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What Drives a Person to be a Fly Fishing Writer?


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19 replies to this topic

#1 Wildnative

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 03:55 PM

The interview with Al Beatty is interesting. I appreciate his openess and insights. It got me thinking and pondering about fly fishing writers.

I have admired the fly fishing and tying writers over the years. I have wondered if they were writers first and fly fishers/tyers second or fishers/tyers turned writer? I can understand a writer who loves the outdoors and fly fishing and decides to write about it, but I'm not sure I understand what drives a fly fisher to start writing?

My personal observation is that those who were writers first and fly fishers second, as opposed to fly fishers first and writers second, have historically produced the best prose.

Most writing is ego based: the writer wants to be recognized and have a by-line. There are exceptions to this of course.

I think there is a little something in all of us that says, "Hey, look at me!"

Is fly fishing and tying writing just a way to share or does it have a deeper side to it?

#2 steeldrifter

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 04:16 PM

Just like everything in life I'm sure each person has different motives behind why they do what they do so I can only give you my own personal views. I have been working on a small book myself for the past five months that I plan to pay to have published out of my own pocket. The main reason I want to do this is because I simply love the outdoors and fly fishing and I enjoy shareing my passion for fly fishing with fellow fly fishers. Because of the cost I will by no mean make a profit off this (I'll be lucky to break even to be honest) but its something that I have always wanted to do and a way to share my experiances and love for the outdoors with other guys that are just like me.

So I'm sure there will always be a certian amount of people that just want to be "known" but I think theres just as many, if not more, that simply love the sport and want to share their love of it with their fellow anglers.

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#3 ArkieFlyGuy

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 05:02 PM

I think there is a certain amount of ego in all of us with most of the things we do and love. Casting, tying, writing, photography, and everything else can have two motives. I just witnessed some fantastic long casting over the weekend and wish I could cast like the two guys I watched. I cast a hand made bamboo and thought "wow.. I wish I could build rods like Harry!" I watched Dave Whitlock draw a picture of a trout and was amazed at his abilities. Watching Gordon McKenzie tie a fly is a treat as was watching most of the other 120 tiers there.

I am a "beginner- amateur" writer. While I've been writing about as long as I have been fishing, I'm just now starting to publish some shorts on the web. Is it my ego that drives me? Not as much as the joy of writing itself and the idea of sharing my thoughts with others that love the sport as I do. Same with Harry, Dave, Gordon, and all of us. We do these things to teach and share with others. And if our egos get stroked in the process, that's just "gravy".......

(Just my opinion....for what it's worth....)
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#4 Alex C.

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 06:53 PM

I haven't wrote anything flyfishing related yet but I hav been published once for a bowhunting article I wrote. When I feel I have something to offer the flyfishing community then I will write another article. And that pretty much sums up my motivation, I do it because I would love to help the sport and other fly fishers with something I've learned or observed on a stream or lake or whatever. Why keep a new tecnique or something that you've figured out a secret? Share it with everyone. Now fishing spots are different, unless it's a friend I truly trust my lips will forever be sealed

#5 Kodiak Commando

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 06:56 PM

It is interesting to me on what a writer writes about can dramatically affect the publics perception of him. Most writers who write fictional stories or how to articles are generally appreceiated. But writers who talk about fishing locations and how to fish those locations can be scorned. There is a magazine up here called Fish Alaska magazine and many native alaskans refer to the writers as "Fish Hoars" because they talk about locals favorite rivers which lead to more tourist pressure and so on. I can understand this because i have fished many places in alaska and utah that were great secrets until they became average spots after fish alaska, Salmon trout steelheader or fishing and hunting news spilled the beans.

So i was wondering how other members stand on this issue?
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#6 Alex C.

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 07:24 PM

QUOTE
So i was wondering how other members stand on this issue?


I guess a writer has to make a living, don't they? dunno.gif You can't really blame them for spilling the beans on certain spots but there are spots that should never be written about since a lot of great spots just can't handle a lot of fishing pressure

#7 Alex C.

