It takes a Village to photograph a hero

The shot.

Thanks to social media we’ve seen this countless times: a very peculiar hero shot where the angler poses with a fish in their grip and their rod balanced perfectly behind their neck, across their shoulders. Wondering what this pose is called, I began my quest on the internet because that’s where all answers can be found. Or so I thought—after searching deep and wide for information I came up empty-handed (not unlike when I go fishing). Since neither Google nor Bing yielded any results I was forced to draw my own conclusions which, by virtue of this blog entry, will now be part of the internet for eternity (or at least until I cease paying my hosting fees). I hope that the next person looking for the same answers will find my work indispensable.

The following scenarios analyze the unlikely, slightly less unlikely and very likely scenarios that go into the production of the perfect rod behind the neck shot:


Nailed It Myself.

NIM-Rod Shot. With the Nailed it Myself rod shot the Angler does it all. To start, they’re fishing alone when they hook and land a trophy fish. While the fish rests cooperatively in the net the Angler dashes to their waiting camera gear. Having thought well ahead, their camera is already mounted on a tripod. The Angler merely moves the tripod into position, selects the self-timer mode and dashes back to the waiting fish. The clock is ticking as the Angler expertly places their rod behind their neck where it balances perfectly while they then bend down and reach into the net and quickly grab the not-thrashing, non-slippery and generally not-unwilling piscatorial participant with both hands. The Angler puts on a confident grin a split second before the camera’s shutter closes. Clearly such a heroic act of multitasking as this is unbelievable. There must be a more likely means to the end result…


Buddy Is God.


BIG-Rod Shot. In the Buddy Is God rod shot the Angler lands a fish of a lifetime. Purely by coincidence their Buddy just happens to be in very close proximity and quickly grabs the Angler’s fly rod as the Angler struggles with the thrashing fish. There’s a lot of chaos; tension is thick in the riverside air as the Buddy quietly offers a suggestion, which is answered with “Shut the hell up—I got this!” The buddy steps back, waiting patiently for the fish to be controlled. Once that has been finally achieved the Buddy places the rod behind the neck of the Angler. The rod dips awkwardly to one side, nearly falling from its perch. The Angler tells the Buddy he’s a moron for doing it all wrong when in fact it was really the fault of the Angler for not having a properly balanced rod and reel. The Buddy calmly offers an apology, to which the über-jacked-up Angler replies, “Hurry the f— up!” Buddy remains cool and collected and takes up position with their always-present and at-the-ready camera, suggesting that the Angler smile. “Just take the damn picture!” lashes out the Angler. The Buddy smiles and finally snaps the photo. In this scenario the invaluable Buddy has gone well above and beyond what any reasonable buddy would do. While not entirely out of the realm of possibility, it remains highly unlikely that anybody has a buddy willing to endure this sort of treatment.  A more reasonable explanation surely exists…


Village Idiot Poser.

VIP-Rod Shot. The Village Idiot Poser rod shot is rather complex. After landing the fish, the Angler ceases having anything of value to add. They do nothing but remain where they’ve been instructed: likely seated or kneeling in the shallows, looking rather helpless as an entire crew jumps into action. Said Angler has officially become relegated to little more than a clueless simpleton merely waiting to pose for the photo. The Fish Manager, a gruff and humorless individual, steps in to take care of unhooking the fish while a neatly-manicured Rod Attendant places the rod behind the Angler’s Poser’s neck and instructs the Poser not to move.The Rod Manager then steps back, keeping a keen eye trained on the fulcrum point to make sure the rod stays properly balanced. Once the rod appears secure, the Fish Manager expertly places the fish into the small hands and unsure grip of the Poser. As said Poser struggles to control the slippery, thrashing and unwilling participant, the Rod Attendant hovers attentively. After the final rod adjustments are made and the fish is adequately subdued, or vice versa, the Rod Attendant exits stage left as the Fish Manager steps outside the frame to the right. Then, and only then, can the Photographing Person do their work. It likely takes a few shots to get it just right and requires that a few micro-adjustments be made by the Rod Attendant and perhaps even an emergency maneuver on the part of the Fish Manager to reposition the fish. The end result is that the Poser comes off looking rather accomplished. It may sound excessive but there can be no other explanation than this—it takes a Village.



