October 24th, 2005

'It ain't soup yet!'
By James Castwell


If you remember that phrase, you are not a 'spring chicken.' It was a commercial for a product some time back and that meant that the product wasn't done yet, not finished, needed more of something. Another one you don't hear anymore is something about "it's in there." That was a spaghetti sauce. Oh yes, fly fishing stuff. Ok.

Sometimes I get jealous watching people on TV bragging about how much fun they have at work. Make millions play acting and they call it work. Then they take off from 'work' and go fishing. Must be nice as the expression goes, do what you consider play and get paid for it. Sure is not like my job.

Spend a few hours a day on the web site making sure the kinders don't run wild in the bulletin board, chat on the phone with some of the top fly fishing guys in the world, just to see what is happenin,' on the phone with many of our sponsors finding out what is new and exciting that I might be able to let you all know about. (Truthfully, very often I know stuff that I just can not let out. If I did, then they would not keep me in the 'loop' in the future.) So here I sit, bursting to let you in on the latest and greatest and gotta keep my yap shut.

And fly gear! You have no idea of what I actually go through. Eighty percent of the time when a Fed X or a UPS truck is on our street, it's stopping here. New rods, reels, clothing, fly lines, bags, you name it, we get it. Now, actually I send a great share of it back after whatever the reason it is here for is finished. Testing, evaluation, recommendations, field-testing, advise on some element of it what ever it is, sometimes they consider I am on a 'pro' staff of something. In reality, those things are a bit on the 'loose' side. I think often they just want you to be seen wearing a shirt with their name on it.

So, now you are starting to get a small glimpse of how tough things are here at the mansion, pounding away on my gold plated keyboard day after day. Well, it is not all fun and games. In fact sometimes there are actually real problems, really! Oh sure you say, but, for instance. I have a sponsor who sends me a product. It stinks. Now what? Might be a rod, reel, book, bag, line, even a new book. It can be a tough spot to be in. If a company or publisher makes or prints something, someone must think it's alright. If I do not, am I insulting whoever, by saying I don't like it? Heck yes I am. Could I lose a sponsor if I do it? Yes I could. And did once. Make that twice.

But, there is a fun side to this miserable occupation I call a job. Sometimes I get something in that 'is not soup yet.' And I know it from the start. Case in point just this last week. A major rod maker, (who will remain nameless) sent me (us really) two rods to check out. One a three weight and the other an eight weight. Now, the three is very nice but it's not a three. At least I didn't think so, and neither did Ladyfisher when we had it on the testing range (street in front of mansion). From what we had understood, the maker really thought it was a three. So, now I got a problem.

We call him and give him our report. (NOTHING goes in print on stuff like this). We gently explain that, "we feel (notice the weasel wording) the three might be even better with a two weight line!)" This time we got lucky. He agreed with us, but did not want to influence our ideas on the rod so he hadn't said anything. Yikes! You want to tell one of your sponsors the nifty new rod he just sent you is wrong? But, like I said, it's a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Then there was the other rod, the 9 foot eight weight. We knew going in the thing had problems but no one could quite figure out what they were. Like, how in heck am I supposed to? The Castwell is great at almost everything but even I have my limits and know what some of them are. Designing fly rods is way up on the list of stuff I do not have any idea of how to do. Why should I? Just because I have cast a great share of fly rods for over half a century means nothing accept that I can cast a fly rod. It's like expecting an electrician to be a great plumber. Life doesn't work that way. I can cast them but not design them.

These engineers lose me in a heart-beat when they start talking techi. I do know some of the stuff that goes into some of them that I am not supposed to tell anyone about, but after that, I am lost.

So, here we are with this rod. They were right, at least we can agree on that. It's a stinker and I have no idea how to correct it. I am not even sure what is wrong with it. It kind of wobbles or recoils somewhere in the middle. The tip seems weak, but we are not sure. Love some of the hardware, but that is not what they want to hear. They want to know if we think it's screwed up and if so, how to fix it.

This is interesting though. It will cast. Short medium and long, does it all. Just would wear me down to a nubbin in short order. That is one of the things we have to be aware of, that almost no matter haw bad a rod is, we can cast it. This is true for nearly anyone though who has a fair knowledge of casting. One of the rods I have is for demonstration use only. Cost me about ten bucks if I remember right. It's a stinker, but I used it one day for a casting demonstration and didn't tell the audience until after the show. I had a 'shill' mention that "anyone could cast with a high-priced rod like that!" I love it when a plan comes together.

I am sure some of the designer fellows could spot it in a minute and I know, back at the plant, they will. It is some new material and method of laying up and they are taking their time developing the whole concept. Some day, perhaps far into the future, you may cast these rods and just love them. Probably that will happen, actually.

So, the next time you flip the handles of a new reel, feel the finish of a fly line, wiggle a rod, or check out some new gear, just think, I might have been just a tiny part of the development. It's an honor and we're very proud to do what ever we can. The best part is that... we get paid to do it! ~ JC

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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