July 18th, 2005

In Love with Cane
By James Castwell


I have no clue why I am. In fact, I don't think I am, not in love, just do love the 'lovely reed,' the rod of 'grass', 'boo', or for the uninitiated, bamboo fly rods.

It goes deep within me and there is where I get lost. I'm not going to go all flowery on you here, but somehow there is an aura about those rods which draws on me, makes me spend much more time thinking about them than I really should. And it bugs me.

You would think I might own a few of them if this was true. Nope, I don't. I have had a couple over the years, but not many. An H.I. and a Monty, old ones, a couple of Orvis way back, a french number and that is about it. Aren't any of mine here now, sold them for various reasons over time and didn't shed any tears doing so.

No, it's not the owning and fondling of them where the magic lies. Somewhere else. More in my head than in my hands. I read those stories of how guys will get all choked up fishing with a rod their father used, or grandfather used. I have no association with them as my dad did not fly fish. I have nothing handed down to absorb ghosts from.

Perhaps that's the problem. Am I jealous of those of you who have them? Might be. I, like I said, really don't know what and where it is. All I know it is there. Some of you know that Vince Marinaro and I were friends and that he was involved with cane rod making and had his own ideas on tapers. We were friends and he let me cast some. Did he ever give me one, or did I have him build me one? Nope. The truth on that is I didn't have the guts to even ask, and didn't have enough to pay for one either. I did for a few years have a small piece of a ten foot six weight he built and broke on the South Branch of the Ausable river in Michigan one cold and nasty weathered spring Hendrickson hatch.

He gave it to me to make a bodkin from. Somehow it has slipped away from me over the years. That I do miss. I think it might be that while I was learning about fly fishing the normal rod was cane, cheap bamboo, five bucks a rod at Montgomery and Wards. Sure there were the great rod making companies grinding out as many rods a day as possible, but they could not begin to service the whole country.

Then glass and soon after graphite came on and all of the cheap cane went bust. To find one of them today and attempt to fish it may be marginal due to some of the glues used and age in general of the rods and wrappings and varnishes. Mine was the age when one, if they were to advance, also needed to improve their equipment. Most of us could not afford the high priced cane so we went with the production rods which replaced the cheap canes. All the time lamenting we were too poor to get the real good rods.

Now I could I suppose afford one, but I have all the rods I will ever need now and can't rationalize any more fly-poles. I guess I am like the young adolescent in the old house. 'Too tall for keyholes and too short for transoms.' That's it. I grew up in an awkward age, a time of glory for the cane makers and the graphite rod makers, but not me. And so, now I am here and can afford one. And now, the names I remember, the great names of cane rod making, most of them are gone. ~ JC

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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