These days we see diehard troutbums everywhere, from flyshops to fly fishing magazines to all these new short movies in the fly fishing movie festivals. The image of the old guy fly fishing is no longer the cover of the LL Bean or Orvis catalogs, now the poster child is the young dude with the beard, messy hair, tying flies in the front seat of his 1992 Ford Bronco with a Keystone Light on the dashboard. I'm guilty of financially supporting these stereotypes, I subscribe to no less than 6 of those fly fishing magazines, I visit blogs like Moldy Chum, This Is Fly, Catch Magazine and Fishing Jones daily, I watch every fishing movie on YouTube and Vimeo. As much as I wish I was one of them, I know I can't compete with these guys, their image, their dedication, their love for the sport....or can I? Do I really have to fish 250 days a year to fit in? Do I have to give up my "normal" life to be dedicated to catching the biggest fish in the most farthest off locations in the world?
I couldn't get to that level of troutbum dedication. I'm too cheap to go to Kamchatka (why pay all that money to fly across the world when there are so many places to fish in the beautiful states of CO, WY and MT?), too scared to quit my job and take the summer off to fish (I admit it, I have 5 mouths to feed and enjoy nice things!), hate beards (that is standard on a troutbum right?), I don't like Natty Light/Old Milwaukee/insert name of other skunky beer here (I actually won't drink that stuff even if it was the last beer on earth), and my dog likes to sleep in a warm bed at night (diehard fishing dogs sleep in the dirt, mine is way too spoiled for that!). All of these things disqualify me from being a true troutbum/diehard.
So, I guess I need to find another level of dedication - maybe create my own classification that would be somewhere in between the old guy proper and the diehard troutbum. But where would I fit in? I'm just a normal average guy, middle aged, clean cut, with a house in Highlands Ranch, a dog, 2 kids, a great wife and a 9-5 job (well, more like 7-10). That would be the niche crowd that LL Bean or Orvis is looking to market towards. But that only partially explains who I, and most of my friends, really are.
But then again, I'm not even like my friends! Laid back, chilled, cool, mellow, rough around the edges, bald, good fishermen - those things may explain my friends, but not me. I am more known for my "issues". I'm anal-retentive, I like stuff clean and neat, I like order and peace in my life, my stress level will always be right around the boiling point, I'm high strung, I'm cheap (not poor - that is different), clean shaven, I love my dog more than my fly rod, I can be a bit blunt (tell it like it is) and a work-a-holic (if you don't believe me, ask my wife or check out the iPhone in my hand/pocket). If I had to create a classification for me, I'd be leaving out most of my own friends!
For all my "issues", I do have some good qualities. I'm honest, dependable, will give you the shirt off my back, loyal, hard working and passionate. Not to mention I love to fly fish, I'll be at your house at 1:30 AM ready to drive 7 hours to a fishing hole, I'll sleep in a tent, truck (in my waders) or camper to fish a small lake or river, I'll tie you up some flies if I have the time (they will all suck, but will catch fish), I'll have a bunch of strangers over my house to tie flies and I'll probably even let you drink all my beer if you forget/finish yours. I'll let you borrow my fishing gear, my camper, my float tube or kayak. I'm more than willing to pay for the gas AND drive. I enjoy hanging with my buddies, the conversations, the camaraderie, the competition, and the ass beating when you out fish me. But, remember I'm a finance geek/high stress/pain in the ass at heart, and no matter how much I indulge in my fly fishing passion - I still will be me. My "issues" don't make me better than you, or you better than me. However, it probably makes you smarter than me.
I've had friends grow weary of my "issues", I'd like to apologize to those friends, but I don't hide anything from them from day one. Apologizing for being high strung would be a dis-service to my good traits. I don't waver on any of these things from January to December. Fortunately, I have lots of friends who have learned to deal with me - I tend to be teased about my "issues"...endlessly.
So where do I (we, if you are like me) fit? I'm getting old, but not old enough to remember gut leaders or bamboo rods. Too old to leave my job, wife and kids and grow out a beard, so troutbumming is out too. I'm still a diehard fly fisherman though, just on the weekends and a few vacation days spread throughout the year. I've thought of a few names that have a nice ring to them, let me know if you like any of these:
And finally my favorite of all....wait for it....troutfellas!
Yes, I think that works. Troutfellas (tm) will be the new classification that my friends and I (and probably you all if I ever bump into you out on the water) will fall under. So, next time you see one of them movies, or see one of those guys in the magazines, and think to yourself "I wish I was one of them", just remember you are part of a much larger brotherhood that has only slightly less dedication, facial hair, body odor and mojo that our troutbum fly fishing brethren.
Now I'm just waiting for Orvis, Cabelas, LL Bean or Bass Pro to call and ask me to be on their catalog.