Podcast: Steelhead Tips with Adam MacNamara

This week’s podcast is worth listening to, just for the entertainment value of hearing a listener say he doesn’t listen to many of the podcasts because I “speak too slowly as if you are a grade school teacher teaching remedial students” and that “Words or ideas that are so basically common knowledge of this sport need no explanation. For example, if one of your listeners doesn’t know what a tippet is, they should look it up elsewhere and not waste the other listeners’ time with a long, slooow, and overdrawn explanation.”

So take that, you dummies! Use Google and don’t bother me with your basic questions. Are you bothered by this? Or do you have a different opinion? If so, please listen to the podcast and then come back to this post to air your comments. If I’m boring you, I want to hear about it.

Oh, yeah, and my long overdrawn explanations this week cover right-angle nymph rigs, rotary vises, lines for bonefish, year-class dominance in trout, why there is no magic fly for a hatch, tying the Surf Candy, and much more. And the main event is an interview with Adam MacNamara, manager of the Orvis retail store in Portland Oregon and longtime steelhead angler and guide. And you’ll never guess what we talk about. . . .

If you don’t see the “Play” button above, click here to listen.

61 thoughts on “Podcast: Steelhead Tips with Adam MacNamara”

  1. I like the long, slow explanations, and I think Tom’s patience with noobies is commendable. Orvis in general and Tom specifically have a long list of quality books for sale on fly fishing, but Tom is never condescending or impatient with those who refuse to read anything that isn’t free on the Internet.

    That said, Tom, I’d love to hear more in depth topics on the podcast, such as the show with Joe Humphries or the recent one on soaking worms, er, I mean fishing in cooler conditions.

  2. I have to agree with ChrisinVA. What’s makes this such a great podcast is that it is a resource for both the amateurs as well as initiated. I think driving listeners to “figure it out for themselves” via the Google machine would be a disservice, especially for the younger / less experienced listeners.

    Thankfully for Scott there is a fast-forward button!

  3. I think if you take out the long, you’ll begin to assume too much and may skip learning opportunities for people. Just because it’s simple for some people doesn’t mean it’s simple for others. Now, by no means is this coming from a critic on Broadway, but I started learning fly fishing from your beginners guide and continue reading your books five years later.

    I suppose what I’m trying to say is Tom is an incredible teacher who has educated tens of thousands of fly fishers from beginners to advanced, and I believe his teachings are on point. Teach the way you’re comfortable and people will continue to learn.

    As far as the podcast vs. book, obviously the books are much more detailed and better for learning. However, I listen to the podcasts at work when I can’t be reading a book or out on the water and love the opportunity to learn fly fishing all day!

    Thanks for all you do, would love to hear some more speculations on Midwestern fly fishing for trout and Steelhead for us MinnesOOtans who can’t make it to the coasts every year.

  4. I don’t have a problem with the detail that some consider remedial. If it is something I “THINK” I already know, I just increase the podcast playback speed. However, I usually end up slowing it back down because there is almost always something in the answer that is new.

  5. Thanks for all your thoughtful feedback. I figured this was the case, but wanted to find out how other listeners feel. The podcast is really structured not by me, but by all of you listeners out there. The more feedback I can get, the better I can make the podcasts for you.

  6. Tom,

    The listener lost all credibility as soon as he started calling himself an intellectual and tried to suggest you were being inconsistent with the “hare’s mask” question. Get outta here with that nonsense. This guy needs to go crawl back to his guild or whatever pretentious place he came from.

    The reality is, if it weren’t for you and all the personal effort/care you pour into the podcast, myself and many others would have never have learned about this great sport. I’ve listened to almost every episode and it never gets old. I’m an avid listener to many other popular podcasts and I think you do a terrific job of always keeping it fresh, interactive and interesting. That’s a very difficult thing to do consistently…

    Keep up the great work and we all appreciate it very much.


  7. Tom,

    I think you do an excellent job gearing your podcasts to a wide range of listeners with varied levels of experience. Sure, it would be great if you could just tailor the podcast to the things I personally want to learn and avoid all those topics I already know about, but all that would likely result in is an audience of one.

    I don’t think you speak too slowly when answering any questions, basic or Black Diamond. I believe you have a very clear and instructive style. Of course, not being an “intellectual” myself, perhaps I can just relate more to ” long, slow and overdrawn” explanations.

