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Editor's Notebook

Sensei

by Ross Purnell, Editor   |  January 20th, 2015 1

Sensei Screen Capture
Sensei, an IF4 Original Films Production, with April Vokey and Hank Patterson. Runtime 13 minutes, see flyfilmfest.com for screening schedule.

It’s never funny to see someone get picked on or verbally bullied, so the best kind of humor is often the self-deprecating variety. Internet sensation and Fly Fisherman’s 2013 Guide of the Year Hank Patterson is the king of making fun of himself, but it might come as some surprise to find out that his queen of parody in the new film Sensei is B.C. steelhead guide April Vokey.

Vokey plays the “straight” role of the comedic duo, but the opening scene pokes fun at Vokey’s previous IF4 submission Landed with Patterson revisiting the opening scenes of that film, and casting himself in the role of the attractive fishing guide who yearns to be taken seriously.

“I’m more than just a pretty face,” Patterson laments as he squeezes into a Patagonia sports bra. “I’m a fly fisherman, and I’ve worked hard at it.”

In Sensei, Vokey tries to get Patterson into a steelhead, and she explains with a straight face the different lines and tackle they will both use to cover the water. Immediately Patterson reverses the roles of student and teacher by evaluating her choices: “We’ll see. If you’re catching more fish—but you’ve put me on something different—that will be suspect, because I’ve never caught a steelhead.”

Patterson is an inept student, and quickly realizes he prefers the role of “expert” even though he seemingly confuses the difference between “the mouse” in Spey fishing and what he calls “the rabbit ears.”

Soon he is giving casting instruction to random fly fishers—“it’s okay, I’m a guide”—staggering across the slippery rocks of the Bulkley River, and even taking credit for Vokey’s steelhead. By the end, she is the young grasshopper and Patterson plays the role of Mr. Miyagi, despite the fact that he hasn’t a clue what he’s doing with a two-handed rod: “Even when I’m full of crap, I’m right on the money,” he quips.

In a world where many guides take themselves far too seriously, it’s refreshing to see a steelhead guide like Vokey join forces with Patterson and produce a film that celebrates the fact that fly fishing is still all about people you share the water with and the things you learn every day—even if you’re slapping yourself silly with the fly line, or lose the trophy fish right before you’re about to snap a photo.

This film may not get the most “ooohhhs” and “ahhhhhhs” at this year’s IF4 screenings but it will certainly get the most chuckles. You can see it at any of The Fly Fishing Show consumer events nationwide, or check for other screenings at flyfilmfest.com.

—Ross Purnell

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