Thursday, June 21, 2012

20 Questions: Tom Bie

Whether he would admit to it or not, Tom Bie led a revolution in the fly fishing world--he gave credence to scruffiness and self-imposed indigence, made it cool to be a trout bum and gave the world The Drake

Through its pages, many of us get to see beyond the cast and the haul to the heart of the sport that grips our souls and leaves our friends, our wives ... even our employers, wondering where in the hell we are at 3 o'clock on a Thursday.

The Drake, over the last decade or so, has gone from a small, obscure publication printed on a shoestring budget and consumed greedily by an enthusiastic--yet fringe--sect of fly anglers to perhaps the most influential periodical in the business. Rather than follow the established--and somewhat stuffy--formulaic approach to publishing a niche magazine, Bie wrote his own set of instructions. Today, when The Drake hits newsstands, it's an event. The world stops when it arrives in the mail. Wives fade into the wallpaper ... kids stand lonely in the backyard and dogs with tennis balls slink quietly into kennels to wait it out.

And that's all on Bie. I'm guessing his product--and the imagination contained within--has been cited in more than one divorce case. That's because The Drake focuses on the experience of fly fishing and the people who make the craft function in an odd world that's centered around hatches, migrations, tides, weather and a healthy dose of creative, booze-infused concoctions. It's an all-consuming instruction manual to an all-consuming craft that, when done to excess, can be as addictive as any opiate and just as unforgiving with the withdrawals.

For the hour it takes to thumb through the magazine--maybe longer, if you stretch the experience out over a week's worth of bathroom constitutionals--we are the fly fishermen we've always wanted to be.

But if you meet Tom in person, you get the sense that he's somewhat bewildered by the success and the influence the magazine has collected in just a few short years. He's humble and genuine and almost uncomfortable with the idea that he's pretty damn cool in his own right. Instead, you see a guy who's surprisingly businesslike (maybe it's the glasses?), occasionally serious and always up for a laugh. Most of all though, you'll sense his unquestioned devotion to the craft of fly fishing, the places it's taken him (and can take you through the pages of his magazine) and the people he's met on his journey.

Here's hoping you get the chance to cross paths with Tom. Chances are, you'll be someplace remarkable. Tell him I said hello, and buy him a drink. I'm good for it.

On with the questions:

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Morning on a steelhead river. In the fall. Ideally, after a Beavers win. Or a Ducks loss.

What is your greatest fear? 
That I’ll do something really cool and forget to tweet or Facebook about it. 

Which living person do you most admire? 
Don Draper. Or that dude in the Dos Equis commercials. 

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? 
Suspect time-management skills

What is the trait you most deplore in others? 
Asking me to send them PDFs of their article.

Tom Bie... savior of Middle Earth.
What is your favorite journey? 
That time I led Samwise Gamgee to Rivendell and Mordor on our way to Mount Doom. 

On what occasion do you lie? 
When the customs agent asks, “So, you did NOT go to Cuba? Is that correct?” 

Which living person do you most despise? 
This time of year? Chip Kelly. But by November it might be Reince Priebus

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Sorry I’ve taken so long to respond to your email…”

What is your greatest regret? 
That I was unable to talk the Portland Trailblazers out of drafting Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan and Greg Oden over Kevin Durant

The late, great Trask...
What or who is the greatest love of your life? 
I should say my current girlfriend, April, but even she’ll understand if I say my first dog, Trask.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? 
I’ve seen true greatness in people, and I don’t think I’ve achieved anything “great” yet. But I’m proud of having served our country in the military, and of being a good son, and of creating The Drake. 

What is your most treasured possession? 
My passport.

What’s on your iPod? 
Zeppelin. And my podcast interview with Zach Matthews. I just listen to it over and over.

Totally worth dying for...

How would you like to die? 
Shot by Brad Pitt after he caught me in bed with his wife.

What would your profession be if you couldn’t do what you do now? 
Whatever Jason Bourne does. 

In three words, how would your closest friends describe you? “Might be late.” (“But he’ll make it.”)

If there is a Heaven, and you go to Heaven, what would God say to you upon your arrival? 
“I sent you a query letter back in March and I’m just wondering…” 

What’s the favorite of all the cars you’ve ever driven? 

If you could go back in time, what year would you visit first? 
1959, in Havana.

BONUS QUESTION: Which actor/actress would play you in the movie about your life, and why? 
It would probably have to be Ed Norton, because he’s the only actor that has a huge swastika tattoo on his chest like I do. 


  1. Outstanding, Chris. Both the interview and the intro. Thanks for this.

  2. Hope he doesn't get too depressed after the Civil War this year....

  3. Thanks for stopping by guys... Tom's answers were some of my favorites...

  4. Damn. Those were great answers.

  5. Nice, can you send me a pdf of this please?

  6. Send me your address... I've misplaced our query letter...

  7. I have discussed your posts with my friends, they have also watched these posts and they have also like these posts very much. Like me my friends also started taking more interests in carp fishing before that, they do some other fishing but after watching your posts they have said that now they would do only carp fishing and nothing else. I love carp fishing madly and your blog is very informative and great . and all the picture in your blog is fabulous and every one like this who are intrusting in fish and fishing like me keep it up and keep sharing such a great and awesome information about fishing thanks.