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Mr. Nice Fly

I was about one hundred and fifty words in. The article was taking form. There were some decently composed sentences, attention-grabbing quips, and plenty of snark. I was writing a piece on the grumps and eye-roll inducing members of the fly fishing public. Well, another piece.

My change of heart and plans wasn’t for lack of material. I’ve got examples galore. A few fly fishing forums that I read and chime in on from time to time could produce entire blogs covering the community curmudgeons. But, as I said, I had a change of heart.

The truth is, there are a lot of genuinely nice people in fly fishing. Like, my face hurt at the end of the day from smiling at the Somerset Fly Fishing Show. And that day it was a lot of people I didn’t know. People that aren’t trying to sell me something. People happy to just be talking about fly fishing.

Nice anglers don’t just exist at trade shows, where everyone is hopped up on free stickers and cheap hackles. Here are a few examples of some great interactions from the past months:

  • A shop owner letting my 20-month old touch tying materials, and either not being bothered by it or doing a great job making us feel welcome.
  • A top personality from one of the premier brands giving some honest feedback for my website and graciously offering his support.
  • Two busy members of the fly fishing media taking an hour out of their schedule to indulge me as I worked through a rough concept for some articles.
  • A company taking a chance on a guy that has been out of the industry for a few years, and offering to work with him on some projects.
  • One of the biggest names in the past half century of angling sitting down and having a prolonged conversation with me.

I’ve said it time and time again: this website isn’t the place to learn how to Euro nymph, tie Catskill dries, or understand presenting flies to wary flats species. I love to fish, and I do a decent job of it – most of the time. But the culture of fly fishing goes hand in hand with the quarry. And I like to think that what I write and who I write about speak to that truth.

Pleasant people, good conversations, and general comradery go a long way. Especially during the winter doldrums. Guides, store owners, and other industry professionals that have the highest reputation are seldom surly under all circumstances. Fly fishing is a lifestyle that allows for some rough edges, but there is almost always a soft side to those who have “made it.”

Even in bad situations, I don’t name names. I like to give the benefit of the doubt. In good situations, like those mentioned above, I don’t want to appear as a name-dropper or a brown-noser. Hopefully the individuals I alluded to earlier are aware of my appreciation. Not to mention the dozens of other people that have been so great to work with and speak to. This little fledgling website and my humble aspirations wouldn’t be nearly as exciting without them.

So if you’re on a message board typing up a missive against the local shop’s incredulity to charge $2.50 a fly, hopefully this lends some perspective. If you are railing against a particular demographics’ preference for a certain hat style (flat brim, wide brim, etc.), maybe this will calm your nerves a bit. If fly fishing is your outlet for angst, anger, or some other personal issue… well, hopefully you can work through it without bringing the nice people and the nice fish down.

After all, what we do is basically going outside and catching fish. Then coming back and talking about going outside and catching fish. There isn’t any reason why we can’t be nice while doing that.

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