Next week, or maybe not, we’ll take a look at what goes on behind the scenes of another popular shot: The Rod And Dentures (RAD) Shot.


For an alternative means of achieving a good angler-with-fish shot, check out this post from Deneki Outdoors.


  1. Rory

    Have you been following me and my posing crew around the rivers? You know exactly what we do! Good stuff.

    • Kirk Werner

      Thanks, Rory. I assure you I’ve not followed your Poser Posse—it was all merely conjecture. Good to know I was spot-on!

  2. Chuck Atkins

    I have a lot of shots like this;

    I think it started with guides trying to promote the gear they use! I got my friend in the Able catalog this way! Ha!

    • Kirk Werner

      Thanks for validating my research, Chuck! 🙂

  3. Dave

    99% of the time I take OTH (Only Two Hands) Shots. The process is typically: net the fish, find an open spot for my fly rod on the bank, remove the hook, try to pose the fish in the net with one hand, and then take a picture with the other hand. Needless to say, my “gallery” of photos only vary with regards to fish size, type, and shadows made by the net. I’m pretty sure my net thinks he’s the hero in all the pics I take.

    • Kirk Werner

      Dave, I may be confusing matters, but I’m curious if OTH is the same as BOTH, whereby OTH is an acronym as you noted, but BOTH is just, well, both?

      • Dave

        Maybe Fishie (vs. Selfie) is a better description for my pics.

  4. Jay

    Very funny stuff. Can’t wait for next week. I think I’m guilty of the RAD… but I’ve only done it once… and it was the trout of a lifetime. Up until that point, I made fun of guys who put their rod in their mouth… but desperate times call for desperate measures.

    • Kirk Werner

      Not to worry Jay, many who’ve put a rod in their mouth only did it once and never again. But not me, never done that.

  5. Steven Brutger

    Your hypothesis is right on…thanks for spelling it out. As for the RAD shot, I think anything I say about that will only get me in trouble.

    • Kirk Werner

      Thanks for the vote of confidence. And you are right about the RAD shot. It’s a very touchy subject anytime you talk about rod and mouth in the same breath.

  6. Howard Levett

    I think I’ve got the same problem you have Kirk. We both suffer from NFC or No Fish Caught. Don’t have to worry about being RAD or SAD or BAD. I do get MAD once in awhile though.

    • Kirk Werner

      Always nice to have you stop by, Howard. Like you, I suffer from being MAD from time to time as well: Major Angling Disability.

  7. The River Damsel

    I have to admit… yes, I posed with a rod behind my neck while holding a fish. And I will be quite honest, I felt like a total idiot. I would like to name it…”I can do it, if you can do it” pose. All I know is that I’m not one to balance anything! The “photographer” couldn’t have been fast enough to take that d#*# picture and me being the “fish manager” and the “rod attendant” just took too many skills that I don’t have! So… one rod slipping, fish wigging version of the Buddy Is Not God shot (because all he did was stand there with the camera) was enough for me. Back to selfies,… or just taking a pretty picture of a fish in the net. Sooooo much easier!

    • Kirk Werner

      It’s OK to commit an angling infraction if you: A) Regret having done so; B) Never commit said infraction again; and C) Publicly state your regret over having committed said infraction. You have been absolved of your rod-behind-the-neck moment of temporary insanity. Nice photo, BTW. You should fish more often 😉

  8. mike doughty

    this shit is funny kirk. well put

  9. frannie

    I have dubbed one such shot the ‘grip and grin mortality shot’

    • Kirk Werner

      Quite likely a very appropriate dubbing. Thanks for taking time to comment.

  10. Chuck Atkins

    My friend describes this technique as the Steve Martin shot. He said it reminds him of the arrow through the head gag! So, in homage I am going to make a prop that is a rod that fits on my head and looks like it pierces my skull! Ha!

    • frannie

      Chuck, that is a BRILLIANT idea

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