April 16th, 2001

By James Castwell

It ran alright, but I rebuilt the thing anyhow. It didn't suit me. After all, I paid forty bucks for it and it burned oil. I was sixteen and overhauling the engine of a '41 chev just didn't seem like a problem. My problem was this. Should I polish it all up pretty, or take the hood off and let the chrome goodies I had added show. Since I had not yet defined myself to myself, (or anyone else for that matter) I did both. I kept the hood loose so I could remove it by hand whenever the idea occurred to me. Yes, I defined myself to others by the looks of my rat-trap car. But, you must understand, I was young and had not yet matured.

Looking back I see that with the passing of many years . . . I still do it. I define myself to myself and others by my 'Goodies.' I notice I also define others by the same standards! For instance, living in Montana would not be bearable without a pick-up truck, a gun rack (with a gun or fishing-pole in it) and owning at least one (preferably big) dog. Some in other states need large belt-buckles or they dare not wear the matching hats. Guess we are all a bit funny about this kind of stuff.

I recall fishing at Buffalo Ford on the Yellowstone river one nice summer day. I wore my heavy waders with one of the straps crossed over my shoulders so I looked like a jerk, (no shirt under the waders,) and as unobserved as I could manage, landed trout after trout. No one bothered to watch such a goofy looking guy. I chose to define myself that day to suit my needs. Had I worn my regular fly-vest I would have been very noticeable. I did not want company, I wanted to fish.

I see I am doing it again these days. My wife has a new fly rod on order, one she has wanted for about thirty years and she has decided she 'needs' a new reel for it too. She is perusing catalogs again. She has settled on one. The rod is a custom-made Russ Peak, eight and a half foot five weight, made by Kerry Burkheimer. The reel she will get is a Thistle (fully ported of course) from J. Austin Forbes. They will "look good together," she says. She is right, they will, they will also help to 'define' her as a chick of quality and experience. She is both of those.

Me? My new rod? Right, it's a eight and a half foot Gatti five weight, three piece. My reel for it? The same one as hers. Not any better, not any less, exactly the same reels. The only difference will be the engraved initials on each. We are having a good time selecting these new 'goodies.' They will be our main rods at the Fish-In 2001 this summer.

By 'defining' in all of this I am referring not just to what I (perhaps many of us) want others to think about each of us, but how I (and others too) actually feel about ourselves. Our self-image is important. There is nothing wrong with that. My self-image dictates many of the things I do in fly-fishing and everyday life as well. Over the years, I suppose it may change a bit, mature some I hope, but it is still there, controlling many of the things I am and what I do.

You might give a little thought to this kind of stuff when you are ready to plunk down some hard earned cash for a new rod or reel. 'Goodies' can say a lot about who we are, at least for today they can. Think about this. Who owns a cane rod, lots of cane rods, a new cane rod, an old cane rod, a fiberglass rod, a graphite rod, a Labrador dog, a toy poodle, a click-and pawl reel, a fast retrieve reel, a camouflaged fly vest, a vest with every pocket filled with fly boxes, anything with the price tag still on it, uses mono instead of a leader, ties his own leaders? See what I mean? 'Goodies' count ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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