Sacred cows that really should be sacred

Troutrageous unleashed a major comment firestorm by laying out some of the sacred cows of fly fishing that he thinks need to end… things like PBR, carp and go-pro’s.  Now, I don’t agree with the whole list, but the PBR thing was kind of funny.

Got me thinking… there are some sacred cows that maybe should remain sacred, because they are kind of awesome.

Here are a few:

This is Fly. Yeah… some really interesting stories in a really interesting format. It might be promoted by everyone each time it comes out, but there is usually something I really dig in each issue.  The photographs are great, but the writing is excellent and it is often from folks you’ve probably not heard of before. Keep it going TIF.

The Fly Fishing Film Tour. I say this without having even been to one yet. I just love what I’ve seen come out of the festival. I mean… come on. THIS is awesome.

Yvon Chouinard. The founder of Patagonia, Yvon seems one step away from going native.  He’s a master of sustainability and he preaches conservation both because it is the right thing to do and because it is good business. I might not always buy Patagonia, but I respect the beejuzus out of that guy.

Joan Wulff. Say something bad about Joan.  Go ahead… try it. She’s badass.

A River Runs Through It. Man, people act like this book nearly destroyed all that is sacred because people read it (or saw the movie) and wanted to get into it to have their own Brad Pitt moment. Don’t hate. It is an awesome book. Beautifully written. The story was powerful and it spoke to people.

What else do you think should remain sacred?

  • Unique Post


  1. Lawrence Snyder


  2. phil thompson

    I’ve gotta go with Patagonia as one of the best clothing lines for any outdoor adventure. They last.

  3. Hale Orviston

    Over 60K donated by Patagonia to Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, ask that of your other brands.

  4. bonefishbjorn

    I know Patagonia gives a lot and Yvon gives his own money on top of that, I’m sure. The guy isn’t planning on taking his money with him when he leaves.

  5. The writings of Roderick Haig-Brown. If you can’t get out fishing, curling up with one of his wonderful books is the next best thing!

  6. Thanks Bjorn. Before I even linked over to Troutrageous’ post this morning I tried to think of my own list of sacred cows that should be sent to the butcher shop. Many from my list were covered by Troutrageous (GoPro, Bamboo Rods, Support your Local, etc.) but I feel like he missed a few big ones. (And since when is PBR a sacred cow of fly fishing…it is a sacred cow…period. And for good reason!)

    Fly fishing is a declining sport. Like whitewater kayaking, monoskiing, and rollerblading, the sport reached a peak many years ago (1996 in fly fishing’s case) and has been declining consistently ever since. My sacred-cows-of-fly-fishing-that-should-be-butchered are those things that anglers revere but that in my opinion have contributed to the declining number of anglers taking part in the sport :

    1 – Fly Tying – Yes, it feels great to pry a fly you tied from the lip of a big fish and yes it can, theoretically, save you money (but, who really saves money tying their own), and yes it can be a relaxing and creative way to pass the dark days between fishing outings. But get over it. With the plethora of good, cheap, fly distributers out there in internet land these days, and the high cost of materials because of the hackle-hair craze, the opportunity cost of tying your own flies has never been greater. Put down the vise, sell the obscure and rare hackle, order 100 flies for 50 cents/per online, and spend the time and money you saved actually FISHING.

    2 – “Secret locations” or “Stream X” – I love scouring maps and google earth for those little blue lines that may or may not be my next new favorite secret fishing spot. I love being the only guy on the river and feeling like I’m the first person to discover and fish that lovely stretch chock full of big wild fish. But more than all that I love getting home and telling every single person I know about it, where it is, and where to find the fish.

    Anglers should be celebrating those places where we can still go out and catch fish. All of them. Period. Fishing is about the places, not about the fish. If it was about the fish, then we’d all be content dragging gill nets through swimming pools packed gill to gill with large fish). These places are our marketing department and the people that learn to love them often become defenders of those places (and those fish) when they are threatened.

