In this age of mass communication and the demographic melting of societies and cultures with constantly evolving trends in fashion, music, and values we are experiencing the emergence of an unique sub-demographic breed of anglers that has been around for years in the industry. There highly intelligent, product testers, industry and knowledgeable leaders of all products to tactical application on the water mastering various disciplines for today’s new age angler. With popular culture dictating the perceived image of fly fishing with their Hollywood depictions in films like “The River Runs Through It” has jaded audiences and anglers who feel they are misrepresented. Popular trends, social causes, and new young anglers are pushing the evolution of the sport into something that hasn’t been portrayed yet in popular culture. This existing subculture has transformed both the visual aesthetics of the sport, techniques, and culture. It is very forward thinking; embracing all disciplines of the sport into sought after consultants of the industry, The Free Agents! By mastering the craft while adding on their own unique style, they operate like an artist working on a canvas, they are methodical yet expressive of change. I recently observed an angler casting a spey line into the water and was taken back by the beauty of their cast. The line moved like a calculated brush stroke before it delicately lay on the water lighter than a feather. This new age breed of angler has moved beyond your typical fisheries and is actively searching for new untouched fishing spots. Traveling like nomads, they canvas areas in pursuit of all types of trophy fish. Even with their unorthodox methods, they still hold on to the overarching respect for the river and still carry on as respectful ambassadors to the river.
Their knowledge and practices are in sync with any weather conditions, fueled by their passion and endless search for their next big catch. Their style and approach is an odd juxtaposition, mixing lightheartedness and humor with a serious philosophical approach to their connection with nature. Fun loving yet serious, these anglers are not your typical Hollywood representation. The soundtrack to their adventure is performed by a soft fiddler but a mesh of hip hop, indie, and new age echoing through the canyons. While this new age breed of angler may seem relaxed and distracted, don’t be fooled; they are at the top of their game. They are sought out by industry like “Free Agents” of the sport! And knowledgeable of all products. They thrive as scholar anglers teaching only to the ones whom are open minded and humble to want to learn. This new age angler “Free Agents! look down upon the elite due to their closed minds and egotistical mannerism.
I recently had the opportunity to join a group of these new breed of anglers for an amazing, eye opening four day trip. The experience was unforgettable, observing these anglers in their element and embracing their style and approach while learning a new lingo vocabulary of a new age rising culture. We converged at the secret rally point deep in the canyons where they meet once a year for their annual trip. There I met an eclectic group of anglers from all over the country who all shared a deep respect for the river and a love for the sport.
The only way I could describe them is “submesh culture”. A mix of influences melted into a unique breed of angler. Untamed, raw, intelligent and leaders but yet incredibly respectful to the river and sport. They have seen and done it all and cannot be swayed by conventional media. They are unconventional and must be approached in such a way when marketing towards them. They know good products and exactly what they need. They are teachers and philosophers raised by the river, They cannot be deceived or settled. They are intelligent, experienced, and completely immune to traditional approaches to marketing. They can only be approached with respect and a mutual understanding. They respond to truth and authenticity and are very critical when receiving marketing messages. Similar to the bison, you need to take great care when persuading this group, they value authenticity and will not respond to manufactured messages. By gaining a thorough understanding of their culture and values you can appeal to their unique tastes for an effective response. But failing to respect and understand this culture could potentially alienate them from your messaging or even just you.
From the bayous of Louisiana, streets of New York, and back down to juke joints along the Mississippi, soul jazz has its own unique presence everywhere and shows no signs of stopping.
“Soul Jazz” refers to music with “an earthy, bluesy melodic concept” mixed with “repetitive, dance-like rhythms. I call it shelf music because just like good wine, it gets better with age. Case in point, Mr. George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic still keeping it alive!
