It’s no secret that fly anglermen amuse me to no end. The follies and antics displayed by the hoards of foolish humans, while laughable and pathetic, are nonetheless something I value. I’ll gladly take whatever comes my way, but those that get paid to bring me sport (at no cost to me) deserve a special bit of attention. As a rare token of my gratitude I have opted to occasionally showcase the cream of the crop—the fools of fools—the fly angling guides.
With me today in the hot seat today is Joe Willauer, the voice behind Evolution Anglers. He allegedly guides not only for himself, but for some fellow who calls himself Rooster (at the Stonefly Inn & Outfitters in Montana) and for some other guy who goes by the name of Brazda (during the late winter/early spring for steelhead on Washington’s Olympic Penninsula). But enough about Joe’s tendency to work for whomever will hire him, let’s get through this as quickly as possible.
RH-B: Where are you from and where do you live now?
I am from Central Washington and now live in Twin Bridges, MT
I hear the wind blows in Central Washington, and so does the brown trout fishing.
RH-B: How did you get into the guiding game, and how long have you been at it?
This is my 10th year as a fishing guide, spending 5 on the Yakima, 5 around Twin Bridges, and winters guiding steelhead. I got into guiding first on the Yakima when I went to college at CWU (Go Wildcats!). I started working as a shop guy for The Evening Hatch, and then began guiding the following summer.
Five years spent guiding on the Yakima River, and not a single brown trout to show for that time. I imagine if you could go back in time 10 years you might choose something else to do with yourself rather than having wasted 5 years of it on that pathetic, brown-less ditch.
RH-B: Do you remember your first trip as a guide? If so, what made it memorable?
My first trip as a guide was part of a big corporate trip, and I had two guys who had never been fly fishing. I just remember one of them catching his one and only fish within sight of the take out, and being relieved we didn’t get skunked.
Unfortunately we cannot overlook the fact that you likely turned that client away from fly fishing forever because you could only put him on one fish all day. You probably did him a favor.
RH-B: Have you ever put a client onto a hawg brown, and if so, how big?
I’ve seen my fair share of Hawg browns, but the most recent hawg was a 24” brown on some local Montana small water. The thing crushed a Zuddler several times before we got it to stick.
Your answer is evasive. You did not state whether or not you got a client into a Hawg, only that you’ve seen your fair share of Hawg browns. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you did put a client on the fish in question. Perhaps consider sharpening the hook next time. It shouldn’t be so difficult to stick a little 2 foot trout.
RH-B: What’s your favorite color?
Wrong. The correct answer is ‘Brown’.
RH-B: As a guide, what do you do on your day off?
Go fishing of course!
Seems a bit selfish to me. Perhaps you should consider spending more time reading or tending to your Honey-Do list. I hear the wives of fly angling guides are a lonely lot.
RH-B: What’s the biggest brown you’ve ever caught?
About 6 lbs, on a John’s CFO Hopper
I suppose a 6-lb brown isn’t bad considering you hail originally from a state without a decent brown trout fishery. But I think you can do better. Or, perhaps maybe you can’t. Hoppers, pfffttt. Only sub-standard fish waste the energy to rise to the surface. A true Hawg lies under his cut bank and waits for it to come to him. Rising fish are weak. Fishing dries indicates a character flaw.
RH-B: Dry, nymph, or swing meat?
All of the above, but if I can choose, dries or streamers.
Such a predictable answer. Of course any fly anglerman is going to say that. I’m was hoping for some integrity here, and the honest answer would be a pegged bead smothered in Powerbait. I sense a pattern of dishonesty developing here.
RH-B: Do you see yourself guiding 10 years from now?
Right. I’ll come back in ten years and ask the same question.
RH-B: If you’re targeting Hawg browns, what is your setup? Be specific with your choice of rod, reel, line, etc. And why do you choose this gear, specifically? (good warranty? Cost? Reliability?)
My current hawg-brown set up is a Scott S4 9’6” 6wt with a Nautilus FWX 5/6 and a Airflo Ridge Supple Impact. I love the Scott because it has the backbone to turn over the big streamer and nymph rigs that you need for getting big fish, but is light enough to fish all day. The Nautilus is a good solid reel, and I love Airflo lines because they are very durable, and outlast any other line by a long margin.
Oh, that’s rich. A 6 weight. Seriously? I suppose you’d bring a dull butter knife to face down an opponent who’s brandishing a fully automatic assault rifle? As far as being ‘light enough to fish all day’, it sounds like your upper body is weak. I will commend you for your taste in reels–I love the drags on those Nautilus: they smoke slowly, like a fine La Gloria. Until Airflo issues a Cut Bank Hawg Impact line with the tensile strength of parachute chord, I won’t be impressed.
RH-B: Do you have a nickname, and if so what’s the story behind it?
Ooooh, kay…We’re out of time and frankly I’ve grown weary of this discussion.
I am Roderick Hawg-Brown, and I speak the truth.