    The podcasts are informative, entertaining and fun. Thank you and Orvis for putting in all the work to keep them coming.


  8. As one of Tom’s more remedial students I appreciate the thorough explanations. I’ll echo the comments above and say even if it’s a topic I already know there is always something to be learned from a slightly different explanation. Never trust anyone that calls themselves an intellectual.

  9. Haha! Poor old Scott. He seems he may well prefer the ramblings on pescatorial pursuits by William F Buckley. I forget where Scott is from…if you said. I just hope he’s not from New Hampshire!

    Please keep talking about tippets and lines and hooks and leaders. It’s all good and very entertaining.

  10. I personally don’t mind the sometimes long winded explanations of “remedial” things. For one, I often learn something new about a topic I thought I was already well informed on. But more than that, as someone who came into flyfishing relatively later in life, my mid to late 20’s, I remember how intimidating it was to ask questions that you knew were common knowledge among the fly fishing elite. Unfortunately fly fishing can have a reputation of being snobby and elitist. Comments like Scott, I think that was his name, just perpetuate this. Any time I get frustrated with info being gone over that seems simple, I remember that I’m not the only one listening to this podcast and that at one point in time, that info wasn’t simple to me and those long answers were ground breaking. Thanks for everything you do to get new comers into this sport I love and also educate us “experts” along the way.

  11. Tom
    Love the podcasts and find your explanations worthwhile and to the point. You gear your podcasts to the beginner and the seasoned fisherman. There is enough snobbery in the fly fishing world. I think you go out of your way to show that fishing is what it is, a great lifetime sport that we all can enjoy no matter what our skill level or age.

    My only complaint about the podcasts is that there are not enough of them. Keep them cominng.


  12. I cannot disagree more with Scott’s comments.

    Podcasts are fantastic the way they are. The body of information in the archives is incredibly vast and so accessible for fishermen of all skill levels. There’s a podcast to get you started for any trip your planning or any type of fishing you’re interested in getting into. If someone wants advanced/detailed information they can always spend more hours getting to know their local fly shop, reading books, hiring a guide, or better yet, spend more time figuring it out on the water.

    One easy addition would be to just state what time the main podcast interview/topic starts in the informational text section of the podcast or at the beginning. If someone really needs to skip the fly-box section and go to the main topic, they can fast-forward to it. Not the least bit necessary though and I personally always learn something in every section of the podcast.

    Please continue the excellent work you’re doing and thanks so much for all the work you guys have done.

  13. Tom,

    I agree with what everyone else has already stated. Your podcasts are great (everything about them). Thank you for taking the time and resources to give back to the sport we are all so passionate about.

  14. Tom,

    You taught me how to fly-fish through your podcast and it was your method of teaching that allowed it to be possible. Last fall I was given a box of old fly reels and despite being an experienced “conventional” angler, I didn’t necessarily know the lingo required to make a Google search effective. Through your podcast teachings I was able to learn enough about fly-fishing to catch my first fish OTF, using a fly I tied myself, the following summer. I often times needed to hear you explain something quite trivial on numerous occasions to give me a greater understanding of what you were teaching and how to apply it.

    This seems like as good of time as any to thank you for the podcast and all you’ve taught me. I’m the sole angler of my family and there was no one else to introduce me to this side of fishing. =)

    Best regards,


  15. Given his misreading of your comments on the hare’s mask, maybe Scott should read more slowly or take a remedial reading class! Your podcasts are full of great information. They have definitely helped me “get the most of my time on the water.” Keep up the great work! Thanks, Tom.

  16. I love the podcasts. I like the subject matter and your delivery. Though I do not like to tie flies I still find the subject interesting. I think Scott is way off base- it is people like him that give FF the stuffy rep it has. I have been FF for 45 years and do not pretend to know everything. Keep up the great work Tom.
    Now mt question..I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and fish Spring, Summer and Fall. . Can I just fish drys exclusively during those seasons? I catch and release mostly Brookies and Browns.

    Thanks for the podcasts.
    Den Koers

    1. Dennis Koers as a fellow year round trout fisherman, you can catch fish in the winter on dries. Midges and small stone flies are the name of that game. I would not fish dries exclusively though as winter hatches can be tough.

