What Exactly Do You Do? Confessions Of “A Renissance Man”

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Living in a resort area like The Roaring Fork Valley has it’s own challenges, above and beyond many other places to live in the world. It is inconsistent, weather contingent and most of all, tourism dependent. There is no guarantee that anybody will show up, that the rivers will be fishable, and/or your job will even still be there for you, especially if your work is seasonable. So you learn adapt.

So my what’s my game plan? (if I can ever say I ever have a game plan) is to fill my quiver with as many skills/talents that I can muster. Fortunately, I seem to be lucky enough to have a few that I can always fall back on: Artist, Chef, Builder, Comedian, Cooking Instructor to list a few, I have been called a Modern Renaissance Man, Jack of all trades.

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Me and Gary Gulman before or show ay the Wheeler Opera House
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Solo Show at The Art Base
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Teaching a cooking class at The Cooking School Of Aspen

I prefer to refer to myself as “My Major is Generally Undeclared”… I think it suites me well.

I think it would be safe to say that I have made the best use of my ADHD, O.C.D and A.D.D, or what I like to call acronyms of success! As a guy that takes interest in everything, it’s very hard to have hobbies, I turn my hobbies into jobs: I likes to cook, so I became a Chef. I was always the class clown and a decent sense of humor, so I became a stand up comic. Creating things and building them is something I always have done pretty well, so I followed my long time passion of being an artist and sculptor, and that’s going well.

As far as being a professional Fly Fishing guide, this was inherent. I had an uncle that was a very, very good fisherman, when I was very little, probably 8 or 9 years old, he would take me fishing every weekend to Evergreen, Colorado. We would fish for hours on the reservoir catching small trout on spinning gear, catch and keep with stringers and all. I loved it, cleaning their guts out and all. As I got older, I would enter fishing competitions as a kid with some success but little satisfaction. I liked the chase and not so much that catch and kill.

Enter the introduction of Fly fishing. It blended with my attention span perfectly, it’s complicated technique (so I thought)…All the variables of leaders, flies, knots rod stiffness and lengths, how beautiful the reels were crafted…all of it. Perfect for a guy with a personality like mine. I loved it, as they say, “If The Shoe Fits”.

What made it even more interesting, the sport is always is a state of flux, always changing; the water levels, water temperature, time of year, location, nothing is consistent much like living in a resort town. As I became older and moved to the Roaring Fork Valley and became a guide. It was great fit as well, more variables, every client is different, some good some not so much, but every day is different. Perfect.

Sure, my resume may never get me a second interview in the “real” world, but as a guy with a varied skill set and the belief that I can really turn any or all of them into a career is not unrealistic. So I do what I do.

I like to think back to my high school years when my college councilor was doing his best to direct me to a college degree or trade school that would give me a “good start” to a future career…what was never mentioned was that I could make a living fly fishing, cooking, doing stand up, construction, and visual artist. In my mind, that is one career. My advise to anyone who feels misplaced, Follow your interest to the very end.

Tight Lines

Upgrade If You Want…

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Many of you, myself included are captivated by shiny new things. The tempting glint of an anodized reel, this years new mid/tip flex darling of a rod, those spanking new gore-tex waders with a zipper….you know where I’m going with this, we have gotta have it. What is interesting to me is that I still fish with my very first RPL 590 2 piece sage rod and enjoy it very much. So why do I every year feel compelled to get the latest and greatest? Is it to keep up with the Jones’s? Do I think it will make me a better guide? Is it because The Drake is telling me that it is a must have and I won’t ever catch a fish again if I don’t have it? The truth is yes to all of the above.

