What is a Cliffitarian?

Often times I have been asked, "Just what the heck is a Cliffitarian anyway?" Quite frankly, it's not an easy question to answer. I've pondered this for a number of years, and I'm an Original Cliff.

To explain, let me tell you of the origins of the term, and the origins of Cliff Outdoors. You see, in the beginning, there were only three Cliffitarians. All three attended the University Of Wyoming during the '70s. One actually graduated. The other two (to put it gently) could not be considered scholars. And although academic achievement was not a Cliff attribute, a love of the outdoors bound the three together.

Pursuing elk, deer, Wyoming speed goats,  upland game birds  and ski bumming were seasonal attractions. Fly fishing, however, was a year-round passion. All three could fish. Their annual angling event was widely known as the Cliffitarian Rendezvous, a weeklong exhibition of combat-fishing involving a Volkswagen bus, a drift boat, virtually no sleep, lots of coffee, and the unavoidable vices of cold beer and American tobacco products.

From their wide experience, a consensus on many fly-fishing products was reached. The rods, reel, lines, and waders they used were functional and of the highest quality. Most everything else was lame. All three preferred the "lanyard" system versus a vest or chest-pack, but there were no fly boxes that were well-suited to this minimalist approach. There was not a reasonable way to carry spools of tippet, and floatants were unsuitable for CDC patterns.

Cliff (the scholar), however, is a problem-solving sort of guy. He went to work designing alternative products and the rest, as they say, is history. Cliff Outdoors was born, and it has carved out a wide following among anglers who appreciate function, quality, and value.

Other Cliffitarian traits? Well, they have a tendency to marry way over their heads (especially true for the three original Cliffs). They care about others and they care about the resource. They recognize and appreciate God's blessings, they love their families, and they love to fish.

Geographically, you probably won't find many Cliffitarians in Washington, D.C.  You will, however, find a bunch of them in Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West. Other than the occasional wild streak (a throw-back to their UW days), you'd like to have them as neighbors. Just don't lend them anything.

Finally, you might wonder how Cliff got his name. It's a long story involving a famous postal worker. But since I don't think he'll allow me to tell the story here, I'll leave that for another time.

Be a Cliff. It?s the right thing to do.

This article is reprinted with permission from Mark Vickers and Flylines, "The Finest in Angling Literature."

Previous page: Cliff's Notes
Next page: Give us a holler