June 26, 2009
Why Fishing is America's Cultural Compass
By Kirk Deeter
Times change, and with them so do trends, attitudes, and even cultural stereotypes.
But the principles of fishing are as solid as the rock of Gibraltar. Steady like magnetic north. Sure, we find new tricks and techniques, and we use new materials. But, by and large, what was good advice in Field & Stream 50 or more years ago is still good advice.
Which cannot be said for all magazine advice. To wit, I bring you these excerpts sent to us from the Fly Talk Cutlural Institute in Grawn, Michigan, from Housekeeping Monthly from May 13, 1955. The story is called "The Good Wife's Guide," and I swear I am not making this stuff up (I'm not that brave)...
On preparing to meet the man of the house after work."Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him." (Sounds reasonable to me... but read on.)
"Let him talk first--remember his topics of conversation are more important than yours." (Yeah, right...)
"Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you." (Mere suggestion of this type in my house would significantly raise the odds of my waking up under a pile of graphite fishing rod fragments...)
"Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or intergrity. Remember, he is the master of the house..." (At this point, I'm laughing too hard to think of anything witty to say.)
By contrast, consider the advice of Raymond Camp from his book All Seasons Afield with Rod & Gun, written in 1939:
"A properly tapered leader is just as essential to good casting and successful fishing as the rod, reel, line and the angler..." (Interestingly, he notes that good silkworm-gut leaders are hard to get because of the Spanish Civil War).
"The novice should avoid extremes in his first rod, both in the matter of action and price." (He notes that for a beginner, a $12-$15 rod is good enough).
"Water often wears a hollow in the lee of a large rock or boulder, and such a hollow often contains a nice fish." (True indeed.)
So there you have it. From the Ray Camp, good advice then; good advice now.
From the housekeeping magazine, perhaps good advice then; advice that if even remotely similar words came from my mouth in my wife's presence now, would produce a reaction only slightly better than self-immolation.
The moral of the story: Read more outdoor books and magazines, because fishing, and writing about fishing, are, when all is said and done, America's most reliable cultural compass.