Golf Clubs and Fly Rods
by Captain Jim Barr on 09/14/16
A number of years ago I was deplaning in Albuquerque for my connection to Farmington, NM. I was on my way to fish the San Juan River, an absolutely gorgeous river that holds massive rainbow trout. In those days there were very few restrictions as to what you could bring on board and stow in the overhead bins. Four piece rods were not the norm then, it was a two and three piece fly rod world. In addition to five rods (4-6 weights) I carried on a daypack holding a few fishing essentials such as reels, flies, waders and wading boots (in the event the airline misplaced my checked equipment). As I was standing in line in the aisle which was very slow in moving, I noticed a guy behind me dressed in a pastel knit shirt sporting the Pebble Beach logo. His perfectly clean golf hat was labeled "Ping", he sported bermuda shorts, and Weejun loafers... he was basically a peacock. I had been traveling all day from Providence, I was worn around the edges, probably smelled like I needed more English Leather, my cutoffs were tattered, I wore sandals. We clearly were at opposite ends of the sartorial splendor chart.
So, as my five rods that were duct taped together brushed up against his pink Ping golf shirt, he got a little annoyed. I could hear him clear his throat as he was about to say something that was likely going to be a smart ass remark. I had seen a lot of guys like him before when I was in the insurance business, he looked like the typical snotty producer (sales guy). Sure enough then came his opener... "So, are you going fishing?" I turned around, looked down on him, made a point of taking my time in the response as I studied his foppy attire and immediately determined he was indeed a wise guy. My turn. I responded...."so what makes you think that?" He replied, "Why On Earth would you need to bring five fishing poles?". (Fishing "poles"!!, oh man). I replied, "...well sir judging by your attire I suspect you are a golfer, I love golf and we therefore have something in common. Now let me ask you this, why on earth do you carry 14 clubs in your bag? Different conditions and distances require different clubs right? Well in fly fishing we don't carry five "poles" to the river, instead we assess the conditions on any given day or time of day and make a choice which "pole" to use based on a whole raft of variables. Sometimes we change "poles" as we encounter changes in wind, water flow, different fly patterns that require a stronger rod, and sometimes we even break a rod while wading the river or playing a big fish."
At first he looked a bit befuddled, but then the peacock smiled, and then apologized for being a wise guy. We chatted in the terminal, wished each other well. He made his connection to Carmel and I made mine to Farmington. I love these kind of encounters- make a point and make a friend.