2020 Shaved Merkin Fly Fishing Industry Awards
-Presented by The Foul Hooked Whitey-
The 2020 Shaved Merkin Awards are a Fly Fishing industry award based on personal bias, pride and absolutely no scientific data. The Foul Hooked Whitey has determined the winners based on spending thousands of hours in a World Class Fly Shop while literally selling millions of dollars worth of Fly Fishing industry related product over the last 12 plus years. All of these Vendors should be congratulated for being the Best at what they do all while trying to please a customer base that has its share of whiney, no loyalty little bitches. I would also like to Thank the Fly Fishing community for ultimately tolerating this rancid display of
“toilet poetry" If not for them there would be no Shaved Merkin Awards.
Shaved Merkin #1- BEST FLY ROD..... Sage. There is not another Fly Rod manufacturer that can touch Sage and their collective Fly Rod line up. Sage defines premium Fly Rod quality, Fly Rod performance, pedigree, and yes even price point. Sage produces two superb American Made Fly Rods under $500.00. Nobody else in the sport does that. Of course you could listen to all of the so called Fly Rod experts out there. You know the guy that’s got that “thingamajiggy” set up in his garage to gauge some sort of “flexamjiggy”. And of course there’s that internet Fly “dude” that jacks off to all those sophisticated Industry Fly Rod Review’s. Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah. Trust the Foul Hooked Whitey, the rod review Fly “dude” is a tire kicker. He might ultimately shower the Rod Review source with his Fly Rod business, but he’s annoyed every Fly Shop within 100 miles of where he lives with his million questions about a fucking Fly Rod.
As far as all the different Fly Rod review’s out there? Let’s just say when you repeatedly promote foreign made Fly Rods over American Made Fly Rods it’s the Foul Hooked Whitey’s Industry opinion that somebody is either getting a shit ton of free sticks to enjoy, or they are getting their dicks sucked by somebody. Your local Fly Angler that walks into their Fly Shop and buys their Fly Rod is the real Fly Rod business in this sport. When that dude or dudette walks in, you don’t have to spend two seconds convincing them of Sage’s quality, reputation or consumer impact on the Sport. Here’s an inside industry scoop. The Fly Angler out there that’s going to cough up five bills or more for a Fly Rod is 7 out of 10 times going to buy a Sage. Why? Because of Sage’s “feel” and unparalleled reputation in the sport. That’s something you’ll never read in a Rod Review. Here’s a Foul Hooked Whitey Fly Rod Review for you- Quality Fly Rods are a lot like Working Girls. There are Working girls that can charge $1000 and hour, and Working Girls that can only charge $100 an hour. Sage is the Working Girl that can charge $1000 an hour and she’s worth every moment and penny. Honorable Mentions- Everybody else.
Shaved Merkin #2- BEST WADERS AND BOOTS..... Simms. This is the most obvious Shaved Merkin of the night. There has never been in the history of Fly Fishing a manufacturer that has dominated such an integral necessity like Waders and Boots. Simms is The Rolling Stones, Michael Jordan and Apple Computer of the Fly Fishing business all wrapped into one. There is no more impactful Vendor in all of Fly Fishing than Simms. They’ve been fucking great since day one, and they are only getting better. Though Simms as a company produces a never ending array of incredible product (Outerwear, Sportswear, Layering etc., etc.) it is their Wader and Boot line up that distinguishes Simms as a global leader in what is obviously an equipment necessity. Simms is as poised and positioned as J Lo’s firm 50 year old booty to continue to dominate the Wader and Boot category for at least the rest of my Fly Fishing lifetime. From their entry level Boots and Waders all the way up to G4’s, you are wasting your time, money and credibility as a Legit FLY Angler by purchasing and using anything else. When I see that Angler posting a fish on Social Media the first thing I do is see what kind of waders they are wearing. Always remember you can tell a lot about a person by the brand of waders they wear. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah we all know there’s the “fringe” Simms conspiracy thinkers out there. These are the Anglers that think everything Simms sells is $500 or that a pair of Cabela’s waders and boots “are just as good as Simms”. Not surprisingly these are the same people that believe the United States never actually set foot on the moon. You get the point. Whether it’s because of cost, a Patagonia Pro Deal (puke), or some aversion to wearing the best, the only Angler that loses by not wading with Simms Waders and Boots is that Anger. Oh and don’t forget that little old Made in Bozeman/USA thing. Last time The Foul Hooked Whitey checked, they still aren’t making Waders on Ventura Boulevard if you know what I’m saying. Honorable Mentions- Nobody.
