As time goes by in my fly fishing endeavors, the more I
find myself really de-evolving as far as equipment goes.
The "Neanderthal" herein being myself, not anybody else,
since I'm speaking solely to hear myself talk now.
Oh sure, I could be just bellyaching about being po', but
that's only part of the story. I think being a Yuffie
(that's a Young Urban Financial Failure) has actually
accentuated my devotion to the primitive movement. Besides,
I still enjoy bamboo rods the most, which while classical,
are no longer minimalistic.
I mean, I fly fish because I enjoy it, right? I don't
need a lot to make me happy. Yet I find, in the last
few weeks, that I am fishing my five-weight rod even
when I shouldn't be, when a larger line or even a
smaller line would be better suited for the application
Why then? It's not so much the rod, as the reel. Yes, my
five-weight line is on a Medalist 1494˝, and I simply
adore it. It's not even a USA-made Medalist, it's just
a Medalist I picked up a couple years ago for some
Shoot me, but I like the sound of it. I'm not worried
about spooking fish anyway, I'm fishing bass and bluegill
for cryin' out loud. I like the click. I have an Okuma
large arbor reel and it doesn't click. I miss the click,
so I fish my Pflueger Medalist because it satisfies my
click desires, whatever Freudian reasons may lurk within.
One day I had a malfunction on another brand of reel and
was left without the ability to use the rod I wanted. I
could have simply switched spools if I had kept up the
de-evolution solution, but no, I had to switch rods. If,
on the other hand, I had two reels and enough spools to
accommodate all my line size needs, I'd always have a
backup, right? So I am going to convert all my reels to
Medalists and happily click my way into fly-fishing nirvana.
Two hundred buck Battenkills large arbors? I could buy ten
Medalists. Besides, they look far better on bamboo than
space-age designed, modern-material reels.
Don't get me wrong here, I'm not going to automatic reels
like my dad and I fished when I was a kid. That's not Neanderthal,
that's art deco. And I'm not knocking anybody's choice in tackle,
to be certain.
When I went to Montana, a buddy of mine tagged along at
my invitation. He wasn't a fly angler but was interested
in trying it, so I sent him to Uptown Angler in New Orleans
to get a rig. He came back with a brand new Sage and a
Battenkill reel and we took off into his back yard for
me to teach him to cast it.
Let me tell you, I was quite happy to hand him off the
rod as soon as I could. Oh, it was a fine-casting instrument,
no doubt about it, but I couldn't feel it in my hand. It was
like casting a feather, and I realize that this has many
advantages, but you know, I really miss heft in a rod. I'm
not talking about arm-breaking, joint-wearing, muscle-tearing
old nine-and-a-half foot ten-weight Montagues here. But I like
to feel something in a rod, some little reassuring weight that
let's me know it's real, not my imagination. The Sage my friend
bought was a darned fine rod, but I was never really sure if I
had cast it or not.
In the same vein, I had been wanting a seven-and-a-half foot
four-, or better yet, five-weight for close work on the lake
and in narrow canals. I coulda spent a bundle on it, for a
Yuffie, but I decided to risk a meal at the casino café for
me and my girl, and bought a thirty buck Purist for my birthday
present (thank you, thank you, it was Oct. 10, don't ask my age...
okay, I'm 41, please don't laugh!) What I found was that I liked
it. Didn't compare to my friend's virtually nonexistent Sage as
a casting tool, of course, and the point is, I didn't expect it
too. I got my Granger for celestial casting! It's all about
expectations, isn't it? What you want to get from your fishing.
It's fishing, after all.
Don't think I'm taking a minimalistic attitude for some
holier-than-thou reason. I don't mind how much money other
people spend on tackle, and I don't mind knowing that their
high-power five hundred dollar rod might outcast mine like
there's no tomorrow. But I have just found, I guess, that
I don't need to worry about it.
The only exception remains bamboo. My bamboo rods still cost
a bit, of course, but then, bamboo is sort of a neo-minimalistic
thing. It's like antique Coke machines someone threw out to
the dump are worth thousands of dollars as living room decorations.
Go figure. As least I can catch fish with my bamboo rods. Most
antique Coke machines don't even give you a Coke.
I don't tie leaders. I spend two bucks for knot-less leaders
from - brace yourself - Bass Pro Shops. Horrors! Suit me just
fine, but gets expensive. So I'm going to de-evolve again and
invest in a couple of furled leaders and a couple spools of
tippet. Back to basics, yet again.
It's fishing, for Pete's sake.
Point? Well, I'm just not worried anymore that I can't cast
an entire line. Used to bother me, now I really don't give a
rip. What do I need to fish ninety feet away for? I couldn't
see a fluorescent glow-in-the-dark deer hair popper at ninety
feet, much less a strike. I'm not complaining that my turnover
and presentation isn't delicate enough. I'm not fussing about
my rods breaking every other trip, or the noise my Medalist
makes (such a nice sound!)
I'm not that great a caster anyway. I get the job done. Nothing
elegant about it. I don't cast like I'm painting the Sistine
Chapel, I'm more of an impressionist caster. I ain't even Picasso,
and by the way, it's just fishing.
So while I am delighted others can afford five hundred dollar
rods and high-dollar reels, please don't look down your nose
at us Neanderthals. We're just having a good time, maybe even
as good as you are! That's what really bugs some high-end
tackle-buyers, I think: The idea that the guy with a hundred
buck Redington and a twenty buck Medalist might be having as
much fun as he is.
But after a devilishly hot summer, low water levels across
most of my waters until two hurricanes came by for tea, I
don't get to fish much these days anyway, and that's about
as minimalistic as it gets, ain't it? ~ Roger
It's out! And available now! You can be one of the
first to own a copy of Roger's book. Native Waters: A
Few Moments in a Small Wooden Boat
Order it now from
or Barnes & Noble.com.
Roger will also be giving away three autographed copies to
readers. Stay tuned, for an announcement on the Bulletin
Board on that soon.