March 27, 2009

War Between The States?

the brownlner jack

Is there a widening rift between blueliners and brownliners? Many seem to think so. Ever since the WSJ broke the story on brownlining, blog posts and message boards have lit up on the topic, including a post on Fly Talk. The great debate has even gone global, reaching the shores of South Africa (Thanks to the Trout Underground for the link). So what's the deal anyway?

Critics of the brown line seem to hit upon several points, first and foremost that brownlining has been around for far longer than we have been led to believe. I have no doubts that man has been brownlining since the advent of the fly rod. It's just that few have had the gumption to stand up and admit it in public until someone like Singlebarbed entered the scene. You could call him a pioneer.

Many comments threaded on fly fishing message boards seem to evolve around passé dick and fart jokes, that brownlining = fishing for baby ruths. Even the perception of brownlining portrayed by the author in the WSJ article plays up on this fact. I've done some urban diaper dodging for carp before, but roughfish live in pretty places too. The exploits of carp godfather John Montana clearly attest to the fact that carp thrive in clean water. After reading the published WSJ article, I was clearly disappointed that the "other side" to brownlining was editorially left out, and of the angle that the piece was directed. There are plenty of us out there that choose to fish over salmonids for carp in the same stretch of water. We care about the environment and the waters we fish; in no way do we "sanction nature's destruction".

A stereotype worth reiteration is the fact that trash fish don't require quality gear. I call bullshit. After some snide comments on FlyTalk regarding the gear Gracie, Deneen and Teasdale were equipped with, Drake forum regular Ramcatt jumped in,

if you have quality gear... your nose is turned up?
if you are old... you are the whitehaired stereotypical "orvis guy"
if you are under 35 with good gear... your a "walking ad"
carp are the most difficult in fresh... needing more quality gear than raceway pelletheads...

You could make an argument for gear 'till your lips turned blue. Do spring creek browns, brookies, and 'bows need a machined and ported large arbor aluminum reel with low inertia drag? Shit no. You need one like you need a piña colonic. It still doesn't stop the reel companies from trying to sell you one. The only non-anadromous fish I've caught in freshwater that took me to my backing was a carp. Same with a broken rod: carp.

The final observation taken from the backlash of "the article" involves the accusation that the brownliners are putting up the very same barriers that we sought to take down within fly fishing. I don't believe that to be the case. I think the boundary is being put up for us by others. Specifically the brownline nation isn't a case of exclusion, but merely a band of a few brownliners showing some solidarity after getting kicked around in the beanbag by folks hatin' on the brown lifestyle. To say we are exclusionary is laughable; look at our citizenship. We aren't looking for a trophy or a pat on the back. The Nation of brothers and sisters are solely a vehicle for distributing propaganda to folks interested in our teachings. I'm not looking to include or exclude; I don't even care who you are and what you're fishing for, so long as you leave me alone on the river and let me fish. After all, isn't it simply about the fishing?

- the roughfisher

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  1. With the way the worlds waterways are heading,especially with the threat of Norwegian Salmon Farming affecting the natural Salmon populations in Alaska many of these Blueliners might not have any fish to fish for soon....Yes not a nice thing to write.....but it could happen!
    And then Brownlining will become more and more popular....mark my words!

    Salmon and Trout fly-fishing will become even more of an elitist sport as time goes on, which will eventually be the demise of bluelining as we know it.
    Every one should be able to express themselves however which way they please, and if chucking fluff into a ditch at roughfish is how you get your rocks off...then so be it!

    Anyway, by the looks of it, Brownlining is going from strength to strength....and this is evident with all the new innovations you guys are bringing to the sport.

    Best read I will have all weekend....nuff said!

  2. I think Simon's comment is right on the mark. As industry and the constant press of humanity turns the last bits of blue water into brown, we'll all develop skills at dodging diapers.

    I just wish the angling community could generate this much indignation over what's happening to the watershed.

    I thought it quite telling that no sooner did the flytalk crowd finish flushing us, that their next post was to gash themselves over the "elitist attitude" that imbues the sport.

    It's really disappointing, and indicative of why our lobby is so ineffectual. So many fractious cliques and factions, each vying to be the next Theodore Gordon.

  3. If you ask me, it's all pretty laughable. Adding to the hilarity, some 'premium brand' associates got in on the act. Unfortunately for them, instead of it getting some panties in a wad (I'm assuming that was their intention) a number of folks now think they are complete morons. There is whispering going on some back offices (hard to control), and the blatant mockery that'll inevitably ensue during the knock down, drag out, single malt lubricated, post-trout trip poker matches (can you believe it...some of us fish for trout too?!) is going to be impossible to stop. I'll happily toss some fuel on the fire if I can get a few more laughs out of it, and if it's done at the expense of a few latte-sippers, well all the better.

    To further the point (and to set the record straight on precisely what went down gear wise during that little South Platte escapade)...

    - Between TT, FGK, and yours truly, we were wearing about $150 of private-party value in waders - the camera never zoomed in close enough to spy the stains, holes, and/or otherwise ratty condition of the ten year old crap we had on. The reporter was wearing a pair of $80 duck hunting waders - those were the nicest of the bunch.

    - I'd say that accessories added about another $100 - TT in particular carries a damn messenger bag on the stinky water that looks as if his grandma sewed it together for him.

    - Nobody worked a rod/reel combo that any joker couldn't pick up for around $400 - I think Kyle paid more for his line than he did for his rod, which tells me the guy is a damn smart cookie.

    - All told, we probably had twice the value, collectively, in flies than all the other gear in tow.

    We all also have closets full of gear for trout fishing, and many many years left to go on the water.

    To think, a few folks could have just kept their mouths shut. Alas, ignorance is far from bliss. I would have looked at all of it as an opportunity - the moment I saw that article I would have been thinking..."Hell, let's build some waders with SWAT team grade kevlar wrap around the legs - we'll spin it as keeping these brownlining jokers from getting tetanus while tripping over submerged shopping carts." I could even use such shit on the blue water - God knows I need a damn suit of armor just to make it safely to the water's edge.

    Dumb, dumb, dumb dumb dumb.

  4. I think the most noteworthy things about that WSJ article were A) that mainstream media was paying attention to non-traditional fly fishing and B) that many of the primary sources were bloggers.

    I also think that, and it's something you've touched on in forming the Nation, a brownliner is not necessarily someone fishing in urban waste water. A brownliner epitomizes the true spirit of fly fishing in the he or she will look at any body of water--small, large, clean or dirty--and think "I wonder if I can get something in there to take a fly."

  5. @Pete You hit the nail on the head.

  6. Interesting thoughts here. I try to avoid the entire "war" concept with regard to fishing, it takes an effort for me to keep my competitive nature out of time on the water, let alone getting into a war of words. I'll second Pete's comment though...for me, he summed it all up with words most of us have used..."I wonder if I can get something in there to take a fly."

    Well said Pete!