May 17th, 2004

Spine, Spline, Schpline
By James Castwell

Can you say 'Ahhh?' Good, practice that and 'Ohoo,' 'Ah ha,' 'Oh' and 'Hmmm.' These are tools you will find useful when you go into a fly-shop and examine your newest hearts desire in fly rods. Or else you may be mistaken for a new guy and ignored, succored or hy-graded. Oh I know, not all shops will treat you like that, but it is best to have a few tricks of your own anyhow.

By now you already own at least one fly rod and have convinced yourself (rationalization is such a wonderful tool) that you really should have yet another. Not fully convinced, but looking to be convinced you wander into the spiders web.

And there they are. Rows and racks of gleaming willowy fishing sticks. The 'song of the siren' is in your ears, your heart quickens, little droplets of perspiration form on your temples, you can almost see yourself casting one of these new beauties.

"Well, hello there. My name is Todd, may I help you?"

Startled, you look up and into the suntanned face above the well pressed Banana Republic shirt and shorts. Back to reality now and you realize your game is up. You will be required to say something, hopefully something intelligent about fly rods. Situation. You don't know much.

The fix. Say nothing as you (a raised eyebrow can be employed here) nonchalantly (hand to the chin can help now) slowly reach out and select a fly rod. You have taken the advantage now, the ball is in your court. Todd may mumble something but ignore him for the moment. You are becoming keenly interested now in rods, certainly not in him.

Hold the rods grip in your right hand and with your left hand raise the rod to horizontal. Slowly roll the rod, first with the guides on the top, then with the guides on the bottom. Notice how the rod will be very nice and straight when the guides are on the top, but, when you roll them down the tip of the rod will droop? Maybe it will be the other way around. Interesting isn't it? Here is where you can employ one of those words from above. Like "Hmmm," this will throw Todd off for a while, run with it. If he asks you what you're doing ask him why the rod does that. He won't even know it does.

Now with one hand give the rod a shake, one shot, down and up. Make the rod stop dead when it comes back up. Do it a few times while repeating more of the phrases from above. Todd still has no clue what you are up to, pay him no attention. Look at the cork. Nice and tight, smooth, and no sharp edges? Good. Study it a bit more.

On to the windings now. Take it slow. Easy. Take your time, hell you may even want to buy this rod. Stretch it out, this can be fun. Study each wrap. One at a time, roll each one over, get up close and personal. As you get to the tip (and this really is important) look carefully at the last six inches of it. A very common manufacturing defect (the tip will not be straight, but twisted) can appear here called by a few names, one of which is 'Pig-tail.' Avoid this rod. It will possibly break and could mess up your casting as well.

Select another. Go through the whole process again. Todd will probably be with another customer by this time, we can always hope. You have won.

There is more you can do in selecting a new rod of course, but this will at least give you a few things to protect yourself the next time. By the way, before you buy any rod, be sure to cast it first if at all possible. Other than that, buy the one you like, the pretty one.

And oh ya, about spine or spline or whatever. Ignore it. Really, ignore it completely, everybody does, really. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

All Previous Castwell Articles
If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice