by Scott Sadil
I drove into the city this past weekend to catch an early showing of the 2022 Fly-Fishing Film Tour (F3T), headed right now, or sometime soon, to a theater near you.
If you haven’t yet attended one of the annual F3T screenings, by all means, get a ticket, grab your mask, proof of Covid vaccination, and a picture ID, and see for yourself what the excitement is all about.
If you have attended in the past, you’ve probably already made up your mind whether you’re going to brave another.
Don’t get me wrong: I like a good midwinter stoke as much as anyone. This year’s showing also reminded me of my own 15 minutes of fame on the silver screen. Actually, it was more like five minutes, the length of the original trailer. And it was only my voice, not my face or any fishing antics, that made the final cut – much to my (and everyone else’s) relief.
Even then, I’m not sure how much I want to share.
Oh, all right.
About a dozen or so years ago, when the quality of fly-fishing videos suddenly took a big leap forward, I was interviewed by some fellows who were part of this new wave. They were making a film about steelheading. Near a river not far from home, I rattled on and on about the pleasures and pain of the sport, how it can get tough now and then, but for some reason you keep at it.
I lost touch with the project; these guys operated in a world of exotic travel and seemingly high-powered sponsorships, far removed from my quiet writing life. But sometime around the release of the film, I was sent a link to the trailer and — what do you know? — there was my voice, there were my actual spontaneous words, pitched dramatically to entice viewers to plunge into the action and adventures ahead.
Crucial to this merry tale is that I had a girlfriend at the time whose older brother was a well-known actor; he starred in films and even a television series that most of us are familiar with. Expecting to impress her, I shared the trailer via email.
I was still teaching in a high school at the time. It must have been during a prep period, with no students in the room, when I checked my email and saw a reply from my girlfriend. (I say girlfriend; we were both practically senior citizens, but you know what I mean.) Her response got straight to the point. I may be paraphrasing, but only slightly.
“I always thought fly fishing was a contemplative activity: rivers, scenery, the fish. Meditative. I wasn’t aware that it was supposed to imitate a gang rape.”
It took me a while to get over this. A lot longer, in fact, than it took to part ways with the woman who proffered this pointed review. Raised on surf movies, I understood full well the all but – what? – pornographic element of this particular school of film making. No doubt, that’s exactly how it can look, and not only to an outsider.
You may or may not be happy to hear that, at this year’s F3T, a lot of things haven’t changed.
Gray’s Angling Editor Scott Sadil has lived without a television in his house for 25 years. His students used to ask him what he did at night.