The all about fly fishing rant page
This London, Ontario-based fly-fishing rant page is a spillover from the "Ask Ian" section on my website. Some folk out there have been using the "Ask Ian" pages as a form of therapy, turning the basic question-and-answer format into long, drawn out rants. Rather than shut them down, I have decided to build a web page where I can post some of these rants. The key to these rants is that they must be clean (I have a lot of kids who hit my site) and they must make me laugh when I read them.

Now, if you feel up to blowing off a little steam and sending in a rant, keep it clean, make sure you have something to say and, above all, express yourself in a way that is understandable and coherent. Well, semi-coherent will do in a pinch. Also, make sure it's your rant (i.e., an original thought or, God forbid, two thoughts) and that it's not stolen from another website, or even another fly fisherman.

The flower
As for the flower ... judging by the content of the majority of the rants I receive most of you need to; relax, find your happy place, lower your blood pressure, light a few scented candles, put on a Kenny G CD or tune into the Woman's Network on TV. Just kidding. At the end of the day, fly fishing is a sport so relax will you. However, if you do happen to find some lilly pads, why not chuck a small frog pattern near them ... just in case there is a Smallmouth Bass in there.

Guaranteed anonymity
I will post your rant under a pen name, if you wish, but I will need your full name and address so that I can verify who you are before I post your rant, and so that I know where to send your flies. I want to make sure that you are in fact Frosty the Snowman, before I post your rant. Don't worry, you are covered under my Privacy Statement and I will never reveal who you are. Not unless it's through a court order and the cop delivering the papers is a cutie, can roll cast a full 5-weight flyline, and she happens to own the fishing rights to some prime Atlantic salmon fishing on the River Spey or the River Dee and who's father owns a single-malt whiskey distillery deep in the Highlands of Scotland. Then my friend, you are simply out of luck.

Your reward
If I post your rant on this page, I will send you a dozen flies and I will even pay the shipping at this end. How's that for a deal?

Here's how to send in a rant
Dead simple.
1. Compose and compile your thoughts.
2. Slap them into an E-mail.
3. Send them to me using this link.
I am going to E-mail Ian my rant

Here are the rants

Hi Ian,
Here's my rant. Why does fly fishing draw such an elitest group? When you go into the fly section of ------- for example if you bring your Armani suit and your platinum card you get free valet parking for your BMW suv? If you're wearing work boots and a baseball cap, they won't even notice you're there. What's with the snub nose attitude that follows this sport around? Doesn't the rain fill up your nasal cavity in that position? Isn't the backbone of this sport still the average guy driving a pickup truck? Also why does fly gear cost so much to begin with? It seems to me a that a fly reel is the simplest piece of fishing equipment ever made. Why does a rod and reel cost as much as a television? Are the stores/manufacturers are treating the recent boom in popularity of this sport as a huge cash cow? It sure appears that way. I guess as long as people pay the inflated prices they'll continue to charge them. It's time to bring this sport back to average sportsman and lose the snob attitude and huge price tags on the way.
Ken from Brampton
(Kens wins a mixed bag of steelhead flies.)

Let is snow
Ian, there can be little doubt that: (1) God has a sense of humor and (2) he hates fly fishermen. In the depths of winter I tied flies. Lots of flies. Lots of steelhead flies and I must say I was well stocked up for the season. No worries there. However, each time I try to head out, it snows. I mean it snows. last time I was up in Goderich it snowed so badly that I had to stay over for the night, which I must say, was difficult to explain to my darling wife. Then if I show up back at the house with flowers, she will think that I am up to something. I just can't win. No, someone has to have a chat with this God chap. I mean a heart to heart talk. Not one of those chats you have when you are stuck in church, I mean, get him to beam someone up to heaven, and sit the man down and say to him, "Hey, about the snow ..." There I feel better. I have vented. Off to shovel the driveway.
Snow-Boy, Toronto, Ont.
(Snow-Boy wins 12 Ian's Brass Ass Buzzers. May I suggest holding off on the shoveling, as it will all melt by June. Then again, the Toronto City Council may call out the army to remove the snow for you.)

