How to Eat a Fly Rod

The Cuban bass crisis, wise wading, good wood.

Field & Stream Online Editors

I found the cover of your June issue interesting. It showed some guy crossing a stream with a fly rod in his mouth, but he was biting down on the graphite part of the rod rather than the cork handle. I don't know about you, but I'd never bite down on the graphite part of any of my rods.

Curt Todd
Littleton, Colo.

Rod chomping is strictly an individual matter. Some anglers object to fang marks in their hand-shaped Portuguese-cork grips, and others prefer a good grip hold, fearing that a forceful bite in a moment of passion will produce a mouthful of high-modulus graphite splinters.
-The Editors

We Blush
In a brief moment of true irony I find myself writing to you about Cheers & Jeers. I often read the rants of individuals whose grain has been rubbed the wrong way, and I glean a sick sense of pleasure as I render a mental image of those folks turning three shades of purple over an improperly used Native American word or a lack of alligator-hunting articles. However, it is the replies from the writers and editors I enjoy most. In a world that feels obligated to tiptoe around sensitive issues, Cheers & Jeers holds nothing back. It brings me back to deer camp with sarcastic and backhanded comments bound by an underlying camaraderie.

Alex Joseph
via e-mail

Stuff This!
The truth is, no matter what spin you want to put on it, trophy hunting boils down to ego and self-gratification. Does Tom McIntyre ("Dead Heads," June) truly believe all his stuffies are going to accompany him on some kind of celestial voyage? Okay, I agree that taxidermy can in fact prolong our sense of awe and respect, but at what cost, and for whom?

If this is not about ego and self-gratification, tell me who, after you depart, will truly appreciate your trophies' collecting dust? As a hunter I believe that eating the flesh of animals is necessary for the survival of our being, and if you're successful, great, take a trophy as a reminder of the gift given. But please, don't tell us you went on a safari because you were going hungry.

Mark Stevens
Wisconsin

Holier Than Usted?
While you claim to hold to higher standards than the law requires for hunting and fishing, you apparently have no problem advocating fishing in Cuba ("¿¿Mucha Trucha Grande!") in clear violation of the rules governing that activity. Just an observation. I advocate smoking pot and cheating on your taxes.

Hubert Smith
via e-mail

Our "blockade" of Cuba has long been pretty much of a farce. How many tons of Havana cigars come into the United States each year despite the fact that they're prohibited? As for smoking dope and not rendering unto the IRS what is due the IRS, we're not going near that. -The Editors

The Even More Complete Outdoorsman
Your list of essential outdoor skills may well be the most informative and educational piece Field & Stream has ever printed. I consider the list to be quite comprehensive, but I'd like to share three more that I've picked up in my 50-plus years afield:

1. When you get a new vehicle, your first step should be to find the place where you will hide a spare key. The need for this will become apparent the first time you realize that your keys are in your hunting coat, which is inside your locked car.

2. Perfect the art of sneaking a new rifle, shotgun, or rod and reel into the house without your wife's being aware of it. Lack of expertise in this covert maneuver can result in devastating legal fees.

3. Cultivate the careful selection of your hunting and fishing partners. This is often a decision with lifetime consequences. Safety, humor, and dependability should be foremost on your list of qualifications.

Jim Nichols
Billings, Mont.

The fellow shown in Skill #50 in June's "The Complete Outdoorsman" is asking for a good dunking. Facing downstream provides the least amount of resistance to the current. Having spent 50 years in the backcountry, and having done numerous stream measurements as part of my job, I'd like to contribute the following:

Cross facing the far bank; that will give you the greatest degree of stability. Your wading stick should be very sturdy and as tall as you are. It should be grasped with both hands, one at waist height and the other above the chin. When possible, cross two at a time, clutching your inside hands and holding the poles with your free hands. Be wary of crossing where the stream makes a turn; the water may be shallow where you start but will assuredly be faster and deeper near the bank on the far corner.

Keep up the good work.

Ralph Saunders
Billings, Mont.

Regarding "The Complete Outdoorsman," I'd like to see the author of Skill #21 split a cord of wood "at a right angle to the grain," as he says. Logs are cut crosswise into blocks, but blocks are split with the grain.

P. Dale Johnson
Santa Ana, Calif.

Reader Johnson is correct. You whack that wood with the grain when you want to split it. -The Editors

Boy, Oh Boy
Bill Heavey's "Stir Crazy," while hilarious, left me feeling curious as to why little Emma wasn't out on the water with Bill, hence resolving the "I can't go fishing" dilemma. If Emma had been a boy, would she have been allowed to go along?

George Gooley
South Portland, Maine

Bill Heavey replies: I don't know which would be worse-having 3-year-old Emma thrashing around in the fishhooks or hitting the water like a well-trained Labrador, seeing how long it would take her to drown. Three years old is 3 years old, male or female.