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 08:14 PM

"One important thing I learned while looking at all those rods is to not be afraid to ask questions, like most fly-fishers, fly shop owners are often eager to share their knowledge with beginners. If we are respectful of others and thankful for their ideas and help, often times we will be amazed at the wealth of information that others will share."
~ Don McPherson

#8 steeldrifter

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Posted 24 March 2005 - 12:44 AM

QUOTE (Kodiak Commando @ Mar 23 2005, 06:56 PM)
So i was wondering how other members stand on this issue?

Hmmm well, Thats a discussion I've had with a number of fishing buddies and its always hard to make a call on that one but I'll try to give my views on it.

I honestly think you cant give a blanket statement to cover that question, its more of a river by river case IMO. For example here in Michigan anyone that lives here and fly fishes (and even guys that dont live in M) have heard of rivers such as the Au Sable, PM, Manistee, Muskegon, Betsie , etc etc... so I have absolutely no problem with writers mentioning those rivers. There are a few smaller rivers here though that really cant substain a hoard of fisherman flocking to them though so when they start mentioning EXACT locations on these smaller rivers that when I start to get a bit urked over it dry.gif

For example Lots of guys know about the Little manistee and anyone with a computer can simply search for it and come up with info on it so I dont mind a writer saying fishing on the LM is good be sure to have such&such flies in your box, blah blah blah...But when they start saying take the dirt road that is past (insert landmark here) and turn right, then go down 2.8 miles and turn left on a two track road then park on the shoulder by the old wooden fence and walk .3 miles upstream to a hole that has a fallen tree at a 45degree angle...blah blah blah, thats when I start to get pissed. Because spots that are not well known and hard to get to I ethier found out by spending a whole day hikeing through the brush or they are spots that friends have entrusted me with and sworn me to secrecy about so its not fair that someone can just read a article and go to a place that took me forever to find (i.e paying my dues!).

Overall I dont mind some location being given out because it does help to distribute the pressure, but not to the point of giving exact locations.

SD

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#9 Alex C.

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Posted 24 March 2005 - 08:43 AM

I thought some more about that question at work last night while reading the new Fly Fisherman magazine. Theres an article about ontario flyfishing. Now before reading that I'd never thought of ontario as a "must go to atleast once in my lifetime" type of place. But after reading the article I can say for certain that someday I'll be flyfishing in Ontario. So I kind of like that writers write about all the great places to go. BUT!!! I couldn't agree with SD more

QUOTE
But when they start saying take the dirt road that is past (insert landmark here) and turn right, then go down 2.8 miles and turn left on a two track road then park on the shoulder by the old wooden fence and walk .3 miles upstream to a hole that has a fallen tree at a 45degree angle...blah blah blah, thats when I start to get pissed. Because spots that are not well known and hard to get to I ethier found out by spending a whole day hikeing through the brush or they are spots that friends have entrusted me with and sworn me to secrecy about so its not fair that someone can just read a article and go to a place that took me forever to find (i.e paying my dues!).


Thats when the guides who spend big bucks on advertising should call a magazine or writer and tell them that it's ok to write about such and such a river that can handle a lot of fishing pressure, but don't go telling the world about a small stream running through a cedar swamp or that hole by the fallen tree cause being one of the feew people on earth to know about that hole helps feed their families and pay for the ads they put in the magazines. Because a magazine afterall is just a buisness and when it comes down to it htey don't care if joe shmoe calls up and is mad about them telling the world about his secret spot, but they will care when they aren't making money. Fishing guides put a lot of work into putting people on fish, cause let's face it, if they don't, they'll be back at a normal job in no time if they don't

#10 ArkieFlyGuy

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Posted 24 March 2005 - 09:08 AM

Overall, there are a certain number of fishermen in the world with a certain amount of time available for them to fish. Probably the vast majority of them have their "home waters" and favorite "honey hole" that they tend to think of at theirs and nobody else's and they spend 99% of their fishing time there. So if that place is featured in a book, article, or other presentation and this causes an increase in pressure on the waters, the "home boy" will most likely be angry about the publication.

However, those fishing "his" waters at that time are leaving THEIR home waters to be fished by someone else or left alone for that time. To me it all evens out.

