On Being a Compleat Angler

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Angling may be said to be so like the mathematics that it can never be fully learned.

Izaak Walton

I think there is a tendency among our kind to fall into ruts. We get comfortable with what’s comfortable, and the desire to explore beyond our circle begins to wane. I suppose this is just part of our nature, but I think we all need to make an effort to push beyond what has become our normal.

I’m thinking about new places, first of all. That DH stream just fifteen minutes up the road from you? Drive past it and fish the headwaters. Or that west end of the lake that you know holds fish so you always hit it? I bet the east end of the lake holds a few fish too. Somewhere new doesn’t require another stamp in your passport.

Of course, if you have the time or the means, you could always go somewhere really different. It is a lot cheaper to catch a bonefish than most people think, and Great Lakes steelhead aren’t that far away. The entire Southeast coastline is loaded with so many species of fish you’ll never catch them all in one lifetime, but I’m continually surprised by how many accomplished freshwater fisherman have never fished the salt.

What I’m getting at is that there is an entire world of fly fishing available to us, and I think too many of us are content to draw our own small circle and sit comfortably inside. I should be clear that this isn’t meant to criticize the circle-sitters; if spending a few hours on your local DH stream every couple of weeks is enough for you, that’s fine! Just realize that your circle is small and the world is still a big place. We can still lose large airplanes in our oceans after all; if your mourning for the families isn’t tinged with a little optimism that we can still get lost on this planet, you need an adventure.

Over the past few years, I have been trying to make myself as complete a fly angler as my time and budget will allow. I’ve made an effort to fish with people that do things differently than I do, and I’ve picked up some knowledge that I don’t think I would have otherwise found. Listening is still one of the best ways to learn, after all.

Another thing I’ve done is to consume as much information as I can about the sport. I watch videos of fly anglers all over the planet, and while it may be a while before I’m wading the flats of Christmas Island, I’ll be a lot more prepared when the opportunity to chase a GT comes around than if I hadn’t done my research. Look at Google maps, and familiarize yourself with some of the places on your wishlist. If nothing else, finding some fishy looking flats or riffles will only make you work harder to actually get there.

Finally, there are plenty of ways to broaden your skill base on your home water; try new techniques on the fish your know best. Do a little reading online, and the next time you fish your local trout stream, try euro nymphing or use a Snap-T to make your streamer game a little stronger. It won’t cost you a dime, and you’ll make yourself a better angler.

For me, it’s about becoming the most complete angler I can be. I recognize that as a result of working within this industry that perhaps the opportunities available to me can help make this happen more easily than those who only get to fish once a month, but imagine how much you might gain by dedicating half an hour of each monthly trip to working on something new. Every time we add a new skill or species, our circle grows. It isn’t about being an expert in every area; for most of us, that’s just not going to happen. By being at least a serviceable angler in a lot of different areas, I think we’ll catch more fish and make the most of the time we get, whether it’s a day a month or three days a week.

A Blank Slate

I need your help. We’re in a new house, and I have an empty room to do with what I please. We ripped everything out, and right now it’s just studs and a floor. Drywall will go up soon, and then the fun part starts.

First of all, it needs a tying desk and storage for enough materials to stock a small shop. Next, I’ll have to figure out the best way to store a few at least twenty rods and reels. Thinking about hanging them horizontally on one of the long walls. Also, hooks for a few pairs of waders and about half a dozen packs. I’m planning on two lights on the ceiling as this will be a tying room and I want the light to be bright.

I’m realizing that it will end up looking a little like a shop, and I’m okay with that. What I want from you hooligans, though, is a few ideas. What have you seen/done that I should try to replicate? What are a few ideas that, with 170 square feet of blank canvas, I need to include?

 

SCOF Summer 2016 “Blood Oath” Issue is Live

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Here we are again folks. The SCOF Summer 2016 “Blood Oath” Issue is live and like all blood oaths, not to be taken lightly. This time around we’re celebrating the release of the new issue by giving one lucky winner a free pair of Costa Del Mar sunglasses of the winners choosing. Go over to our Facebook page and like, comment, and share to enter to win. We’ll pick the winner next Monday. Until then please feel free to peruse the fruits of our summer bounty.

Click the link. Read It.
southerncultureonthefly.com

The Islands Are (Always) Calling

You’d think that as strongly as the salt pulls me in that I’d figure out a way to make a move out of the mountains. Trust me; I’ve done some looking. Turns out it’s a lot harder to make a living in the Bahamas than it is in Asheville, and that’s saying a lot.

So, I keep myself content with occasional trips to the islands and every good, salty video I can track down. Amigos, this is a good one.

The Rod Warranty Circus

warrantyguy

Most of you may find this immensely shocking, but I was able to trick a somewhat reputable institution into granting me a graduate degree in economics about five years ago. Perhaps the most important lesson I took away was this. It isn’t gold or greenbacks or banks that make markets work. It’s information, and it truly is that simple. For a market to be considered efficient (that it, a market that maximizes the utility of all parties involved), information must be accurate, thorough, and readily available.

Now, I recognize that I am far from the first to address the ongoing debate regarding the future of fly rod warranties, but I’m beginning to grow tired of this persistent conversation where everyone complains and nothing changes. So, I figure that it everyone else is complaining, I might as well do the same. And I recognize that nothing will change as a result of my complaining, but I’ll do it anyway.