Soul Jazz is inspired by the rhythms and sounds all around us. From the bustling urban streets to the tall majestic mountains and wild rivers, every region has a unique flavor that influences new minds and cultures, constantly inspiring innovation. But there are times when one reverts back to the old school way of doing things. Does the advancement of technology disenfranchise some and cause this phenomenon or is it simply nostalgia that keeps us going back to tradition? Cutting edge technological advancements are almost always welcome, after all they promise an improvement on existing technologies, improved performance, and better materials.
Take reels as an example. Hatch reels are technologically advanced in almost every way. Polished to perfection, they are an awesome reel to have in your arsenal whether chasing hard pulling saltwater species or the anadromous fish of the northwest. All around, they are a perfect blend of beauty and function.
Hardy reels, for example, are heavily sought out these days by dedicated new school anglers who desire a return to a simpler time with vintage, pre and post WW2 dated reels. Hardy reels are standing the test of time with new school anglers sporting them on the water and masterfully catching fish with both skill and style. From a young demographic that is always looking forward with innovation and style, it is a testament to the craftsmanship and reliability of Hardy reels that they are still being used and sought after today… and continue to perform as they did decades ago. After all this time they continue to hold true with simple, clever mechanics, gorgeous brass and agate fittings, and undeniable vintage style. By embracing history, the new school is bringing about the reemergence of vintage old school while bringing attention to what really matters in a reel; craftsmanship, durability, and reliability.
Images provided by: Brian Chou – Fly Angler/Photographer/Consultant THANK YOU!
Please welcome to Utah critically acclaimed national touring act Grace Potter and the Nocturnals!!! Come out for a night of fun and good music and help support the Utah Stream Access Coalition (USAC)!
Join us next Saturday 10/27/12 at The Depot in downtown Salt Lake City. You will need to get your tickets for this concert TODAY before it’s too late. Tickets are $50 and are available at Western Rivers Flyfisher in Salt Lake.
With each purchase of a USAC/Grace Potter ticket you will be entered to win in a drawing for a custom made SOUL RIVER Rod Reel Combo.
Known for his enthusiasm and passion for fly fishing, FFF certified casting instructor Brian Chou comes from a background of guiding and teaching. Through his classes, Brian has inspired countless students to pursue the evolving sport of fly fishing. His technical understanding of, and ability to articulate the theory of fly line and rod design makes him a sought after teacher and speaker at events throughout the northwest. A respected industry consultant and creative fly tier, Brian’s patterns are used worldwide. Residing in Portland, OR with his wife/fishing partner Dawn and their dog Bulkley, he spends the majority of his fishing time swinging for anadromous species with his double hander.
Brian also written an article about Skagit vs Scandi lines. You can find it here!
Featuring the SR Trucker Hat! Brian Chou swags with style on the river chase big fish! He say it bring him good luck! Check out the SR Trucker here!
Soul River recently attended an open house hosted by Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC). The WRC protects outstanding river ecosystems in the western United States. We acquire land to conserve critical habitat, provide public access for compatible use and enjoyment, and cooperate with other agencies and organizations to secure the health of whole ecosystems.
The open house was at their headquarters in Portland, Oregon but the organization works to protect the integrity of rivers in Oregon, California, Washington, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.. Soul River was honored to spend the evening learning about this fantastic organization and their future plans to expand out to protect waterways in the interior west and southwest.
Soul River was started, not as simply a fly fishing gear and apparel company, but as a vehicle for positive change in the fly fishing community. A conduit used to give back to a sport that has given me so much in my life and has taught me how to live. As a US Navy veteran suffering from PTSD, I struggled to cope with the pressures of returning to civilian life. It was an incredibly difficult and painful process, and when prescribed medication and therapy wouldn’t work, I felt lost, hopeless at times. Then I was introduced to fly fishing.
It was on the river that I finally found the balance and inner peace I had been so desperately seeking out. Fly fishing was much more than a sport to occupy my time, it was a way to find focus, connect with nature, and ultimately better myself as a healthy way to cope with stresses from the past. I discovered firsthand how important fly fishing is and how it can be a powerful force to inspire positive change in people’s lives. I understood that I now had a responsibility to share this with the world.