  17. Dear Mr. Expert Rosenbauer,

    I myself am a card-carrying member of The Intellectual Fly Fishermen.™ And on behalf of this distinguished group,* I completely endorse Scott’s perfunctory analysis.

    As when anyone decides to plunk-down hard-earned money for a premium brand, that decision often comes with a slight sticker-shock. I myself, will admit to feeling a dull pain in my blotarious region when I reached for my wallet in order to purchase this premium product. Shame on you Mr. Expert Rosenbauer, I could have bought fifteen other podcasts for the amount that I had to wallet-bleed in order to hear your unintellectual “words”.

    Luckily, for the distinguished members of The Intellectual Fly Fishermen™ there is an easy and no-questions-asked way to get a 100%, cash-money return on your premium purchase of the Orvis Podcast. Rest assured Mr. Expert Rosenbauer that I’ll be passing this information on to the other The Intellectual Fly Fishermen™ member at our next meeting on Oct 25 at the Applebees at the corner of Bloat and Duesche St, Big Wind, FL.

    Tony L
    Southwest Utah

    *Membership in The Intellectual Fly Fisherman™ is currently two persons. Those wishing for an application should see the information at bottom.**

    **For those with hair-trigger reactions, this is a joke.
    **Scott can be a little testy. Scott requests that members do not make direct eye contact with Scott. Scott smells like Brie cheese, that’s gone bad. Please don’t comment on Scott’s sweat wristbands.

    1. Tony you gave me a good laugh. I think Lewis Coleman is president of “The Intellectual Fly Fishermen” (If you don’t get this reference please see April 1, 2014 podcast)

  18. I think the podcast are great just the way they are (and not just because I got my questions answered). Fly fishing is like anything else in life and you can always learn something new that you did not know; even about the simplest aspect of it. Thanks again Tom for the great podcast and taking the time to answer my questions!

  19. I’m a big fan of the podcast and enjoy your style the way it is.
    You can’t please everyone – however I admire you for trying.
    Thanks for making my long drives much more enjoyable.

  20. I believe your full explanations help beginners and people such as this “Steve” character who think they know all the basics and cannot learn from anyone other than lefty himself. Met lots of people like this in fly fishing and its appalling to send such a comment. Thanks for the podcast Tom!!

  21. Yeah, a lot of your Flybox topics are things that have already been talked to death. I skip that part of the podcast and have for some time. I appreciate the time, effort and knowledge you approach each podcast with, but how about we get a little more technical from time to time?

  22. I wonder if Scott is really Lewis Coleman trolling Tom from Kamkatchka. Scott, if that is your name, you contribute to the image of fly fishers being conceited snobs. Fly fishing is intimidating to many new anglers. Not every one can be Lefty Kreh their first season out. I have been fly fishing for over ten years and I don’t find the podcast too basic. Keep the podcast as is Tom. I feel sorry for any of the students Scott instructs as he is obviously arrogant and self absorbed.Step back from the mirror Scott, you are not that good looking.

  23. Just listened to the podcast and here to post my feedback to the listener’s comments….

    I’m a new fly fisherman and the level of details provided in the podcast really help me to understand some of the finer details of the sport which are most likely common knowledge to the seasoned fisherman.

    Tom- I find the pace of you voice just fine.

    I appreciate your patience with all of us and thank you so much for the podcast!

  24. Tom, Don’t change your “style” or breadth of coverage. Though more frequent secret discount codes for podcast listeners would be appreciated 😉

  25. Thanks to all for your comments. My head is swelled this morning, something Monahan hates to see as he sits right next to me and probably thinks I will be impossible to live with for a few days. I promise to keep my pacing the same, explain things clearly, but also to do some more advanced topics. Sounds like that should please everyone but Scott and Lewis Coleman.

    1. Dont change a thing. My journey in fly fishing began in 2008, the same year you started the podcast. It may be a good idea to frequently mention that those older podcasts are full of a lot of beginner tips. I still refer back to them for some basic advice when I need to. I have always felt like, that along with a few of my buddies, you have been my fly fishing instructor and mentor. More advanced topics are great, but we can all use a refresher from time to time. I really enjoy the tying and carp podcasts. Thanks to you Tom, I have caught the Carp bug. Your books are great, and I just ordered a new one, but the podcast is something I can listen to on the way to the river, on my lunch, or even at night when I m tying flies. Keep them coming for us non intellectual types. I also enjoy the product endorsement that you do as well.

