After a career of fighting corporate jargon, the language of fly fishing turns me on.
There are many reasons I love fly fishing. Stunning scenery. Splendid isolation. The fact that it’s called fishing, not catching, which tells you everything you need to know about the sport. And I love the language of fly fishing. Of course, there’s the technical language – the flies and bug hatches, the equipment, the water movement, the fish behavior. But I’m talking more about the figurative language – the colloquialisms, jokes, and stuff memes are made of. In short, the shit your guide says while instructing, inspiring, and chastising as you drift down the river trying to land a big brown trout.
Educated as a journalist, I also love words. I’m always trying to say what I need to say with as few well-chosen words as possible. My college English professor gave me a D for being too succinct. How is that even possible? Ironically, after the poor English grades, I went on to spend my career as a communications executive for a Fortune 500 financial services company…a complex, obscure, and verbose world. Corporate-speak spewed forth like projectile vomit from the mouths and emails of my colleagues. At least once a day, I stared blankly at a stiff co-worker struggling to explain a financial concept with too many acronyms and too many run-on sentences. Then I’d respond dryly with “I have no idea what you just said.” Sometimes I’d preface my remark with “I'm sorry, but…”
I wasn’t sorry though.
Then came fly fishing with a language all its own. Unlike big company hairball language, there was no pretense to sound more important than you really were. No attempt to hide what you don’t know. No monotonous conformity to gain the corporate stamp of approval. A good guide’s fly-fishing vernacular captures your imagination, stirs your enthusiasm for the sport, and embraces you with wit and warmth.
Also, it’s often dirty.
I’ve gathered and defined a few examples – some dirty, some not so much – here:
Brownsuasion: Describes the alluring buttery swirl of a brown trout beneath your dry fly.
Smash me: An imperative quietly uttered to telepathically command the fish to eat your dry fly or streamer (or whatever you’re throwing). Personally, I like to mutter, “Eat me,” under my breath when I’m waiting for that tug of desire on the line.
Lookin’ pretty chompity. Chomp me, bitches: Same as #2 above, but also describing especially attractive water where the trout bitches live. In this context, ‘bitches’ is neither used as a pejorative, nor is it only referring to female trout. Spoken with the utmost affection, it’s similar to how I might refer to my group of BFFs.
Life is too short to spend it catching rainbows: A highly judgmental statement implying that rainbow trout are somehow inferior to brown trout. I don’t agree with this judgement. I enjoy landing a big rainbow just as much as a big brown. Don’t let your guide rain on your rainbow parade with this statement.
Bow-bows anonymous: Describes a pod (gathering) of rainbow trout rising around your fly but not eating it. Eventually, one lone rainbow trout falls off the wagon, gives in to the temptation and eats your fly; your guide may refer to #4 above. Again, don’t let this dampen your sense of accomplishment.
This rod has a flexible tip and a meaty middle: Need I say more?
The 500 CFS drop makes ‘em even hornier: For the unfamiliar, CFS refers to cubic feet per second and is a measure of water flow rate. Generally, fish can be hard to catch in high, fast water, especially on the Missouri River. When the water level drops, fish start rising, which means they’re eating. Be ready for horny (hungry) bitches to smash you or chomp you.
When they come, they come hard: This warning from your guide prepares you for the climactic yank on your line. Be ready for a butterscotch troutgasm.
The list goes on. And on. I collected this sampling from just one day of guided fishing. We haven’t even begun to consider raunchy fly names like the Sex Dungeon, Meat Whistle and Two-Bit Hooker. That’s another blog post entirely.
Who knew fly fishing could be so...uh...stimulating?
Every guide has their own distinct language, terminology, and jokes, usually laced with sexual innuendo. Sometimes no innuendo at all. Just plain vulgar. But guides are adept at reading their clients and adjusting their banter accordingly so as not to offend…too much. You must admit this is way better than the jargon-filled tedium of corporate America. I’ll take a dirty trout joke any day.