June 16th, 2003

Fringe Benefits
By James Castwell

There are some benefits to running this web site, for sure; but getting to fish a lot is not one of them. Oh sure, we get out fishing now and then, sometimes to some terrific places, like the 'Fish-In's,' the Bahamas, our local salmon and the odd trip for some special event. But, mostly, our time is pretty well taken up right on good old FAOL. The columns, sponsors, email, and features take most of the whole week. To get away we need to try to get some work done ahead and be back in time to get the next issue on line at publication deadline (midnight Sunday). So, the point is, we don't get to fish as much as we used to, or would like to.

But we do get to do a few other things instead of fly-fishing. We go to some of the 'Shows,' we receive many of the latest magazines and books and...we get to play with a whole bunch of the newest 'goodies,' sometimes even before the companies reps get their paws on the stuff. Once in a while we are asked to give a review on an (as of yet) unpublished book. Rods, reels and fly lines can fall into that category too, but not as often as you might think. When we are asked, we are indeed honored. These things are usually well thought out and tested long before the market gets them. The idea that there are guys all over the country 'Field-testing' stuff is highly overblown.

So, I guess we are lucky. It's a lot of fun playing with this stuff and being on the leading edge of what's new. Like a few weeks ago. I was chatting with a guy in our chat-room, he makes a few cane rods but doesn't make a big deal out of it. He seemed like a rather personable sort of chap and I was intrigued. When I asked if he would mind sending me one of his rods he agreed and I ended up here with two of his latest. Both very nicely done, I might add. One was a five weight and the other a three. I had no intent of buying either and he (Buddy Davis) knew that. He did not send them so I could do a 'Product Review' either. I simply asked to see one and he sent two.

The wife and I cast both here the day they arrived and were favorably impressed, especially with the three weight. Nifty little thing with a solid wood reelseat and handle too. That was on a Saturday and I host that evening in the chat-room. In fact, I wanted to make sure I had cast both as I thought he may show up on my shift. He did. So, I'm telling him how much I liked the rods etc and one of the other guys in the chat-room asked if he could come over and cast them before I sent them back to Buddy (2wt as he is called in the chat-room).

"Sure I said". Getting to the end of this, the guy (Steve Z) came over, loved the little one and began arrangements to buy the thing. You never know what will happen around here. We got to play with some fine sticks, spend some time with one of the guys from the chat-room and help out the rod-maker. Works for me.

About two months ago I was talking to Bruce R. from Scientific Anglers and he was telling me about some new fly lines they had come up with. Now, it's hard to get me very excited about any new fly line, pretty happy with what I have now. He sent two anyhow. We took them outside here and compared them to a couple of others. Wow!

He said they were intended to cover any trout fishing situation. A fine tip for presentation, a big enough head to drive against a breeze or deliver a larger fly, a long enough belly to roll-cast well and a special rear taper to help even more. It does all of those things, and does them well. It is the closest line I have seen to a universal line for trout. In fact, that is what they call it, Trout.

Taking this one step further, the guy who bought the cane rod (Steve) did a 'Product Review' of the line for FAOL (he loved the Mastery Series Trout lines too). Some things just work out for the best.

Also, I have a prototype of the new fly reel from Marryat, the CMR-Online, (and yes, our name had something to do with that name). They wanted my opinion (yes, a real 'field-test') and I gave it to them, and you guys too. Pretty nice rig. I have a background in methods-engineering at General Motors and was able to make a few comments that may have been of some small value. Besides, I have owned a few reels and have been on more than one pro-staff over the years.

A few weeks back we not only got to play with one of the top rods by Hexagraph (the Classic) but to show it to a fair sized group of fly-flingers at the Central Washington Fish-In a month ago. Their casting ability was all over the road and it was very interesting to see how they handled the rod and how it performed for them. I find often I can learn a lot by watching how others get along with some new products.

So, it's not 'all work and no play;' we get our share of enjoyment, it's just not always on the stream. Sure, I was trying out some new leaders and tippet stuff (Frog-Hair actually) at the 'Fish-In' and always try to make the best use of my 'on-stream' time. By the way, ten pound rainbows on 6X speaks well for the material.

Now, don't start asking me to send you stuff to test; heck we gotta have some fun for ourselves! ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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