Drunk Grandmother
while searching for the 2008 winter victoria secret auditions on-line I came across your page to immediately see that you were a 6 foot giant Scots men. Now I don't know about others but immediately the thought of a big lumber jack killer came to mind, and I'm gonna be honest with you. The thought of walking down a dark, secluded area for the day scared the hell out of me. But reading on I realized that in fact you were just a big friendly giant and my drunk 96 year old grandma could do more damage than you. But despite all this I think you'd be a great guy to sit down and slap some single malt back with, that is if you don't get all emotional on me. Keep on keeping on.
Dave, Tavistock, Ont.
(Dave wins 12 Ian's Brass Ass Buzzers.)

Size matters?
I just wanted to comment on the Canadian Fly Fishing Championship last summer at the Grand & Conestoga rivers.  I volunteered to be a referee or whatever they call it (the dude in the nuclear orange shirt making sure no one cheats!) and I have to say I was surprised at the format of the tournament.  Try to catch as many fish as possible as long as they’re small.  What is the purpose of that?!  To me this seemed like a cop out.  Anyone with a good selection of flies and a modicum of skill can catch shakers all day, but try to find that 24-30 incher that makes your heart stop when you see the actual size of it and you will impress me.  I’m sure there is a good reason they use this format but for the life of me I can’t figure out what it is.  Don’t you think it takes more skill to catch the big boys than just the shakers?  This is what I have found in my limited experience ….

My buddy caught a 31 incher last summer (I saw it and we measured it using the rod and then put a tape on it when we got home) and I would have to say that that fish did not get to be that size by being stupid….the dudes in that tournament were highly skilled fishermen, but even if they had hooked a monster nothing over 20 cm counted any more than a 20 cm fish!!  I haven’t been in a lot of tournaments but I found that particular format odd.  I have to say that I’ve never been a fan of numbers fishing, I always admire quality over quantity.  And I’m not saying that bigger fish are higher quality than smaller fish, what I mean is that I believe it takes more skill (and subsequently the reward/satisfaction is greater) to fool a bigger older fish into inhaling your fly than a smaller, presumably more reckless fish.

All in all I think the experience was a good one and the Elora/Fergus/Conestoga area got some well deserved publicity for an otherwise well run event.  Unfortunately I was unable to make the Conservation Symposium on the last day but I had fun on the rivers. 
Steve, Guelph Ontario
(Steve picks up a dozen, size #18 caddis. Perfect for catching stockies.)

Am I asking too much?
Ian, here is my rant.
Over the past 10 years I have seen a huge decline in the quality of wading boots. Years ago when boots were made here in the good old USA, even a mid range boot would last for many years. Not so anymore. My high end boots fell to bits after just one season. ONE season. Why don't manufactures put a sticker on their boots saying "Disposable." Sure they will replace my boots, but it's a pain in the butt. My butt. I have to return them and then wait until the new boots arrive in my mailbox. I am guessing that the manufactures are making more of a margin by replacing the boots, and having them made off shore, than they can by producing a robust and sturdy boot here at home. I have resorted to picking up cheapo sneakers or hiking boots and then wading in them. I can get one full season of wading from a $10.00 pair of running shoes which is 6 months more than I can with a set of $180 waders. Will someone please, please, please produce a simple, sturdy, last for a few years wading boot. I don't need the latest and the greatest gadgets on my boots. I want a set of laces which won't rot out after 6 months and a boot which won't dump me on my butt when I step on algae covered rocks. Is it too much to ask? Am I being unreasonable? Then again, why would you want those qualities in a wading boot? Don't they know that wading boots actually get wet and that cotton based laces will rot. If we can put a man on the moon, why the heck can't someone invent a glue that actual sticks a felt sole to a boot. Unbelievable.
Bummed Out in Texas
(Bummed Out recieved one dozen Alex Midge flies.)
PS: Don't start with the man on the moon debate!

Ahoy from the West (Idaho).
I have been fly fishing for 3 years and each year it gets harder to enjoy the sport I LOVE. This has been building up in my blood for a little under a year now and even if Ian is the only one who ever reads this it's fine with me.

