May 11th, 2009

Why Cane?
By James Castwell


I'm not sure if it is a trick question designed to set me up or not but I'll take the bait. It's just too intriguing a question to let pass. Why do I fish bamboo. The reason it is tough is because either I don't have the answer, or am afraid of the answer if I do have it. Alright, here I go; am I a snob? Is anyone who fishes a cane rod a snob? Are all who fish cane rods snobs? How the hell should I know.

I have met and fished with a few snobs over the years and none were fishing bamboo rods that I knew of, noticed, or they made sure I noticed they were. Somewhere and somehow this idea has gotten all screwed up. Back in the olden days (1940's) (or so) there was nothing else. Only cane rods. All kinds though and they ranged from the really cheap to really high priced. Factory rods to fancy factory rods to custom rods to fancy custom rods.

So where did this snob thing come in? Probably not wise for me to answer that one if I did know. But, like you, I have heard it. Not in the past though. Nope, never heard it back when the only rods made were cane. And, I didn't hear it about anyone, but that might have just been because of those I fished with. I suppose there may have been some who were called that and possibly deservedly so.

Then there were the dry fly guys. The 'upstream and dry' ones. Why do some folks take off on then? Do some think it is a 'higher calling' to wade against the flow of the stream? Going against the grain somehow puts one in the snob class? Letting the water nudge you along as you dangle a simple nymph along ahead of you seems fairly wise. And a whole lot less work.

Alright, I need to confess a bit. My first fly rod was cane. Very low in price but terribly high in value. It was an acceptance of me by my relatives of being worthy as a fisherman. My own rod and it was a fly rod. I had made it to twelve. Life played out over the years and other cane rods were involved, none of any great value nor were the graphite's that happened along. I fished alone or with anyone who would put up with me and enjoyed it all.

I really do not think I was envious of anyone fishing a cane rod. During those years the fly fishing game was more focused on other aspects of it. Not so much on who had what. Oh, those rods I saw in my friends hands were lovely, shimmering casting tools but I think I was more happy for them than jealous of them. Once, a very special person back then finished a blank bamboo rod and gave it to me for my birthday, jeeze, how do you even attempt to describe that.

Then, later in my enjoyment of all of this, I had the opportunity to learn more about cane rods and began to absorb the romance and lore of the sport that is entwined with the rods made from grass. It is there, a certain something, a feeling of ‘rightness' when I am fishing a bamboo rod with a silk line to a rising brook trout. How much more can there be, upstream and dry with a silk line to a rising native. God, I am such a snob. ~ JC

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Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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