valley that ensures long shadows except for a brief moment during mid-day when the sun is directly overhead. The water pressing against my legs dictated that I maintain secure footing. The shadows created tough light. Both of these environmental factors resulted in distractions from the task at hand: tying on the tiny pattern using nearly invisible tippet. What I needed were my reading glasses. If I were to embrace my middle-aged eyesight, which seems to have gotten considerably worse since getting an iPhone, I’d have had my reading glassed in a shirt pocket, or better yet, on a keeper around my neck. But I’m stubborn, and like to think that I can still see well enough to thread tippet through the eye of a small hook. Just squint a little more, right? After all, it works for Clint Eastwood.


The great Squint.

After several failed attempts and way too much time wasted in vain, I finally accepted that the tippet simply wasn’t going to fit through the eye of the hook. So naturally I assumed there was some remnant epoxy blocking the hook eye. I reamed it out using the little spike on my nippers but as it turns out there was no epoxy residue—the hook was just too damn small for me to see. And of course I didn’t have a pair of reading glasses with me. Mind you, I have reading glasses—several pairs, in fact. But what I need is a pair of readers dedicated to my fishing pack—a pair that never gets misplaced at home like the countless other pairs of cheaters hiding in unknown locations around the house (or on top of my head).

And so there is an opportunity for the makers of fishing sunglasses to offer a pair of fishing-specific reading glasses branded as the Catch 22. Costa del Mar, Smith Optics, Maui Jim—are you listening?

You’re welcome. Maybe consider sending me a complimentary pair once they’re available.


  1. Howard Levett

    I’ve called in all my favors owed and put all my pressure to bear on solving this dilemma Kirk. I’ve managed to come up with a deal for you. Go to your favorite Goodwill store, tell them I sent you and pick out 5 pair of glasses of your choosing. No thanks necessary. Oh, and please don’t complain about limited variety.

  2. Mark

    The Catch 22 has no applience here. Guilty is, ridiculously small size of the hook and the corresponding tippet. Since You can see fish in the river your sight is absolutlutely OK. Using too small hooks and tippets is a kind of perversion.
    bst. rgts.

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