In this installment of Faces of Fly Fishing, we had the pleasure to sit down with Youtube personality, Husband, Father, and angler, Ben Sittig to talk about what it really means to be a HUGE Fly Fisherman.
Flylords: Who is Ben Sittig?
Ben: I’m just a regular guy. I have a wife, two kids, a goldfish, and I like to fish a lot. I also have a big mouth and a lot of opinions, and for some reason, I feel the need to let everyone know that.
Flylords: What does it mean to be a Huge Fly Fisherman?
Ben: Being a huge fly fisherman means lots of things, but I think that most importantly it means not taking yourself or fishing too seriously. Fly fishing is a recreational activity. It’s supposed to be fun. The hugest fly fisherman is the guy that doesn’t care about catching the biggest fish, or most fish, or any fish at all. He’s just out there to have a good time. You can try to attach a higher purpose to fly fishing, but in the end, it’s just fishing.
Flylords: What’s a day in the life of a huge fly fisherman look like?
Ben: Every day is different, but mostly it’s family and work. There is no routine. I work a lot. I have a full-time day job, and my YouTube channel is a second full-time job. If I’m not doing my regular job, I’m editing videos, managing my merch orders, or I’m out fishing and generating new content, which is work. When I’m not working I try to spend as much time with my family as I can.
Flylords: We’ve seen “huge fly fisherman” stickers on rod racks and coolers around the country. How did this phenomenon start?
Ben: We’ve all had a conversation with someone when they find out you’re a fly fisherman and they say, “Oh, you have to meet my friend he’s a HUGE fly fisherman.” That’s where it came from. What better way to tell people you’re a huge fly fisherman than to clearly state it? It’s like the joke “How do you know if someone is a fly fishing guide? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.” I thought the stickers would be funny so I had a bunch made and gave them away for free. That got expensive after a while so I started charging for them. That was before I had a YouTube channel or brand of any kind. I just thought it was funny. Now, there are about 10,000 of those stickers out there.
Flylords: How did you get started making youtube videos?
Ben: It was my wife’s idea. Fishing, or maybe just talking about fishing, is my strongest skill set. I’d like to be able to support my family through fishing, but I don’t want to guide, work in a shop, or work for a fishing company of some sort. With my YouTube channel, I’m working for myself and it’s been amazingly successful. My wife schooled me on what I needed to do to make my channel grow, and she’s been right about everything. I can’t quit my day job yet, but we’re getting there.
Flylords: When you’re making a video, what’s your process look like? Are you going off a script or pretty much freestyling?
Ben: Mostly, I’m reading from a script. Sometimes I’ll have everything written out word for word, and sometimes it’s just notes and talking points. I think the videos sound better when I’m not reading a script word for word, but if I don’t write everything down I tend to forget things that I wanted to say. I type my scripts, print them, and laminate them. I learned quickly that they need to be laminated, as fishing is typically done in or around water, so I’ve been known to travel with my laminating machine. The vlog videos are unscripted, of course. That’s just me yammering on about what’s happening.
Flylords: Some people refer to you as the new Hank Patterson, thoughts on this?
Ben: I can understand the comparison, but it’s not based on much. The only thing we really have in common is that we both make jokes about fishing and fishermen while holding a beer. Beyond that our videos aren’t similar at all. Hank’s videos are purely just for fun. You’re not going to learn anything about fishing. In my videos, I try to sprinkle some substance in between the bad jokes. I had a lot of shade thrown at me, in the beginning, saying I was trying to be like him. Or, maybe people were upset that someone else tried to make fishing funny (it’s become abundantly clear that some people think that making jokes about fishing is not OK), but that has gone away as I’ve made more videos and people get a sense of what I’m doing and how it’s different.
Also, Hank is a character played by an actor (Travis) who is also a video production professional. I’m not playing a character. That’s me in my videos. Sure, I lay the schtick on pretty heavily but I’m just a dude with a GoPro and iMovie. And I’m way better looking than Hank.
Flylords: Who are some people in the industry who’ve inspired you?
Ben: Lefty Kreh, for sure. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with him as a teenager. I learned about casting and I enjoyed his easygoing demeanor. He was always happy. José Wejebe had an impact on me, too. I didn’t know him, but I watched his show all the time and I loved his attitude. We would have had a good time on a boat together.
Flylords: You target a variety of species on the fly, do you have a favorite?
Ben: That’s a tough one. I don’t have a favorite. It changes all the time. There are some fish I want more than others, though, probably because I haven’t caught enough of them yet to be satisfied. Tarpon is one of those. I’d like to get a few more over 100 lbs. I’ve been thinking a lot about bowfin lately, too. Versatility is something I look for in fishing partners. People that only fish for trout (or whatever) are selling themselves short and missing out on opportunities to improve as an angler. Trout will always be neat though.
Flylords: Favorite fly?
Ben: Black wooly bugger with a peacock body, chartreuse rib, and gold bead head. That fly will catch anything.
Flylords: Can you explain to us your opinion on midges?
Ben: I hate them, but I admit they are damn effective. I would just rather fish big stuff. I think it’s way cooler to catch a fish on a big fly than a small one. I’m not impressed by the 20/20 club (catching a 20-inch fish on a size 20 fly). It’s not much of a challenge. You can go to almost any western tailwater any day and make that happen. It’s tougher to get a 20-inch fish to eat a size 2 fly.
Another reason I don’t like midges is because I’m not into fishing tailwaters. Tailwater fishermen are the biggest nerds out there. They are very hatch-matchy, which on a tailwater often means midges. I don’t want to park on a fish and figure out if it wants a zebra midge with 7 wraps of ribbing instead of 6. If a fish doesn’t eat my fly I’m not going to figure out what it wants. I’d rather find a different fish that wants to eat whatever fly I have on my line. That’s how I like to do it. And tailwater fish are gross. They’re beaten and scarred from getting caught all the time. They roll over and don’t fight because they know they’ll be released. I’d rather fight a fish that thinks it’s going to die.
One more reason I don’t like midges is because you need to fish small tippets. That’s not fun for me. I like to pull hard on fish. I want to land them as quickly as possible. I don’t think it’s difficult to land a big fish on small tippet, I just think it’s an unnecessary waste of time. When someone says they fought a 20-inch fish for 30 minutes on 6X tippet, what I hear is that they don’t know how to fight a fish well.
Flylords: What’s one thing you wouldn’t hit the water without?
Ben: Low expectations. I always set the bar low so I’m not disappointed if things don’t work out. If you think that you’re going to slam a bunch of big fish every time you go out, you’re setting yourself up for a bad time. Sunglasses are important too. I cringe when I see people fishing without eye protection, especially kids.
Flylords: Tight lines?
Ben: That is a bannable offense. You have been warned.
Thank you to Ben Sittig for taking the time to share some of his valuable insights with us. Make sure to check out Ben’s Youtube channel HERE.