There’s a mirror close to our entrance door.  It’s the very last thing I see earlier than heading off to the river, and I usually give it a fast look to ensure every little thing’s so as. Two footwear? Tick. Crumpled sweatshirt? Tick. Counter-cultural Rastafarian neck-warmer that no one ever notices, cool hat, glasses, and many others. Tick. I nod to myself, smile on the absurdity of all of it, and head for the door. That’s me within the mirror.

Perhaps when you do that a midlife-handsome and weathered Trout Bum, with a powerful resemblance to John Gierach, winks again at you? No? That makes two of us, which bothers me. Who doesn’t wish to be a gracefully ageing Trout Bum? We’ve purchased the guide, so who’s that within the mirror? (Girls, if this already appears annoyingly male, pale and rancid, please be affected person. There is a methodology in my ramblings).

I assumed I’d begin my quest for Trout Bum validation with the lazy possibility and ask my mirror for an endorsement. It’s greatest to do that when the remainder of your loved ones is out of the home.  So, when the coast is evident, strive my model of the well-known query: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the best moderately competent leisure angler of all of them?”.  Silence. No shock there as a result of if I used to be a mirror, I wouldn’t discuss to me both.  As all people is aware of, speaking mirrors are strictly A-list and once they do say one thing it’s an A-Lister put-down. They received’t waste their time telling me I’m only a moderately competent angler. And anyway, I already know.

It took me some time to work this out however, in my coronary heart of hearts, I’ve to confess I’m trapped in an eternally underachieving, wannabe Trout-Bumdom. This can be a actual frame of mind – a lot in order that it’s a worldwide advertising and marketing demographic.

Give it some thought: that Mirror Man you see is not any bum. He’s two and even 3 times older than surf, ski and skate bums, and there’s hardly ever, if ever, a touch of unique smoke drifting downwind.  And there are a number of him. Extra, I recommend, than every other type of male fly fisher. Crucially, he normally has actual cash within the financial institution. Which is why the sort out firms like him a lot: Wannabe Trout Bums purchase a number of stuff. And didn’t Alice Cooper sing “I wanna be a Trout Bum”. Or one thing prefer it?

So as soon as the corporates have gotten us nailed (they’ve our information), we’re sitting geese for the gross sales pitch.

“We tailor our promoting particularly to focus on inclined readers, thus minimizing promoting bills and maximizing the impact of funding {dollars}.”

— Deal with Firm Advertising Technique

It’s not simply sort out. We patsies, because the gross sales world generally calls us prospects, additionally look a bit crumpled. That makes me male, pale, stale and scruffy. Which is why my mirror all the time reveals me that bemused-looking outdated fart sporting a comedy hat. Be aware to self: I need to Google fishing hats and purchase an actual one. 2nd word to self: what the heck is a actual fishing hat?

The unique man for all ages (picture credit score: West Margin Press).

So how do I do know there’s such an enormous wannabe Trout Bum tribe on the market? Nicely, yearly the Outside Basis, together with the Leisure Boating and Fishing Basis (which is all a little bit of a mouthful), publishes a report about fly fishing. It reveals who goes and the way usually, what they earn and the such-like. It’s US information, however I count on outcomes are broadly comparable in Europe. The massive sort out firms run the identical advertisements on each side of the Atlantic, concentrating on the identical idealised model of a fisherman. I’m a part of a worldwide clone.

And thanks for ready girls – that is now about you:

The 2023 report says fly fishing is essentially the most male-dominated class of all of the types of rod & line fishing.  It’s 69% male. Fortunately the hole is narrowing – in 15 years the variety of ladies has doubled.

I believe ladies fly fishers, being newer, are additionally youthful. This is usually a handicap as a result of youthful individuals have much less cash and, as everyone knows, the sellers are drawn irresistibly to spending energy. So equipment designed for girls continues to be shamefully restricted in vary and availability. Has anybody ever seen a fishing catalogue through which a 3rd of the merchandise goal ladies? 

