Setting the Hook
Twenty-two years ago, “The Movie,” A River Runs Through It
, opened in theaters nationwide. Although the sport of fly fishing certainly was growing prior to the film’s release, the latter’s popularity caused an astonishing explosion in interest. Overnight, fly fishing became part of pop culture, and those of you who visited the outdoor sports shows in the early to mid-1990s no doubt remember halls packed nearly to bursting with exhibitors and with crowds of the curious who wanted somehow to participate.
I’ve heard some dismiss those people as mere followers of a fad. I suppose that might be true, but I’m not sure it means much, because the desire to connect with the natural world through something beautiful was surely genuine.
The effect of “The Movie” has pretty much run its course. Still, the sport continues to draw interest. Here in Truckee, for example, there’s a recent surge in participation among women. Why there’s an uptick, and why it’s gender based, are intriguing subjects, but perhaps the critical question is this: What factors impede someone from becoming a fly fisher?
Let me suggest that a primary impediment is simply lack of access to a rod, reel, and line. There is of course a natural reluctance to commit to an activity that may involve a significant up-front expenditure. To commit, though, one must first try, and to try, one must have a rod, reel, and line at hand — and not just for an hour or two, but for days, weeks, even months, because learning the necessary skills takes patience, effort, and on-the-water experience.
I’ve been lending rods, reels, and lines to friends who seem truly interested in taking up our sport. It’s not as if I have an abundance of tackle or am unconcerned about breakage or loss. But I do have spares that might never be fished by me again, so why not let them ignite in someone else the same passion that I feel?
When you have the opportunity, take a look at your tackle for those rods, reels, and lines that you pass over without a thought when gathering gear for a fishing trip. Dust them off and put them aside. The next time a friend says, in a serious way, something like, “Fly fishing? I’ve always wanted to give it a try,” surprise him or her with a loan — and a lesson or two, as well.
“The Movie” led to a lot of folks getting hooked for a moment. The goal, though, is to hook them for life.
Publisher and Editor