Two fisherman walk into a bar. They are engulfed in a heated conversation about, you guessed it, fly fishing. With only a brief pause to order a couple beers, they sit down and continue their discussion.
Fisherman #1: “I saw you playing that brown like a god dang newbie! Either the man upstairs was feeling sorry for you. Or your hook had a giant barb on it. Those are the only two explanations I can think of for you getting him in your net.”
Fisherman #2: “Ha! Are you kidding me? I don’t even buy hooks with barbs on them anymore. Tell me you finally started tying your own flies. You know suppliers sell barbless hooks these days, don’t you?”
Fisherman #1: “I ONLY fish with patterns I’ve tied! It’s disgraceful if you catch a fish with another man’s handy work! As a matter of fact, I recently started exclusively using materials that I’ve hunted for or gathered myself. That’s why I’ve been raising those Whiting True Blue chickens in my backyard. Best damn capes known to man.”
Fisherman #2: “True, true. I took a similar approach to the bamboo rod I built last year. Flew all the way to the Sui River region in southeast China so that I could personally harvest my own Tonkin Cane. There’s no better bamboo in the world for making a fly rod. Then I took a one-on-one rod building workshop with Marc Aroner. You know who that is, right? He apprenticed for Tom Maxwell, founder of the Leonard Rod Company.”
Fisherman #1: “Of course I know who Marc Aroner is! Didn’t you spend half of your retirement savings on that trip?”
Fisherman #2: “Yup. My wife divorced me because of it too. But it was worth it. Casting that rod gives me the same feeling Buddhist’s get once they’ve obtained true enlightenment.”
Fisherman #1: “You mean Nirvana?”
Fisherman #2: “Yessir. God dang Nirvana.”
The bartender finally glances up from the tumblers she’s been cleaning for the past 10 minutes, a concerned look hangs on his face.
Bartender: “Fellas, I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings. But it sounds like you guys got a serious problem here. You’re both totally obsessed with fly fishing. You may be addicted.”
If any part of the story above sounds familiar or resonates with your relationship with fly fishing, you may be in too deep. Here’s the top 13 symptoms of a serious fly fishing addiction.
#1. You constantly show people pictures of your recent catch.
Typically, you’ll just show your friends and family your weekly fish pics. But sometimes you’ll even bust out your phone to an unsuspecting passerby, hoping to induce some congratulatory remarks. On the other hand, you rarely (if ever), show anyone pictures of your child or spouse.
#2. You go to great lengths to get to a particular fishing spot.
I’m talking trespassing, class IV scrambling, hiking 13 miles or flying across the world. You’ll risk life, limb and wallet to make it to the best holes, flats, rivers and lakes. When not fishing, you barely want to leave the house to pick up a frozen pizza from the 7-Eleven.
#3. Your brain is fixated on landing your next trophy specimen.
You start earlier and stay out longer to land your next river pig. You continually fall victim to the “one more cast” quandary. Every angler knows that ‘one more cast’ means at least 47 more casts. But hey, maybe the next cast will bring you that monster you’ve been hunting incessantly for years now. And if not this last cast, then the next cast…..and so on.
On the note of big fish, you have exaggerated the size of a fish you’ve caught, perhaps all the fish you’ve caught. All fishermen are liars as John Gierach would say. Not sure if it’s a matter of trying to impress friends, extremely poor at guessing measurements or trying to convince yourself you know what you’re doing. Either way, that cutthroat was easily 27”, 10 lbs…minimum.
#4. You’ve almost crashed your vehicle numerous times by staring at a river while driving down the road.
Hey, no judgement here. How else are you supposed to scout out your next honey hole anyway? And honestly, you are really good at multitasking. Driving and watching something other than the road should be a breeze. A few consecutive seconds staring at the river than a quick glance at the road. No problem. And the key word here is ‘almost’. You’ve never actually crashed your vehicle while staring at the river during your drive. Well, not yet.
#5. Your dreams are almost always about fishing.
