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Quest columnist Stewart Gordon

leah kirk

There is an article in the most recent issue of The Drake magazine that made me smile knowing that someone else actually feels the same way I do about a certain fly fishing subject. If most anglers had a choice of the front or the back of the boat most, if not all, would chose the front. The obvious reason for this is that the guy in the front gets first shot at the best water. The guy in the back gets the leftovers.

I go against the grain on this in that I prefer the back of the boat. We all know the scene: the guide is ready to shove off and you say to your buddy: "You take the front." To which he says: "No, man. You take the front." And the volley goes back and forth till the guide says: "One of you take the front till lunch then we'll switch." The most important reason I like the back is just out of courtesy for whoever I'm fishing with. It's usually safe to say that I've had more time on the water than they have so let them have the sweet seat.

The other reason why I like the stern is somewhat selfish. If I want to take a break and just ride down the river a bit, the back seat is the place to do that. If I want to crack open a beer and watch geese make babies on the opposite bank, the back seat is prime real estate. If I want to put down my rod and silently laugh at my friend getting critiqued on his slow hook setting abilities by the guide, you got it, the back seat is a comfy place to do that.

Even after the lunch break, I still don't like to give up the stern. After all, it's not about me. It's about seeing my Pal get dibs on the best water...while I pick up a leftover here and there with a grin on my face and a cold one in my hand.

Stewart Gordon owns The Green Drake Fly Fishing Outfitters in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Go to to sign up and receive his outstanding newsletter.