December 6th, 2004

About The "Magnum Opus"
By James Castwell

I posted this at 11:55 p.m. December 2nd. on our Bulletin Board, others added their comments. Some suggested it should be run as a column here. So be it, some of the comments, (without names) are here too.

It's eleven p.m., Thursday evening. I have to write this tonight, tomorrow will be too late. We normally work until about midnight or so, that's not the point. Tomorrow is a big day. Big for my wife and big for me. Tomorrow Fed-X will deliver her new fly rod. It's a custom quad from Ron Kusse, master cane artisan, Washingtonville, New York. It turned out even better than it was supposed to. Working with cane that can happen. Let me explain why this is important to me and why I have to write this tonight.

Years ago, early '70's she and I fished nearly everyday. We used glass and graphite mostly, neither one of us had a 'name' brand rod of any great value. I had a best friend, fellow named Neil who, for my birthday, gave me a six foot, one piece three weight rod he built from a bamboo blank from Orvis. An especially nice gift, from an especially fine person. I valued it highly. My wife fell in love with the rod and more or less took it over. She was a graceful caster, even back then. The two flowed together. About 1973 we moved from Michigan to Montana and the rod was too light for the waters we fished there. Because I wanted the rod to continue to be fished, not just hung over a mantle, I asked Neil if he would except taking it back. He did understand and we left the rod with him when we made the final move west.

Over the years since then we have owned and fished all manner of rods. From good ones to darn good ones. We bought a couple of used cane at Dan Baileys in Montana but they were only 'run-of-the-mill' things. Neither one of us ever owned a truly fine rod, but the P.M.'s did come close. The Orvis Battenkills were okay, but not notable.

Some time shortly after getting F.A.O.L. on line we came to know Ron Kusse. Within a very short time we came to greatly admire him and his talent. Although we had not owned great rods over the years, we certainly had seen many. None were in the same class. I in no way can begin to describe why his are a cut above any we have ever seen, but they are. Perhaps it is the decades he has spent at Leonard honing his trade. Time blended with a high degree of ability has put him above any we have ever known. Some of you may know of others who you might say are as good. And they may be. We just have not seen their work.

But I am drifting from my point here. I feel, without reservation, that Ron is, at this time, the number one cane maker. Period. We developed a deep friendship with Ron over the years and last spring I asked Deanna (LadyFisher) if she would consider having Ron build her a Quad. She had cast one at a 'Fish In' in New York a couple of years ago and considered the Quad and her style were as close a match as it gets.

We asked Ron and he was more than willing. It was supposed to be his regular five weight. We discussed whether she wanted it light or dark. That was it. She said dark and varnished. The rest was up to the 'artist.' Ron wanted it to be a bit special and as it evolved he saw it was becoming what he calls "Magnum Opus," that is his highest line of rods.

Things like that just happen. He informed us. We were thrilled, although this would effect the price, what an opportunity. Tomorrow it arrives. I know, he called me this morning. Tomorrow my wife gets her rod of a lifetime. I get the privilege of being involved somehow in the process.

You see, I feel she has been more than worth it for many, many years. It is kinda funny. When two people get to be our age it is hard to buy things for each other for birthdays and Christmas. Although her birthday is in December and Christmas is on the way, this is not a gift. It is her Kusse Quad. And she deserves it. And I love her.

Way to go JC

I have told my wife many times what I feel about her, but your post has me green with envy. Sue was the first one in the family to get a custom rod of any kind. You all know the story it was written here blow by blow. But even though she had never cast a fly rod in her life she loves the rod. She has yet to catch any thing on it, more the fault of my cancer than anything else. But she takes it everywhere we fish.

She will catch something on it some day.

JC, you showed more love in that post that she will be able to handle. Get out the tissues. Well done my friend.

It is 3:14am here Chemo keeps me up for a day or so. When my lovely wife wakes I will show her your post and tell her that this is what I am trying to say each and every day of our lives. She does deserve the very best.

LF, congrats on the new rod. I hope you can find a place to use it quick. We are in the middle of a cold front her, it will be 58 tonight and only 70 tomorrow but back in the 80's next week. Hint hint JC I hope you are healthy again, you are going to need it.

Class act!

Well said and well done.

Sometimes, not often, in the middle of the night (it's 2:05 a.m. here in the desert) one finds a really really good reason to be "up". JC, you just made my day, as it were! Your love for LF is so very very evident in your posting...she is a lucky lady to be loved so well. Well, now that I think of it, you're a damned lucky guy too, to have the chance to be in love with such a lady.

I'm happy for you both and we all will look forward with great anticipation to further Magnus Opus reportage. Seems to me that Mr. (or is it Mrs. or Ms.) M. Opus is being adopted into a wonderful home!

Your description of 'Magnum Opus' sounds similar to 'Excaliber', The rod described in a particular chapter of Charlie Fox's book, The Wonderful World of Trout. You've probably read that selection but if you haven't you should. Best of luck with your new rod. Enjoy it.

There is a great deal of satisfaction knowing you own what is arguably but no one will convince me otherwise) the finest fly rod in the world. JC, you will find out if your feelings for LF are mutual when you ask her to borrow the rod for a weekend with the boys.

