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The Seven Deadly Sins of Fly Fishing

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“Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long long year
Stole many a man’s soul to waste
And I was round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name”
- The Rolling Stones
 

The participation explosion in our sport over the last 2 decades has expanded the Fly Fishing tent to include a lot of crazy fucking people casting a Fly rod. That dramatic increase in more “boots on the rocks” has brought in a lot of Sin right along with it. Just like a gold mining boom from the 1800’s, Fly Fishing has gained its share of whores, crooks and swindlers.

Our sport has gone from the classic and legit old school Fly anglers of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, to the Orvis wearing snobby ass angler that was rightfully labeled the “River Runs Through Generation” to the ever present “Bill and Ted’s Bonehead Adventure with a #8 Weight on Film Generation”. Don’t get the Foul Hooked Whitey wrong, all Fly Fisherman Sin. Just because we have all accepted Fly Fishing as our Personal Lord Savior that certainly does not mean that we all don’t stumble morally as Fly anglers from time to time. Sin in our sport varies in severity that’s for sure. For every angler that walks through their angling journey desperately searching for those moments that make us feel alive and excited, are the anglers that sell out Fly Fishing including its morals, stature and true meaning for nothing more than bravado, numbers and cheap ass gratification. Sans Fly Fishing Zen if you know I am saying.   

As the religion of Fly Fishing enters its postmodern era, Sin within the sport has become as acceptable as a crass Donald Trump statement. The “Big Buck” mentality has crept into the sport with Fly anglers casting Streamers longer than John Holmes dick. Special interest groups are more and more likely to PAY to get State Legislatures or Judges to take our stream access rights away. Popular fisheries have been so over taken by the Outfitting industry that a lot of locals don’t even fish their home water during the peak season anymore.

Yes, our sport has blown way past its quiet and simplistic origins and shot right to the “harbor scene” in the movie Jaws.

A sermon for both Fly Fishing’s Saints and Sinners…..

        

Pride-

The Sin of Pride is owned by the “Secretive Angler” in the sport. You know the type. These are the anglers that think telling someone which river they caught a nice Trout on is like telling someone how as a 10 year old, they use to Jack Off to a JC Penney catalog while visiting Aunt Betty’s house. Geez, who fucking cares? Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to be said for keeping your favorite and “personal” angling spots close to the vest, but you have got to be kidding me. You don’t even want to give up which river you caught a nice Trout on?  

I’ll never forget a couple of good friends hanging out at the shop buying some stuff, shooting the shit, you know typical Fly Shop scene. I ask this young talented angler where he had caught a beautiful Brown he just showed me a picture of. Just as he was about to casually answer, a mutual friend from across the shop and in a different conversation started to glare at his friend like a guy motioning to his “bitch” to shut her mouth and quit talking to some other guy. Just like that, our casual conversation was altered by the “Secretive Angler”. The “Secretive Angler” thinks he is keeping his river “quiet”, but in actuality the “Secretive Angler” is being rude and passive aggressive. Again nobody is saying you give up which stretch of river you waded, or where you put in on a float. But is it asking too much for the “Secretive Angler” to be polite and respectful especially to newer anglers coming into the sport. What the “Secretive Angler” has forgotten is that when he was a rookie getting into the sport, some advanced angler or legit Fly Shop dude helped him out by telling where to begin exploring AND on what river.

When you think about the career of a professional athlete, the pro’s that earned the reputation for being a “Selfish Player” will always be remembered for that trait, regardless as to how good of numbers they posted during their athletic career. In the sport of Fly Fishing, the “Secretive Angler” is our “Selfish Player”.

The “Secretive Angler” will always be remembered for that trait.

         

Envy-

The Sin of Envy is owned by the “Shady Ass Bug Dealer”. He is one of hundreds of Counterfeiting Thieving Bastards that steal fly patterns from legit Fly Tier’s that design, fish and produce their patterns commercially. Even though Joe Schmo in our sport doesn’t know that Fly creators own their Fly patterns, that doesn’t mean that it’s ok for some “Shady Ass Bug Dealer” to sell his Chinese tied Fly patterns for $1.00 a Fly on line, all while trying to pass off his “B” grade Bug’s as the original. Even though there are a shit ton of wannabe guitarists out there that have played an ok “Eruption” in between bong hits during their Sophomore year at “Where Ever High School”, NONE of those guitarists play “Eruption” like Edward Van Halen does. In other words, THE ORIGINAL IS ALWAYS BETTER. To put that into Fly Industry terms, a legit Fly Company called Umpqua owns the right to sell the original “Copper John” nymph. Fly shops can buy virtually the same nymph give or take from several other credible fly vendors in the business. In Montana Fly Company’s case a “Copper John” is called a “Copper Bob”. Though it is virtually the same fly, the fact that Montana Fly Company who doesn’t own the right to the “Copper John” doesn’t call that Fly by its “proprietary name” goes a long way in showing both respect and coexistence in a business where accusations of Bug pattern theft are as common as a nice set of tits at a KISS concert. The sleazy, “Shady Ass Bug dealer” doesn’t have that respect. He’s trolling the web looking for patsies who are dumb enough to actually think they are buying an original Kelly Galloup Sex Dungeon, or Fly Fish Food Belly Scratcher Minnow. This shit is similar to back in the day when folks didn’t think that stealing an artist’s copyrighted material from sites like Napster was any big deal. That all started to change when the record companies began to sue copyright thieves and guess what? The legal system and juries backed the music business up.