  26. Tom:

    Please change NOTHING except the frequency of the podcast. I think i know Scott and somebody pissed on his cereal this morning. I continue to learn from every episode and frankly, am on my third round of listening to repeats, from the very beginning.

  27. Tell Scott that not everyone he meets on the trout stream will be a weasily condescending bookworm like him. Some of us non “intellectuals” might speak softly but carry a big stick. Someone could use a lesson in humility.

    Tom, keep up the great work! I know a modest amount and am always interested in even the most “remedial” of topics you cover. Sometimes I do hear a topic I would consider basic, then you put a new spin on it and help me see it from a completely different perspective. These times are when I learn the most!

    Thanks for all that you do!

  28. I get it, but don’t change a thing. It’s always good to be reminded of the fundamentals. Love the blog, keep up the great work!

  29. It is impossible to address the specific level of each individual listening to a podcast. Tom does a great job of offering a thorough explanation of topics without oversimplification or over-explication. He does not sound as though he is addressing a grade-school audience, but rather like an experienced mentor meeting the needs of a variety of abilities and interests. His podcasts are enjoyable and informative. I hope they continue as they are.

  30. No you do not over explain things and I appreciated the cadence of your voice. The writer does not like the detail of your explanations yet likes the way Tim Flagler explains fly tying. Clearly his opinion is based on his own knowledge regarding the topics you speak to and his knowledge of fly tying. I think Tim’s explanations are very detailed compared to yours even to little tips on tying in hackle. (strip off the fuzzies, strip barbules up on side and then snip barbules on the other leaving cut barbules to give the thread a place to purchase, then tie in the hackle. Now that is detailed instructions! I have been fly fishing for many years and I always come away with some new bit of knowledge from your podcasts.

    Scott mentioned he is an intellectual. Outside of Ernst Hemingway, I am not aware of any Intellectuals from Ketchum ID. Now I am aware of another. Thank you Scott.

    As to Scott’s comment on marketing, I guess there is some truth to it. Since I started listening to the podcasts, I have indeed become a pretty good customer at the Bellevue, Wa. store and the on line store. While you seldom plug products, your nefarious marketing schemes must have had an effect on me although I have been completely unaware of the subliminal messages received. I think I need a tin hat to wear.

  31. The podcast is great. When I heard that message from that listener and you read it out, I was laughing. Some people really don’t understand the concept of this podcast. It’s all about sharing information on what we do. And the way you explain it makes it easy to understand instead of complicate it. Sure you ramble on sometimes and I get that. I don’t complain. Keep up the great work Tom.

    Also love how more podcasts about two handed rods are coming to light keep them coming.

  32. Attention! Attention!

    Due to the incredibly underwhelming response for applications for membership in The Intellectual Fly Fisherman™ this months biweekly gathering has moved to a smaller location. Scott has secured the parking lot area for Applebee’s pick-up service “Carside To Go.” The meeting will be on Oct 25 from 2:30-2:44pm and that’s now at the corner of Whatta Rd and Dueche St., Big Wind, FL.

  33. Tom

    As both a long time fly fisher and podcast listener, I think you do a fine job. I find the “fly box” questions and your answers/explanations, interesting and informative. I think whether you are new to this sport, or have been at it a while, your podcast offers something for everyone. What I appreciate is that you don’t put on “airs” and come across as a know it all. Keep doing what you’re doing.


  34. Hi Tom,

    Don’t change a thing…It was your podcasts that changed my mind about Orvis.

    The image I used to have about Orvis was one of elitism and snobbery, catering only to the uber-rich and high-falutin ‘intellectuals’. I used to refer to your company in a ‘not-so-nice’ fashion by altering the spelling (I’ll keep my post clean, but I’m sure you’ve heard it before).

    But because of the work you, Phil, Pete and others in your department do to get fly fishing info out to us commoners, I’ve had to rethink my opinion. And learning of how your company puts “their money where their mouth is” and funds many conservation efforts, I now sing high praise for Orvis.

    Just so you know, your stealth marketing partly worked on this remedial student. Dare I say that I’ve (gasp) purchased an Orvis product or two. There might even be a ‘Catch Em on the Fly’ sticker on my gear box. But I don’t think I’ll ever be convinced to purchase a $500 dog bed.

