Two decades ago, television was was still king of the castle when it came to fly fishing video. The film tours and the brand-sponsored “indie” films hadn’t come into vogue—the equipment needed for really remote filmmaking was still a bit bulky, and the internet hadn’t matured enough to handle the bandwidth needed to broadcast the epic video adventures we see seemingly every day now.
And fly fishing TV was ruled by a handful of folks who traveled far and wide with massive standard-definition cameras to deliver a few hours of programming on ESPN (or ESPN 2) every Saturday morning. With guys like Jose Wejebe and Flip Pallot chasing saltwater denizens from a Hell’s Bay skiff in the Keys, a guy stuck somewhere in the Rockies could power through winter. These were the guys who came after the likes the Curt Gowdy and his epic American Sportsmen series, and the inspiration, I believe, to today’s adventure fly fishers who tote compact high-definition gear all over the world to capture the stunning films we see online every day and in film festivals every year.
I miss those lazy Saturday mornings, where each episode could be digested with a single cup of coffee. They were instructional and conversational, and they served to inspire anglers all over America to get out and cast to unfamiliar targets. Without the likes to Jose Wejebe (rest his soul), I likely never would have toted a fly rod to the Keys in 2002 on a family vacation (and, of course, I likely never would have spent a small fortune since then on what’s become a significant saltwater addiction—not a good habit for an Idaho-dwelling angler).
Here’s to these pioneers, both for the Saturday morning inspiration, and for nurturning the next generation of filmmakers into some of the most creative producers of high-end video ever.
— Chris Hunt