By Howard Meyerson
One thing that can be said about fly fishing, despite the changes in gear, clothing and tackle over the last few decades, is it often becomes a passion for those who learn its charms. Where it once drew a genteel breed to rivers edge or an off-beat lot focused on fooling trout with feather bugs, its appeal is now enjoyed by a highly colorful, discordant audience made up of men and women, young and old, rich and poor, some raucous, some reserved.
That intertwining of times, styles and passions is the delightful theme in film called “A Kinetic Loop,” by Simon Perkins. It’s one of the highlights of the 9th annual Fly Fishing Film Tour which makes its 2014 Michigan debut in Grand Rapids at 7 p.m., February 7th at the Wealthy Theatre. Subsequent showings open in Royal Oak on February 20 at the Emagine Theater, and February 28 in Ann Arbor at the Michigan Theater.
“Fly fishing (back) then didn’t have a place in society; it was such a dark art and it was practiced all by old white guys…” opined fly fishing author and Orvis fly fishing staffer, Tom Rosenbauer. He is one of a few Orvis personalities who compare now and then and contrast the eras.
“We mostly used bamboo rods then if you were serious about it and the rods were something to really treasure,” Rosenbauer continued later in the video. “The best thing about fly fishing today is what makes it polar opposite to the best thing in the 70s. Now it’s in your face; its take no prisoners; we don’t care about tradition; and its young people and a lot more visible… And so, it’s an exciting time to be around fly fishing.”
“A Kinetic Loop” is a thoughtful, fun and funky look at some of the chapters in fly fishing history, full of archival footage: that deliciously spotty filmage of yesteryear. It is one of nine films showing in the two-hour presentation that repeatedly packs the house at Wealthy Theatre.
“There is a theme this year but it is no doing of ours,” said Doug Powell, one of the principals behind the tour. “It is a kind of respect for those who have come before. It wasn’t a goal when we set out to put together this year’s show, but it just sort of happened.”
Another great example is “50” Gold Cup Tarpon Tournament 50th” by Waterline Media. This documentary recounts the earliest origins of the celebrated Islamorada, Florida event which was 50-years-old in 2013. It is a truly delightful look at the tournament, told by several early competitors, clearly characters in their own right, and augmented with the stories of contenders today. This is must-see simply for the joy and respect it celebrates.
“North of Wild,” produced by Grey Ghost Productions, is another that touches indirectly on the same idea by juxtaposing the views of legendary fishing author, John Gierach, now his late-60’s, young fly fishing writer, Aimee Eaton, and Robin Reeve, a leading fly-angling authority in Labrador where the video was shot while hunting for magnificent brook trout.
North of Wild is a sojourn to a river where no one goes, a rare opportunity to fish new water for football-sized brook trout – in an area geographically found “on the border of wild and lost.” You’ll enjoy it.
Another of my favorites in the lineup is “Blood Knot,” by TwoFisted Heart Productions.
It is the story of two brothers, both fly shop owners in Virginia, who enjoy fishing for mountain brook trout, smallmouth bass, carp and musky in the Shenandoah Valley.
The blood knot, they say, is the fishing knot they learned as young boys, the best way to join two pieces of fishing line. It also represents the connection they have as family members, business partners and fishing buddies. Blood Knot is a winner in its simplicity and its human dimension – a story well told without an exotic locale, and without an excess of visual splash.
Not that fish-porn isn’t good, mind you. “320” the adventures of fishing guide, Jako Lucas, a native of South Africa, is terrific. Lukas has a quest to guide 320 days in a year. The video by Capt. Jack Films takes viewers to Seychelles, a 115 island country in the Indian Ocean east of South Africa, then on to Mongolia and Norway to fish for incredible species.
The action is fast-paced; the videography spectacular. Epic fish are caught wherever the
camera goes. “320” is a playful experience, full of astounding fly fishing footage. It’s not one to miss.
Tickets for the tour are available at theaters, local fly shops and online at flyfilmtour.com where you can see a variety of trailers and further details.
“We have a great mix of stories and species this year,” said Ryan Thompson, the tour manager. “There is a great blend of trout, saltwater pursuits, some anadramous fish and even carp and muskie to round things out. Some films, like “Blood Knot,” are more story-driven while others like 320 are action packed and will leave you salivating for a new 10-weight and a ticket to Seychelles.”
He’s got that right. Take the night off and go. You won’t want to miss the show.
This story appears on MLive Outdoors.