Although using journey as a metaphor can be cliché, it seems to be appropriate when describing those for whom fly fishing is more than a hobby. For the men and women who live and breathe angling, much of what transpires off the water reflects the paths that they take when they are seeking fish. In both there are transitions, seasons, and increasing complexity. In both, there is always story.
If you ask Jacob and Jillian of Between Two Banks about their journey, they’ll tell you a story.
Like any good story, theirs is multifaceted. Jacob started fishing before he was a teenager. Jillian was outdoorsy, but never fancied herself an angler. Once their relationship began to take form, fly fishing became a topic of conversation. She wanted him to have his thing. Out of equal parts self-preservation and genuine concern, he wanted her to have his thing, too. She took it up, and all was well.
At this point, Jacob had already been a professional fly fishing guide for a while. Western North Carolina contains a wealth of trout streams, with larger rivers and small mountain brook trout streams abounding. In 2013, he took a big step and began building bamboo fly rods. After working with graphite and glass for a bit, cane became his focus. Additionally, he had a blog. Jacob would post stream reports and some musings; but it wasn’t much more than that.
Around the same time, Jillian was fly fishing on the weekends and taking pictures while on the water. Growing increasingly frustrated with corporate life, and desiring to spend more time outdoors, she began to feel restless. Their first trip out to Colorado cemented a new resolve. She found her identity in the water and woods, and decided her life would reflect that passion.
While there was already a fly fishing convergence within their relationship, their then-current interests and goals lead to another merging. Jillian decided to start sewing custom rod bags. What might seem like a small detail in the grand scheme of fly fishing gear is actually quite vital. Rod makers, regardless of the medium with which they work, need a protective storage solution for their wares. Jacob just so happened to be in need of rod bags for his fly rods. The quality of her work led to more orders, more interest, and a fly fishing opportunity.
The pairing of Jacob’s fly rods and Jillian’s rod bags was obvious. Jacob’s old blog, which had gone through a few iterations, was a natural forum for their offerings. Constant fly fishing excursions would provide sufficient content. It would all be recorded through Jillian’s unique writing style and perspective. Her photography was much better than run-of-the-mill; just the thing to set their work apart from the crowd in social media. Between Two Banks was born.
If not paying attention, Between Two Banks looks like just another fly fishing blog. But there is an underlying story, a progression: from fishing apart to fishing together, from creating to creating together, to bringing it all into one holistic picture of what they do and who they are.
For many fly fishers, and unquestionably most in the fly fishing industry, what begins as just fishing is really the start of a journey into much more. It could be fly tying or writing, conservation or starting a business. Often, it is a progression into multiple facets of angling. One leads to another. Each creates a path to the next, and, in turn, enriches what came before.
Knowing a little bit about the people behind your fly rod or favorite outdoors writing also enriches your appreciation for what you are consuming. Understanding their journey provides a frame of reference. It fills in gaps regarding why and how certain things are done. For you, it sets one blog, one guide, one rod bag apart from everything out there.
Moreover, introspection is aided by observing others. How have I arrived at where I am as angler? Why did I make the decision to get into this aspect of fly fishing? Where might I be going next?
Trout might be the destination, but there is so much more happening between the two banks of any river than just a rising fish. The stories of the journeys that people take – that we take – are what make this culture as fascinating as it is.
You can see (and buy!) everything that Jacob and Jillian create, record, and experience on their blog: Between Two Banks. Once you’re there, you’ll be able to find them and keep up with them on your favorite social media platform.