There really are advantages to being older
than dirt. I'll really try to remember what
My husband, JC or Castwell or Grand poo-bah,
and I have wonderful conversations about where
we have fished, what we caught, books we've read,
people we've met - just super memories to say
The other night at dinner we were talking about
various 'dinner meetings' we've attended over
the years where the guest speaker was a dignitary
of note. We were privileged to have heard both
Joan and Lee Wulff speak at a T.U. dinner meeting
of the Paul Young Chapter in Detroit. Joe Brooks
spoke at a T.U. dinner meeting in Saginaw MI, Carl
Richards was speaker at one of our classes at the
college. I'm sure there were others, but those
stand out. We originally met Lefty Kreh when we
were all invited to teach casting at the Pere
Marquette Club. He taught long-line casting and
we taught trout presentation. All a very long
For a couple of years, JC and I did the 'dinner
circuit' with his "Flies Only" slide program -
(which you can see in condensed form here on
It was an interesting experience being on the
other side of the microphone.
Lee and Joe have passed on, Carl is still writing
an occasional book, and Lefty, a well-known author
in his own right, has joined the staff of Temple
Forks to promote reasonably priced rods for the
fly fishing world. Lefty actually had tried to
get Sage to do the same thing many years ago, but
that was long before Sage acquired Redington.
There are still dinner meetings around. Once in
a while we receive an email from a local group
asking us to post their event on our Events section
of the Bulletin Board. But for the most part the
speakers are not people whose names we recognize.
There are some exceptions of course, but I can't
help but wonder what the speakers talk about.
Some of the speakers we heard years ago had new
books out, and their 'book tour' included speaking
to local T.U. or other fly fishing groups. FFF
(Federation of Fly Fishers) was not a big deal
in our region, in fact JC and I founded the first
FFF group in Michigan. FFF was seen at the time
as mostly as west coast group, and indeed was
founded in Oregon by steelheaders. At any rate,
the speakers quite often told us about fishing
exotic places, had terrific slide programs and
made us all want to get on a plane and visit
those places too.
At about the same time, indeed, Jim Chapralis (who
writes our Competitive Casting section) was out
fishing those exotic places and was the person
who opened up the fly-to-fish travel industry.
He has since retired from the industry - but
he's the guy who made it happen.
Television, the Internet, big fly fishing shows
now make getting information about fishing nearly
anywhere in the world as easy and hitting the 'on'
button. More books are written about 'how-to'
than either where to or why to.
Which leads to the popularity of a couple of annual
events which did not exist just a few years ago.
The Sowbug Round Up, founded by Tony Spezio, is one
of those events. The International Tying Festival
out east is another. You may have one locally which
we don't know about, but they are a wonderful
opportunity to learn new flies, methods and meet
in person 'name' tyers.
They have I believe replaced some of the 'events'
which were common just a few years ago. The problem
with the dinner meetings is they became fund raisers,
auctions became an integral part of them, and folks
from neighboring groups were expected to attend and
contribute. There is just so much wall-space in a
home or office, and a limit of how many prints one
needs. Not to mention auctions for trips you could
arrange yourself for a fraction of the auction price.
The big fund raisers replaced what had been a more
close-knit user friendly event where you could
actually ask questions and have real conversations
with folks you admired. (Or at least thought you
had enough in common with to want to get to know
What I've presented here is why T.U. and FFF are
You join a group for various reasons. But for most
the bottom line is you hope to find some folks with
whom you have a common interest, perhaps find a
fishing or tying buddy, maybe to be involved in
some stream clean-up or restoration. Maybe help
some kids get started in fly fishing.
We all operate from our own self-interest first,
so to say everyone who joins such a group is there
because they want to give is probably unrealistic.
Most end up doing so because they feel they have
something to contribute.
None of us want to feel we are being taken advantage
of. In other words, we don't want someone tapping
on our shoulder asking for money every time we turn
around. Either in person or by mail or email.
There is nothing wrong with having a dues structure
which supports a national office. But we don't expect
the national offices to fritter away the bucks, or to
be living the high life either. Unfortunately that
isn't reality with either TU or FFF. The FFF is,
in fact as this is written, in the process of a
major reorganization. TU has not yet received
the message. TU has some very good people, but
they have forgotten where they came from.
If you are already a member of an organized group
of fly fishers, you do have a voice. Let your group
know what you expect of them - and be willing to
pitch in to help. If you are not part of a group,
attend a meeting or two. Introduce yourself (there
is usually a social hour before the meeting) and
don't complain about not being made welcome if no
one knows you are there!
Fly Anglers OnLine certainly is a big community
of fly anglers - but we are not an organized group
which can affect things on a local - or national
level. Sure, we can write letters, send emails,
make phone calls - but we don't have the clout
of an organized group.
That's the job for both the local and national
TU and FFF. If they aren't doing the job - it
is your responsibility to see they do. ~ DLB
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