Let’s first take a look at this from the manufactures point of view. They need to keep us wanting, needing, pining for their newest gear, if the don’t, its just bad business. All of these are “for profit” companies not non-profits trying to share the love of their passions. I get it, I’m a paid fishing guide I make my living by doing what people do for pleasure, but do you think that the average consumer would be able to tell the difference between a 10 year old rod and a new one? I bet not, does that matter? Not really, but the idea of having the newest tech helps. It helps because you believe in it. I used to race bicycles and became obsessed with my bike to an almost OCD level… $150 titanium seat clamp, a $90 water bottle cage for gawd sake! Was I any faster? Maybe, or was I faster because I trained harder because I spent a ridiculous amount of money and put more road miles on my bike? The fact could be I just plain got better fit, with nothing to do with the 310 grams I took off my ride. All the manufacturer did was just make the newest options available, thats it, it was totally my choice to dive in, with no regrets.

Next, let talk about those pesky Jones’s…. I have never been the one to covet, except a really nice Cafe racing motorcycle, a hand made watch and a truck without a broken windshield. I am a guy of simple needs. As any professional fishing guide will tell you, looks and presentation is/can be everything, even before you hit the water. The Jones’s in our case are other guides. Guides with the new trucks, double rod carriers loaded with the best of the best gear, a clean cooler. All of this can(?) make a difference. Hypothetically, If you drop a client in the middle of any fly shops parking lot without a single guide in sight and ask them to chose which guide they want to fish with by the appearance of the vehicle? You guessed it, it will not be the 1986 Nissan with the duck tape on the side window. But does it matter? No it does not! The gear is only good if the guide has talent. I have seen some very expensive rigs not catching a single fish. Point is this, Keeping up with the Jones’s is human nature, go for it, but don’t do because you have the cash to show off, nothing is more humbling than getting 1 up’d by an angler wearing neoprene waders.

Now the big one…will new gear make me a better fisherman? The answer is yes and no. I really like new things, I have more rods than anyone really should have. My fly boxes are the closest thing I have to a 401K. Again, This is all by my choice. I can tell the different nuances between a slow action 3 weight and a stiff 4 weight. I know the different supple feeling of different fly lines, and yes “mono” does knot differently than “fluorocarbon”. This information matters, and does make you a better fisherman, but there is no promise that you will catch more fish.

But what makes all of this really interesting, is that none of it is better or worse than the other, it is all YOUR preference, your likes and your wants. That is what make this sport so wonderful.

In Short, I can say with complete confidence the fish really doesn’t care what rod your casting or if that shiny, machined reel is a “palm” drag or resistance drag, that stuff only matters to you. The way I justify all of my gear is simple; all my light-weight rods take me to my favorite rivers and my “big” weight rods and reels take me everywhere else that is beautiful in the world.

Tight lines
Guide Glenn Smith
Glennandtheartofflyfishing.com

 

Fly Fishing From Colorado To Montana

Not many people in this world has an occupation that you “choose” to take a vacation or shall I say for tax purposes, an R&D trip for what you so everyday. I am one of those very lucky people. I am on way way to fish the great waters of the endless stories in the Big Sky state of Montana.

As many of you know if you follow my blog postings that I am a professional guide in the the beautiful Roaring Fork Valley in Colorful Colorado. The fact is, I have 4 Gold Medal rivers right out my backdoor, so it is very hard to leave. This is why the Montana trip is so exciting.

I plan to post this entire week documenting the events of a guide in foreign lands. I hope you enjoy this series with the first photo of the mouse pattern I intend to use.

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Guide Tips via Twitter

Throughout this summer I have been posting fly fishing tips and tricks in short form on Twitter. What I have learned in the exercise is that why use 7 words when 4 will do.

It is easy to get caught up in listening to yourself talk when you are perceived as an expert at anything. Twitter does not allow the luxury…and I kind of liked that.

So here is a series of Glenn and The Art Of Fly Fishing guide tips that I have recently posted. If you enjoy them and find them useful, please share them with the troutbum in your life and follow me @artofflyfishing on Twitter.

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View From The River

It has been a perfect summer so far in the Roaring Fork Valley in the heart of the Rockies. Colorado is my native and I am proud to be one of the few remaining “born and raised”.

I wanted to share some photos of the summer so far, I hope you enjoy them.

