In many cases, the American patriotism associated with fly-fishing, assumes an air of elitism. One writer states that “it was on American streams that fly casting as an art in itself began to assume a place of special importance” (Brooks, 1985 p. 19). In a similar sentiment another well-know professional angler suggests that “well traveled American fly fishermen are the most accomplished practitioners of the sport on earth” (Lee, 1998 p. 19). In comparison the author mentions his “impression of the typical British angler as being rather staid” (Lee, 1998 p. 245). It is clear that some differences developed over the years in the type of equipment used here versus over the pond. One author talks about the different length fly-fishing poles used by British and American anglers, and has a clear bias towards the shorter lighter rods used in the states (Brooks, 1985). Whether all the chest thumping really matters is another question.
If we look today at the general status of trout fishing in the United States and the role of economic and social status, no single individual or event represents the so-called smoking gun to prove discrimination. However, the cumulative efforts of many wealthy and politically-connected people managed to remove from the public trust large segments of the country’s most desirable and fishable waters. The funds to acquire these lands came from many different sources, but certainly a sizable portion can be directly linked to commercial and industrial activities that caused more environmental damage than was ever rectified by preserving rivers through privatization. We will never know the true intentions or motives for many of these millionaire’s actions, but it is hard to argue many of these affluent anglers deserve the modern label of environmentalists. The role that social aspirations and desires for upward mobility played cannot be ignored. It seems much more fitting to describe these fishy folks as elitists. In a country where wealth, success and happiness are such interconnected concepts, it is interesting to think how much of our traditions are inherited from Europe.