This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
April 17th, 2006

Tall Poppy

You may have heard of the "Tallest Poppy" theory. If not, here is the gist of it. Imagine you have a field of poppies. Lovely, except there are a few which are taller than the rest. To improve the view, you cut off all the taller ones. Well, looking at it there are a couple poppies which are a bit taller, we better cut those off too. The view now shows a nice even field of poppies. No one flower detracts by being 'too tall.' But in a day or two, some other poppies will grow a little faster, we'll have to cut those off too. Eventually, there won't be any poppies at all, just weeds.

This theory can be applied to all sorts of things. Governments and societies included. You know there are societies where the taller poppies are removed, or silenced. No, this isn't a diatribe on political science, but it does apply to fly fishing too.

There are always some in every vocation/avocation who stand out in the field, pun intended. In our society those people lead in creating new products, methods, companies, and generally contributing to society in a positive way. Being 'outstanding' isn't quite as politically correct as it was some years ago. Unfortunately our schools have decided independent thinking doesn't fit into their criteria, and students are urged to conform or be treated with drugs to slow them down. Schools tend to lop off the tall poppies.

We reap the benefits in fly fishing with new materials and methods which are used to make rods, lines, flies, waders - all sorts of useful things which add to our enjoyment of fly fishing. There are also those who work for stream improvement, management of things like the Great Lakes (which finally came to a really valuable agreement recently after being in operation since 1985,) access for all fisherman, protecting fisheries and habitats.

On the other side we have some who think they know everything and rather insist that all follow their methods. Which rod, which line, what is a 'proper' fish or fly - keep in mind it is their opinion, not necessarily fact. In fact, may not actually have any basis in fact at all.

What about you? Where do you fit into the tall poppies? If you are just learning fly fishing, stick with it. It is not always instant gratification. Sometimes it can be very frustrating - but the problems are solvable, and the learning continues forever. Really. It is a journey, not a destination. The rewards are real, and last a very long time.

Been around fly fishing for a while? What have you discovered for yourself? What works in your fishery? Have you worked through problems and found solutions? Why not share those with others? We have a perfect place for it - our Readers Cast section. I encourage to put in writing those things from which others can benefit. Share the knowledge. (You don't need to be a great writer, we have an editor who makes sense out of things and puts your story into good form.)

How about the flies you use? Are you just using the usual stuff? If you tie, have you adapted or created flies which work better for you in your situation? Your flies are just as welcome here on FAOL as any of the 'experts' flies. Some of the flies we have received from our readers have been truly innovative and productive.

JC and I hope you realize we consider FAOL an information place - a source for all who choose to come here. From this source comes personal growth and the ability to ask questions and get answers without being considered an idiot. (You may get teased from time to time, but it is not malicious.)

Stand tall, share what you've learned - lead when you can, follow if you must.

There is room for lots of tall poppies here. ~ The LadyFisher

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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