1) Because there’s just something about a dude wearing camo, holding a bloody bear carcass. (Headline inside: “Do Goldilocks a Favor.”) Sure, you might not ask him to take your SATs for you, but when your gutless little hippy car slides off the road in a snowstorm, guarantee this dude rolls up in an F350 and pulls your pansy ass out.
2) Because no newspaper or magazine does a better job of destroying the image of flyfishing as an elitist sport. F&H News clearly does not give a shit how you get your fish: “Mepps, Panther Martins, or stripping Woolly Buggers are all working well in the lower river.” And they do it without even trying.
3) When you just want to know where the damn fish are, there’s a map, directions, and a quote by Al from Al’s tackle shop (1-ALS-BIG-FISH), “Well, Larry’s out on the Lake right now, and if he ever comes back in…”) And for some reason, all the how-to, where-to fishing stuff they have doesn’t make my ass itch like it does when I see it everywhere else. Maybe because it’s delivered in such a folksy, low-brow way. But whatever, it just seems to fit.
4) I’d be willing to bet that no other publication is responsible for more anglers crossing over from bait or spin fishing to flyfishing than F&H News. The ads make it crystal clear who the publishers feel their readers are—Cabela’s-shopping, treble-hook-toting, jet-boat-owning, handgun-packing, Nitro-bait-using, trolling-motor meatheads. Yet if you actually read the thing, almost every fishing article is a flyfishing, not a baitfishing story. But there is not one single flyfishing advertiser in most F&H News. (Gamakatsu is in there, but the ad is for jig hooks and 2X trebles.)
5) And the best thing? Because no matter where you are fishing out West, chances are good that you can roll late-night into some backwater 24-hour gas station, pick up that last nasty corn dog that’s been sitting under a heat lamp for the past six hours, and find F&H News in the mag rack with an up-to-date (at least within the past couple weeks), rundown of what’s working on a nearby, below-the-radar river. Plus it doubles as a campfire starter.
Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.