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January 3rd, 2000

The Best Fly Rod
By James Castwell

Recently, on the bulletin board, there has been a lot of comment on which is the best fly rod. Some of it a bit spirited. That is a good thing too. Sure be a lousy world if nobody gave a rip about the fly rod they used. I do think in years before the bullet-proof guarantee we may have thought more of our pet rods, but I covered that some in my last column.

A few years ago I was working a few hours in a local fly shop; really a 'cross-over' type of store with a fly shop in one corner. The store had spinning and trolling stuff, bait; everything for all kinds of fishing, not just fly. This gave us a chance to convert anyone who was somewhat interested in fly-fishing. It usually meant they were not too anxious to spend big bucks for all the new gear one may think necessary. Some of these guys figured a hundred bucks was equal to about twelve cases of beer; they equated a lot of things that way. I didn't sell many high-end reels nor rods.

A great share had to save up and also convince a wife that the whole change was a good thing somehow. A lot of, "going to improve family life and be a great thing for the kids." Life is like that, we do what we think will work, sometimes it does.

Anyway, a fellow came in one slow day seemingly interested in learning about fly-fishing. For some reason I took a liking to him right off. Not well dressed, a bit run down at the heels in fact, but seemed to have a sort of genuine quality about himself. I did my best to level with him after trying to find out his extent of fishing in general and perhaps why he was interested in fly-fishing. I was satisfied he had enough money to buy an inexpensive rod, reel, line, and some flies. My job, (if I was working for the customer, not the management) was to fix him up with the 'best' rod for him.

He knew nothing about casting, so I took him outside in an alley beside the store and gave him some casting training. He took to it well, but with a strong tendency to lob the rod as he had spent many hours with a heavy lure on a spinning rod. Definitely not the stroke for a fly rod. I decided the best rod for him was an inexpensive $78.00 one along with a cheap reel and a second rate fly line (actually a 'combo' I had made up). He would be good to go for many months pursuing the type of fish he said he wanted to go after.

Over the months he would come back in reporting his success and gathering more little things we all seem to think we can't live without. Our friendship flourished and so did his fly-fishing skills. His casting improved to the point he became ready for a rod with more performance. He got a better one and sold his old one to a buddy. He has continued to learn to this day and purchase more rods, usually going to higher performance rods as his abilities increase. I think it is true he spends a higher percentage of his income on fly-fishing stuff than most, but it is his money, who's to judge, I too am guilty of that.

At this point he can cast very well, we fish together, not as often as I would like, but as often as I can get away. He often asks for my opinion on a new rod. I still try to give him what information I might have. A few months back he asked me to find him a nine weight rod for salmon for here and Alaska. He needed a darn good rod, lots of backbone, a good 'caster.' Also, he wanted me to get him a reel and fly-line and backing for it that would match the rod. He said he would be in town in a few months and would pick it up then. I was able to make a few contacts and help him out. That is trust; I was and still am, flattered. Good friends are rare, I value those I have.

He is very pleased; says it is the best rod he has ever had. He should be, the whole combination is worth well over a thousand bucks. He has moved up. ~ JC

Till next week, remember ...

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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