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  • Friday, April 01, 2016

    The Hogwash Factor {{If you fly fish don't read this.}}

    Pure Marketing Hype ?
    peerage vocabulary ?
    .. It seems appropriate on this day to vent just a little. After all, for instance, we all know that "Tenkara" was really invented by Izaak Walton.
    .. Or was it those  Macedonian fishers that were recorded by Ælean at about A.D. 230? This is not just an April Foolishness.
    .. Single piece rods, (of about the same lengths 6' to 18',) self or spliced string as well as self or spliced rods were used by all those fishers.
    .. It's just a stick and a string with a hook and feather attached to the business end. It's been done wherever there are fish to catch, (catfish, sunfish, trout, perch, - hell even tuna!)
    click for 8 seconds of Tenkara catch and release
    .. We are constantly bombarded by the hogwash perpetrated by fellow fishers, blogsters, marketing geniuses, and the industry fishing experts who are busy peddling the latest and greatest - of whatever! (To gullible folks upon whom our society is built.)
    .. We've heard it said that fly fishing is about 1/3 facts, 1/3 mysticism, and 1/3 fascination with the exotic. We now know why all fishers are liars: it's not by choice, rather, it's from ignorance and self aggrandizement.
    .. We, on the other hand, tend to believe that it's more like 1/5 factoids, 1/5 hearsay, 1/5 belief, 1/5 commercial allegiance, 1/5 "truth" with a capital "T".
    .. It's not that there are no facts to be had, it's rather that most non-commercial fishers would rather accept hearsay, or marketing hype. Soulful prose rather than history or science is the preferred reading material. The best buddy knows more than anyone else.
    .. It is way more soulful and poetic to believe that the gear, hearsay traditions, mystical behaviors, lofty terminology, and flies are the key to self fulfillment as a fisher rather than just catching fish. Why should we believe that new gear will make us a better fisher. Hells bells can any gear make one a better fisher?
    .. Not so long ago it was just fishing. Then manufacturers and elitists and joiners, and cults began the verbosity ploy. This is often called the "Name it and nail it syndrome."
    .. When spinning reels were invented there suddenly became "spin fishing." Aha, got that one down!
    .. Of course the reel for the fishing string was only invented around the 4th century A.D., in China apparently.
    .. Western reels were first called a "wind." They didn't appear until the 1600's - give or take a little.They were hung on the belt and used to wind up the line when fishing was completed - or you tripped on the excess around your feet. Soon thereafter they were nailed, glued, strapped, or otherwise affixed to the stick in the first two feet or thereabouts.
    .. Soon there were Nottingham reels, fly reels, bait reels, bait casting reels, center pin reels, multiplying reels, fresh water reels, salt water reels, trout reels, big game reels, etc.
    .. Of course you were obliged to believe that each succeeding reel was better at fishing in a particular venue with a particular style, with a particular ethos and mystique, and canonized behavior.
    .. This, most certainly, demands verbiage to set one apart from the other. And, by inference, makes one a better catcher of fish.
    .. Gadzooks: marketeers glommed on to this very early on in our Western tradition. England did itself proud and the industry, (centered in London and Reddich,) became very creative in their sales techniques.
    .. The House of Hardy even got itself appointed to the crown as official supplier - wow that still carries weight today.
    .. Fishing rods large enough to require two hands have been around since Izaak's day, (think of a 20' greenheart stick with attendant string.)
    .. Of course since it was imported from South America it was highly desired. Folks that used these sticks were "Greenheart Fishermen", (not women.) They practiced 'greenheart casting.' Zowie !!! Something new to sell.
    .. For years fishers used what was available. Bamboo poles, greenheart sticks, maple sticks, ash sticks, etc. Someone decided to split up some bamboo and then stick it back together again. It was cheap. It was strong enough. It was plentiful. And, by gum, it was imported from the exotic Far East.
    .. Hundreds of thousands of them were sold by Sears Roebuck & Co., Montgomery Ward, and tackle shops across the nation and elsewhere. Each and every one of them made better fishers of the folks that bought them.
    .. Suddenly there was spring steel, forged steel. iron, tubular steel, aluminum, fiberglass, graphite, boron and exotic mixes of miscellaneous synthetics. Bamboo was relegated to the shelf, the attic, the pawn shop, or the garden as tomato stakes. Meanwhile fishers kept getting better and better. The clothes make the man.
    .. Cane rods were out: then back in when it became fashionable and the other sorts got real expensive. We wonder if folks are now better fishers because of their modern stick and string.
    .. Today a two handed rod is a Spey rod and is used for Spey casting - but not Spey fishing. Why is that?
    .. Of course it's a good gimmick to hang sales upon. Few fishers believe that Spey casting can be done without a Spey rod.
    .. Fewer have been to the River Spey. But fly fishers being the sort of species that they are have jumped on the "Spey Rod" bandwagon. Marketing wins out over any sort of rationality. Just like Izaak Walton's Tenkara fishing.
    .. Fishers on the River Test don't have "Test Rods."
    .. Now there's an idea! Why not have Orvis start marketing the Test rod Should be a sales boon! Then we can all learn to Test cast.
    .. It could be expanded to fishing in the "TEST WAY." A clipped brogue should accompany it as well.
    .. Diction lessons could accompany certified fly casting instruction by the Federation Of Fly Fishers. There's a marketing opportunity here somewhere. Think of the mythology. Think of the hearsay. Think of the possible factoids that can be generated.
    .. Perhaps there is Madison Casting, Henry's Forking, Gallatin Grabbing, Missouri Mending, etc. Think of the marketing and blogging that could be enjoined. Words aplenty just waiting for exploitation. Soon we will all be better at catching.
    .. Unlike the Tenkara tradition which was originally a solitary commercial venture the Spey casters around here are joiners. They are elitist back slappers and proselytizers: just as are the recent Tenkaristas in the Americas. Is it 'my rod's better than your rod' or is it 'my rod makes me a better fisher' or is it 'us against all the other fools'? We're obviously missing something here.
    .. Most specialized fly fishing gear is better than 90% of the fishers that buy it and extol it's virtues. For instance the drags on many  contemporary trout reels are superb pieces of engineering. Far better than the 14" trout that are caught with them. Far better than the fishers that listen to them buzz and click and whir - to the exhaustion of the fish. It's a wonder that folks just 20 years ago caught any fish.
    .. Of course we miss the point. Fly fishing is not about catching fish. It's not about selecting appropriate tools to the task.
    .. It's way more about drinking, telling stories, hanging out together, buying the latest gear, believing the marketeers, believing the truth so freely dispensed by counter help, and "belonging." Our peerage is too important to seek facts or ignore fashion.
    .. No longer can one just go fishing. One must go fly fishing. One must go bass fishing. One must spin fish. One must deep sea fish. One must belong: even if it means adopting a foolish and romantic belief structure propagated by the wizards of Wall Street and the corner fly shop.
    .. This is not to say that fishers of  Pseudosasa amabilis, (Arundinaria amabilis) are different than the rest of us. They are just easy and popular  targets.
    .. This pastime is a target rich environment by it's very nature. Spey casters using Spey rods have a belief structure and vocabulary no more unthinking than the rest of us.
    .. The Tenkara advocate and practitioner is no more shallow in his beliefs than the dry fly purist, the generalist, the nymph fisher, the ice fisher or the spin fisher.
    .. We have allowed the hype of marketing and joining and of belonging to mythologize a very simple pastime, (not, however, - more or less, -  the commercial fisher.)
    .. What is it that demands of us that we seek to believe in that which is built upon the sand?
    .. We certainly don't know.