Why do I feel so overwhelmed by this sport I love so much? It seems that every article in every fly fishing magazine I read tells me what's wrong with the environment that week, or who's to blame for cow sewage being dumped in a stream in Scotland. Or better yet why bait fisherman are a breed below the prestigious fly fisherman. My father is a bait fisherman and is the best fisherman I know! I can't open a magazine and read a story about catching a beautiful 12 inch Brook Trout because if it's small it's worthless (according to the pro's) And who are the pro's anyhow? I live 40 miles from Sun Valley Idaho and I will not set foot on Silver Creek because I feel like I have to wear an Armani suit to fish it. Sure, you may say..."Well to heck with those people ... just go fishing." And that's easier said than done when there is tension on the stream to catch the biggest trout with the smallest fly. Why is there so much pressure to be an amazing fisherman? Fly fishing takes practice and time and I'm tired of feeling like I don't belong in the community just because I haven't perfected nymphing or mending.

Ever noticed that the articles written in books and magazines are directed to the 5th year (or over) fly fisherman. No wonder we don't have kids getting into this sport. Everyone wants the next generation to get into fly fishing but what they don't understand is that their attention span is "ZERO." I'm in my third year and am more overwhelmed than when I first cast a fly rod!! Maybe I should keep my nose out of the literature being published these days and get my butt on the stream and give the "pro" fly fisherman in the sky the bird when I reel in that beautiful wild Brook Trout. Pressure released.
Big Lost - Southeastern Idaho
(Big Lost receives 12 White Puke flies.)

No toad flies
Rantmaster James
Have you ever noticed that fly pattern books are full of frog patterns but there is "an acute lack" of toad patterns out there. Why does this bother me? Well I happen to like toads. I've never kissed one but I do have a soft spot in my heart for them and I have many toad houses dotted around my garden. Do they work? Yes they do, and I figure that a girl can't have too many toads in her garden as they eat a ton of bugs. Frankly I am sick to death of frog flies. Deerhair frogs, foam frogs, frogs with eyes, frogs with claws, frogs with jointed legs, frogs with spots ... come on folks, the fish is looking up at the pattern so there is little chance it will see the spots or the eyes on the topside of the fly. What's next, post and pre spawn frog patterns?

I say it's time to bring the toad out of the closet and give it its rightful place in the fly fishing world. Maybe this rant will be the catalyst which will turn the fly fishing world on its ear and turn it onto toads. However I am not prepared to hold my breath on it!

Now I feel better. Thanks.
Helen in Ohio
(Helen receives 12 tadpole flies. Handy for Smallmouth Bass, Rainbows and Carp.)

Atlantic salmon
A rant you say? I hope not to over-indulge the patience of your readership by the opening of floodgates -- I've had to edit this down from 10 pages. Unlike my esteemed colleague and enduring partner of many drifts mining for chrome Kant's "first critique" was (and continues to be) compelling. His observations regarding the resultant "affect" of the much vaunted fly fishing canon however, prompting a parade of dandies wishing to rub elbows with the elan of our community and seek out that which is suitable for mounting (except for their partners), is accurate. We frequent a particular stream on Lake Erie and have named a holding pool there the Paco Raban Pool after sharing some water with a "properly" (geesh) outfitted angler who wore so much cologne that its "fallout" wiped out all insect life on that section of the river.

I'm in exile -- in exile from my beloved steelheading grounds -- immured up to my neck in New Brunswick rednecks (with necessary due deference to the Ozarks mind you). This province has a 25% illiteracy rate, the lowest standard of education, some of the highest poverty and unemployment rates, and some of the most egregious drug abuse in Canada. Also (a cause and effect relationship perhaps?) angling license subscriptions are at an all time low -- fathers are not teaching their children well. I'm not Ontario-centric (this is always the myopic counterclaim of parochial exclusionism here) rather I'm steelhead-centric though not at the expense of other species or other exigent conservation issues.

This IS a steelhead rant and comes by way of that mythologized, noble fish, salar (the Atlantic Salmon). How you ask? Again a digression.

