Anglers: How Do You Know if You’re on Santa’s Naughty List?

With Santa set to take off in only a few short days, I know many of us fly anglers are shaking in our boots. We tried to be good all year, but we might have slipped now and then. Many of us simply don’t know which list we’re on, “naughty,” or “nice.”

Well I know Santa Claus. He’s a friend of mine. In fact, we fish together (we usually make a tarpon junket to the Keys in May). And he told me what to watch for:

If you threw rocks in the river (or lake) when your buddy was fishing, that was naughty. If you took at least one person fly fishing who had never done so, that’s an automatic spot on the nice list. Dropping a size #22 parachute Adams on the surface of your child’s goldfish tank is naughty (even if you are on a carp kick).

If you watched another angler struggle at some point this year, then offered them your magic bug, nice. If you cut off the hook before you did that, naughty. Misleading directions, too many fish you won’t eat now freezer-burned, poking holes in others’ waders, naughty, naughty, naughty.

A lot of you guides out there are in trouble. Positioning Mr. Loud Mouth Know-It-All Client in a spot where he has to hoof a double-weighted nymph rig with an oversized yarn indicator into a 20-mph headwind is very, very naughty. Unless you did that at the request of his wife, which would make that nice.

Not freezing or bleaching your felt boots is naughty (Santa is very concerned about didymo). Sharing your lunch with a fishing buddy who forgot his, nice. Telling him that you made an “extra sandwich,” when in fact his is the one you forgot in your truck last Tuesday, kind of naughty.

Breaking your buddy’s Tenkara rod when you try to catch a northern pike with it, that’s naughty. Breaking your buddy’s rod by stepping on it by accident isn’t naughty at all, but letting your buddy use that rod to tie into a 23-inch brown on a dry fly, then explaining why his rod breaks at that point, well, that is.

Taking photos of yourself holding trophy trout (but not telling anyone that the photo was taken when you were planting the fish IN the river) is just dirty. Carp fishing is nice.

Contrary to popular opinion, worm fishing is not naughty, but dunking nymph flies in scented goo is. The San Juan Shuffle… very, very naughty. Teaching kids to cast, very, very nice.

And the one thing that automatically absolves any naughtiness and puts fly fishy people on Santa’s nice list is reading “Fly Talk.”

So I just wanted to thank you all, and let you know that you are in the clear. Here’s wishing you and yours the best of holidays and a happy, healthy, very fishy New Year!