Lots of talk these days about kits. Kits for all
sorts of fly-fishing related things. Might be that
Christmas is on the way, maybe it's the same old
seasonal thing, winter is here and we can't fish
so we tie flies and build rods and make leaders
and find any excuse we can to fiddle with our
I want to talk to you old timers for a minute here.
You remember back a few years when you bought a kit
to build an airplane? You opened the box and found
a set of plans, diaphanous tissue paper and a few
sheets of thin balsa wood. Oh yes, a propeller,
some wheels and some small bits of wire for some
unknown use at that point. Now, 'that' was a kit.
These days a 'kit' is two halves of a plastic plane.
Glue them together (if they do not snap together)
and whoopie! You are done! In years past a 'kit'
would last me most of a 'Michigan' winter, and that
would be with a few coats of special fuel-proof paint
What is a rod kit these days? How long will it take
you to, 'build you very own fly rod?' Right, not long
at all. We need to improve on that. How about fly-tying?
Same problem there, but never fear, I, J Castwell, am
here with my usual expertise to save the day and solve
the situation. The way I see it, if a guy can't read
(too young, too old or spent too many hours being
pounded behind the windshield of a metal-flake) he
shouldn't even be sold a kit, let alone be allowed
to try to build something from one.
He should have at least rudimentary tools; a full size
drill-press, planer, lathe, joiner, sander, table-saw,
router and metal-turning tools. A nice sized outbuilding
suitable for raising a few chickens would be in order
too. And a nice little wire enclosed yard for them to
scratch about in. Now you can see where we are going
here. A rod kit should be more than just a few
'already-done-fer-ya pieces.' A fly-tying kit should
be equally inclusive and complex.
Let's look at the fly-tying kit I recommend. This is
not necessarily the biggest, the best, the best buy
or anything like that. This is a 'real' 'Fly-Tying'
kit. I like to think there should be some well-cushioned
chicken eggs in the kit. At least a few will (with care
and diligently followed instructions) probably hatch
and that will be part of the tyro-tiers learning-curve.
He will value his hackle far more if he raises it and
also eats the original owner. A note here; care should
be exercised on naming the walking-around-hackles,
makes 'snuffin' them at a later date troublesome.
No kit should contain any thread, hell that stuff is
everywhere, no point in confusing a new guy with even
more of it. Hit the sewing basket, no one will miss a
few spools. Make a game of it, a challenge, be creative,
swipe stuff. I am sure you can create a kit too.
The same with a fly-reel kit. A solid block of 'aircraft
grade aluminum' bar stock (what ever the heck that is).
A set of plans and a few sheets of emery cloth in
differing grades of grit should do the job nicely
and help you while away some of those long winter
nights in the process.
For fly rods the options are nearly endless. A pole
from a carpet company should get a guy started in bamboo.
I have seen some really good looking cane just laying
around those discount joints. For a more modern result
(fiberglass), my local farm store has some nifty sections
of stuff they sell for electric fences. Grind these babies
down to a taper, thread them together and ya got a dandy
rod that you really did make all by yourself.
These days things are too easy. We need to go back to
the 'good-old-days' where winter had a reason to exist.
It was for making stuff, visiting folks and changing
how we lived. These days stuff comes too easily, winter
is a nuisance, folks visit by cell-phone and there is
no time to change anything we do; the seasons just
I wonder if someone makes a 'kit' for life? Something
that will make us slow down, take our time, involve
others and think things out. Kick back and live life,
not just watch it go by.
Ah heck... You're right, they have.
They call it "Fly Fishing."
~ James Castwell