Shaved Merkin #3- BEST VESTS, PACKS and BAGS..... Fishpond. There is nobody in the sport of Fly Fishing that has the Vest, Pack, and Bag game down like Fishpond. The quality of Fishpond product is as fine as a pair of Gucci Loafers. I envision the owner of Fishpond looking like Gianni Versace sporting the salt and pepper locks, holding a chilled bottle of Pierre, wearing the black shades, never looking bad, hot chicks everywhere, always fishing the Seychelles. I mean a real cool motherfucker if you know what I am saying. Fishpond exudes quality, style and functional detail like nobody else in Fly Fishing. Fishpond uses the best materials, the best zippers, the best stitching. The best everything. This is how good Fishpond is. If you had to keep Baby Fly Fishing Jesus dry from a torrential downpour at the manger you could entrust a Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Duffel to keep the Baby Fly Fishing Jesus dry. Fishpond product is that God Damn good. From the beginner to the pro, Fishpond covers all the bases. Fishpond’s acquisition of Nomad Nets and Tacky Fly Boxes show a business savvy that would make any Angling Wolf on Wall Street proud. Yes indeed, If there were a stream on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills there would be a Fishpond store right next to the Rolex and Gucci boutiques. Never heard anyone complaining about buying a Rolex have you? The same goes for Fishpond. Honorable Mention- Simms, Umpqua.
Shaved Merkin #4- BEST FLY REEL..... Galvan. “She was a fast machine, she kept her motor clean. She was the best damn woman that I’ve ever seen”. That’s all a Fly Reel is. A smooth, tight and sexy woman (substitute “sexy man” for the Lady Angler) that Purr’s when she’s (he’s) called to duty. The Foul Hooked Whitey is going to burn for that blatant sexism but it’s still true. A quality Fly Reel looks like quality, feels like quality, weighs like quality, and Purr’s when you touch and turn that quality. “She had the sightless eyes telling me no lies, and knock’n me out with those American thighs.” The best Fly Reels on the planet are STILL American Made. Don’t let anybody kid you. Right now there is some dude in France with all the access to the best Euro and Asian Fly Reels available yet I bet that French dude is still going to buy a USA made Fly Reel. There is no doubt that both the Chinese and Korean guy makes a good Fly Reel. However, the reality is.....whether it’s Space Exploration, Advanced Medicine, Energy Technology, Computer Science, Military Might, International Athletics, or just America’s casual ability to send a Heat Seeking Missile thousands of miles away just to give a Muslim Terrorist a fire enema would lead most casual observers to believe that Americans can and still do make the best fucking Fly Reels on the planet. After all, the song Does Not say, “knock’n me out with those Chinese thighs”..... “Had to cool me down, to take another round, now I’m back in the ring to take another swing”. There are as many good Fly Reels in the sport of Fly Fishing as there are hot chicks with dicks in a Thai hook up bar. I mean P-Leeeeaaase.....EVERYBODY makes a decent to good Fly Reel in our sport. From the absurd to the turd, Fly Anglers can buy whatever they want in this saturated Fly Reel marketplace. What we’re awarding here is the best Premium Reel. That criteria includes using the finest materials, machining, drag, balance, durability and of course that Purr I was referring to. When it comes to comparing a Galvan Rush Light or Galvan Torque to other similar priced premium Fly Reels on the market, Galvan wins every time. Go buy a Galvan and make one purr. Honorable Mentions- Nautilus, Abel, Hatch, Ross and Lamson.
