Where do you call home?
Right here in Mims, Florida. No restaurants, no main street, no quaint shopping stores. Boring beyond belief however no traffic, no over population, every pit bull dog is friendly, and so are their owners.
How did you get into fly fishing?
I think I sort of morphed into it. Flip never forced the idea nor did he pressure me. After fishing with him for a few years with spin tackle, I decided one afternoon to ask him for a casting lesson. He was more than accommodating and spent a few hours with me showing me the basics. That was the beginning of many hours of practice, frustration, and tears, fun fishing adventures and a lifetime of acquiring new skill levels and improving on them everyday that I fish. I’m still learning.
What is it like being Diane Pallot?
Diane who? I don’t really know. She changes everyday. I’m that lady my friends and family tease goes to Publix everyday to shop for groceries instead of weekly. I’m an Aries (where did that come from?). I’m also the person who traveled the world working for a major airline and made it a career for 35 years as a flight attendant. I even traveled on my days off. I lived out of a suitcase for most of those years. I’m Flip's sidekick when he gives me the opportunity to take trips or do a fishing show with him. I learn so much about fishing and casting whenever I go with him to one of his fly fishing clinics. It’s incredible how much knowledge he has. I’m still impressed after all these years. And, of course, I’m a grandmother to an exceptional 11 year-old girl who is bright and beautiful beyond anything I could even imagine.
You met Flip when you hired him as a guide. Did you go knowing who he was?
The only thing I knew about Flip was he had a funny first name, and that he had the reputation for being an outstanding angler. He had just started guiding after shutting down his retail outfitter and clothing store in a nearby shopping mall. I had no expectations, well that’s not exactly true. I really did hope he would help me catch a tarpon.
What is your favorite fish to catch?
Hands down largemouth bass. There is nothing so provocative than to cast a popper to a nearby grassy pad, and watch one of those colorful, iridescent fish explode out of his world and into a foreign environment for a nanosecond with one goal in mind. FOOD!
Is there a bucket list fish you have yet to catch?
I don’t have any expectations. I like surprises. However, it would be nice to catch a permit on fly. I’ve come close while fishing in the Bahamas, but for me it just hasn’t happened yet. That gives me something to look forward to.
Tell me about your favorite fishing memory.
There are so many, including the first time I wrangled Flip into taking me fishing on one of those sterling days on the St. John's River. We watched in awe as thousands of Swallow-tailed Kites made their migratory journey. Never had I seen so many at one time. It was breathtaking and it added so much to an already special day with Flip out on our airboat.
We all remember the fish that got away. What fish haunts your dreams?
None, I truly mean that. If a fish blows me off, spits a fly, flips me off, I laugh. I commend any fish that outsmarts and instinctively uses his primal skills to get free and get back to his normal routine. What I’m haunted by is when he breaks off with a hook and fly still in his mouth. I worry if he will shake it loose, if it hurts the fish. I’m haunted by the release. Did I fight him too long? Did the fish build up too much lactic acid to be able to survive? Most times when I’ve caught tarpon Flip and I purposely use lighter line so that when we hook them, they do break off. We got the strike, a quick fight, and bam, they're gone leaving us laughing on the bow of the boat.
You’re standing on the front of a flats boat scanning the water, fly in hand. What do you think about:?
I’m looking out at some beautiful water and willing the fish to my fly. I’m always ready for that adrenaline rush to kick in and test my skill and ability to land a fish. I never take for granted the surrounding beauty, and I’m constantly concerned about protecting our fresh and saltwater environments. I’m always anxious to do what I can to help be a part of the reshaping. It’s a big problem, especially here in Florida. We have so many lakes, rivers, and are surrounded by two coastal bodies of water. We have a big fight ahead of us.
What is your most prized possessions tangible or intangible?
Tangible: My Nautor coffee milk frother, and my 7 weight Mangrove with my Cortland High Vis Flip fly line. I love that combo. Intangible: “Home Sweet Home” where on any given day we have wild turkeys, deer, bobcats, hawks, and an assortment of wild birds come and visit our property. It's my base camp where I re-energize entertain, and create.
Cats or Dogs?
Cats, two of them. We love dogs, but cats are easier when we leave town. My 8 year-old cat, Flounder, just used up another one of his 9 lives when he went into respiratory arrest in our home the other day. Four days later with five doctors working on him, including a heart doctor, he is still alive and the entire experience left me a wreck.
What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you on a fishing trip?
I was driving to South Florida to meet Flip and fish on the east coast. I was on the cell phone talking with a friend, stressed out about my father’s recent diagnosis with Alzheimer disease. I got distracted and took the wrong exit. Flip called me and asked where I was. I looked at a road sign. “I’m just now coming into Bonita Springs." Flip laughed! I asked why he was laughing and where Bonita Springs was. "It's on the west coast" he said. Needless to say I didn't go fishing with Flip that day, and he had to navigate me back east. I might add this was way before GPS and Mapquest. Crazy, sad, stupid, funny!
You have inspired so many. Who inspires you?
I have to emphatically say, hands down, Joan Wulff. She is the first lady of fly fishing and she set the bar very high. She is very humble about herself and her achievements, is a pioneer in the world of fly fishing just like Amelia Earhart was to flying. She is classy and has her own fashion style. Her accomplishments include her books, her fly fishing school, countless awards, and being inducted into the IGFA Hall of Fame. I have had the honor of meeting and talking with her a number of times, and have a framed photo of us that I cherish. Then, the love of my life, Lefty Kreh. Friend, confidante, partner in crime, and all things bright and funny. He is still with me always.
What is your superpower?