Yes, I get frustrated when I go to my favorite bend of the river and ten power bait jerks are lined up hauling them in for keeps. But, that is their right and privilege and my fault for not getting there earlier. This is one reason we here in The Natural State are calling for more C&R areas and more enforcement in these and other areas (power baiters have a habit of "double dipping" here.)

I also agree with SD about the fine line between generalities such as "fish the White River at Rim Shoals" and specifics like "drift your gray #12 sowbug 18 inches under an indicator from just above the big rock 30 feet from the big sweet gum tree with the initials RD luvs SW carved in the trunk."

I tend to write in terms of "partly truth, partly fiction" in that my writings are usually based on experiences, but are not 100% true. I think this makes for good entertainment. If you want a "how to" or "where to" book, you won't like my stories.

Oh... and I forgot to add in my last post about what drives a person to write.... For me it is this uncontrollable urge to get the thoughts from my head out and onto the screen or pen and ink. I just can't seem to help myself.
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#11 Sean Juan

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Posted 24 March 2005 - 03:30 PM

I think I'd have to disagree with the assumption that most writing is ego based.

I will say that many magazine publications are essentially the prose verison of an infomercial. Advertisments for certain areas, flies, sometimes they even needlessly promote certain rods or reels, or even advertisements for fly-fishing itself. There is nothing wrong with this - but as a former snobbish academic I don't put this style of writing on the same plane as say Hemingway.

Writing in its purest sense is a means of communication - ego driven writing (much like a conversation with an overly egotistical person) pushes the reader away, good writing is empathetic. An example of good writing is the last Luvinbluegills piece, he shared his feelings and all of us could feel something because of that sharing - though not the same thing. That is not the selfish boast of an egoist, but rather the one man communicating to others through a common love of fishing. For a moment we were all in that tin boat, thats good writing.

I've written some in my day, some of it published most of it not. None of it was for personal gain - and if you have read any of the stories I've related here you know it certainly wasn't for glory - it was just to share a laugh or a thought with people I knew would understand, fly-fishers. For though we may have nothing else in common that is enough.
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#12 Alex C.

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Posted 24 March 2005 - 03:34 PM

QUOTE
For though we may have nothing else in common that is enough.


clapping.gif I don't think you could say it any better than that cheers.gif

#13 mcfly

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Posted 24 March 2005 - 03:42 PM

QUOTE
Most writing is ego based: the writer wants to be recognized and have a by-line. There are exceptions to this of course.


If I tell someone where I picked up a good cup of coffee am I doing so to boost my ego? I think I'm doing it so that the person I'm telling can have a good cup of coffee as well.

There really is no way for someone else to tell for sure if the guy writing the story is doing so to say "look at me" or if he is genuinely trying to share his views with the reader so they too may enjoy what he has.
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#14 Wildnative

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Posted 24 March 2005 - 05:18 PM

So far, the replies have been interesting. My question is actually myself trying to understand my own inner desire to write. I have been fly fishing for 30+ years. I started as a young teen. I never felt the desire to write about fly fishing or fly tying. I did, however, have my interest in writing surface in a general english course in college. The professor assigned us a final class research paper. I struggled with what to write. He asked me what I was interested in. I said, "fly fishing." He said, "Why don't you write about it?" So my final paper was on fly fishing. When he gave my paper back, he told me that I wrote well and that I should consider trying to write for publication, even if it was as a hobby or for small added income. That sparked my interest in writing. Still the desire was not to just write fly fishing or tying pieces, but to write anything. The professor did tell me to write about the things I'm interested in, so I do. Boy, that was 20 years ago!

Maybe I have answered my own question in a way. Maybe fly fishers and fly tyers write about fly fishing and fly tying because that is what they know and what they are passionate about?

I can see where some will write to promote or advertise. Sometimes the thing they are advertising or promoting is themselves and their ideas.

Are you sure most writing is not ego based? If I tell someone where to get a good cup of coffee, yes, I'm sharing something with them. But, if I take the time to write an article about the place and the coffee and demand that I'm given a by-line for my efforts, that's totally different.

#15 Joe Hard

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Posted 26 March 2005 - 06:08 AM

I think most write to share their experinces, and fly fishing is full of great ones!!!
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