Shaved Merkin #5- Best Net. Nomad Nets. A lot of customers ask innocently in an almost child like manner, “Excuse me Sir, but um do I need a Net when I am Fly Fishing?”.....With crazy eyes and a condescending tone I reply sharply, “You’ll learn you need a net AFTER YOU FUCK UP YOUR FIRST NICE TROUT”. Harsh but true. Fly Anglers can’t be told they need a good Net, they LEARN they need a good net. Without a good net, you can forget that little old catch and release thing. Landing a Trout by pouncing on it after it’s on dry rock is as gentle as a non lubricated corncob dildo. A net cradles and protects what we love like a quality brazier cradles and protects an incredible set of Breasts. Just like a quality Bra, a good Net needs to be light, stable, attractive and versatile regarding Cup, I mean hoop and handle sizes. Above all else, the Net’s rubber bag needs to allow a Rack, I mean Trout to be cradled safely and securely prior to unsnapping, I mean releasing a Trout. Nomad Carbon Fiber Fiberglass Composite nets have made wooden and heavy aluminum nets more obsolete than a $5.00 Brazier sale at K-Mart. Nomad Nets are tough, they float, they weigh absolutely nothing, and they have correctly sized Bosom bags, I mean Net bags which are also particularly light. Plus if don’t lose or get your Nomad Net ripped off it will last forever. Just like my old man once said “I’d walk 9 miles on broken glass just to unhook that Bra”. Any Angler wanting the best Net in the Sport of Fly Fishing should be willing to walk on “9 miles of broken glass just” to buy a Nomad Net. Honorable Mention- Rising Nets.
Shaved Merkin #6- BEST FLY LINE..... Scientific Anglers. Fly Lines can be more complicated than Politics, Religion and Race Relations combined. When someone comes into the Shop and says “tell me what you know about Spey Lines” all I can think is “Oh Fuck, I do not want to deal with a Spey Line conversation right now”..... If you are like the Foul Hooked Whitey, your Fly Line is like your Indiana Jones whip. There is no more important piece of equipment in our arsenal than our Fly Line. I say to customers all the time, casting a good Fly Line should be as fun and as enjoyable as playing catch with a football in your backyard. A Fly Line should feel smooth, rhythmic, and cast without much thought. When you step into a Stream and go to battle, your Fly Line has to possess the ability to “shoot”, demonstrate high float, be manipulated and of course be fucking DURABLE. With the exception of our wading boots, there is no part of our equipment that takes a bigger beating than a Fly Line. Manufacturing a Fly Line that delivers on performance while also meeting an Anglers durability expectations should be a no brainer, especially considering that Fly Lines fetch for $100 easy these days. With their AST Plus, Improved Dry Tip, Shooting and Floating Textured Technologies, there is little doubt that Scientific Anglers spared no expense in recruiting and then hiring a brainiac like “Poindexter” from Revenge of the Nerds to lead SA’s Science, and Research and Development department. Fly Fishing is now a young sport. The Foul Hooked Whitey knows that If you own a Fly Shop, you listen to what the younger, “fishier” Anglers want and that’s your barometer for the future. Over the last several seasons the Youth in the Sport of Fly Fishing have made it known where the Fly Line trajectory is going. Based on Performance, DURABILITY and Shop Buzz, that trajectory goes with Scientific Anglers. Honorable Mention- Rio, Airflo.