When I think of the “Shady Ass Bug Dealer”, I think about some dude in a dark alley wearing a trench coat, and smoking a cigarette while waiting for the next rube to walk down the alley of substandard Bugs. In a raspy voice caused by smoking too many cigarettes while tying way too many Zebra Midges, the “Shady Ass Bug Dealer” asks while opening his trench coat and exposing thousands of Chinese tied Fly knock offs -

“Hey Kid (Cough, Cough), you looking for some Steel Worms? (Cough) Some Caddis Emergers? (Cough, Cough) How about some Streamers? I got all the Galloup and Craven patterns and rest assured Kid (Cough, Cough), they’re all tied on Dai Ichi hooks. I promise Kid (Cough). You looking for Fly Fish Food? (Cough, Cough). Me and Cheech we go back way back you know Kid (Cough)”.  

Hey “Shady Ass Bug Dealer”, If you’re going to try and make a living by ripping off Bug authors by misrepresenting what your selling all while taking something that isn’t yours to begin with, then you had better be prepared to CATCH some serious shit from the Fly Tier’s you steal patterns from.             

 

Wrath-

The Loss of High Water Mark Stream Access in the State of Montana will bring Great Wrath upon all those that perpetuate the theft of our state’s citizen’s property which includes all of our stream beds and existing public land. The Sinners that have cost access oriented advocacy groups time, money and resources by legally challenging the public’s right to access at both public bridges and below the High Water Mark are risking their physical wellbeing as well as that of their personal property by Fucking with Montana Fly Fisherman and our coveted Stream Access laws.

In the deeply religious Faith known as Fly Fishing, Montana is the “Promise Land” of Fly Fishing and Montana Fly Anglers are the sports “Chosen People”. That is why the Fly Fishing God’s have maintained the “Promise Land’s” High Water Mark. Montana’s Stream Access laws have generated countless tens of millions of dollars for the State’s economy and if we lost the ability to wade fish below the High Water Mark, a lot of that dough would be gone just like that. Less folks would travel to the “Promise Land” and Montana’s Blue Ribbon Trout Streams would be as off limits as our angling neighbors water to the South. The Fly Fishermen and women of Montana will never submit or comply to stream access changes brought on by the Liar’s, Crooks and Thieves that masquerade as Judges, State Lawmakers, Real Estate Organizations, and even the untouchable Agriculture folks who seem to get A LOT of FREE WATER without question because they “grow our food”.

The Liar’s Crooks and Thieves have been warned. Trample our rights regarding Stream Access and Montana’s High Water Mark and the Fly Fisherman in this state are going to follow through with Wrath by Trampling your face.   

 

Gluttony-

The Sin of Gluttony is owned by all the “Bead” anglers worldwide. It is no secret the Foul Hooked Whitey is no fan of egg fishing for Trout, but a pegged “Bead” with a dropped bare hook is a whole other chapter of Sin in the Bible of Fly Fishing ethics. Before I proceed with this Faith Based Sermon, let me first say to all “Bead” anglers who read this, Please save your comments about my comments because I don’t give a shit about your comments just like you as a “Bead” angler doesn’t give a shit about my comments. There with that settled let me first clarify, the Sport I am writing about is called Fly Fishing. A “Bead” is not a Fly. I am really sorry folks but “Caramel Row” is not considered a Fly pattern. It is a “Bead” color similar to a Cherry Popsicle. A Cherry Popsicle is not a Fly Pattern either. Cherry just happens to be one of the many flavors that Popsicles are available in. I hate to break it to “Bead” nation but if you are not Fly Fishing with a Fly, you are not Fly Fishing. You might be casting a “Bead” with a Fly Line on a Fly Rod, but you are not Fly Fishing. Furthermore, some of the ethical (sic) “Bead” anglers will even drop a Fly below the pegged “Bead” in an attempt to skirt Fish and Game laws and regulations in certain States that have deemed fishing with a “Bead” illegal due to its tendency to foul hook Game Fish. Because let’s be clear, “Bead” anglers are definitely foul hooking fish simply by the fact that the Trout or Salmon they are fishing for eat the “Bead” and NOT the Hook. The Sinful Temptation with “Bead” fishing is how well “Beads” work. Like how a quality boob job always beats out a set of “naturals”, “Beads” will always out fish egg patterns, streamers and everything other Fly pattern that’s fished during the time of spawn. In other words, The Sin of a “Bead” isn’t in the “Bead’s” success. The Sin of the “Bead” is that an angler is lifting a dropped bare Hook up into a Fish that didn’t eat the Hook. It ate the “Bead” and then got foul hooked.