I am able to at all times, during a fishing trip and especially walking down a mountain stream in Idaho, have the superpower to be able to resurrect the most horrific cast, winding up in some bloody shrub that I have no botanical name for except to call it “Son of a Bitch Evil Bush.” This superpower enables me to work it out and still have the fly intact at the end of my tippet. And, my back up power gives me the ability to untangle the worst, fouled up, schizoid leader line or fly line. I have been known to stay as long as it takes, with unyielding determination to undo or die. I will not let anyone, ever, do it for me, no matter how heartbreaking it looks.
Is there a piece of advice you can give to new anglers?
Absolutely. When it comes to learning how to fly fish, don’t even bother booking a trip or buying the latest costly equipment without first perfecting your casting skills. Otherwise, you’ll look quite good out there while you throw a lousy loop, and frustrate your guide or fishing companions. I might add, having a good fly rod, fly line, and a decent reel definitely helps improve your ability to learn. Just don’t convince yourself that more expensive is better. It doesn’t work that way ... but you knew that, right?
Many people grew up watching the Walker’s Cay Chronicles. What is it like knowing that you’ve influenced so many in our sport?
My, you have really pushed my emotional button on this question. I hold this part of my journey with Flip near and dear to my heart. This show was a dream come true. We always talked about a show that would give us free reign, creativity, and allow us to do what had never been done before — expose the audience, not only to men that fish, but to their families. There was something for everyone including the music, the narrative, the destinations, and the good fishing etiquette. We wanted to influence our audience by allowing them to experience different natural surroundings and teaching them to be part of the solution rather than the problem. I believe we succeeded. Young people come up to us all the time and tell us how they looked forward to watching the show and loved it. These same kids, now all grown up, tell us it changed their life and direction. They now have kids of their own, and the cycle is now repeating itself. That is a wonderful thing.
I’m sure you’ve seen our sport change tremendously in the years you’ve been involved. What would you say is the biggest change?
The most obvious is the equipment, especially fly rods. They’re lighter, stronger, and much more portable. Fly rods are like good dance partners, they can make you look good. A good fly rod, after you have learned the basics of casting, will enhance your skills. It does wonders for your confidence. The industry is a small one compared to other sports, but I have witnessed an explosion of by-products that are related to fly fishing. Yeti, which started with fly fishing, has proven you can start small and spread big. And women! Thirty years ago when I started going to the Fly Tackle Dealer Show it was overwhelming, and exciting. The convention centers were big and included wall-to-wall vendors from all over the country. For years I could go into any of the restrooms and I would be the only woman using the facility. I didn’t think much of it at first. There just was not that much interest regarding women and this sport. Fast forward to now, and that has changed to such a degree that sometimes I even have to wait to get into a stall to pee. And at my age that is not fun. All kidding aside, I’m glad to see my little sisters with their fishing garb and fish jewelry at these expositions doing their best to be a part of our sport. I do have to add that I have a deep respect for the pioneering matriarchs of our sport. Women like Joan Wulf, Cathy Beck, Jackie Robinson, Sarah Gardiner, and others who devoted their lives to fishing. I applaud them.
What is the one thing you never leave home without when you leave for a fishing trip?
FLIP! I don’t go on fishing trips with anyone else but him. Now that might sound very insipid of me, and narrow-minded, but you have to understand Flip is my fishing muse. He is still my teacher, and my best friend. You would think that I would get to fish with him all the time, but time gets away from us. He gets more excited than me when I do everything right, when it all comes together, and the outcome is just so magical. These times are my moments, my history in the making. A good sunscreen tinted lip gloss is very important as well.
What do you do when not on the water?
I play a game called “Catch Up”. Every woman knows this game. You pay bills, fill up the refrigerator, go through paper work, and make appointments. Perhaps a dinner engagement or two with good friends. We also enjoy sitting around the fireside sipping our favorite brand of rum “Frigate Reserve”. We have learned to appreciate a stand alone straight-up glass of high end rum that adds to the ambiance of a cool breeze and warm ring fire.
What do you do to keep the fun in fly fishing?
If you have to do something to keep the fun in fly fishing, then you're in the wrong sport and should, perhaps, pursue another personal obsession. The moment I pick up that rod, the fun begins. The moment I slip on those fishing pants, a smile appears. The moment I hear, smell, and see all that is involved with the anticipation of the day, the hunger starts.
What is the best piece of advice you were ever given and by whom?
It has to be the day Michael Maloney, a good friend from out west, who came to our house for a few days to visit. Early on when I was still struggling with my casting, Michael took me out in the front of our house telling Flip “you're not invited”. Michael watched me cast for a few minutes, and then he asked me something that really clicked. He asked “what are you doing?” Of course I was stumped. What did he mean? He told me "Diane the only way you are going to be a good fly caster is to know what you are doing every time you cast that line. Once you know what you are doing correctly, the outcome will always be the same. A good cast. If for any reason you fail, you’ll know why, and be able to correct it on your own." It was the best advice I had ever received. For some reason, hearing this advice set my compass straight. It was my light bulb moment.
What are you most grateful for? Everything, I don’t have to do a lot of stuff every day to prove that I exist and am worthy. I feel grateful when I finish that watercolor painting I have been working on for many weeks or months. I feel grateful for my long time friendships that I have cultivated over a lifetime. I don’t want to get too overwhelmed with this question, otherwise I’ll start looking like one of those Hollywood actors standing at the podium with their Oscar in hand going on and on until the music comes on to tell them to “shut the f*** up”. So, before that happens, I’m gonna say bye for now and leave you with this thought: Compassion — For me this is establishing a state of grace where nothing causes me to hate myself.