March 19th, 2001

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

The Wonder Rod

By Old Rupe

Summer

There was a time in my life
Before the wife
When I was free
And all that really mattered, was me
A time of endless days and nights
Which by rights
Would never change
And I remember, a girl called Summer

As I settle into fall
I remember most of all
The sense I felt, that time
Would never end, the world was mine
And as I watch the leaves drift down
I frown
My thoughts are sad
And I remember, a girl called Summer
~ T Foster

1954 ad for WonderRod
The high point of this year has to be the delivery of the Shakespeare "Wonder Rod" I bought on Ebay. After a lot of cutting and un-wrapping I held the rod in my hands. It was a 1252-T 8' 6" Shakespeare Wonder Rod in mint condition, with the original bag and tube. It was the first good fiberglass fly rod. A white rod with a unique spiral fiberglass over-wrap. You could tell a Wonder Rod on the water at least fifty yards away. When it was new so was I. If they had known how bad I wanted that rod I would have had to liquidate major things to possess it.

My first great fly fishing memory was of my father's friend George McGee catching a bluegill from our farm pond, with his Wonder Rod, that showed a lot of nose and tail on each side of a dinner plate. It took a bass popper the size of my thumb. How could such a large fish have such a small mouth? A monster in a mud puddle. What a fish!

George owned a restaurant and through hard work and long hours he acquired the dream rod of the time. I remember it had a Cortland 333 level line, but fifty year old memories can't be trusted. I sort of recall it had a Medalist Reel. My family just couldn't afford a rod of that stature.

That was the summer we vacationed on my father's friend Jack's Wyoming ranch. George loaned my dad and I the rod to take with us. It was my first exposure to trout fishing and contributed to my current low position in life as a fly fisher. Trout fishing around the old car body in Fish Creek wasn't a bit like farm pond bluegill and bass. Needless to say I didn't have a clue and did without.

There were two dummies that summer on the ranch. Each day this older gentleman of thirty or so and I would scare the wild life along the stream and return fishless. Sometimes life is really hard. Neither of us understood what trout fishing entailed, but each day we gave it a go. Finally the ranch manager took pity and assigned one of the "hands" to take us fishing.

I could tell he considered fishing dummies for trout two or three degrees below stable cleaning, but for some reason he let us pile into his truck and took us into town to the fly shop. There he supervised our purchase of one fly each. Even after fifty years I remember that fly. I believe it was a George Grant Creeper. It's funny what age does to ones memory. I can't remember yesterdays breakfast but I could today tie a reasonable substitute for a fly I haven't seen since I was ten years old.

We then drove up into the mountains on a dirt road that last saw traffic when Custer was still scouting Indians. We were cautioned not to reveal the location of the stream to anyone because the third shift dealers at the local casino would clean it out in no time at all. I wasn't aware there was a local casino and surely couldn't have found the stream again if my life depended on it.

Our guide left me to fend for myself and proceeded to show my companion the game. I worked downstream for an hour or so and again did without. Finally, with no pride left and completely disgusted, I hunted up our guide and told him that I had no idea how to catch fish and would he please show me how to do it.

Well, I got the three minute lesson on how to dap behind, in front of, and to the side of rocks each of which held more trout than a hatchery. In thirty minutes or so I had over twenty fish which put us way over our limit and we left for the ranch. The 'over' fish were put in a sack under the seat.

I learned a lot that year. If you don't catch fish ask your betters how to do it, and then really watch their act. Also I learned never to park in front of your girlfriend's house.

Jack's daughter had a boyfriend that strayed. His big mistake was letting her find it out. She talked me into slipping out one night and helping her get even. At one or so in the morning we drove over to the new honey's house where she had spotted his horse tied to the hitching rail out front earlier in the evening. She then proceeded to remove the saddle from his horse, and I led the damn animal for at least five miles before she turned it loose. I got back in the truck and she took me home. This concluded a lesson I have never forgotten.

Holding the rod in my hands recalls memories I haven't visited for fifty years. It's my ticket to return to summer. A long journey for an old man. When I hold that rod a part of me is ten years old again.

A cheap rod at any price. ~ Old rupe


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