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