My One Regret

My One Regret

Exactly four years ago I made a mistake-one of thousands certainly, but still the only decision I have truly regretted since becoming FR&R's editor in

  • By: Paul Guernsey
Exactly four years ago I made a mistake-one of thousands certainly, but still the only decision I have truly regretted since becoming FR&R's editor in 2001. I am here now to eat some crow, and make amends.

What I did was to tinker with something much larger than myself. If you were reading us back then, you may remember that in the January/February 2002 issue I announced an end to the Kudo Awards with which this magazine had been recognizing superior fly tackle and Anglers of the Year since 1985. Henceforth, I decreed from on high, they would be known as "The Fly Rod&Reel Awards."

I assure you I had the best of (misguided) intentions. I am an editor, after all, and editors are trained like Dobermans to despise redundancy. Kudos, (derived from the Greek word "kydos") means "award, honor, compliment, praise." As I publicly snuffed, or tried to snuff, the traditional name of our awards program, readers heard me sniff the following supercilious explanation:

"…this is the last year you'll see the words 'kudo' or 'kudos' here. For one thing, you can see from the above definition that it's somewhat redundant-sort of like talking about the 'Award Awards.' Secondly, it sounds a bit awkward. Thirdly, some people get confused about whether 'kudos' is plural or singular… Lastly, there is a candy bar of the same name that we are not particularly crazy about…"

Not that I'm going to take any of that back; it's all true, and there's even more I could have said. But that's not to say that changing the name wasn't a mistake. I know it was a mistake because the rest of the fly-fishing world-readers, contributing editors, industry people-went right on calling them the Kudo Awards just as if I'd never said anything. For a long time, I corrected people. Usually, those people would just shrug and say, "Oh, yeah. The FR&R Awards," in the same tone you might use to humor a child. Finally, a couple of years ago I corrected the wrong-or, rather, the right-guy: fly-fishing marketing guru and angling-industry veteran John Mazurkiewicz.

John was not gentle in breaking the news. "Listen," he said, "no matter what you call them, they'll always be the 'Kudo Awards' to the rest of us." Subsequently, several other people in the fly-fishing industry also let me know that they didn't give a rat's butt what I thought the Kudos should be called. A typical comment was, "We've been calling them that since I've been in this business… which, come to think of it, was quite a bit before you showed up on the scene."

While these unequivocal rejections served to shut me up, they did not immediately change my mind. That didn't happen until recently, when I overheard myself talking to someone on the telephone not about the FR&R Awards, but about the…yeah, you guessed it. I knew then that, not only could I not beat the Kudo loyalists-a group that seemed to consist of just about everyone except me-but without even thinking about it, I had actually joined them. Nothing left to do but wave the white flag.

And that, kids, is how the Kudo Awards got their rightful name back, starting with this very issue of the magazine. Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go out and buy a few of those candy bars I didn't think I cared for. I need something to make all those crow feathers go down a little easier…