I’ll begin with an admission. Much like the old guy at the bar who wants you to know that he was “there back in the day”, I’d class myself as a middle aged fly punk.
Now, I’m aware I’m taking the title literally but bear with me, there’s a point. I grew up as both a punk/thrash/hardcore fan and obsessive fly fisherman. Thanks to my dad who set me off on the right foot it’s always been fly. Having spent my youth being eyed with suspicion in sniffy tackle shops I know a thing or two about preconceptions.
The proprietor peering over his glasses behind the vice in the shop corner wondering at which point I’ll ask where the float rods are, or worse still, the maggots.
It still happens. Perhaps the whiff of special brew and damp leather hasn’t entirely left me.
In those days to have tattoos on your hands meant you’d probably been in prison. Add a beard and you’d clearly been released from jail into homelessness. At the very least you couldn’t possibly know a Grannom from a house brick with a feather glued to it.
Hence my admiration for the on-line fly fishing scene, which has led to sites, blogs and magazines like this.
Barriers and preconceptions be damned. The guy with the tattooed knuckles and beard like a hawthorn bush is now as good as his angling, not his tweeds.
The water has always been the great equaliser. A trout won’t oblige an angler because he prefers an evening with a copy of the compleat angler to an hour on a skateboard.
But you, my friends have altered this, seemingly for good. There’s more than ever a place for all based on ability and passion alone and that’s a good thing. Fly fishing on small streams for wild… trout is as close to a religious experience as I’ve ever had and anyone should be able to feel what I feel.
My only advice as a self-appointed old fly punk is this, don’t do what actual punk did and allow elitism to slip in. Embrace the old guy with his trousers tucked into his socks, or the middle aged angler who wants to tell you that he was once like you, but it was more difficult back then….blah, blah, blah.
you never know you may get a fist full of flies for your time. Maybe accompanied by a CD of some dreadful crap which apparently should have been the next big thing, but just act interested till he slopes off to the next pool.
I hope that fly fishing continues on the arc it’s describing these days. The innovations, ideas and developments I’m seeing are seriously mouth-watering.
My heroes are still my dad, Les Claypool and the old boy who gave me a fly made from his wife’s travel rug which caught a bucket full of fish. All great anglers and punks in their own way.
I take my (insert awful, obscure band name here) hat off to you.