    Your podcast is great. Keep up the good work.

  35. I love the detailed explanations. Being relatively new to fly fishing, Tom’s style has made the podcast an invaluable resource. I cannot speak for the advanced angler, but I can see myself going back to the archives for years to come.

  36. Tom,

    Though my opinion has probably been voiced in some way on these comments, I just came across the point in the podcast where you addressed your “advanced” listener.
    First of all, I’d like to commend you on bringing this to the attention of myself and other listeners. I believe it shows the transparency and integrity of your personality, as well as the care you take with your efforts towards this podcast.
    I like that.
    I think someone like you, who I would consider an expert, could easily fall into the trap of believing he/she is the ultimate authority and the final word.
    But you always take the time to self examine, as well as point out areas where you are still learning. You even point out tips from your listeners you view as bright ideas.
    I appreciate that from a teacher. In my experience with the podcast you always remain approachable.
    Again, I appreciate that.
    I am an intermediate fly fisherman. I don’t fish as much as I’d like to, nor do I know as much as I’d like to. Isn’t that the same for all of us though? Maybe I, too, am an expert.
    Just kidding, I don’t know anything.
    I picked up almost everything I know from my dad over the past seven years. And then I came across your podcast about six months ago. It has been an incredible resource for me. I take something away from every one you do.
    One thing I find fascinating is there’s always more to learn. Both in fly fishing and just plain old life.
    Sometimes you cover topics that lose a little bit my attention due to the fact that they do not necessarily apply to my fishing situation, but in no way do I attribute fault to you. I still learn things I didn’t know. And I know someone somewhere is getting a great bit knowledge from it. Which is really cool. It also just gets me more excited for what you choose to cover in the next podcast.
    In regards to the email mentioned on the podcast I’d like to reiterate a comment I read here prior to writing this: if you begin to assume everyone listening knows what you’re talking about you may miss out on opportunities to teach listeners newer to this fine art.
    Personally I think you have a great mix of both general and specific topics that span over a wide range of experience levels.
    And yet, again, the podcast remains approachable.
    We all must never forget that, at some point in our lives, we once never knew how to tie a fly onto a line.

    So I’ll leave this comment as both an encouragement and a thank you.
    I think you’ve got this podcast figured out.
    Thank you for the knowledge you share and caring enough to share it.

    Maybe we’ll fish sometime,


  37. Tom, I really enjoy your podcast and have learned a ton and it has made a world of difference in my fishing. It sounds like Scott needs to spend more time on Google lol to understand English. There is very different levels of fishermen that listen to this podcast. And I for one enjoy what the podcast has become keep up the great work!

  38. I would love to hear some on Atlantic salmon fishing. A how to or tips on tying those beautiful flies up. I’m just getting started on collecting information such as books and videos on tying salmon flies. They’re so beautiful and look like a fun challenge to tie. Thanks again for the podcast keep up the great work.

  39. Tom, keep up the good work.
    As mentioned in more than a few of these comments, flyfishing can be intimidating to newbies and the attitudes some folks carry make it worse.
    I’ve returned to flyfishing after a twenty year absence and have thoroughly enjoyed the podcasts on my commutes.

  40. Keep up the great work Tom! Much of my thoughts have been expressed here already, but I too enjoy the amount of detail and explanations. Your podcast is very educational. I think we as anglers are always learning and the detail can help and I am sure has helped the entire spectrum from beginner to advanced. You do a great job of picking the questions in the fly box section and vary greatly in technicality (for lack of a better term). Thanks!

  41. Please don’t mess with what you do, it’s PERFECT! I highly value the pace and level of detail Tom gives us. That guy’s opinion is one person’s opinion (and it sounds like he’s in the minority). I’m a somewhat noob (fly fishing for 2 years) and absolutely love the podcast just the way it is. Tom was just getting us worked up by reading that guy’s letter on the air, and asking for comments. But it worked! 🙂

  42. Tom,

    Thanks for the podcast. I work 10 and 1/2 hour graveyard shifts all by my lonesome and the podcast gets me through some nights. Keep them as long as possible. I’m always excited when a new podcast comes out. As for Scott, I would recommend that this one time you refer someone to Google and have him do some research on humility.