I’m not talking about daydreaming here. I’m talking about the dreams you experience during your deep sleep state. The dreams that are a collection of thoughts buried in your conscious and subconscious. Average adults dream about work, vacations or their favorite TV show. You dream about water, tightlines, your indicator floating down a perfect riffle, a dry fly being inhaled by greedy trout and the trophy tarpon that broke your 12 wt rod into pieces. Wait…..nevermind. That tarpon dream is actually a nightmare. You’ll be haunted by that one the rest of your life.
#6. Ephemerella excrucians.
You know what this is, don’t you? Of course you do! You know all the Latin names of trout and most of the insects they eat. Including the pale morning dun (ephemerella excrucians). Yet, somehow you still can’t remember your godson’s name. Also, you’ve been calling a bobber a strike indicator since you were old enough to talk. As for your ‘pliers’? Well, those are actually hemostats (you will also allow calling them forceps). You’re handling your catches and rigging with surgical precision. Not fumbling through some carpentry project with nuts and bolts.
#7. Your overall odor is that of a river, lake or the ocean.
There is a distinct and prevailing smell of stale water, fish slime, sweat and dirt coming from all of your clothes, lingering in your vehicle and emanating from nearly every room in your house. The aroma, to you, is very comforting. To anyone who is not an angler, it’s largely off-putting.
#8. You know far more about tying rigging knots than tying The Knot.
Let’s face it, you have relationship issues. 5 of your last 6 girlfriends/boyfriends have dumped you because you spend more time fishing than hanging out with them. Counter intuitively, the reason relationship 6 of 6 ended was that they were also addicted to fly fishing. Every time you fished together, a huge argument would erupt because you were both too competitive. But let’s face it, they were always gonna be jealous of your superior fishing skills anyway.
#9. You spend most (if not all) of your money on fishing gear and/or trips.
Side effect: Rods and gear are worth more than your car. And you have an extremely low bank account balance. Also, you’ve been donating blood and plasma for the past 6 years to pay for your weekly tackle purchases. You gotta supplement that income somehow. And stealing, well that’s just not an option. You gotta draw the line somewhere dammit!
#10. Your sense of time is a bit off.
When you’re out on the water, hours slip away like money at a casino. You often find yourself looking at your watch for the first time all day and realizing that somehow, 7 hours have just vanished. Haven’t you only been fishing that riffle for like 45 minutes? On the other hand, time runs at a normal rate during all other activities. Except at work. Something is seriously wrong with the pace of time while at work. You look at the clock every 1-2 minutes hoping an hour has passed. It hasn’t.
You are also habitually late to work and social obligations. While your boss and non-angling friends believe you are inconsiderate and irresponsible, you fishing buddies love you. That’s because you are ALWAYS on time (or even early) to the water.
#11. You look for fish in every ‘body’ of water you pass.
Yes, all fisherman check out fishy runs and pools as the drive or walk past them. But you sometimes search for fish in stagnant ponds, ditches and swimming pools. And you’ve even caught yourself gazing hopefully into large puddles. Was that a brookie fry you just saw in there?!
#12. You have more flies than anyone could ever use in a lifetime.
If you have a dozen Wobbler Tube and Polyfitus Olive patterns in 3 different sizes and 4 different colors, the likelihood of you having too many flies in general is 100%. That’s because the Wobbler Tube and Polyfitus flies are pretty damn obscure! How many RS2, Parachute Adams and Sculpzillas do you have right now? Six dozen of each?! Yeah, that sounds about right.
#13. And finally, you may be addicted to fly fishing if you refuse to be defined by any or all of these parameters. Essentially, you’re in denial.
If you answered ‘yes’ to three or more of these symptoms of a fly fishing addiction, seek the counsel of a trained therapist immediately. Sadly, you’re favorite fishing guide does not count. And if you’re a fly fishing guide, I’m afraid there’s no hope for you. Not only are you seriously addicted. But your fly fishing dependency also encourages others to fall victim to the same slippery slope. You, my friend, are an enabler.
Keep ‘em wet, handle them sparingly and always appreciate where you are.
Seth Kulas, Vail Valley Anglers Content Contributor, @sticks2snow