The Devil’s Dung of hook sets if you will.

Avid “Bead” anglers will swear up and down the spawning bed that a fish caught on a “Bead” gets “hooked in the corner of the mouth every time”. This type of angling rationale is similar to the three biggest lies ever told which are; “The checks in the mail, “I talked to my lawyer the other day” and “If it-hurts I’ll take it out”.     

        

 Lust-

The Sin of Lust rightfully lies with “Uncle Rico” and the light weight rod crew. By light weight I’m talking about the angler that takes pleasure in working a quality Trout with a #2 weight or a quality Salmon with a #6 weight. I hear it all the time, “that 5 pound Trout sure was fun to land on my #2 weight”. Um Yeah, “fun” for everybody but the Trout motherfucker. There is no doubt both a time and place for a #2 weight. Like when you are fishing a smaller stream for smaller Trout. That’s why they make lighter weight rod weights, so that a smaller Trout feels and acts like a bigger Trout. Not so “Uncle Rico” can relive his desire to feel like a big man on campus all over again. This type of angler represents the sadomasochistic population in our sport. This angler gets a real hard on putting the hurt to Trout solely for his pleasure. Please DO NOT get the Foul Hooked Whitey wrong, I certainly know we engage in a blood sport. This is no PETA advertisement. The truth is, I’m still digesting the T-Bone I ate for lunch today. If you think about it, all avid Fly anglers develop respect and thus a relationship with the different species of fish we cast a Fly too. That relationship involves everything from out smarting a Trout before the eat, to taking pride in landing, and properly securing that Trout after the eat. A moral code for “Fish God Fearing” anglers. A moral angler should feel like absolute shit when a Bug breaks off in a Trout either due to horsing the play, or a shitty net job. In other words, this sport is a two way street. The better you treat the fish you are fishing for, the better those fish treat you.

What do the fish we pursue on a Fly give us? They give us challenge that is driven by pure joy. Fly Fishing fills our emotional funnel. Fly Fishing gives us excitement and the giggles even as we get older. Fly Fishing gives us a chance to unplug and slow things down in a world that has gone beyond crazy regarding expectations. And finally, Fly Fishing ends up meaning as much Pussy does. That’s how powerful Fly Fishing is. Those qualities alone should make anglers want to create legit “Fly Fishing Karma”. “Uncle Rico” and the light weight rod crew doesn’t care about “Fly Fishing Karma”. They care only about themselves and their own misogynistic satisfaction of feeling maximum strain and pull while catching a Trout on an undersized fly rod.  

Positive “Fly Fishing Karma” produces a HEAVEN consisting of perfect weather fishing days, where the Brown Trout average 24” or better and there’s never anybody else on the stream but you.

Bad “Fly Fishing Karma” brought on by needlessly stressing and hurting fish because it’s all about you and your #2 weight rod produces a HELL consisting of never being able to leave the Fly Fishing Department at Cabela’s, all while having a 7 Foot, #2 weight fly rod IN IT’S ROD TUBE shoved directly up your ass every 15 minutes by a 5 pound Rainbow Trout for all of eternity.

 

Sloth-

The “Drift Boat Only Guy” is responsible for the Sin of Sloth. At some point everybody hits the “blinker of life” and transitions from the Fast Lane and directly into the Fat Lane. The “Drift Boat Only Guy” has turned into the “Bubba” of modern day Fly Fishing. From his 50K Truck, $12K Drift Boat, Double Barrel Titan Rod Vaults, $500 Yeti cooler, to his streamside propane barbecue, the “Drift Boat Only Guy” is properly equipped tofloat through “hot enemy fire” in Afghanistan if necessary.

