Wednesday, April 8, 2015


She throws up her hands, pushes her chair away from the ponderous pile of papers, and barks an epithet worthy of a well-seasoned sailor.

These forms and computations are ridiculous! I’ll never get this done by the 15th.

Sorry to hear that, dear. Can I get you something?

No, I just need a break. Clear my head. What are you up to?

Just getting my gear ready for spring bass fishing.

What kind of fishing pole is that?

Fly rod. It’s a fly rod. Not a fishing pole.

(She knows this, but likes to pull my chain.)

It’s a 6wt. My favorite stick for our local shoals bass.

What does 6wt mean?

It means that it’s a rod that is used to throw a 6wt line.

That’s awkward. Naming something because it’s used with something else.

I guess.

What’s a “wt”?

It has something to do with how much the first 30 feet of the line weighs, though I suspect few folks know the exact parameters. You usually just buy it to match the rod you have.

The rod is numbered based on the line that you need but you buy the line based on the rod that you have?

(I shift uncomfortably on my feet. She gives me a break and doesn’t dig deeper.)

So that’s a 6wt line on it then, right?

Well, no. It’s a 7wt line. This 6wt rod’s a bit fast, acts like a bigger stick, so I like to up-line it a step.

Then it should be called a 7wt pole.

Rod. And no, I don’t think so.

(She looks at me, expecting a better explanation. I’ve got none. After an awkward moment, she shrugs and moves on.)

And that string on the end. Is that a 6wt or 7wt?

That’s a leader. And no, it’s a 2X.

2X, huh. Okay. So that’s lighter weight than a 6wt?

Well, not really. It’s apples and oranges, lines and leaders.

Okay. Would, perhaps, a 3X, a heavier leader, be better sometimes? Up-leadering?

Umm, maybe. But, actually, a 3X is lighter than a 2X. Rod and line numbers go up as they get bigger. Leader size goes down.

Oh great. That’s confusing. And the fly. Is it a 6wt, 7wt, or 3X?


It’s a small clouser. A #4.

#4. You’re kidding. Do those numbers go up, or go down?

Bigger numbers are smaller flies. Like leaders.

Good grief. And the reel? What number is that?

Well, that depends on who made it. All manufacturers seem to have their own numbering systems.

You realize, of course, that none of this makes sense. Your 6wt pole – I mean rod – identified in an endless "chicken and egg" loop with the line, should really be a seven. Your leader numbering is completely different and goes down instead of up, like your flies, but on a completely different scale. And your reels are, well, who knows about your reels. Have I got this right?

(I’m defenseless.)

Yes, you’ve got it right. But, I swear, once you get accustomed it all makes sense. It’s all odd numbering systems based on history and innovation, effected by interactions with one another with slippery sorts of guidelines and rules. It’s a hodgepodge, and can be confusing as hell to the uninitiated, but I think I’ve gotten it pretty well figured out. Well enough to get by.

Perfect. It sounds just like our taxes. They’re all yours, sir. I’m going out to work in the garden.

Apologies: First, to all of those who might be reading this who are not familiar with the mathematical absurdities that are pervasive in the sport of fly fishing. This post only scratches the surface. It's part of the charm of it all, I suppose. There can be no other explanation.

Second, and most importantly, to my dear wife who really does have a handle on this stuff, but is just as bemused at it as this conversation represents. She has every right to be. Love you, dear, and the garden looks great.


cofisher said...

Asking someone about how the math works with fly fishing around my house is a conversation killer.

Jay said...

Love it. I'm teaching an intro fly fishing class at the local state park on Saturday... and I think I may have to read aloud to the class.

Hope said...

Oh, made me smile. I can just hear Mary having this conversation with you.

Mike Sepelak said...

Something you might occasionally use to your advantage, Howard. ;-)

And what are you trying to do, Jay? Scare them off? Good on you, the teaching, by the way. And I'm glad to see you back at The Angle!

Mike Sepelak said...

oh, I'm quite certain that you can, Hope. :-)

MacLoosh said...

Have you explained the difference between a "bobber" and a "strike indicator" yet? If you do...please please please also share that conversation with the rest of us. :)

Mike Sepelak said...

Mac, there are some things that simply defy explanation. That's one of them.

Good hearing from you!

Chris said...

I've been actively fly fishing for a couple years now, and all this is still Greek to me.

Mike Sepelak said...

At least you're fishing, Chris, and I love a good gyro.

Dan Braun said...

"The rod is numbered based on the line that you need but you buy the line based on the rod that you have?"

Unfortunately I couldn't read past this line as there are now bits of brain, skull and beard dripping down my monitor. Let us never talk about this again.

Mike Sepelak said...

Glad you stopped there, Dan. It only got worse.

Welcome to my world. Sorry about your monitor.

Mary said...

I guess I like this now that you do the taxes and still find time to fish! :)
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