So, we know that information is important. The problem is that our industry is one in which information is not widely available. We, and by that I mean both consumers and shop guys, cannot possibly have a complete picture of what’s going on. We can’t know how many rods each company sells, what the failure rate of each brand is, the true cost of the warranty component of each brand’s rod price, and a hundred other questions. To a certain extent, then, it makes sense that we demand lifetime warranties for every rod we buy. And from the manufacturer’s standpoint, any company deciding not to offer a substantial warranty would simply be handing sales to their competitors.

In the absence of full information, I think there are a few options available. The first, and maybe the least likely, is that consumers demand more options; I don’t see this happening. I just don’t think enough people are going to write letters to Sage and Orvis asking that warranties be made an option available for an additional cost at the time of purchase.

Another option, perhaps, is that through enough backroom meetings at IFTD and other events, the manufacturers simply change the standard practices together. This seems more likely to me, but I’m still not convinced. Just as consumers do not have access to the information we need to make truly informed decisions, I’m not convinced that the manufacturers see the value in acquiring and analyzing the information that is readily available to them. You might be surprised how far just being on time and not hungover will get you in this business.

I might as well throw in my recommendations at this point. You’ve paid good money for them, so I might as well give you what you’ve paid for.

First, I want to see rod warranty cards required to be filled out at the time of purchase. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone mention how they found broken rod on eBay or on the side of road next to a popular river only to have a manufacturer fix it at either no cost or for a nominal fee. We claim that warranties are limited to the original purchaser, but in many cases this isn’t verifiable information. I would love to see serial numbers on every rod or RFID tags placed in them so the original purchaser can actually be identified. Or, the manufacturer’s just don’t care. This drives up warranty servicing costs, and rod prices follow. We aren’t paying for a rod; we’re paying for three of them.

Second, fly shops need to be honest and upfront about how warranties work. There are way too many people expecting their shops to swap their broken rods for new ones off the shelf. That’t not how it works. We don’t have rod winding machines in the stockroom, and we aren’t in the business of giving away new rods every time someone slams a rod in a door and walks in telling us it broke on that studly stocker they caught that very same morning.

Finally, I want to see some action from the manufacturers. I either want a press release that says that warranties are not going to be changed and we all need to quit bitching or that they are truly going to take a look at the readily available information and figure out a model that works for all parties involved. I just hope it happens before yet another person gets pissed off at me because they stepped on their rod and I won’t just give them a new one off the wall.

Carp Cup Wrap Up

3rccAlansBass

So another 3 Rivers Carp Cup has come and gone, and your intrepid team SCOF was on site to sweep the tournament.

That’s a lie. We didn’t catch a single carp. That’s Alan above with the only fish of the day, but what a day it was. We made a few stops before we hit the water. The first, of course, was breakfast. The next two, however, were a tire shop and an auto parts store. Check out our Instagram feed for a little more info. Then, at the break of dawn 10:00am, we put the boat in the water.

For the next eight hours, we fed fish after fish. Even broke a few off. But bring one to the boat? Nope. That whole catching fish thing is for suckers.

I don’t suppose I’ll belabor the point any more. We didn’t even sniff a carp, but we’ll try again next year.

Congrats to my buddy, Jeremy Edge, for putting a hurting on the kayak division and taking home top honors. He’s a fishy dude.

 

SCOF Summer Mystery Movie Series: TONIGHT

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Come one, come all…The SCOF Summer Mystery Movie Series (SSMMS for short) is upon us once again. Food will be provided by Farm To Fender food truck, drinks by the Cascade Lounge, a pair of Costas of your choosing to be raffled off provided by Costa, and some pisctorial film noir provided by your friendly neighborhood SCOF. Show will start around 8:45 but the loitering will get going around 6:00. See you tonight….

XOXOXXXXXXOOOOX,
Dave

The Doldrums

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This has been a strange summer for me. I’ve been working more and fishing less; this isn’t a trend I want to continue. Then again, summers have always been a little weird to me. I know this is far from the majority opinion, but summer is my least favorite season.

First of all, its just too damn hot. You can add layers in the winter, but there are only so many layers you can remove in the summer. Lately, we’ve been far short on rain. I realize that with world-class tailwaters like the South Holston just up the hill and more miles of brook trout streams than I’ll ever be able to fish in every direction, I shouldn’t be complaining. I’m just saying I usually spend all summer waiting for fall.

Fall brings grouse season, steelhead trips north, and redfish trips east. Cold mornings mean big fish on the tailwaters and colored-up brookies. It means all of the things for which I wait around all summer, and I’m counting down the days.

Maybe I’m doing this backwards, but I’m ready to be cold again.

Sitting It Out

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It seems the older I get, the more often ‘real life’ gets in the way of doing the things I want to do. Its nothing new, I know, but I’m beginning to realize something else. Many of the times when I’m forced to sit it out are a little more worth it than they used to be.

This week, I’ll be hiding out in the NC mountains while the SCOF crew heads south to IFTD. If you see Dave wandering around in a sasquatch suit, drunk and lost in the land of Rapalas and braid, kindly point him back toward the fly guys for me.

For anyone going to IFTD, check back in with us and let me know what you saw and liked. I’ll surely be there next year. Maybe.