BOISE, Idaho — Hank Patterson is the funniest man in fly-fishing. OK, maybe that’s setting the bar a little low, but a low bar is how “Hank Patterson" came to be.
Hank is the alter ego of Travis Swartz, of Boise, Idaho. Hank’s sidekick “Crazy Reese" is played in mute splendor by his real-life high school pal, Reese Ferguison.
The two Borah High School grads are now in their early 40s and have done a series of Web videos that have attracted around 170,000 YouTube hits and gained fans from as far away as England, South Africa and Tasmania.
The inspiration for Hank Patterson came when Swartz saw that The Drake fly-fishing magazine had a video contest with a humor category, and the prize was a Go Pro video camera.
Fly-fishing and humor are often opposing forces, so Swartz figured it would be an easy way to land a free video camera.
He was right, but he landed more than swag.
The videos have become a sensation on the Internet, or as Hank says, have “gone virus."
The original video introduced the world to Hank Patterson, fly-fishing expert, whose expertise is derived mainly from owning “A River Runs Through It" on Blu-ray.
In the video, Hank teaches fly anglers to “SNAP it" when they fly cast so they can catch rainbows, cutts, cuttbows, cuttbrowns, brownbows and cuttyrainbrowns.
His self-confident buffoonery is a loving jab at both tweedy, old-school fly anglers and younger anglers in trucker hats who try to make fly-fishing an action sport.
“They were both ripe for parody," Swartz said.
Anglers relate to the Hank character, Swartz said because, “We all have that secret feeling that we know better," whereas Ferguison said people relate to the silent character because most anglers have experienced a loudmouthed and clueless know-it-all.
But what lies beneath a well-crafted gag is more effort than meets the eye.
Aside from being a long-time fly-fisherman, Swartz is an actor, comedian and freelance video producer. Ferguison works as a manufacturer for Boise-based Loon Outdoors, which produces and markets fly-fishing gear.