This young man is featured in an ad for Louis Vuitton on the back cover of The New Yorker‘s recent “Style Issue”. He can scowl all he wants but I think he looks scared.
We can’t see what he’s scared of but I imagine that, having shown up for a sailing cruise with a pile of fancy matched luggage and stylish shoulder bag, he might not quite be up to the good-natured ribbing he’s taking from the crew. I know I’d be tempted to throw him overboard. Stylish or not, Thurston Howell VI there just doesn’t fit in, even if (or perhaps because) he has a silly gold anchor charm hanging off his pocket. Personally, I think he should ditch the tie and go with something a little more casual, like an ascot, but thank goodness fly fishers aren’t hung up on style, right?
Well, if The New Yorker can have a Style Issue so can The View from Fish in a Barrel Pond.
There are those who say golf was invented to keep a certain kind of person off the water. Of course, some also say fly fishing was invented to keep a certain kind of person off the links. These two are that kind of person, evidently kept off both water and links, forced to stand around by themselves, looking good.
Then, a random grab into a giant stack of old magazines reveals this guy. He not only looks the part, he also ain’t scared and he’s doing a bit more than just standing around.
He’s secure enough to wear a nice lavender shirt, but that’s about as fancy as this fellow gets. Denim dungarees and hip boots complete his ensemble, topped off by a sensible canvas cap. The bend in his rod tells you all you need to know about him, but what about more fashion-conscious anglers in 1956?
No one’s going to make fun of your outfit when you’re carrying a shotgun. Sharply pressed and squared away, the only teasing you’ll get will be behind your back, but not everyone buys clothes just for fishing or shooting, especially when what’s already in their closet will do.
That’s more like it! Pretty plaid flannel and a broken-in fedora still serve an angler well, even when kneeling in 18 inches of water, 10 feet from the base of an old mill dam. Fish on, pal!
No fancy clothes for that guy, even if he does have the most modern, up to date equipment. Fiberglass rods were the big thing in 1956 as manufacturers took advantage of new advances in materials and design and, at $24.99, a nice 8 1/2 foot fly rod from Wright & McGill cost less than a spinning rod!
It is no secret that outdoorsy folk run the risk of getting wet and rod manufacturers were not the only ones using modern materials to the benefit of anglers and others. In 1956, a spiffy vinyl rain suit could be had for less than five bucks!
That guy’s head and his toes are clearly not protected by this suit, despite their claims and, being vinyl, I have a feeling the only way one would outlast that 30 day guarantee would be to not be used at all. Besides, everyone knows that rubber is the way to go.
Even before they came out with their signature Chuck Taylors (which at one time were Quill Gordon’s wading shoe of choice), Converse was on the ball, with sporting footwear for anglers who just couldn’t fish from a chair on shore.
Hip boots and other stylin’ gear is fine for some, but surely there was something available for anglers on a budget who might find themselves in danger of getting seriously wet, wasn’t there?
Why, yes. Yes there was.
Designed only for short, medium and tall men who are light or heavyweight, these 14 pound one-piece wonders were yours for under ten bucks. I can virtually guarantee that when you walked by wearing one of these babies the last thing anyone was thinking was that your butt looked big!
As Opening Day approaches, don’t be like the guy on the back of The New Yorker, standing to the side wearing a fancy suit and a worried look. Dive right in, wearing whatever you’ve got, and don’t worry about what anyone thinks! I’ve seen folks on Fish in a Barrel Pond wearing garbage bags as rain pants (think MC Hammer) and I’ve seen guys wearing freshly pressed jeans during their big weekends with the boys. Does anyone really believe I would even consider making fun of them?
With the big day just around the corner, more and more folks are calling to make arrangements for the season ahead. There is an image in my mind of them, sitting in the den after a highball or two, dressed for fishing (except for the slippers) and fondling their rods as we chat, just like this guy in a Bell System ad.
That’s right, telephone now, but be sure to call after 6:00 when the rates are cheaper. In fact, why not wait until 7:30 or even 8:00? Have dinner and a couple of drinks first. The mighty helpful folks at your favorite lodge, camp or resort are sure to like that a lot.
The important thing to remember is to not drink too much of the Sauternes before heading out with the rubber wading suit on.