Congradulations on a fine rod and an even finer relationship. I've never seen a Ron Krusse rod, but have been to his web site and dreamed about one. For those that are interested is seeing some real artwork, go to:

JC, I want to marry someone like you. do you have a sister?

(This is mine...
Thanks for sharing in this day guys. Tye, yes I read about that rod years ago, you may be right about it. This rod turns out to be more special all the time. I will bring the details soon. It is totally unique. It didn't start out to be that way; but you will understand why this may be the finest rod he ever crafted. This has become more of an affirmation and presentation. The warmth and sincerity of the rod maker could not be more evident. A special certificate of authenticity and crafting details accompanies the rod. Today is indeed 'her' day, thanks to a wonderful man who creates magic wands.) JC

This is sooooo romantic! I'm really almost in tears! It's not about fish, or flies, or even new custom made rods. It's about partners who adore (and deserve) each other. You are both very fortunate.

What a special gift, a treasured memento to a wonderful wife and companion, who along with you, has spent almost a lifetime in this wonderful world of fly fishing. Knowing both of you personally, I can think of nothing that could be more suiting. It's perfect.

I hope you don't mind me cutting and pasting this to my girl friend. She would never see it if I don't. I also took the liberty to say that this was written by a friend of mine. I hope you don't mind. I would like to meet everyone in here (in person). This is the best group of people on the earth.

I hope you and your bride enjoy the day. What a special sentiment and thanks for sharing it with all of us. By the way. I'm younger than you, so will you adopt me?

"Daddy JC"....hmmmm, I like the sound of it, already!

Thank you for sharing. I look forward to further posts about it. You have described how I feel about my wife also, but have trouble expressing. LF; Congrats!!! Fill us in on how it all works out.

Wonderful loving post. The best thing of all is that every time either of you see that rod it will bring back these feelings of love and that is an even better gift than the rod itself. We expect to hear LF write about the rod too (hint hint)

Along with a pic too!

Since the LF took such a shine to that special rod of Neils, long ago, do you suppose you could get away with "Shanghiing" this one fer yerself?..:-)) I mean fair's can tell her I said so. That should mean a lot..*grins* (Very nice post.) You're both very fortunate.

Huzzah, huzzah, huzzah! There is nothing in this world that makes you happier than seeing someone you love happy too! Good job POP!

Nice job JC...I hope LF loves it!

My rod has arrived - and it is just beautiful. Perfect! Ron did a magnificent job. I am thrilled. Can't wait to baptize it, no doubt spring on Rocky Ford. LadyFisher

LF & JC, Sounds like it's time to call Phoenix!

Marvelous! Absolutely marvelous!

Been there, done that! 6 months ago... (DT5)

Perfect! Now she's truly all set!

"WOW" What else to say?

LadyFisher, that is one beautiful rod!!!! I am now green with envy and exteremly jealous and...Jim it's no wonder that gal loves you sooooo much!

We must have a picture of some line slinging out from that beautiful work of art.

What a neat thing.*G* Somehow seems more like valentines day than nearly Xmas. Sounds to me like you guys already have what you want more than anything in the world. The rod is just window dressing.

very classy move, jc. I am sure she'll love it. so how'd she do with it in her hands?

JC, so why did you post this instead of making it your column? I've read every one of your columns since day-one in the archives. I've learned from them, laughed from them, but never been so emotionally touched by one.

When I discovered FAOL I actually also went back to day-one and read my way forward through the BB archives. I suspect most newbies don't do that. Please convert this into a "column" and get it into the JC archives there, where it is more likely to be read than if it is left in the archives of the FAOL BB.

Great looking new rod! I hope you both enjoy it very much. Let me know when you want to try it out in warm weather on the crick!

LF...that rod looks awesome. Just beautiful. Fine picture you took there. Too bad you reel with the "wrong" hand though :-))

Great story, great rod & GREAT love!...truly uplifting..thanks for sharing! ps: Dad! I've finally found you! I thought it was Micus, but that cheapskate won't spring a WalMart leader! signed, your little "bambooless" Mikey

Most marvelous, both the story and the rod!

Way to go JC. I trust you'll send me an invitation so I may be present for the Baptism of the latest addition to the Birkholm family. See ya in the spring?

What can I say... a beautiful rod for a beautiful lady. Well done, JC. You da man!

LF, a rod as great as the one you own deserves a truely honerable baptism. What about a spring creek with wild fish and no crowds? Beautiful trout and not the crouds of rf. Anyways, i know i few up by moses lake if you would like to baptise it there. Rocky Ford does have some great dry fly water though.

The rod looks beautiful, the love you guys share even more so. Thanks for sharing.

As it took Ron Kusse years of working at his craft and sharing ideas at Leonard to become the master he is today so also it takes years of contributing to the sport fishing and casting many different rods to earn and appreciate such a rod. It takes a master to recognize the depth of a master's work. I believe such a rod and Ladyfisher are a perfect match.

Stopped at 11:10 am December 4th, 2004. ~ JC

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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