’60s TV show helped teach this angler to fly fish | SierraSun.com

’60s TV show helped teach this angler to fly fish

Bruce Ajari
Gone Fishin'

I was talking with some friends and they asked me just how I got my interest in fly fishing. It started at a very early age in about 1961. I actually started fishing at a much earlier age with my dad for striped bass around the town of Martinez.

I was 12 years old when I began fly fishing. My interest in fly fishing continued to grow when I began watching a television show in 1960s called “The Flying Fisherman.”

An old gentleman named “Gadabout” Gaddis would fly around the country, mostly to the West, to fly fish some of the many waters that we all hold in high regard today.

Recently I was curious to see if I could find out anything about the old television show. Imagine my surprise when I typed in “Gadabout Gaddis the flying fisherman” into my search engine on the Internet and it returned many hits on the man. I found out some interesting facts.

Roscoe Vernon Gaddis (Gadabout) was the first fishing show personality on the air. A test series for the show was run 13 weeks in the fall of 1963 on New York City’s WOR-TV, whose audience didn’t figure to be exactly a hotbed of fishing enthusiasm.

Also, the New York-New Jersey area is the most competitive market in the world for both TV and insurance. The test run proved very successful and a five-year contract was signed and Liberty Mutual put the show into 50 markets from coast to coast.

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Today, there are so many fishing shows on television that can thank Gaddis for beginning his series and introducing many to the pleasures of fly fishing. You can go to the Web site http://www.gadaboutgaddis.com and find out lots of other things about him and see that his show had an impact on many, such as me.

The one thing that doesn’t make sense is his date of birth listed on the Web site. It says he was born in Mattoon, Ill., on Jan. 28, 1936. He got a job in radio in 1938, which would make him pretty unique since he was probably barely talking. He died when he was 90 years old, by newspaper accounts, in Bingham, Maine, on Oct. 21, 1986. This means he would have been born in 1896, which makes much more sense.

The show kept my interest alive each week, so when I would go fishing I would try some of the patterns or techniques I saw him employ. The show was a great aid to me in my fly fishing development.

I can still picture him climbing out of that single-engine Piper Cherokee plane and telling us where he was fishing that day. For the next half-hour he would fly fish whatever stream he happened to be on and give us some good information.

The one thing I can vividly recall is the color of his fly line during his shows. He used a white fly line. To this day when using my primary floating line, it is a white Lee Wulff Triangle Taper fly line.

– Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.