Shaved Merkin #7- BEST FLY COMPANY..... Montana Fly Company. There really aren’t a bunch of Great Commercial Fly Tying Companies our there. Most Bug buying customers in our sport have no idea what, when, where, how, or why Bug’s make it into a Fly Shop bin. You’ll get that naive, rube customer from “Tucky” somewhere asking in that Gomer Pyle voice; “Hey Mister Do you Tye all your own Fly’s?”. Very few Shops Tye their own Flies. That sure doesn’t mean there isn’t a need for some local Bug “flare” in a Fly Shop’s bins, but if you you are running a “big boy” Fly Shop there is no other option but to align yourself with a “big boy” Fly Company to make sure you get the Bug’s you need when that customer comes in and says, “Do you sell something called a Sex Dungeon?”. We sure do Sir. Kaching!!! The Foul Hooked Whitey has never Tyed a Fly. Yet even as a non Fly Tyer, I still know a quality Tied Fly when I see and hold one, and so does the Bug buying public. A Fly Company needs to be innovative, dynamic and with a quality control culture meaning they Tye for consistency on quality hooks and with premium materials. The biggest aspect of a Fly Shop, Fly Company relationship is “Trust”. Just like you “Trust” your Lady not to fuck you over with some other guy, you “Trust” your Fly Company not to fuck you over by not delivering your Bug’s during the season. Why does “Trust” factor into a Fly Shop/Fly Company relationship? Because we are not talking about “thousands” of dollars in Bug business, we’re talking about potentially “hundreds of thousands” of dollars in Bug business. That’s why it’s called a Fly Shop and not a Fly Rod Shop. Montana Fly Company has repeatedly earned that Fly Shop “Trust”.
Shaved Merkin #8- BEST FLY FISHING CELEBRITY..... Kelly Galloup. The term Fly Fishing Celebrity is actually a ridiculous concept. If you think about it, most Fly Fishing celebrities don’t necessarily achieve anything of substance. Defining a true Fly Fishing Celebrity is like having to dig through all the piles of horse shit just to find those couple of Pony’s at the bottom. Fly Fishing Celebrities don’t write music, pitch “one hitters” or ever become a big time “power play” skater on the ice. In fact, most Fly Fishing Celebrities never have to truly prove their worth across the board in the field of play. Just because you are a “guest” Fly Tyer at all the Trade shows doesn’t mean you can out fish a majority of those you inspire. The same goes for a lot of the internet Fly Tyers who can inspire thousands of followers Tying their signature Fly patterns all while likely sitting there in their crusty boxer shorts and shooting videos in between runs to the kitchen to load up on another bowl of Lucky Charms. Who the fuck knows how good of Anglers these dudes are? In order to achieve Fly Fishing Celebrity status now days, you better be a bit of a Rock Star.
To the Foul Hooked Whitey, a true Fly Fishing Celebrity needs to be great at SEVERAL aspects of our sport in order to be the real deal. That would include someone that develops and Ties signature patterns as well as has some history in Travel, Guiding, Outfitting or Specialty Fly Retail. If they haven’t at minimum Guided, owned or run a “big boy” Fly Shop, they are likely not a Legit Fly Fishing Celebrity. Exceptions to this criteria include a few Fly Fishing artists out there that make both dicks hard and koochi’s wet. When you take all that into account there are very few true Fly Fishing Celebrities. Kelly Galloup is a cross between Chuck Norris, Ted Nugent and Ronald Reagan. The best thing about Kelly Galloup is he is talented in a myriad of skills. The man names Fly’s that could be the title of AC/DC songs. You know the playlist. “Zoo Cougar”, “Silk Kitty”, and “Butt Monkey”. You can’t get any cooler that that. It’s no secret that Kelly is succe$$ful in the sport. Besides likely inspiring by now “millions” of Tyers world wide with his signature Streamer patterns, Kelly also has a superb Nymph and Dry Fly portfolio, Air Flo Fly Lines, Echo Fly Rods, Etc.. Kelly also holds his court on the famed Madison River right near the spot where the Fly Fishing Virgin Mary was miraculously conceived with the Baby Fly Fishing Jesus. The Slide Inn has got to have one of the planets Top 10 locations for Trout, scenery and lore. Kelly planted his roots on the Madison and as long as Mr. Galloup chooses to be there and inspire the umpteen thousands that will walk through his door there for his wisdom and style there will never be any shortage of customers, fans and Silk Kitty’s. At a Kelly Galloup Fly Tying demonstration, I had a customer make the comment, “Is he going to bring his ego with him?”. I thought to myself with juvenile delight, “I hope so. It wouldn’t be the same show without it”.
- The Foul Hooked Whitey
- Foul Hooked Whitey