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Why Counting Fish Is A Bad Thing

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“The first rule of flight club is you don’t talk about fight club”. This is one of the many famous quotes from the Brad Pitt movie, Fight Club.  There is a wisdom in this quote. Some things are best kept to one’s self and those that know the secret. I believe this deep into my fabric of my soul.

I spend a lot of time writing about the “experience” for fly fishing, what it means in the big picture? and how it can change you when you are living in “the moment”, as you follow the perfect drift to a splashy strike of a big brown. What I don’t like to do is gloat about it.

Recently we had our annual guide meeting at Taylor Creek, the fly shop I guide for. When I say guide meeting, I really mean,  a bunch of pretty unkept guys and gals with mad fishing skills, drinking cheap beer, giving each other a full rationing of shit and listening to what is expected from us as guides and ambassadors of the shop. I have been to countless gatherings like this. This is also the time when the veteran guides, more or less, stake claim to our seniority and rank in the shop. Yes, it is a pissing match between people who fish for a living. I smile and get a kick out of every one of the “meetings”.  It is just plain fun.

But a topic was brought up by the guides this year that I wasn’t expecting to discuss. It was the matter of not publicly “advertising” the amount of fish you and your clients caught on any given day. To not walk into the shop and blurt out “We got 10 to the net” or “Man, we killed it today!” This, I thought, was progress and something I take very seriously. Let me explain why…

As guides, it is our job to help you catch fish. I have always joked with my clients by saying “You can’t catch fish on your own, you don’t need me standing next to you, talking and not catching fish…” There is more to that quote but I will share this some other time. The point is simple: We will catch fish. But what exactly does that mean? Will we catch a 100 fish? Will we catch 3 fish? I believe that numbers are all relative to your clients expectations or the “total experience”.

We, as guides, should do exactly that, guide. Sure it is important to catch fish, that is what we do but it is not our job to assume that the only thing our client wants is to catch countless fish.

Case in point: I have had days on the river when the fishing was off the hook, and I have had days that it was difficult to even buy a strike. We have those swings out there, so if I am on my own, I continue to walk, wade and cast as the day passes by. If it’s slow, I find another spot. If the fishing is on fire, I stay. It’s that basic. But when out there with a paying client, guides think that their purpose has changed. They feel compelled to prove that they are fly fishing gods of the universe and all swimming creature are at their complete beck and call. We all know that this is not true and the that the only thing that has changed from your normal day out fishing is that a few extra people are tagging along. The difference is you are being paid for your knowledge, not by your fish count. With that said, why the pressure on numbers? Are you out there to stroke your own ego by vicariously upping  the number of fish your client is catching? Does it challenge your manhood? Are you less of a guide than you thought? Do you think that you will impress the shop and other guides by how many fish you brought to the net? Not at all, not even close. Your client only knows the experience you are giving them and their own past history fishing; and the shop only cares if your client was satisfied by their day out on the river with you.

The definition of satisfaction is:

sat·is·fac·tion noun \ˌsa-təs-ˈfak-shən\
: a happy or pleased feeling because of something that you did or something that happened to you

: the act of providing what is needed or desired : the act of satisfying a need or desire

: a result that deals with a problem or complaint in an acceptable way”

If your client wants to learn how to become better at casting, and you teach that, they will be satisfied.

If learning about the habitat, history of the area, insects, how it relates to our sport and the environment, they got what they wanted, they are satisfied.

If you get a client that only wants to catch big fish and a ton of them, do that. But be prepared to address this expectaions if the fishing happens to be slower than usual. What else will satisfy this client?

So to wrap this up, when you walk into the shop or at the bar next door, your fish count does not matter. Anyone who has been fly fishing for most of their lives and guide for a living, truth is, we don’t care. Every fly fishermen should remember one thing, an average or below average day to one person could be an amazing day to another, quote me on that. Let your clients do the bragging because they paid for the right to do so Our reward, as professional fly fishing guides, is knowing a job well done, securing a future repeat client and hopefully a decent tip to put towards our cheap beer that we love so much.

Keep that tip up,

Glenn