Owning up

The Fish Taco, before even more stickers were applied.

Those who know me, and those who don’t but who have seen the Fish Taco, know that I’ve a certain penchant for stickers. Over the past 4 years the back window of the canopy became slathered with no fewer than a whole bunch of stickers: stickers representing pretty much anything to do with fly fishing, from conservation groups to product manufacturers, shops and guides. I’ve been proud to display said advertisements. Actually, advertisement may be the wrong choice of words—more accurately, by displaying said stickers, I was announcing my allegiance and proclaiming my passion for fish and fishing.

The fly fishing world is a stickery business—I wrote about it a few years ago when the Fish Taco sticker collection was still in its infancy (if so inclined you can read about it HERE). Not everyone likes stickers, and critics of said adornment use arguments such as, “I don’t like to advertise that I may have expensive fly fishing gear in my car.” Or in the case of the predictably unsupportive Mrs. UA, “Grow up.”  I’ve always dismissed said critics—I like stickers: they give cause to harken back to simpler times when a gold star or smiley face sticker was reward for having achieved relative greatness, or endured a visit to the dentist. To me, stickers have always represented the positive.

What’s not to like about this?

But slowly, it began to gnaw at me, one sticker at a time…this feeling that perhaps I wasn’t the best ambassador to represent these many entities; that I wasn’t worthy of their display. Was I merely a hack misrepresenting myself as something otherwise? The answer became painfully clear when I recently looked in the mirror, didn’t like what I saw, and asked, “If the tables were turned, would those entities want to be associated with me?”

Tools of a destructive trade.

And so a couple of weeks ago I grabbed my flat razor blade and alcohol-soaked rag and began to wipe the slate clean. Many of the stickers were slightly oxidized from the damaging UV rays of the sun—some were even beginning to peel around the edges. Others of higher quality had stood the test of time and it was those in particular that were harder to remove. Not physically harder, mind you, but emotionally—such a waste of such a fine product. I held back a tear as I peeled, scraped and wiped away the collection of adhesive-backed goodness.

The result is a large area of glass through which I hadn’t been able to fully see in a long time. Only one sticker remains.

A nearly blank slate.

As hard as my decision was, it was the right thing to do.  I am, if nothing else, an Unaccomplished Angler and it’s time I quit pretending to be anything else. In my defense I’ve never declared to be anything other than unaccomplished, but the assembly of stickers may have been confusing to others. It’s time I eliminated that confusion and owned up to my fate, fully.

I am what I am: nothing more and nothing less.


  1. Mike Sepelak

    Well done, sir. And I see that you used my shaving kit to do the deed. Nice.

    • Kirk Werner

      Indeed. I’m a bit of a medieval barber or sorts. And thanks.

  2. Kevin Breen

    UA, KW….did the same thing to my Tacoma about a month ago…stickers we’re looking pretty wasted after all of the sun here in “The Land of Enchantment”. It was a tough chore , both physically and emotionally, but what’s done is done and thanks to the slug of UA stickers purchased a couple years ago… A bright shiny new sticker adorns my rear window!

    • Kirk Werner

      Musta been something in the wind, perhaps voices whispering telling us what to do. I’ll admit I’m still not quite used to it. I can see so much better out the back, but I feel so naked.

  3. Jon De Jong

    You need to put a Cougar football sticker on there. That will make you feel better. Wait, maybe you should put a women’s soccer sticker on your back window. They rock!

    • Kirk Werner

      To play it safe I’ll just get a new WSU logo sticker to replace the one that became collateral damage in the carnage.

  4. mike doughty

    i to am a man of sticker enthusiasm

    • Kirk Werner

      That’s good to know. Just because I’ve stripped myself of all but one does in no way mean I’ve lost my enthusiasm. In fact, I may gradually begin again, starting with a “Bigfoot Research Team” sticker.

  5. Howard Levett

    Let’s face it…darn I forgot what I was going to say. Good going now I’m going to have to start scraping stickers off the truck.

    • Kirk Werner

      No, Howard— don’t let the actions of the UA dictate a trend. On second thought, maybe I need to make some stickers that say: WWUAD?

  6. Wade

    I saw that thing parked next to the Yakima River last year. I was on my way up to the Tenaway with my wife. I stopped to look at the river, but then stopped and just stared at those stickers for a few minutes. I was impressed.

    • Kirk Werner

      And now, Wade, you won’t even notice the Fish Taco parked along the river. It’s just another white truck with a canopy, with just one sticker. Covert.

  7. Leigh

    Did the same thing a few months ago. But now I’ve got some cool new stickers and I’m fighting the urge to plaster the truck window again. In the meantime, I’m using the stickers on my tackle boxes and rod tubes.

    • Kirk Werner

      Thanks for the comment, Leigh. I echo your sentiments. Cool new stickers are always an evil temptation and I fear that my resolve will be weak as the calendar advances. What I need is a boat with which to slather in stickery goodness.

  8. Andy Roth

    I too saw the Taco last year. I was looking for the PBR sticker and almost added one to your collection. I refrained. Only one small sticker adorns my fishing truck as well. I think it is a stage in life when the complicated becomes the simple. The reverse usually occurs while you are still drinking flaming shots. Anyhow, I am certain the Mrs. is proud of you. A thought; My smallmouth boat bag is jammed with stickers. It looks so cool and I think the chicks dig it. In the lower left corner is the mark of the UA. It is inconspicuous yet smart… A reminder of all my un-accomplishments.

    • Kirk Werner

      I am certain you hit the nail on the head, Andy. In the past year we down-sized, de-cluttered, and simplified our lives. This de-stickerization is undoubtedly a result of the Simplification Manifesto. I’ll be finding some other place to adorn with stickers—maybe a boat cooler. Need the boat first, then the cooler. Stickers will follow suite. Oh, and thanks for flying the UA colors. Smart is never a word I would have chosen to be used in conjunction with the UA, but hey—why not?

  9. Jeff Holberg

    Having obsessively avoided stickering for years, I am getting the urge to acquire and place stickers. Is this just a pre-geezer phase, or a more serious malady?

    • Kirk Werner

      I think it’s just a stage in life, nothing to be too concerned about. We come into this life bald, naked, helpless and without stickers. We die in a similar state. But somewhere in between we slather our rigs with stickers. Then we remove them. Circle of life.

  10. Chuck Atkins

    yeah, I did the same thing. What was the compulsion? To show everyone that I’m a cool outdoorsy guy? Who cares what Fly rod I use? Who cares that I wear Patagonia stuff? It was silly! Who cares if I am a unaccomplished angler? Yep, sorry…..that one went too! Ha!

    • Kirk Werner

      Well, despite you being a cold-hearted bastard, I commend you on going whole hog on the removal. No survivors!

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