New Brunswickers bemoan the loss of the Salmon fishery here and seem sincerely at a loss to explain why which is only trumped by their apathy and stupidity.
Whence salar?
- Surely it is not attributable to clear-cutting and agricultural practices pressuring riparian zones and the silting up of rivers.
- Surely it is not the wonton abuse of "freedoms" here i.e., rednecks and their ATV's tearing through known spawning redds.
- Indeed, the over fishing of capelin and other salmon forage (to the point of near extinction) is the business of the DFO and the commercial fishery is it not? Certainly it has no bearing on the viability of salmon stocks.
(N.B. the mouth of the current trawling nets are large enough to accommodate two rows of six 747 Boeings.)
- "Gentlemen anglers" whose rods are marked with size indicators so as to allow the "legitimate" harvest of legal sized salmon undoubtedly has no effect on stocks. (See the Ministry's report on the number of grilse taken each year from New Brunswick Rivers.)
- Of course the cost benefit analysis (read politics) prompts a collective and amnesial hurray for the pulp and paper industry here. Where is the effluent going? Nuff said.
- The Mactaquac Dam project on the Saint John River has effectively destroyed one of the greatest salmon rivers in North America -- well at least we now have enough power to run the pulp and paper mills and our microwaves and satellite dishes.
- Philip Lee (author of Home Pool) says that "for a decade New Brunswick carried out the world's largest fish-killing experiment." From 1952 to the early 1960's New Brunswick sprayed DDT in the hopes of controlling spruce budworm. It was an effective strategy and also proved effective in killing off all the trout, frogs, bees, squirrels, birds, all aquatic insects, it eradicated salmon fingerlings by the millions and small parr were reduced to one sixth.

None of the above is responsible for the collapsing fishery here ...

Recently a population of steelhead has found their way into some of the Fundy Rivers and it is their presence that has become the single greatest threat to salmon (ironically, salmon are no longer present in such rivers and the Salmon, Irish et al.). And what is the response by some of our venerated fly fishing brothers in arms? They throw steelhead up on the bank to die or are busy scribbling e-mails to the DFO and the ASF to want them of this "invasion" hoping they will devise yet another "brilliant" management strategy.

Deliver me from apathy and stupidity.
HardCor Rothesay, NB
(HardCor picked up 12 Unusual Nymphs.)

Guides and flies
Dear Rant:
Why is it that no matter how many boxes of flies you take along on a guided fishing trip, the guide insists that nothing will work and you will have to spend at least $100 to purchase the flies he believes are the hot ticket? This happened to me on a trip to Montana last year.

Prior to heading out to fish the Madison River, the guide insisted that I purchase at least a dozen flies. All morning, you guessed it, there was not a strike, nibble or even a sly little glace at my newly purchased flies. My blood pressure was near the boiling point, but luckily I was able to sneak several boxes of my flies along on the boat. I knew that at some point the guide would have to take a "shore" break. The moment came and I quickly changed the flies before he reappeared from the bushes. Starting back down the river I made a careful cast - - this was not the time to screw-up and tangle - - and bam! Fish on! A 21" Brown was brought to the net and released. The guide looked at the flies and without comment gave the line back to be cast again. We used my fly boxes the remainder of the day.

Hey, I'm not perfect and welcome suggestions. But a guide shouldn't dismiss everything you brought and may have spent many hours tying. There is a slight ego thing here, afterall.

Damsel Fly In Distress.
(The Damsel received 12 Arkansas Pheasant Tail Nymphs.).

Dear Ian.
You would think that with all the technology and the brains behind the multinational pharmaceutical drug companies, someone, someplace would come up with a user friendly drug. Take a look at the Colombians. Now there is a bunch of folks who have the drug system down to a fine art, but that is not what I am ranting about.

When you pick up a prescription there is always that little label on it, you know the one saying, "Don't take with alcohol, take with food or the ever popular may cause drowsiness." Where is the fun in popping those? I am thinking, why don't they come up with a family of drugs which go well with a beer? Where have these manufacturers been for the last 70 years or so? A beer goes with just about anything, and what better way for someone to remember to take their medication than to have a case of beer in the fridge?

Hands up everyone who would be happier popping down a painkiller if you could swig a beer, or a glass of wine for the upper-crusty folk, with it? Be honest ... you know you would.

Look this would be a great way for doctors to get men in to see them on a more regular basis.
"Take these three times per day before meals with a honey lager." Doc, oh where can I sign up?

As for the drowsiness. The last thing I want to see on a bottle of sleeping pillsI am trying to crack open is: "May cause drowsiness."

