One of the inevitable things about life is change. Our aging of course, gaining of
knowledge, sharpened insights, improvements in technology and communication
all impact on us.|
The computer technology age brings us access to information our fathers (much
less grandfathers) could not imagine. We can connect with the most distant parts
of the world in a few keystrokes. Shopping on line is becoming a 'normal' part
of life for many.
Changes too in fly fishing are inevitable. But there are some things which could be
considered 'retro'. Ponder this one. More and more folks are finding and fishing
cane rods. Bamboo rods have been around a long time. Some made during the
40's were marketed out of barrels in the local hardware store. Cheap, and
accessible for most everyone who had an interest.
My first experience with fly fishing was after begging, literally, my grandfather to teach me.
His rod was an 'improvement' over the cane rods. It was STEEL, telescopic, and
an improvement over previous steel rods. The early ones were round, and as they
were cast they twisted. The line ended up going around the rod - sometimes many
times! The new improved versions were (as I recall) octagonal or perhaps square
and did not twist. I can't imagine fishing one of those now. But I would like to cast
The next big improvement was the use of fiberglass, developed during World War II,
as a material for rods. Casting rods were the first to use it, and eventually the new
technology came to fly rods. The white Shakespear Wonder Rod is probably the
best known of those.
The best of the bamboo rods became the models for the new fiberglass rods. Some
of those early fiberglass rods are extremely fine casting rods! The Scientific Anglers
System rods come to mind. Interestingly, they weighed a bit less than the cane rods,
and were considered a real improvement by some.
Today we look at the graphite rods, again lighter in hand than the fiberglass rods, and
marvel at the huge 'improvements.'
Somewhere along all this, the rod manufacturers (at least a large share of them) embarked
on a direction of so-called fast rods. The development of the then new plastic fly lines
may also have had an influence on this too. These rods are not particularly designed to
cast at short distances, and the game of the day is how far they will cast - not how
well they will fish. Parking-lot casting seems to be more important.
The fast graphite rods also require a rather precise casting motion and form to
achieve the long line casts the buyer is told they will preform. Indeed, many
new to fly fishing are intimidated by not being able to cast that far immediately.
Gone is the emphasis on short, normal, fishing distances, sensitivity of the rod,
and pure joy from fishing. Something which the person new to fly fishing could
enjoy on his first day years ago!
Amazing as it may seem, some in the fly fishing community have decided on their
own they really don't like these 'fast' rods. They really prefer to fish something
not as demanding. Something more forgiving to cast. Something which they find
more relaxed and natural. It may be a cane rod, although many of those are now
being configured to be more like the 'fast' rods; again influenced by the modern
large diameter fly lines.
There is developing a huge following for the old cane rods, and even the silk lines
which required a great deal of care and maintenance. Not just a yearning for the
traditional method of old, but a desire to put individual personal pleasure on the
water first. That is your right!
Change continues! In this case it may not be to more and more technology, but back
to one which served the fly fisher of the past very well. ~ LadyFisher