Friday, April 18, 2014

04.18.14 Okay.....we all know you can drink beer when you fly fish......who cares.......

      So let me preface this rant by saying I do like to drink a beer. For me it's Coors Light usually with some apps while hitting Happy Hour at one of my favorite local haunts here in Asbury Park called FISH. There are plenty of other times when people enjoy the taste of a cold one, working around the house, at a ball game, at a party, hey, even while fishing, and yes even while fly fishing. 

     There used to be a stereotype of fly fishing anglers. They were stuck up.....they smoked the finest cigars, they drank the best cognac, they wore creels and used bamboo rods, and they only dry fly fished. That image may not have appealed to everyone and to some it may have been "standoffish" or elitist. Well, times have changed. 

     Yes, after the River Runs Through It, there was a spike in fly fishing. Younger anglers were attracted to the sport and that lasted for about a decade.....and then things slowed. What was left was the original fly fishers......

     Over the years with the changes in the fly fishing industry and advances in technology and marketing we have seen that image of the fly angler change. It's not just 12 inch trout that are the norm anymore. Big fish, exotic fish, pretty fish, ugly fish.....every type of sport and garbage fish that could be caught has been done so on the fly. That, maybe, has led to a little blip of a spike in the market and interest in fly fishing.

    Videos and the internet and the ease of photography with iPhones, GoPros, and point and shoot cameras has given us all the ability to share experiences and catches.....which, has led to a little spike in the fly fishing industry. On the same topic, the internet has also killed the local fly shop, reduced most peoples need for guides and books and info, since they can research it all for free and do it yourself. 

     One thing I have noticed is how the larger fly fishing companies have "changed", not always in a good way, to get a piece of whatever market share is left. Now change is not always bad, but, I am kind of resistant to change, so I may be a little biased. 

     I have seen the logos change, I have seen designs in clothing and gear change, I have seen the imagery in the catalogues change, I have seen warranties change, I have seen pro and guide programs change....all reflecting what fly fishing is "now". And, I don't like it a bit. 

     A few years ago the "hero" shot was the shit. Cameras with funky lens angles, with the help of a person making the image, could distort the smallest of fish to make it look like a monster. What you would see is a Beetlejuice sized angler head with Herman Munster sized hands....but was the rage. It became about big fish and a lot of fish. We saw it in the magazines, on the internet, and in the brochures. 

    Now I notice.....I hope your not in a 12-step program.....that fly fishing and beer drinking.....specifically PBR's (Pabst Blue Ribbon).....are synonymous. I have seen them ad nauseam in  the multitude of fly fishing videos making their way onto the internet and on the film tours. Okay, so you drink beer and you fly Why is that annoying to me......because I never see a bottle of water, a protein shake, a soda, or a carton of milk. It's always a PBR, or more fairly, some other type of beer from a smaller local brewery. 

It is too fake, too staged, too product and message placed for me.......

    In the latest catalogue I received just the other day two fly anglers were sitting in chairs enjoying a cold one after a long days fishing, or really a catalogue photo shoot. I couldn't help but notice that in both of their hands was, of course, some PBR's. What struck was that each label was turned in exactly the same angle towards the camera......and that's when I knew that in the heaven's of fly fishing marketing department.....were shaking their heads because we have jumped the shark. 

I suspect now, with the legalization of marijuana in some states, that fly videos and catalogues, will soon be showing images of guides and clients, or a circle of friends around a campfire, or two sports enjoying a shore lunch, passing a joint between them enjoying what has become part what fly fishing 
manufacturers and companies want you to see, and become a part of. 

    Please folks, I am okay with my grandfathers company, I am okay with fly fishing, and I am okay with enjoying a beer while you do it....but please stop making me think that having a beer in one hand and a big fish in the other is what this sport has become and is about, I beg to differ.