It’s not that being seated in a Drift Boat all day won’t make the day easier. It’s not that having luxury gear surrounding you doesn’t make the day more comfortable. And it’s not that using a Drift Boat exclusively won’t get you on plenty of fish. It’s just that when all you do is float not only have you become a part of the predictable masses, but in a lot of instances, the “Drift Boat Only Guy” has forgotten what it’s like to “earn” a good fishing day. By “earn” I mean “work”. By “work” I mean navigate “snotty bowling balls” on freestone streams. By “work” I mean intimately learn small stretches of water allowing some of your best moments to happen. And by “work” I mean feeling the tired gratification of putting in the effort that produced a rewarding angling day on the water. Kind of like how you feel after a good workout at the gym as opposed to how you feel after stuffing yourself with that ice cream sundae you knew you shouldn’t have eaten.     

Apparently Orvis is developing the sports first “Fly Fishing Recliner ATV”. This groundbreaking design will fuse the features of a Lazy Boy recliner and that of a Polaris Sportsman ATV. This revolutionary Fly Fishing vehicle will allow the “Drift Boat Angler” to cast streamside just like he was sitting in his living room. Additional features will include a built in toilet, snack bar, as well as satellite television and surround sound. The “Drift Boat Angler” will be able to navigate in and out of a streambed without having to put his boots on a single river rock.

Everybody enjoys the benefits of floating and Fly Fishing, especially in states and in waterways where dropping your anchor is trespassing. Older and maturing anglers understandably get access to their favorite water using float tubes, pontoons and drift boats. The Sin isn’t the Drift Boat, The Sin is forgetting where you came from as an angler. Very few anglers cut their teeth in the sport standing in leg locks. Go back to that small stream and find your salvation where there’s no boat ramps, guided trips or Yeti coolers.

The small stream will be a lot less crowded. The “Drift Boat Angler” won’t be there.   

 

Greed-

The Sin of Greed rightfully goes to certain Fly Fishing industry vendors and their cozy ass relationship with Big Box. This is not a rehashed complaint from a Fly Shop owner about how our sport’s vendors sell their highly sought after product lines to Big Box. The Foul Hooked Whitey had his retail cherry popped many, many seasons ago when a Montana Made rod company decided to sell their “sticks” to Cabela’s. I’m over that. What I am not over is the preferential treatment that certain vendors give Big Box for well who the fuck knows why. There is not one credible vendor in this sport with let’s say two decades of existence that built their brand, market share and profitability off of their dealings with Big Box.    

Case in point. I get a good customer who comes into the shop to purchase a clearance fly rod. This customer asks that if he buys a fly line from me as well, would I spool it for him on a reel he just bought somewhere else? I reply of course. The customer soon returns holding a brand new $655 (retail) reel that he just bought at Scheels for $ 350-ish. Considering I sell the same reel for the retail price, I am definitely pissed that the big bad sporting goods store Scheels, or more recently known as “The World’s Largest Selection of Women’s Under Armor Clothing” was able to sell this reel below suggested retail. Immediately after I wrapped up this nice sale with my customer, I called this vendor who basically told me they were surprised to hear that Scheels was discounting any of this vendors reels considering Scheels had already sent back all the reels they had originally bought for this stores opening. This same Vendor further added that Scheels isn’t going to stock their reels anymore but rather “just carry their accessories”. I am saying to myself, “You have got to be FUCKING kidding me”. First you let Scheels return the reels they purchased from you. Second you let Scheels discount a current in catalog item without even a phone call or prompt, and thirdly you let them carry the “dessert” of your line without requiring they pay the price by carrying the “meat and potato’s” of your line.

That is Sinful Greed at its core.

At some point Scheels will expand their stink bait display, and walk away from this vendor and their accessories.  This vendor will chalk up their relationship with Scheels as a bad market experience without one care of how it might of hurt a small independent Fly Shop in that very same market. The reel vendor in question as well as other vendors in the sport have extremely short memories as to whose retail backs helped “build” their house.

It wasn’t Scheels or Cabela’s.

The Foul Hooked Whitey will sure as shit tell you that.     

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  • Foul Hooked Whitey
Comments 1
  • Gary White
    Gary White

    This is one of the best reads I’ve had in a while. Being from Ga. and traveling west twice a year to fish, I think I’ve encountered some of all you described. Although at 68, and two hip replacements a drift boat is nice, I still wade whenever I can.
    Your articl remind me of when “business bass fishing” hit the south. Hasn’t been the same since.
    I have been fortunate that the local fly shops I’ve been in,the majority that is, have always been friendly and helpful.
    I’ve encountered the snotty elitist, all of the others you described and it’s not limited to fly fishing.
    As my wise old grandpa said” It’s not about catching feelings fish, it’s about finding peace”
    Enjoy your articles please keep writing.

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