    Some will say that advertising these “secret” places will bring the crowds and thus destroy the fishery. Hogwash. Sure, their may be an uptick in usage immediately after the “secret” spot is “discovered” and depending on how big a “secret” we’re talking about (for example a small cutthroat stream 20 miles down the trail vs a large northwest river where steelhead have been rediscovered) that uptick may be the new normal for that stretch of water. But so what? Those anglers have diverted themselves from some other stretch of water, and now that water has fewer anglers and less pressure and that secret spot now has that many more folks that can stand up at meetings, write letters, volunteer to build a better access trail, and support that sacred cow of a little fly shop in the town on the way to put-in.

    3 – Fishing the Salt – I know, I know. Wrong blog to denigrate the god that is tarbonemitcudasnook, but I’m going to do it anyway. Not denigrate the actual fun that is fishing the salt, but denigrate our sport’s (and our media’s) fascination with fishing the salt. Fishing the salt is for old, rich, white guys. There. It is the definition of expensive and inaccessible. Nobody (used loosely) learns to fly fish, and learns to love fly fishing, by chasing bones or permit in Belize or the Bahamas. Our focus on this small aspect of fly fishing is helping to kill our sport.

    I am a skier. I ski about as much as I fish (about 50-70 days a year). And skiing has a similar problem (or has had a similar problem) with helicopter skiing. Helicopter skiing and fishing the salt are much the same. You can do them on the (relatively) cheap, but for the most part they are the domain of the professional guide, the rich white guy, the sponsored athlete, or the endowed “film” maker or writer. Sure regular folks get in there too, but that is the exception, not the rule.

    Fly fishing would do itself a lot of good to get back to what made it popular in the first place. Fun fishing, close to home. Keep it simple, stupid. The arcane obscurities of fly tying, shit, of flies in general (do you really need 25 variants of a zebra midge? 101 different variants of a wooly bugger?), our current fascination with $1500/day excursions in the salt, the need to keep “secret” all the spots that still have a healthy abundance of fish–all these things are sacred cows that should be sent to the closest slaughterhouse. And maybe then will we begin to see young and new people begin to love fishing again…


  7. I am not “3d3vart” but I think we might be related. What he said.

  8. bonefishbjorn

    Hey 3d3vart, thanks for taking the time to write all that. Really appreciate your point of view.

    For me, I love fly tying. I love sitting down at the vice and creating something. I’ll keep doing it as long as my fingers still work and my eyes can still see. It is contemplative and silent work and so different from most of my day.

    Fishing in the salt doesn’t tend to be where you start and, as an industry, we certainly do need people to start in large numbers. So from that view, I can understand your point. For me, I still fish my rivers and I expect that is where most people are going to be fishing, the lakes and rivers. I love the salt. It is where my mind lives.

  9. Bjorn,

    As usual you were able to take a basically negative article and turn it into something positive… I don’t understand it, but I love it. Good on ya. You have (momentarily) prompted me to think positive myself. Lessee, sacred cows that should remain sacred? Hmmm…

    Bonefish. Gotta say, the variety of behaviours these fish exhibit is pretty amazing. They can be as aggressive as spawning bass, or as frustrating as sunning carp. Either way you’ll keep casting till the sun goes down.

    And, let’s not forget that the run of a bonefish is (I’ll say it again) pound for pound maybe the strongest there is in sport. Legit. Stronger than smallmouth, than carp, than steelhead, than tarpon (yes), than cudas. From what I’ve heard the golden trevally might come close, but the average human has even less access to them so we’re into the realm of the fanciful and obscure with that.

  10. Thanks Davin.

    I do so love the bonefish. They are one of the most significant finds of my life. I feel fortunate for all that fly fishing has given me and the countless ways it has enriched my life.

  11. […] Fly fishers love to talk and tell stories, it’s well known; and to debate too, as often we’re of the opinionated sort. So recently, when Michael Agneta of Troutrageous posted his Sacred Cows of Fly Fishing, Bjorn Stromness of Bonefishing on the Brain returned in kind. […]

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