I am not suggesting for one second that anyone consume alcohol with any drug they are taking as that would be like bungee jumping without tying off the rope to the bridge, but I hope that someone in the big glass towers within the drug development world will hear my lone voice in the wilderness. And if they need someone to do some testing on, call me, I'll bring my bottle opener.
Amphetamine Andy.
(Andy received 12 Hare's Ear Nymphs.)

"Pure reason"
Dear Ian,
You wanted some questions? Well, here's one. What's this month between updates crud? I thought Scottish was synonymous with industriousness? Never mind. I'm just about sick of READING about fly fishing anyway.

Seems everyone nowadays with one semester of liberal arts, a flyrod and some egg patterns thinks they're a freakin' novelist or the very least Ecclesiastes. Why does everyone now who has climbed a mountain, caught a fish, or taken a walk around the block feel compelled by some irrepressible urge to write about it and, worse, get it published? And I'm sorry but I've tried wading through all that Roderick Haig-Brown crap repeatedly and I just find it capital B boring. My flyfishing book collecting friends think I'm a heretic. Maybe I am a little harsh, but he's no Proust.

I once had to read Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" and I'm still alive to tell the tale. And I gotta say that was the Saturday morning comics compared to the unreadability of "A River Never Sleeps" or whatever it's called. Sacrilege I know coming from a steelhead-lovin' Canadian boy, but I gotta say there's a whole lot of literery posing going on by those who get all enraptured by it. I mean, come on. Come on!

Case in point: every time some magazine hack or fly tier begins an article on salmon or steelhead he or she finds it necessary to unload the whole history of the sport on me before they get to the current subject at hand, which should be where the heck the access points are and what fly to use. Invariably they also mention one river or another as being "Haig-Brown's favourite river" blah, blah, blah. Truth be told the Cuyahoga was Haig-Brown's favourite river, but since the whole "catchin on fire" thing has been brought under control it's lost much of its former allure.

If you really want to read about salmonids don't be a woosie about it and go right to Ted Hughes, who seemed to be the only one able to avoid all the sentimental crap and tortured syntax and get right to the mystic beauty of it all. He was obviously of the "you know you're onto something good when you've been fishing and thinking about it long enough to halfway drive your poet wife to stick her head in an oven" school of fishing writing. Roderick and all his acolytes, killer boring. Ted Hughes, the man. End of story.

And, since you asked. Here's a little post-industrial Haiku thing of my own I've been working on lately. Ted, my man, I am not that strong.

Ballistic chromium steelhead god
Envied star of Iran's missile program
Size of the bumper on Uncle Stosh's Pontiac
Absolutely freakin' hammers my fly
Shrouded by mist and mountains
But it's still only chicks that can get me ...

Which, by the way, reminds me of my own first rule of fishing: Only fish when you could not otherwise be jumping your partner. And its corollory: If you are fishing when you could otherwise be jumping your partner you are clearly a loser but are too dumb to know it. Story finished.

Personally, I'm looking for that one transformative elegiac essay on carp that makes me want to give it all up, jumping my partner included, and pursue them fulltime, around the world, ultimately to the furthest outpost of their native waters.

Steely Dan, Ontario.
(Dan received 12 beadhead Pheasant Tail Nymphs.)

Salmon Flies
Dear Ian.
When I'm looking at a bunch of, say, Atlantic Salmon patterns in a catalogue or a book on Atlantic dressings I can't help but think,"Hey man, all these flies look basically the same."

I would like someone for instance show me the difference, in a real Platonic Forms type of way, between, say, an Undertaker, a Black Bear Green Butt, a Shady Lady, and a Green Butt Skunk. Or between a Rusty Rat, a Silver Rat, or a big honkin' Caddis Dry. Is there really much difference in the ESSENCE of these flies? I say what a load!

Besides, I think the streamer of the times just has to be an articulated two hook rabbit strip leech in black, purple, pink, orange, black, or black. Either that or a small Lady Caroline soaked in pheremone sauce from the local Bass 'N' Baite Shop and dead drifted under a bobber. I've been just killing them on that. Wait until you hear my stories about pink rubber worms.

Bobber Bob, On the edge . . of the Great Lakes
(Bob received 12 Nuclear Roe Bug flies. Ian)

Once again: here's how to send in arant
Dead simple.
1. Compose and compile your thoughts.
2. Slap them into an E-mail.
3. Send them to me using this link.
I am going to E-mail Ian my rant