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4,617 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Another blast from the past, a great article by Bob Petri in the PA Angler.

On the Water

Robert L Petri
Are You a Stickler
or an Explorer?
A self-proclaimed great philosopher once clued me in on what
he thought was the defining secret of life. There are, he intoned,
only two kinds of people in the world; those who prefer
their ham and cheese sandwich with mustard, and those who
prefer it with mayonnaise. When I told him that
I liked mine best with a thin coating of hot pepper
relish, his world came unhinged. I haven't heard
from him since.
All that aside, years of tramping the banks of
Pennsylvania's vast array of trout and bass streams
and rivers have convinced me that my friend's notion
had some fundamental merit. He simply chose the
wrong vehicle to express his idea. You see, I believe
that there are only two kinds of stream anglers-the
stickler or the explorer. You are either
one or the other.
The stickler plants himself in a favorite spot in
a favorite pool, and proceeds to dare the fish therein
to outlast him. He casts again and again and yet
again to the same spot. Occasionally, he pauses
just to look at the water, or maybe he edges up
or downstream a few feet. Then he resumes casting.
He is methodical, persistent and confident. And
why shouldn't he be? The fish are there, he will
tell you. It's just a matter of wearing them down,
or switching to the right lure or fly, or getting the
right drift through the pool. He stays the morning
right where he stands. Sticklers seldom do
anything to void the warranty on their waders. For that matter,
sticklers seldom need to buy new waders. Sticklers catch
fish-alot of fish.
The slam of a car door announces the arrival of our other angling
type, the explorer. Even while he is donning his boots and assembling
his gear, he is looking up the creek. As he crawls
down over the bank, he is already making plans for places that
are out of sight and three bends upstream from the stickler. The
angling portion of his brain doesn't think in terms of pools, but
instead in sections of water-long sections of water.
Like Sherman on his way through Georgia, the explorer is an
inexorable force marching ever onward in search of the next run,
the next pool, the next opportunity. When he visits a stream for
the first time, he is uncontrollable. What will he find? Are there
better pools and bigger fish up above? The explorer learns the
answers to these questions or perhaps perishes in the attempt.
Explorers keep the sporting boot industry in business. They
complain among one another that there is no boot, regardless
of price, that can be expected to last for more than a season or
two. And they simply cannot understand why.
Explorers count their fish, and sometimes keep detailed records.
Those who put their minds to it invariably become good golfers.

Explorers tend to be skinny, and consume large amounts
of water and soft drinks to keep them from overheating. They
own two-year-old cars that already have 75,000 miles on them.
Indeed, they are much like their cars in that they, too, are driven.
Explorers probably catch fewer fish on average
than sticklers. But they see a whole lot more of
By way of confession, I have to admit that I
am an explorer. The roots of the matter probably
go back to those grade school report cards
I used to bring home. In the dread comments
section below the actual grades, mine always said
things like: "Bob is considerate of his classmates,
and gets along well with almost everyone. I only
wish we could get him to sit still for more than
a minute or two at a time..." Even then, the wanderlust
was on me.
My father is the consummate stickler. I remember
many an opening day of trout season
from my youth when I would return from a three hour
blitz of the upper section of our favorite
stream, out of breath with a collection of scratches
or maybe even a punctured boot, to find my Dad
standing pretty much where I left him. He always
had at least twice as many fish as I did,
and he was convinced that there was at least one
more in his pool, and he was determined to take
him. There usually was and he usually did. Then,
and only then, would he move to another pool or another stream.
Is there an advantage to one approach or the other? Does
the "smart" angler gravitate toward either of these two widely
disparate poles of angling thought? Probably not. The forces
that make each of us either an explorer or a stickler are logical
extensions of who we are as people. Patience is a virtue; but
then again, so is a soul full of curiosity and adventure. Each
brings different joys and equally memorable experiences. The
stickler may have the satisfaction of fooling that last, stubborn
fish in the pool, but he misses the heart-stopping explosion of
that pair of twin fawns that the explorer all but stepped on up
the creek.
Who can say which is more meaningful, or for that matter,
better? It's all in the eye of the beholder. I only know that as
long as new hip boots are within my financial reach, and I am
able to put one foot in front of the other in some sort of reasonable
cadence, I will find out what's up around the next bend.
To me, it's a big part of what fishing is all about.
So which are you, stickler or explorer? While you're thinking
it over, I believe I'll have another ham and cheese with hot
pepper relish, and go see what it looks like up above.
After all, I've never been there before.
September 1995 Pennsylvania Angler

An excellent question, which one are you?

I am an explorer. A think spinner fishers have to be explorers because it doesn't pay to stay in one spot and cast spinners over and over.

1,153 Posts
I'm definitely an explorer. A spinner fisherman who is a stickler is not going to catch anywhere near the number of trout that the explorer catches. Generally, I think this is also true for other methods of fishing as well.

Think about it. Let's say a stretch of stream has ten pools with ten trout in each pool. The stickler has the chance to catch ten trout if he stays at one pool the entire time, while the explorer has the chance to catch 100 trout by fishing ten pools.

Analytics apply to fishing as well as organized team sports.

1,081 Posts
Depending on stream and if I have been there many times, I am both. When I find a big hole where many fish are hitting dries I could stay all day trying to fool them. When I'm hitting little runs and pockets on small mountain streams with nymphs or terrestrials, I am the explorer, seeking out new pieces of water to cast my line. I see the joy in both techniques, both loving to put up big numbers and see what is around that next bend. So I consider myself as both

192 Posts
I lean towards the explorer. I like to fish the stretch of river or stream that the other guy says is to far to walk. Yep I may only catch a few to his many but the adventure is worth the day out. I have the mentality that the next hole will have a fish in it and maybe even a big one so keep moving.

Premium Member
14,759 Posts
I'm an explorer and I fish bait. I can't stand sitting in one hole fishing. I like looking for pocket water and undercut banks.

1,071 Posts
I get bored sitting in one spot - only time I do that is fishing for cats on Big water - from a chair - with beer in hand.

I am anything but skinny (a.k.a. Fat) I move all the time - I drink alot of water, cause I sweat like Pig to stay cool.
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