Looking back on the years since TRS's inception, I realize that The Rusty Spinner doesn't provide its readers with the singular focus of so many other blogs. For example, Pike Adventures with Ken Capsey, A Matter of Life, Death and Fluffchucking, and Pike Fly Fishing Articles are (I think rather obviously) geared toward an audience of pike hunters - they're predators feeding on predators. Although increasingly global in its coverage, The Fiberglass Manifesto continues to maintain a keen eye on issues of importance to the fiberglass flyrodder. The most successful bloggers - if we are to measure success through followers, advertising, and page hits - have discovered and exploited their niche.
The Rusty Spinner lacks such singularity. I imagine that this blog and its purveyor must at times appear scatterbrained. One day I'll write about a recent steelhead trip. In the same breath, I'll post photos of a buddy's favorite hendrickson patterns, speak of my admiration for really big trees, and then use Fight Club as a metaphor. I suppose this is why, when compared to other better established blogs, I've such a small readership. I haven't a niche. I am fortunate, however, as the few readers I do have seem to come back time and again. The question is, "Why?"
And in this case I suppose the question may very well be the answer. I like to think that TRS offers its readers something that many other blogs may not. No, I do not write about how we fish. Too many other writers already do that, and many do it much better than I could ever hope. Instead, I like to think that I spend most of my time here writing about why we fish.
Why do we spend six hours behind the wheel to wet a line in a semi frozen river? Why do we need - absolutely and positively need - four different hendrickson patterns in three different sizes? Why might a nondescript tree that we've walked past a dozen times suddenly command our most rapt attention? Why do we so yearn to find kindred spirits, men and women who enjoy the sport as we do, but at the same time simply refuse to speak directly with them about the places in which we fish?
That is the question. Isn't it? Why do we do this thing we do?
Do we fish for the fish?
Do we fish for the places fishing takes us, and the sights we see when we're there?
Do we fish for the friendship, the camaraderie?
Do we fish for family - for a chance to be our fathers' sons?
We fish because we could not bear not to fish. Fly fishing is sustenance; each trip to the river or lake is just enough to see us through until the next trip to the river or lake. No, we're not tournament casters. We're not particularly accomplished tyers. We don't even wade particularly well, but every year we do the job just a little better than we did the previous year.
I suppose we fish not because we must master the fish or the river. We fish to master ourselves.