Is a dumb question still a dumb question if it's
asked innocently? Well then, how about answers?
Is an answer dumb if the person doing the answering
honestly believes in his/her heart the answer he/she
is giving is true? Sometimes a question isn't really
a dumb question until someone replies with a dumb
answer and someone else replies with an even dumber answer.
A good example of a dumb question would be "What is
the best automobile?" It's an honest question that
doesn't become a dumb question until someone tries
to answer it before qualifying the question to
determine what the needs are. The first dumb answer
will probably be "Chevy (or, insert your favorite
brand here)! "My great grandpappy, my grandpappy,
my pappy and I have always driven Chevies, and by
God, we always will!" The next dumb answer will
be from the Ford or Dodge guy who wants to dispute
the first dumb answer.
The problem here is that the guy asking the question
wanted to know what the best over-the-road tractor was
to pull his 40 ft trailer full of freight down the road.
Now that the question is qualified further, we get into
the Peterbuilt, Kenworth and Freightliner crowd of dumb
answers. Pretty soon there will be arguments about
which tractor has the best fuel mileage or the most
horsepower, but the guy asking the question wanted
to know about top-end speed.
Was the first question really dumb? Sure it was.
It didn't provide enough information for a good answer.
However, the real dummies were the guys who answered
the question without asking for enough information to
give an intelligent answer. The dumber dummies were
the guys who argued the point before they had enough
information to create an intelligent argument.
Before I go any further with this thought, I want to
make a confession here. I have been guilty (on more
than one occasion) of providing dumb answers and even
dumber arguments. Instead of asking a few questions
to refine the original question enough to formulate
an intelligent answer, I took the fast and lazy route
and gave a hasty answer to a question that couldn't
draw an intelligent answer without more information
from the questioner.
Have I lost you yet? Ok, I'll slow down and put it
in fly-fishing terms so you can understand my point
Here's a dumb question that gets asked a lot. "What
is the best hackle for fly tying?" On the surface,
it doesn't appear to be a dumb question; and in reality,
it isn't all that dumb unless someone tries to answer
it without getting more information. However, I'll
bet you a nickel that such a question on the bulletin
board would draw at least a couple of dumb answers
before someone had the common sense to ask what the
guy with the question wanted to tie with the hackle.
The first dumb answer might be Whiting (again, it could
be Conranch, Metz, Keough, etc.). "Yep, just ask me and
I'll tell ya. Whiting (insert the other brands here)
is the best hackle; especially those
super-micro-itty-bitty-barbed platinum/titanium wonder
saddles they sell in size 22." That dumb answer would
be followed by at least a few and probably dozens of
equally dumb counter-answers suggesting other brands,
but without a qualifying question to refine the choices.
But, what if the guy wanted to tie size 6 wooly buggers
and needed soft, wide saddle hackle? The next dumb
answer would be from the guy who gave the first dumb
answer who is now just trying to defend his comments.
His dumber answer will be followed by all the other
guys who also gave dumb answers and now want to defend
their choices. We're getting nowhere fast, and even
though there are at least 20 answers, nobody has
answered the question with the right answer he needs.
Do you see where I'm going? Depending on the needs
of the guy with the original question, the smart answer
will vary considerably between hackle providers.
Unfortunately, the guy with the original question will
have gone elsewhere for his answer because the whole
discussion has fallen into a name-calling session
between the Ford and Chevy crowd (or in this case,
maybe Whiting and Conranch).
The answer of course is Ewing. No, seriously, Ewing raises
the best hackle birds to fit that man's needs. He needed
soft, webby hackle for large wooly buggers, and Ewing
has the best hackle (wooly bugger saddle packs) I know
of for that purpose. Does that mean I think Ewing has
the best hackle? No; but I think they have the best
hackle for that particular situation. If the
guy was tying size 20 parachute Adams and wanted the
best saddle for that need, I would have another brand
My point here is a simple one. There is no single brand
of hackle that is simply the best. They all have their
strong points and weak points. Just as there is no such
thing as a great logging truck that is an excellent
family car; there is no such thing as a single brand
of hackle that is best for all situations. The best
brand is the one that specifically meets the needs of
the tier at that time and for that purpose.
I'm going to leave the subject here and pick it up again
next week with some comparisons between the major brands
and what I think each is best suited for. Until then,
I'm betting the Ford and Chevy crowds will keep the
bulletin boards busy with dumb arguments and dumber
replies. Some guy in Virginia (or any other state)
will say it only rains in Virginia because "This is
where I live, this is the only place I have ever been,
and it rains here, so since I have observed rain here,
my answer is the right answer." Next the guy from
Kentucky will want to argue that the guy from Virginia
has lost his marbles because Kentucky is where it rains,
not Virginia. Watch out for the guy from Kansas. He
is a rain "expert", and he's sure the other guys are
wrong. Limited experience and strong opinions = dumb answers.
You guys argue over where it rains. I'll explain why
I think all the hackle brands are the "best" next week.