We need to apologize to fly fishermen. As bass anglers, we stole their best idea – catch and release – and, in return, gave back nothing. That is, until now when it seems we have given back less than nothing. If Curtis Fleming and Fly Rod Chronicles is any indication of where televised fly fishing is headed, dear fly rodders, I am so, so sorry.
Instead of picking something good about bass fishing to embrace, some of your people have chosen the very worst, i.e. the screaming, over-the-top television angler who thinks we can’t tell the difference between real emotion and the manufactured variety. For bass fishermen who might stumble onto a fly fishing show, Fly Rod Chronicles is a zombified version of what we long ago accepted as standard fare in our little world.
In a snarky, masochistic kind of way, it is entertaining to watch someone act as if he invented this stuff, particularly on a show where virtually everything is a rip-off of every bad bass fishing program, ever. But, as we’ve seen in any religion, the converts often take things to a whole new – and unexpected - level.
In the 2013 season finale, Fleming hooks a very impressive brown trout. One problem: Somehow, he thinks it is cool to show that his cameraman spotted the fish, not him. Then, he tries to convince us of his connection to Brad Pitt’s “A River Runs Through It” battle royale by doing everything except screaming out Angelina Jolie’s name in mid-fight. What he doesn’t fail to mention, at least two or three times – mid fight – is “Wild and Wonderful West Virginia”, his primary sponsor. Even the bass fishing guys aren’t this obvious, are they?
Curtis, however, doesn’t stop there because he seems to adore everything that we, the zombie masters, love. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Fleming is really, really, sincere. Not only does he do the sit-on-the-bank commentary between action sequences, but he does it atop a Yeti cooler. Barf. And, they also shift to the second camera angle gig where he’s staring off in another direction and talking to someone we can’t see, as if he is looking elsewhere for another sponsor. In other words, he employs every over-used, gag response, retch-inducing trick from Video 101, coming soon to a community college night school in your area.
But, like a Ginsu knife commercial, that is not all. Fleming has also adopted the time-killing technique of fawning over the colors and beauty and majesty of the fish he just pummeled into submission. Trust me, we’ve seen fish before and because our mothers taught us a little about manners, we will indulge anyone a few moments of reflection. After that, shut the hell up. Or, give us something that remotely resembles content.
Remember content? In fly fishing circles, it used to mean a classy, contemplative and stirring blend of angling knowledge and emotion. Remember Flip Pallot and his adventures from Walker’s Cay? Remember Lee Wulff on the American Sportsman? They were, as I like to say, good.
Again, I humbly apologize to fly fishermen everywhere. We few, we stupid few, we band of idiots. For he today who shares his stupidity with me shall be my brother.
Just remember, however, you are all toast. Why? Because it doesn’t matter whether or not you fly guys got invited to ICAST this year, the die has been cast. You have already fallen down the bunny hole from which there is no return. Quite frankly, I saw the winds of change years ago when fly fishermen began adding “bobbers” to their lines. They called them “strike indicators”, but we knew what they were – the first fatal step into the same abyss inhabited by bass fishermen.
At least bass fishing hasn’t completely gone douche bag, as is the case for fly fishing where programs like “Buccaneers and Bones” can attempt to look like something other than rich fucks gone fishing. Yes, I know this is being done for the The Bonefish and Tarpon Trust – good for you. My request is that Tom Brokaw, Michael Keaton, Yvon Chouinard, Tom McGuane , Liam Neeson, et al. do this for me – double or triple your contribution, whatever it takes, so the rest of us don’t have to watch a fishing show where entitled people wear colorful flats shirts, smoke expensive cigars, let the beard go for a few days and generally try to re-live a very hollow Hemingway wet dream.
As much as I respect these people for their individual accomplishments, it just doesn’t ring true on any level - and Lefty Kreh should know better. That’s why I’m apologizing to all of you fly fishermen who have taken a different path in life. I had no idea that bass fishing could so thoroughly pollute your world. We have. Again, sorry.
News note to Livingston Lures – Dump the commercial “Calling Your Fish”, the one where Jeff Kriet tosses his rod and reel overboard after losing a game of h-o-r-s-e. Aside from the bad acting and bad concept, it sends a message that the industry unfortunately seems comfortable in sending, i.e. pros don’t care about the stuff they use because they can get all the free stuff they want. From this ad, I guess every viewer should assume your pros do the same with Livingston Lures that don’t run true, sound right or otherwise disappoint them.