When you walk around Sportsman’s Expos you have things in common with those around you even though “sportsman” is a very broad term. Those dudes with deep pockets don’t catch and release African beasts with .30/30 rifles, but you both at least like being outdoors and shake your heads at the $12 beer stands in unison.
Saturday I attended my first Fly Fishing Show in Pleasanton and it was all I could have hoped for. I’m sure it’s changed in the past few years thanks to a stagnant economy, but I didn’t know the difference, and it didn’t stop me from once again realizing just how many levels there are to the fly fishing spectrum. It is an impressive network of professionals and addicts far from the pretentious characters I once expected them to be when I bought my $59.99 starter kit.
When Gary Borger demonstrated casting techniques, people listened. When he told the audience to hold their hands out, they held their hands out. After all, he was the one who made the fly fishing scenes in A River Runs Through It realistic. Plus, he’s hilarious. Everyone may have been laughing because he is who he is, but I’m pretty sure his sense of humor is as legit as his casting stroke. Or at least close.
Last summer I had an article in The Drake, which was a major sponsor of a fly fishing film titled Drift, which I watched for the first time last month. Today two of the people featured in the film hosted a seminar about steelhead fishing in Oregon. I’m sure other people made the connection too, but there’s something to seminars being done by people who really know what they are talking about, not excited dudes with blogs like me.
There are also people who had no idea who Gary Borger or Ed Engle are but at some point they will and when they do, they won’t leave in the middle of the seminar.
I stopped by the vendors of course, turned a couple Galvan reels lustfully (though I already have a T-6 which I love) and shook some Beulah and Red Truck switch rods. The Beulah’s have scored well on pretty much every shoot out I have seen and the Red Truck rods felt really nice too. I’ve been to the Leland/Red Truck shop/ranch in Sonoma which is not open to private lake casting lessons due to red tape. I talked to George from Leland, who happens to be a two-time casting champion, and he said he expects the ranch to be open for classes this summer. He offered a little time with a switch rod, but I wasn’t completely convinced I could have said no to purchasing it had I taken it out onto the pond, even though I already have a 7-weight Echo switch.
I took in more seminars and destination presentations, left shortly before the show closed for the day and returned home to tie flies.
I know exactly why.
In Drift, narrator Tom Bie talks about the valuable connection with other anglers. In the latest issue of Fly Fusion magazine, managing editor Derek Bird says the same.
“…the final level of the fly-fishing hierarchy is connection – connection to self and to others, connection to the waters we fish and connection to the moment. Connection is the realization that we are part of a narrative that started well before you or I existed and will continue long after you or I cast our last cast.”