"That Guy" with the "Secret Fly"

I'll show you my fly, but then I'll have to kill you

Uncle Ken's Secret Ninja Wooly Bug

I think in every industry or sport there is "That Guy."  In golf, it's the dude who always kicks his ball into the fairway and conveniently forgets what shot he's on and always ends up beating you by one.  In fishing, it's the guy who is adamant about counting fish and knowing who is in the lead, even though he disappears out of sight for an hour or so and comes back and says "All on top.  All over 20."  Then there is the guy who has that "secret" fly pattern that he won't share with anyone because it's so damn effective that it would ruin every fishery due to catching so many fish.  Many times, these "secret" flies are no secret at all like Uncle Ken's Peacock King, or Wooly Bug.  These "heroes" or "one uppers" exist in all facets of life, and I'm glad they do because they provide me much entertainment.  Here are some prime examples.

Uncle Ken's patented secret "Peacock King."  Griffith's What?

I was sitting at a fly tying expo last year when "that guy" walked up to me.  He was decked out in a casting shirt, zip-off wading pants, a lanyard around his neck, and a wading staff.  He was ready... to fish look at some flies.  He walked right over to me and asked "HEY, uhhh, do you know what it takes to patent a fly?"  I kind of went into what it would take to patent a fly, and the reasons why not many people try it.  He cut me off mid sentence, and told me that he had a secret fly that he had been tying and fishing that had produced "54 fish in the last 3 days," and that it needed a patent.  It was that point when I realized that he was "that guy."  I told him that he was lucky that he had such a great pattern, and talked to him for about 20 minutes.  He sat in front of me and watched me tie some of my original creations, and after each whip finish he would let me know that he ties something EXACTLY like it, and that he has boxes full.  You go girl.  That interaction made my day.

A few years back, I was working in a fishing shop while I was between jobs and I was constantly amazed at one of the shop owners.  Here was one of the best fly anglers-tyers that I have met and he would provide friendly service to everyone, even if they were there to teach him a "lesson."  He taught me a lot of patience, and how to deal with the constant one-uppers.  One day, one of our regular customers (an avid ice angler, and black-belt one-upper) who I was confident had never tied a fly before, sat at the back of the shop and chatted with me while I spun up some wooly buggers for the bins.  As I was wrapping some hackle on one of the buggers, he started to tell me how he had tied hundreds of dozens of flies for shops back in the day.  My response was "You know what?  I've been tying flies for a long time, but I always struggle when it comes to tying the wacky hackle technique.  What do you suggest?"  He assured me that I would get the hang of it once I had tied for a few more years, and that one day, I would be the master of the wacky hackle.  That interaction made my day.

The secret fly of River-X.  The Grumpy Frumpy
Working at the fly shop was a great experience, and one certain "interaction" has made me think back and laugh many times.  This guy was on a mission, and he was sure that he was going to stump yet another fly shop in his quest to find his "secret fly." I greeted him and asked if I could help, he got really close and whispered "uhh, well, it seems like no fly shop will be able to help me find what I want, but I guess I'll give you a try."  He said (still whispering) that he had been fishing what we will call River-X with a secret fly that he was only able to find in a shop in Vernal, UT.  Little did he know, Vernal is my home town, River-X is my favorite river, and there was also a really good chance that I had tied the actual "secret" fly with my own bare hands.  BUT, I couldn't just volunteer all of that information right off the bat because then I turn into "THAT GUY!!!"  But I digress...  I tried to get a description of the pattern, and he was saying stuff like "little hangy offy thingy in the back," and "some fluff coming off the front." Not helping.  Then he said "some guys call it the Frumpy Grumpy." Yahtzee!  He was fishing my fly, on my river even though he got the name backwards (no, I didn't correct him).  I told him that I knew River-X very well, and I that I just might have the fly he was speaking of (we had about 5 bazillion Frumpies).  He wasn't convinced until I led him to the bin.  He was utterly amazed/disappointed that he beheld his "secret" fly in a bin that was being sold to the masses!  To cap it off, I said "I know the guy who developed this pattern really well; in fact, I sleep in the same bed with him."  He looked at me like "What the $#&&* did you just say??"  It was great, and the rest of the shop enjoyed it as much as I did.  He laughed about it after I let him in on the joke, and left the shop with a fist full of Grumpy Frumpies.  That interaction made my day.

The funny thing about all this, is that we all have a little bit of "that-guy" in us.