I apologize in advance if this post offends you.

 If it does, you are probably the only hipster / fly fishing steelheader on Earth. 

On the bright side, congratulations, you have succeeded in your ultimate quest for irony.

It all started out innocently enough.  Steelie Mike loaned me his Echo Solo TH7129 earlier this winter, thinking I might enjoy it.  He was right.  I love it.  The rod is a joy for me to cast, matching my natural casting pace, and adding some length variety and a solid Skagit line tosser to my growing lineup of 7wt Spey rods.

What I didn’t know at the time was that several fish had already been hooked on this rod, but none had ever been landed.  I still don’t know the whole history, but the circumstances seemed to suggest that this particular rod was one of those magical/cursed pieces of fishing tackle that floats around the steelhead universe, bestowing mojo or breaking hearts wherever it goes.

I now suspect that Mike knew all about the rod’s “issues” and was trying to sabotage the rest of my winter.  I get it.  It’s just what buddies do. Whatever it takes to keep me off the books until the kelts are biting.

Anyway, it looked like his plans were working.  I went 0 for 4 on the rod over the course of several outings.  I was thrilled to be hooking up but getting a bit frustrated by the results.  I badly wanted to release a nice winter fish on my own terms.

That’s when I was told of the rods “issues”.   Was it cursed gear or was this loaner stick just frustrated at how it was being treated – passed around from angler to angler?  I thought:  maybe the rod could be suffering from some sort of lack of confidence.  I’d never heard of such a thing before, and I knew better than to try and reverse someone else’s bad mojo.  But it was getting to be a long winter, and I was getting to be a little crazy like I do in the rain, so I decided that something had to be done.

Enter one label maker and a slightly twisted sense of humor inspired by the endless parade of hipsters that I see outside my office window in downtown Portland.

One sticker.  A few words that I saw on a bumper sticker somewhere.  Suddenly Mike’s rod wasn’t just an ordinary fishing pole.  It became a custom machine, complete with warning label, ready to take on anyone or anything apathetically wearing skinny pants and riding a fixie.  And apparently also a steelhead or two.

Good things started to happen the next time out.  The Solo, brimming with confidence, went 2 for 2, including one really special (this is steelheader speak for BIG) wild buck.  The best part was that Mike got his payback for trying to sabotage my winter fishing.  He got to net both fish for me AND take the pics.

Hopefully this is only the beginning.

Oh, and Mike, if you are reading this, I don’t know if I’m going to give you the rod back.

Take care and fish on,

Matt K