April 21st, 2008

Cane or Graphite
By James Castwell


I am lucky enough to remember when fly fishing was just that, fishing with a long skinny rod, a fly rod, with flies. Oh sure, I worried about many things back then as I do now. Which fly, where the fish might be, how to get a fly in front of him, how not to fall in, all of the usual stuff I suppose. Some things I didn't worry about though, which line to use, which rod to use, which leader to use, what (if any) tippet to use and which knots to use.

I only had one rod, one reel, one fly line (level silk), one leader (that was any good at all) and pretty much the same for tippet material. Knots were few and simple. I did not have any comparison of my fly rod to the ones throughout the fly fishing world either. Like was it too fast, too slow or too anything. I did buy a steel fly rod once and eventually its close cousin, the steel fly rod that was square so it wouldn't twist. But, the only rod I ever used with any seriousness was my cane (cheap at that) fly rod. It never, never, never occurred to me to handle, cast, treat, baby, worship, fondle, (well, there was an Orvis once, but that is another matter) or venerate in any way my fly rods. They were just fly rods. Just fly line casting rods. Rods to fish with.

Then came fiberglass and soon, graphite. Oh my, how things changed. Good grief, guys now actually buy rods because they like the color. The finish. The brand. The image. The reputation. The prestige. The store it came from. Back then my fly shop was Montgomery Ward, Western Auto and Sears and Roebuck. At least for a few years they were.

As I said, I had no 'warm and fuzzy' feeling for any of my cane fly rods (yes, I soon had more than just one) (they broke you know!) When they did I got new ones; big deal. I did not fawn over them, I fished them. I cast them and landed fish with them. But, now something has changed.

And I think it is something inside me. I attach nostalgia to cane rods. Nostalgia for times and events that never even actually happened. Maybe it's like watching the cowboy movies. Come on, you know it was not like that back in 1860 but, the cowboys didn't even look like that, but I like to think they might have.

A bit like that with cane rods too. Not just the old ones I get my hands on, you know the ones I mean, the ones that sing a siren song of the years that they lived for the recreation or the years they spent propped in a closet, but even brand new rods as well. I do fawn over them. I smile at them, gently stroke them, peer down the length for some reason. They make me feel good to see, to handle, to think about. They do give me a 'warm and fuzzy' feeling. I do grant them prestige and veneration. Just to have and hold; I confess, I like them best. They make me feel good.

Graphite rods don't. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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