February 19th, 2001

The Privilege
By James Castwell


Funny how it was back then, the early sixties, fly fishing the main branch of the Au Sable in Michigan's lower peninsula. The rods and reels I used were more or less entry level stuff. I would camp on the main stream and fish it and the south branch on the same weekend. Then the next weekend, camp on the south branch and fish it and the main. About ten minutes separated the two.

Being human a twinge of well concealed jealousy would sometimes tweak at me when I would meet the occasional acquaintance who sported one of those "good" fly rods. Cane. I am talking about cane here, not just bamboo rods, cane! I got to know the names of a few, Paul Young was one of them, there was Payne too, and Leonard rods would show up sometimes. Orvis did not seem to be in the same class somehow, not quite sure why not, just weren't.

I saved up though and bought an Orvis. Nearly caused unsurmountable family discord, but managed to get the rod anyway. I was pleased with the rod. It fished well although it was too heavy for the fishing I was doing and I often got blisters on opening day. Plastic impregnated it was and a thing of beauty. I would show it off during the long winters to any who dropped by my home. Not to 'show-off'' that I had it, it was just darn pretty. I loved the coloration and the smooth finish. But it was not one of 'those' rods, the cane ones I mentioned earlier. Those names still held a special place in my mind.

In later years I got another smaller Orvis which fished far better as it was more suited in size to the fish I was after. It did not have the magic the first one did. Nothing can equal the 'magic' of a first rod. And I got a nice little french bamboo rod too, a parabolic number, nice but nothing spectacular.

I since have sold the Orvis rods and the French ones too, down to only graphite stuff. They are fantastic casting tools, unmatchable in performance. But none have any 'magic.' They are not a living thing, never have been. Now the 'Fish-In 2001' is on the way. Famous waters, made famous by masters of our sport. Those who wrote the book on fly-fishing. Their waters, their pools, their runs. The heart of fly-fishing, of which I have read and dreamed for as long as I have held a fly rod. In July of this year I will cast upon those very streams. I will do it with a man-made rod, but I will do it.

I will make good casts and I will catch trout, after these many years I am a fair hand at the sport. But I have reached the opposite end of the spectrum now. In early years I could not justify, rationalize nor afford one of 'those' rods. Now I guess I could, but I can't rationalize owning one. The number of days left for me to fish those fabled streams now dwindles to a precious few, certainly not enough for me to justify owning such a treasure.

I will, however I am told, be allowed to fish for a few hours while there with a cane rod, not just bamboo, but cane (for me there is a difference). I am indeed looking forward to that very much. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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