When I worked in a fly shop - a time in my life that is lately much on my mind - I was frequently asked mundane questions about the most mundane aspects of bug chuckin'. It was just the nature of the job. New fly fishers ask new fly fisher questions.
At times I found the questions tedious, but the people asking them were usually sincere and well intentioned so I always did what I could to offer my help. From time to time, I couldn't help myself and tried to have a little bit of fun with folks - usually the shop regulars who were used to some good natured ribbing.
My waders are leaking. How do I patch them?
I wouldn't know. Our shop's waders never leak. You should buy your next pair from me.
Are you a swinger or do you nymph for steelhead?
That's a conversation you need to have with your wife.
How long have you been fly fishing?
Eleven days. No ... twelve. Twelve days as of this morning.
Do you have a favorite knot for connecting fly to tippet ... tippet to leader ... leader to line ...?
While I suppose it's possible that you've never heard of the Probably Knot, I can say with absolute certainty that you've used it from time to time. The Probably Knot is often the knot of choice for angling neophytes and experts alike. Sometimes, the Probably Knot is the only knot a fisherman knows how to tie. The Probably Knot is neither a Bimini Twist nor a Blood Knot. It's not a Palomar or Perfection. It's not an Albright or an Improved Clinch, and it sure as hell isn't a Surgeon's Loop. It's none of these, but at different times it steals bits and pieces from each.
The Probably Knot is the knot we tie when we're in the final three hundred yards of a twelve hour float. It's the knot we use when we can't control our excitement at the oversized snout slowly sucking spinners from a foam line. It's the knot we're most likely to tie just moments before stinging the largest fish of our lives. It's almost invariably the knot we use when we blink into the rapidly darkening sky as we try desperately to tie on a #18 trusty-rusty before the light fails completely. The Probably Knot is the knot we're most likely to use at both the dawn and dusk of our angling lives.
What's best about the Probably Knot is that it doesn't derive it's strength so much from the principles of chemistry or the laws of physics as it does from an angler's hope. Hope may not have 100% breaking strength, but as Emily Dickinson once penned, "Hope is the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul."
The strength of the Probably Knot comes from the soul - from an angler's faith that the knot will work when the angler needs it to work. Wars have been fought and won - whole nations have been conquered by faith. If given a choice between fluorocarbon and faith, I'll take faith every time.
But for those of you for whom faith is never enough ...