The “Sweat Ring” defines how long and well we have owned the hats. Different colored hats highlight the “Sweat Rings” differently. A hat’s Sweat Ring is as important as the smoked ring on perfectly cooked ribs. This mark doesn’t happen overnight but is the result of many hours of slow and careful nurturing.
That sweaty day along the Madison was sure noteworthy. The hike into the Beartrap Canyon for the Mother’s Day Hatch added some color. The several lawns mowed added flavor. The morning rockfish canoe outing along the Susquehanna sure made its mark. The long hikes to your favorite spots also made its contributions. There are so many adventures, memories and hard work that create our wonderful “Stinky Hats”.
“Stinky Hats” are a reverent and defining expression of who we are. They are earned. We wear our hats proudly and often. As we age, the balding, greying, and bad hair days become more frequent and inspire us wear our favorite hats. Some friends can’t be identified unless they are wearing a hat. Their identities and personalities change when they take their hats off or wear a different one.
The “tilt” of your hat shows your personality and attitude. Wearing the brim to the side, backwards, or sideways tells others who we are. The folded, shaped or straight brim says the same. Wearing your hat inside out may just be too much. The smells, scars, stains and crust on our hats invites stories and reactions from spectators.
Placing flies, hooks, and lures on the hats tells others where you recently fished. Feathers, pins, and other symbols adorn our crowns. Some of us need to attach magnifying glasses to our hats so we can tie a fishing knot. These attachments add personality and purpose to our headgear. Flies stuck in a Guides hat tell us what the fish are biting on. Be observant of other fishermen’s Stinky Hat messages.
Guide hats advertise the skill and success that you can expect during a paid day of fishing. I would never pick the guide with a new, clean, and unstained hat! Would you? Guides with boats and clothing that look too pretty and clean tell me that they are probably too OCD, “obsessive compulsive disorder”, and don’t catch many fish. Give me the sweaty and crusty Stinky Hat Guide!
In the end, hats need to change. Folks we meet may start to complain about the odor and look of our sacred crowns. At some point, they become so greasy and gnarly, that they are only worn for special occasions. The “Lucky Hats” come out when we need a good day of fishing. The nicer and newer hats become our going to church or dinner hats. The off color or crude messaged hats go to the bar with us on the weekends. Sure, I know you can wash your nasty and Stinky Hats, but they then become flimsy and different somehow. The smell, shape, and memories become washed away. Instead, travel to a new destination, shop a new fishing store, or just get a replacement that can carry on the tradition.
Try a new style of hat. Maybe a cowboy hat or brim will add a new look and some new luck. Having several hats at once allows you to gradually evolve your hats into the “Stinky Hats” we love.
Every outdoor MAN, WOMAN, and child needs a room to display their memories and “Stuff”. This is a perfect location to display your worn out “Stinky Hats”. The other option is to ceremoniously burn your old and nasty “Stinky Hats”. Wave your new and less stinky hat through the smoke to capture the essence of your past adventures and memories.
No matter what you choose to do with your old “Stinky Hats”, wear and display them proudly! They represent wonderful adventures, memories, and fishing fun. Continue the “Stinky Hat Tradition” and wear them proudly!