That is why giving back and helping veterans has been such an important pillar of our company. Since day one; first conversation, first meeting, and first draft of the business plan, this has been our primary mission; to share the therapeutic healing benefits of fly fishing with those who would benefit from it the most. Staying focused on that goal, we have been driven to use our resources and those of the generous fly fishing community to organize, mobilize, and inspire positive change to veterans while protecting the rivers that have given us so much.Over time, we were finally able to leverage our resources and connections Soul River has developed to create the River Ambassador Program, designed veterans and active duty military develop new skills and ways of responding to the inevitable stress that accompanies returning to civilian life while feeling respected and valued.While the organization had a noble cause, it is the people involved who make a difference and make it happen.
That is why seeing this all come to fruition has been truly rewarding and an unforgettable experience. From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank everyone involved that has volunteered their time and resources to help Soul River achieve our primary goal and make the River Ambassador program a success.
I would like to draw attention to some of our key partnerships who without their help, non of this would have been possible; the Wounded Veterans Fishing Program were instrumental in the process, helping us with logistics and finding soldiers to participate. We would also like to thank the helpful staff at the Bitter Brush Ranch for providing the spectacular location and comfortable accommodations. Lastly, we would like to thank the Northwest Steelheaders Association for their immense resources they contributed, fundraising skills, and ability to bring everyone together to make this a lively memorable experience for all involved. They also brought conventional fishing into the mix with their fishing guides and knowledge, allowing all veterans to explore conventional fishing as well as fly fishing.
I believe all our combined work out on the river over those four days was extremely important and everyone involved should be proud of his or her contributions to this incredible joint effort. I am tremendously proud of all the volunteers, partners, fishing and fly guides, sponsors, donors; everyone who stepped up and helped make this dream a reality.
Thank you for everything
Soul River-Runs Deep
The River Ambassador program, designed to help veterans and active soldiers develop new skills and effective healthy ways to respond to the stress from returning from battle to civilian life has just concluded the 2012 class. The four-day trip on the Deschutes River in Oregon’s beautiful high desert, included lessons in conservation, fly tying, casting, entomology, and nautical river navigation training. Participants were able to share knowledge, hone their skills, and make big steps to move forward in their healing process with healthy coping mechanisms.
We would like to thank everyone that was involved to help make this important program successful and help our valued veterans continue with their healing process. There has been a tremendous joint effort of volunteers, partnerships, fishing and fly guides , sponsorships and donors has had a role to participate in making the River Ambassador Program and success.
Thank you for your service Veterans and active service. And Thank you to all the Volunteers, Sponsors, Donors, Guides an Supporters.
Designed for: Utah Stream Access Collation
Contact: Mr. Scott Antonelli
Rod: St Croix 9” 5wt
Color: Dark Green
Thread : Green with silver metallic trim
Design By: SoulRiver – Chad Brown
Dear Chad and Soul River,
We at Utah Stream Access Coalition are amazed by this outstanding work of art from you and our friend Scot Antonetti. We are ecstatic about the donated Rod & Reel. Thank you for your willingness to help out Utah Stream Access Coalition. Your help, involvement, and enthusiasm for getting USAC’s message out to our local community is inspiring. It is truly awesome and very kind of you and to pitch in and help out the Stream Access issue here in Utah. I have to tell you how much I personally appreciate the help from you. I want to make sure on behalf of myself, and USAC just how much we appreciate your generosity. I really feel as though your contribution will be an asset to the whole rod and reel combo for auction. The finisher rod turned out very very well. Your help with the access issue is truly appreciated!
Thanks again and warm regards,
Awesome to connect with Jad Donaldson as he made time to come out after his three day Grand Rhonde guiding trip and share some time with Soul River meetup fly casting clinic! Jad Donaldson of Opportunity fly fishing displaying Spey techniques with Anne from the meetup group whom is interested in Spey. Thanks Jad for coming out.