My wife sarcastically calls me, “Mr. Chipper” which is probably more accurate than I like to admit, but I just shrug, grunt, and go on; I hope that I’m not going to end up crusty or curmudgeonly. Whoever said “why would I join a club that would have me as a member?”, called it pretty spot on. Imagine a bunch of guys that sit around on stools and grunt acknowledgement at each other? The Rod and Rifle club is pretty inclusive and membership requirements and guidelines are pretty ambiguous; the parameters for joining are the basic appreciation of the hunt with rifle and rod and the ability to have some pretty basic conversations about it. That being said, in my pre-curmudgeon condition, it consistently remains a surprise when I meet someone who I connect with who appreciates similar things.
This modern band of anglers are a peculiar bunch of characters, and the diversity of personalities is sometimes astonishing but the premise of fly fishing binds together a myriad of people and personal styles, and my travels have allowed me to meet some outstanding people. A real community exists outside the boundaries of the storefront but you’d never know it until you go stand in a field/river, travel a country road, or talk to a man on a tractor.
There’s a fellow in Montana who I’ve gotten to know. I’ve fished with him a couple of times and his laid back, articulate, and funny nature are simply a pleasure to be around. And Montana is still the only state where I had a business meeting with a rod in hand.
There’s a guy in Colorado who has 30+ years on the rivers of that state as a guide, has authored several books on strategies and flies, and is passing his passion down to his son, which is inspirational.
There’s a dude in New York State who has been making fly rods for 20 years, and he embodies everything that’s right about fly fishing and rod making. Not only is he a good guy but he works diligently to get even the smallest detail correct when building a rod that will fish like a Ferrari holds the road AND he is as proud of his part of the country as I am of my home state, which I find really appealing as you truly get to know a region when seen through the eyes of someone who loves it.
There’s a gentleman in Pennsylvania who runs a fly-tying supply and storefront for tiers on the web who consistently gives me great constructive feedback on the flies that I tie. That input makes me a better and more effective tier and fisherman because of it.
I know a guy in Calgary, Alberta, Canada that fishes as many days as he can get in a stream. All over the world.
There is a Kid in western North Carolina that has competed in the world fly fishing championships in Ireland and won at the age of 17. Hell of a fly fisher and seemingly has his priorities right! Wouldn’t it have been great to have been that focused at 17?
There’s a particular country music star that I’ve fished with and, even though he is probably a millionaire, he can’t seemingly afford t-shirts that have sleeves. He is about as down home as a biscuit and it’s great fun to watch him weave macramé with a fly rod. (disclosure: the guy really does catch fish and he’s as much as a die hard outdoorsman as I’ve come across)
There is a small fly shop/coffee stop on the banks of the Hiwassee River in southeast Tennessee that caters to the few who seek out this part of the country, and serves up fresh coffee and a biscuit, a few flies, and simple pleasant conversation Dress code is Carhartt-comfortable and there are no pretentions.
We’ve been fortunate to travel to fish all over this country and the rivers we’ve waded/drifted are too many to even list but the consistent portion of engaging in this activity (other than the fish, which hasn’t always been that consistent) is the general quality of the people we’ve met. Sure, there are miscreants everywhere, and our time abroad have allowed us to confirm this tidbit as well, but we have met some seriously solid people. And the relationships continue to endure over time!
Perhaps I will be that old fellow in the bucket hat that you see on the river all the time but never really have a conversation with. She also told me the other day, “Don’t talk shit about my casting.”, when I tried to give her some constructive criticism but I don’t think this has anything to do with me being abrasive, curmudgeonly, or offering unwanted assistance. She ended up catching the biggest fish of the day so it’s all a moot point.
There are people all over the world who engage in varying levels with this hobby/lifestyle called fly fishing. I would wager, though, that if you took a minute to get to know somebody that you might be surprised on how many things you have in common. Just be careful about approaching my wife; she can get really competitive on the water.