He has a serious problem, this man. Some would call it a sickness. He’s a junkie of the worst kind and he knows it, lying and cheating to get what he needs, reckless in the pursuit of his much-needed fix.
He is the Streamer Addict. Bunny fur and Marabou drive him wild. River. Lake. Crappy urban pond. Anytime, anywhere—when he needs it, he needs it. Casting like he’s shooting a 12-gauge, his presentation is anything but delicate. Stuffing it into the rocks on the far bank. Flipping it out there. His flies hit the water like depth charges, sending feeble specimens fleeing in terror.
He serves it up simple and the fish respond like any well-evolved creature: fight or flight. You’ve seen him, fishing by himself, laughing, screaming, and leering at you on the water. Moving quickly around your position, you can’t help but wonder what he’s up to. Stripping wildly, cursing, all the while that smug-ass grin spread across his face.
The junkie covers lots of water, while you stand in the same hole for three hours. The afflicted tosses a middle finger to tradition. Sunny? Midday? Hatch? The junkie doesn’t care. All day, every day, chump. His box of flies looks like a truck hit the Muppet band. He talks in tongues about “applying the voodoo,” “street-fighter flashes,” and “30-foot handshakes.” And who wears a stripping basket on a trout river anyway?
But it’s not easy, being a dedicated fiend. There are slow days, too. Tough days. Frustration. Stripping till the arm hurts. Crazy action with no hook-ups. Sticking to the guns is sometimes difficult. But then there are the other days, where the junkie’s as high as a Georgia pine. He’s kind of a dick, really, laughing at the sad faces you make as he strips one through the run you just flogged and then lifts the local thug out of the water to show what you missed. You ask what he’s throwing, and can only muster a confused gaze when you see the size of it. “Is that a saltwater hook?” you stammer. “And what’s with the fighting butt?” The junkie just smiles, eyes glazing.
To many, he makes no sense. Breaks all the rules. A step away from spin fishing, some say. They just don’t get it. But perhaps it’s better that way. Many just don’t have the fortitude for the charms of streamer fishing. Best you just stick to your little bugs and 6x. As you part ways with the junkie, he flips you a five-inch fly with huge red eyes like his own. He staggers off, and with a booming laugh says, “First one’s free kid, now shorten up that leader and get in there!”
Feelio Babar lives in a cave outside Aspen.