    I would love to hear as much about Atlantics and Atlantic Salmon flies, Spey flies, and Dee flies as possible.

    Thanks again for the podcasts. I’ve probably listened to the Joe Humphreys podcast about 2 dozen times.

  43. Tom, thank you for continuing the podcast. I appreciate all of your answers.
    Scott’s email points out an issue of why many are intimidated to start the sport – there’s a ton to learn and it doesn’t seem beginner friendly. Not everyone has 40 years of experience.
    I started fly fishing last year on a trip to Bozeman, MT and fell in love.
    It’s comments like Scott’s that have lead me to start working on a short e-book for beginners to fly fishing…because it is intimidating and you don’t want to feel like a fool out on the water. With what seems like a different casting technique for every day of the year, where the heck do you get started?
    If the speed of your speech is an issue, he can always speed up the playback speed or fast forward. On occasion, I’ll move my playback speed via podcast to 1.5x and can still hear things just fine with you.
    That, however is when I’m just in a hurry and want to learn as quickly as possible. When I want to enjoy the relaxing and soothing cadence of Tom’s voice (don’t be creeped out), I keep it at its normal playback speed.
    Let’s be honest, fly fishing is a relaxing thing, it should be relaxing to talk about it, no need for hyper-caffeinated speech to talk about the soothing sport of fly fishing or the hobby of fly tying.

    Thanks again Tom!
    Looking forward to the next one!

  44. It seems we have reached a consensus, us and Tom R 53 and counting Scott either 0 or very close. As usual you were extremely gracious with Scott and in no way defensive. It’s free Scott, if you don’t like it change the channel.

  45. Tom,

    “Mr Intellectual” has got it all wrong…yes, a lot of fly fishing is technical in nature and most of this info can be found on the “inter-webs” very easily. I can feed my frontal lobe with hard data about fly fishing and call myself a student of the sport, but so much of fly fishing is the “art”. This is where your years of on the water and experiences are invaluable.

    I listen to your podcast to transport myself to that part of my head where all the awesome fly fishing memories live. Even if you are talking basics, I can envision a time when those basic techniques resulted in a big brown in my net and a huge freakin’ smile on my face! I have been fly fishing for 30+yrs (thank you Dad for taking me to the Orvis fly fishing school in VT at the age of 8!) and almost every podcast I take away a little tidbit for my fly fishing bag-o-tricks.

    Tom, thanks for all you do – don’t change a damn thing and keep the interesting, full of character guests coming!


  46. I think that the podcast is just right. There are many of us that are new to this sport, me about 3 years after a
    35 yrs hiatus, that appreciate the detailed explanations. For those that already know everything they can still glean new information and have a great review. Thanks Tom for all the work you and your guests do in preparing and presenting these fabulous podcasts.



    This is typical dude. You get all hot-n-bothered about process and alliteration and hierarchy—and then you flake-out. I stood outside in the freezing rain for 35 minutes man! Yeah that’s right I got there early, like around 2:10 pm—I’m a professional. At 2:45 I was asked to leave by a nice, but a little suspicious and confused Applebee’s server, named Traci. I’m done dude, I’m done.

    And your wrist sweat bands look stupid! There, I said it.

  48. Tom:
    What everyone else said…
    Keep doin what yer doin. Though more frequently would be great! [I know you have nothing else to do.]

    If you don’t like it, stop listening. Read a book. Watch one of the (2) shows on fly fishing on the sports networks. Take a casting class. Go fishin. No one makes us listen.

    Thanks for all your fine work and willingness to share your experience. I took up FF since I retired – 5 years now. Lots to learn still & the podcasts fit nicely into that. Currently enjoying your “Prospecting…” book.

    E Montpelier

  49. Tom,
    I love the podcast the way it is. Your explanations often give detail that can help any angler,not just inexperienced ones. I often pick up nuggets of information from you on topics I thought I had a good understanding of.
    The way I feel about it is, If you have nothing left to learn about fishing, why are you listening to a podcast about it in the first place? If you think that podcast should be different, then go create your own.

  50. Tom can feel free to ramble on all day. As a beginner fly fisherman who is a quick learner I very much appreciated the long explanations. I learn quickly and have only been fly fishing for about six months and I can guess Tom’s answers often and it helps retain all of the information. Keep up the rambling grade school teacher act.

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