Last year, Missoula set the F3T attendance record of 950. Check out my review of last year's show. This year, our town topped that with a record of 1100 attendees. The night started at the Grizzly Hackle for some beers and BBQ. I met up with Matt Breuer, the guys from FCFT (Zach, Stan, and Anthony...and Zach’s girlfriend Manda), and follower of the blog and retired USFS hydrologist Sully. After the pre-party and some good conversation, we headed over to the Wilma and snagged some good seats.
Here are my apparently long winded thoughts on this year’s films:
Riding High: A Season on the Fly - For the second straight year, the guys at Waterline Media opened up the Missoula F3T show. And for the second straight year, they produced an absolute monster of film. It follows the migration of tarpon from the lower Keys to the Panhandle and some of the anglers that chase them. With 90 days on the water and 15 TB of footage, every second of the film was stellar. Great opener to the show. Top 2, if not top 1 (aka favorite), film in the tour this year. The images, editing, and music was spot on.
Side Note: Someone needs to get that dog under control. Real fishing dogs maintain some level of self restraint (see anything Wilma does in any of my videos).
Sipping Dry - I have been looking forward to seeing Sharptail Media film on the big screen for 2 months (when the trailer was released). I was excited to see a film about the mighty mighty Missouri and it’s world renowned dry fly fishing. A river that I have fished numerous times and am always trying to figure out how to make the 2 hour trip from Missoula back there. I have something to admit, I haven’t fished the Mo during any semblance of a hatch. Shame shame shame on me. Perkins captured the spirit of Craig well and “that release shot” was stunning on the big screen. Besides the on point visuals of sipping 20+ inchers, Mark Raisler (S.O.L) and John Arnold (scumliner) from Headhunters were the stood out in the film (I might be a little biased). Line after line after line about the hatches, trout bums, and trout of the Missouri. You can’t beat Mark’s line - “Be careful who you bring here. Don’t bring your young children here or your teenagers here because you might alter their life and they are not going to become a doctor or an attorney, if they get hooked on this deal. It’s game over.” Top 3.
If I am being honest, the trailer might have been too good. It might have given away too much. Maybe I watched it too many times. The lines didn’t have the same pop they had the first, second, third, and fourth times around. I think it’s because I watched it too many times.
Geofish: A Mayan Prophecy - Another “backcountry” adventure from the MOTIV guys. Last year, it was vegetable oil cars. This year, it’s drug roads and landlocked tarpon. I didn’t know land locked tarpon existed. Tarpon that have never swam in saltwater. A novel concept. This flick was more a story of the journey to a unique fishery than the unique fishery itself. Solid film.
Hatch - Gin Clear Media’s submission for the 2012 F3T. This was the first fly fishing film to be filmed on a RED camera. A pretty big deal. The camera work was next level greatness. Some of the more ridiculously filmed dry fly takes I have seen. In many ways, it felt like I was watching a nature documentary that David Attenborough should be narrating. The cut was much shorter than the cut from the Promo DVD. It was a slower moving film that I think was hurt by the fact that there were so many more high action (read: adrenaline pumping) films preceding it.
Clearly B.C. - Fall Bullies - Many people may have seen this film by Todd Moen in the recent Catch Magazine. I liked it the first time. The second time, I started to lose interest. The visuals were great, but it lacked the story that the others had. The big fish were there, but something was missing in comparison to the others. It certainly didn’t help squash my desire to catch a monster bull trout. Alberta/B.C. here I come.
