What do you think when someone is given the "expert" title? Better yet, what are your thoughts on self proclaimed "experts" in any field? I read an email lately from a membership organization regarding an upcoming meeting. The email referenced a guided trip that has been offered to the auction block for an upcoming fundraiser. The individual offering the trip was proclaimed an "expert" in the particular fishing experience being considered. I don't know this guide, and I don't know if the "expert" title was given by his constituents, or self proclaimed. One thing is for sure, the "expert" title does nothing to sell me on one's abilities. What does it take to acquire the expert title? Do you have to write a book? Host a seminar? Have so many year experience in a particular field? Know so much more than everyone else?
I cringe when I hear the term "expert". I think of elitists. I think of talking heads who speak at people rather than with people in their given field. I think of people who demand respect and admiration because of who they are or things they've accomplished. I think of someone who has surpassed the need for educating themselves on any particular topic. It was Abraham Lincoln that said, "once we stop learning we're dead." I firmly believe that. If anyone fails to see a need for educating themselves on a particular subject, they have made the decision to stop progressing. There is always someone that can teach me something, especially when it comes to fly fishing. Or as my dad used to say, "There is always someone better." Which is why we should constantly strive for improvement.
I realize that this is likely an exaggeration. The majority of folks I come across, while amazing fly fishers, are very humble and ready to learn. If you do come across one of the rare self-proclaimed "experts" of our industry, don't let their attitude get in the way of your experience. It's all about the fish, enjoying the outdoors, and having an awesome time with friends and family. No experts necessary.