Pretend you have just heard this comment. You
build the scene around it, probably on a stream
"Ya, got that beauty on my 3wt with a 7x tippet!"
Ok, now think about what you were able to build
around it. What pictures could you come up with?
Don't cheat and keep reading. Stop and think a
minute. What did the statement convey to you?
Anything about the fish? Sure, I guess it was
large for it's kind. How about the rod? Well,
it was a 3wt, but what brand? Is he proud of
that brand? Custom made? No, nothing about any
of that. The tippet now. 7x, mighty thin, the
guy must be a really good fly-fisher or the fish
is small. Need more info on this.
Roughly this is about it. He got a nice fish on
a light rod and leader. He is good. Now let's
take another comment. Rather similar situation.
"Yes, took her on my 7ft Payne Perfection."
Whoa, this is different. Well, go ahead and build
the scene again anyhow. Put the guys on a stream
bank someplace. Ok, now, got it? Let's see what
you came up with. Let's start with the rod first.
A seven foot Payne Perfection is a fine tool. Light,
delicate, rather expensive. Not the rod of a beginner
nor a ham-handed fly flogger. The tool of tradesman.
The fish? Well it was worth commenting on, right?
Therefore a worthy contestant. The leader and tippet?
Do you need to know? Obviously they were light enough
to do the job and strong enough not to break. Ok,
Castwell, is there a point to all of this? I sure
hope so. If so it may be something like this.
News Bulletin: Mr. Leonard did not make all
of the Leonard rods. Nor did Mr. Orvis make all of
those. Or Mr. Payne make all of his either. These
were companies which produced rods on a production
basis. No one person actually made any of them.
Assembly line fashion was how it was done. It kind
of destroys some warm and fuzzy mental pictures, but
it is fact.
However, those who bought and fished those rods were
more inclined to give credit to their rods than
themselves. For instance, he didn't say, "my 3wt
Payne" (showing how great he was), but giving the
name of the rod instead. Sorry (perhaps) to say,
there was more pride in equipment half a century
ago. Even as rods were constructed on an assembly
line the pride of workmanship and the skill of the
artisan were important. Not to diminish the rods
of today, masterpieces for sure, but more machine
made than man made. Was that a good thing? Well,
back then it was.
Now coming into the new millennium of fly fishing
what do we have? Some good, some not so good and
the others. The good? For sure the major rod makers
of today have achieved the zenith of the casters
dream. Rods built for and which function any way
a caster might wish. Pricy some of them yes, but
they will do the job as expected perfectly. For a
few dollars less rods can still be had that are
better casters than anything our ancestors ever
dreamed of. And carry a lifetime guarantee as
well. You bust it, they replace it.
Now looking at cane (bamboo to some of you) we
see a different picture. The heyday of the major
companies pounding out volumes of rods daily to
keep up with the demand is gone, over, done. No
more will it exist. However it has given way to
another, just as will always happen in our sport.
The era of the cane rod maker, still making rods
about as fast as he can. But now, when you get a
cane rod, guess what? If it's a Kusse, Mr. (Ron)
Kusse did make it, the whole darn thing. And if it
says Sommers, well, Mr. (Bob) Sommers made it,
that's what. This is not a bad thing. The major
makers still are using assembly-line methods, but
he does all the parts himself. This is, in fact,
great. I feel there is a strong trend moving among
the shadows of our fraternity where the names of
the rod makers are being heard. Not just whispers,
but names are surfacing from all corners of our
country, some build one at a time, some a bit
more production oriented.
It is true, many of them use a taper of some
of the past masters, but most can not resist
tweaking them a bit. The name on the rod is
often the name of the original taper. If I
bought a rod and something was written on the
butt section, I would prefer it was the name
of guy who made the thing, not the taper.
The pride of our equipment. I think there was
some attempt to try to convince us it was wrong
to be prideful. That is not the same as having
pride in something you can do or something you own.
Why do you think the big rigs on the highway
get washed so often? Pride in a Peterbuilt,
Pride of ownership is fine. Celebrate it. Buy
yourself something real nice soon, something
you can be proud of, and maybe pass on to your
son. Make him proud of you. ~ JC