Perhaps it’s because we males can afford costlier equipment (see under) and are intelligent sufficient to understand how good a rod is simply by studying the model title? That makes us the simpler mark for the gross sales pitch.

The numbers hole ought to proceed to slim as a result of ladies are taking over the game sooner than males, whereas attrition by age-related demise erodes Trout Bum numbers. So these advertising and marketing departments really want to get up and scent the espresso.

OIA chart

Fly fishers (picture credit score: Outside Basis).

Perhaps my ‘moderately competent leisure angler’ standing can also be hung round your neck. It’s a catchall that hoovers up nearly all however the easiest and worst.  Which brings me, in a roundabout manner, again to my quest for a actual fishing hat.  As soon as-upon-a-time I assumed a fishing hat ought to keep on in wind, hold my head dry in rain and make me appear like John Gierach.  Not a lot to ask, certainly? It seems I used to be mistaken.

Right here’s why: In the event you look by way of the fishing catalogues, you’ll discover a viral ingredient in nearly all the clothes footage: Pockets. They’re in every single place.

Apparently, it’s because our purchasing capability for small gadgets of equipment is proscribed solely by the variety of pockets now we have.  Thankfully, now we have fishing waistcoats able to carrying extra stuff than most individuals will use in a season.  And since that’s not sufficient, our trousers now have a number of pockets too.  And since that’s additionally not sufficient, there’s a factor known as a fishing shirt which includes a vary of pockets with zip, button & Velcro fastenings that serve bankside wants I haven’t but developed. Each merchandise of fishing clothes comes with pockets, pockets, and but extra pockets.

However a fishing hat with pockets? Absolutely not.  Ah….

fishing hat with pocket

Fishing pocket with hat attachment (photograph: Richard Wilson).

So right here’s a thought.  Earlier than we begin wallowing in victimhood and the Nice Pocket Miss-selling Scandal, let’s get on the entrance foot. Who buys all this equipment, pays for the permits that fund the fisheries, subscribes to the journals, donates and volunteers for the conservation organisations, and usually retains all the highest canine well-oiled with money? Who really buys the rods the fishing gods and casting champions are given free on photograph shoots?

Which is why I say let’s hear it for the good unwashed. The scruffs in motley hats who prop up the entire bloody edifice and with out whom there’d be no Mega-Weba On-line Fishing Superstore or fly traces with 53 mow tip choices.  And no #3 single-handed short-belly Speys completely matched with a 7’ Nanomeister Brookster, Singapore Grip version. And particularly no hats with pockets. None of it will exist.

So, to all you manufacturers on the market, we, your Bum prospects, are carrying the needy weight of the sort out business on our shoulders, and we’re not being effectively served if all you do is salami-slice our bank cards into ever-more difficult trivialities; be it a birds-nest of interconnecting line segments or sock-pockets or multi-function hats, all in male sizes. And whereas I’m on a roll, how about flies?  What number of, did you say?

So, there it’s. I’ve stated my bit and I’ve a sense nothing simply modified. Hey-ho.

And but, regardless of every little thing, I nonetheless really feel a pang of disappointment after I look within the mirror and the identical grumpy git in a foul hat gurns again at me. Perhaps I is usually a actual Bum for a day? How cool would that be? Please …

So if a mirror ever does reply my query and say, ‘Hey! You’re the person. The daddy-cool, the dude-Meister of Trout Bummery’, I’ll take a protracted toke from my Trout Bum spliff, and marvel what and why, after which whether or not or perhaps not.  I’ll smile with deep that means and ask, “Now, the place am I? Ah sure, I’m Gone Fishin’.”

How about simply the as soon as? Is it an excessive amount of to ask of a mirror? At the same time as a final want?

After I lastly get my shot at being a Trout Bum, most likely by becoming a member of that heavenly choir in Trout Bum heaven, I count on you’ll discover my physique someplace on a riverbank. And, simply so you recognize, my stash is in my hat-pocket. That’s what it’s for. Proper?

(With apologies to John Gierach, a terrific author)

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