Reverb - Last year, RT’s submission was Zero 2 Hero. The Musky Movie. Big fish. Fish of 10,000 casts. Great characters and a great closing scene with a monster fish. This year's RT film is about a group of elder punk rockers who spend their off time on the water’s of the Driftless Region fly fishing for it’s trout. I personally didn’t connect with this film. But, I know that many people will. The visuals and graphics were spot on as always with RT’s productions. But, the fishing didn’t excite me and I didn’t connect with the characters. I don’t pay a great deal to sponsors unless shots of their products are displayed prominently in the films. Which leads me to the question: Is Orvis punk rock? (I hope that question doesn’t prevent my edits from making the Friday Film Fest)
Doc of Drakes - I am going to come out right and say it. Best film of the tour. Even though I saw it more than my fair share of times when it was part of the Drake 5 minute film festival. A great story and one great fish cannot be beaten. While the visuals don’t compete with the likes of Riding High and Hatch, the story of a 83 year-old doctor with Parkinson’s fishing the March Brown hatch with a dedicated and patient guide and the massive reward for that patience could not be beat. The crowd was engaged through the whole short. Obviously rooting for Doc to find success, the entire theater unleashed a deafening roar when Doc caught his Silver Creek monster. Cheers to Bryan Huskey.
Here's how the crowd reacted to the Doc of Drakes:
The Arctic - RA Beattie is a kung fu fly fishing video master. The Arctic is another great one. Monster Arctic Char and Lake Trout. Stunning visuals. A damn good soundtrack (which he always seems to keep under lock and key). Some Gierach sprinkled in. Sometimes, RA's stuff can seem like a SIMMS ad. There were a couple shots that were overly SIMMS-ed out. Top 3. Can I have four videos in the top 3? Answer: Yes. I am the boss of this review.
Fly: a Legacy - I will be honest, in a crowd filled with roudy fly fishing Missoulians and having chosen a seat super close to the speakers, I can’t give a fair review of Ronnie Goodwin’s submission. It was story heavy and fish light. I couldn’t hear the narration and as a result, I can’t give it a fair review. I will say this, the young man’s casting face was quite amusing. It was a combination of squinting and constipation.
Right on It: The Get Lost Project - Bonefishing in Bahamas. This film had it’s moments, namely the first half. I didn’t get the second half. It became more like a weird friendship music video. Kudos go to the pair of big bones that they showed in the first half. You (the bonefish) were big and you deserve credit for being such successful eaters of food.
The Kodiak Project: Fly Fishing in the Land of the Giants - Beautifully shot, this film is more character driven and focuses on the eclectic group of fly fishing personalities that come together to fish for steelhead in Kodiak Island. Steelhead fishing is supposed to a trial of patience and determination, right? Apparently, not on the Kodiak. Three steelhead in twelve casts. I want that.
I will admit that Conway Bowman’s inclusion in the film irked me a bit. My introduction to Conway Bowman came at last year’s F3T. In Speed, Muscle, Teeth, Conway exclaimed something to the effect of (WARNING: a good dose of paraphrasing follows) fly fishing for trout, steelhead, bonefish, tarpon, pike, bass, or any other species of fish is utter crap compared to fly fishing for mako sharks. It was some outlandish comment denigrating most fly fisherman’s targeted species of choice. So, when I heard him heaping praise on the steelhead of the Kodiak, it felt phony and forced. Everytime he opens his mouth about fishing for any other species than makos, I check out and stop listening. I am sure he is a nice enough guy, but the outlandish statement from Speed, Muscle, Teeth has sullied me on him and his opinions.
Another highlight was the aural piles of boos and jeers that the Missoula crowd unleashed towards the screen when Bozeman and the Yellowstone were featured. Ahh, friendly rivalries amongst fly fishing towns in Montana.
Final Thoughts (not Jerry Springer style), the 2012 F3T was just as good as the 2011 F3T. More freshwater this year around with some salty goodness spritzed in. A good, rowdy time was seemingly had by all. If the tour swings through your town (or semi adjacent towns), go. You won’t regret it. Check the schedule.
Did I mention that they gave out some nice prizes including some Patagonia Aluminum Bar Rock Grip boots, a Redington youth fly rod outfit, and a Sage One rod. The winner of the wading boots, who didn't have the appearance of a fly fisherman (more like a significant other who got dragged to the show), promptly muttered "what are these?" The winner of the Sage One rod acted as if Bob Barker was on the stage and she was about to spin the Big Wheel. I am pretty sure it was the price is right in her mind. Surprised she didn't have ironed on letters saying something very punny about old man Bob.