I know one should never look a gift horse in the mouth. But I need to have a talk with my friends and family before the holidays next year. I truly appreciate every “trouty” necktie my in-laws have ever given me. And the wall clock with dry flies is great. And the fish-shape wine corkscrew…the wet-fly lowball glasses…the splashing trout mouse pad…the fly-fishing doormat…the mailbox…and, especially, the “Women Want Me, Fish Fear Me” sweatshirt—it’s all wonderful. Thank you. Mother, this is the nicest sweater little Paul has ever gotten. But now as I look around my house, and even my sock drawer, I’m sensing a theme, and I think I may have professed my love for trout fishing a little too much. Not that I love trout fishing any less than I had before, mind you, but I’m not sure whether I need to literally wear it on my sleeve every single day.

Oh, we bring it on ourselves. Walk through any airport on any given day, and you’re bound to see a couple of middle-age men in robin-egg-blue Patagonia or lemon-color Simms flats shirts. Sure, half of the reason they buy these shirts is for functionality on the water, but the other, perhaps more important half (of which fly-fishing marketing people are keenly aware, but won’t publicly admit) is that these shirts—that look—allows those guys to project an image that says, “Hey! Look at me! I fly fish!”

And this is also exactly what younger guys are saying with their trucker hats and their beards that make them look as if they fell off a box of Smith Brothers Cough Drops. They’re saying, “Hey! Look at me! I fly fish!” while adding, “but I’m not an old guy in a flats shirt! (I wear plaid.)”

I know because I’ve been guilty of the same thing. I’m going to try something new, though: Wearing fishing apparel only when I’m fishing. In any other circumstance, I will attempt to look like a normal human being.

I might actually make it to next Thursday.