Can you say 'Ahhh?' Good, practice that and
'Ohoo,' 'Ah ha,' 'Oh' and 'Hmmm.' These are
tools you will find useful when you go into
a fly-shop and examine your newest hearts desire
in fly rods. Or else you may be mistaken for a
new guy and ignored, succored or hy-graded. Oh
I know, not all shops will treat you like that,
but it is best to have a few tricks of your own
By now you already own at least one fly rod and
have convinced yourself (rationalization is such
a wonderful tool) that you really should have yet
another. Not fully convinced, but looking to be
convinced you wander into the spiders web.
And there they are. Rows and racks of gleaming
willowy fishing sticks. The 'song of the siren'
is in your ears, your heart quickens, little
droplets of perspiration form on your temples,
you can almost see yourself casting one of these
"Well, hello there. My name is Todd, may I help you?"
Startled, you look up and into the suntanned face
above the well pressed Banana Republic shirt and
shorts. Back to reality now and you realize your
game is up. You will be required to say something,
hopefully something intelligent about fly rods.
Situation. You don't know much.
The fix. Say nothing as you (a raised eyebrow can
be employed here) nonchalantly (hand to the chin
can help now) slowly reach out and select a fly
rod. You have taken the advantage now, the ball
is in your court. Todd may mumble something but
ignore him for the moment. You are becoming
keenly interested now in rods, certainly not
Hold the rods grip in your right hand and with
your left hand raise the rod to horizontal. Slowly
roll the rod, first with the guides on the top,
then with the guides on the bottom. Notice how
the rod will be very nice and straight when the
guides are on the top, but, when you roll them
down the tip of the rod will droop? Maybe it
will be the other way around. Interesting isn't
it? Here is where you can employ one of those
words from above. Like "Hmmm," this will throw
Todd off for a while, run with it. If he asks
you what you're doing ask him why the rod does
that. He won't even know it does.
Now with one hand give the rod a shake, one shot,
down and up. Make the rod stop dead when it comes
back up. Do it a few times while repeating more
of the phrases from above. Todd still has no clue
what you are up to, pay him no attention. Look at
the cork. Nice and tight, smooth, and no sharp
edges? Good. Study it a bit more.
On to the windings now. Take it slow. Easy. Take
your time, hell you may even want to buy this rod.
Stretch it out, this can be fun. Study each wrap.
One at a time, roll each one over, get up close
and personal. As you get to the tip (and this
really is important) look carefully at the last
six inches of it. A very common manufacturing
defect (the tip will not be straight, but twisted)
can appear here called by a few names, one of which
is 'Pig-tail.' Avoid this rod. It will possibly
break and could mess up your casting as well.
Select another. Go through the whole process again.
Todd will probably be with another customer by this
time, we can always hope. You have won.
There is more you can do in selecting a new rod
of course, but this will at least give you a few
things to protect yourself the next time. By the
way, before you buy any rod, be sure to cast it
first if at all possible. Other than that, buy
the one you like, the pretty one.
And oh ya, about spine or spline or whatever.
Ignore it. Really, ignore it completely, everybody
does, really. ~ James Castwell