On a hot summer day in the late eighties, I stopped to
see how my uncle Walt was doing because he was up there
in age. He was my only uncle of six, who hunted and fished.
I had just begun fly fishing a few years earlier and wanted
to talk to him about casting. Halfway through the conversation
he got up from the swing and walked into the house. Moments
later he returned with an old beat up fly rod. Saying that
his fishing years were over, he put the rod and reel in my
hands. He said that he could make longer casts, with this rod,
than any rod he owned. It was an old Montaque split bamboo rod
with a Shakespeare automatic reel attached! Even though it
seemed quite beat up, I accepted it gratefully.
A few days later, I noticed that the reel was in pristine
condition. However, several snake guides were missing,
wrapping silk was stringing off the rod, and the tips were
loose on both rod ends. I bought some wrapping silk, snake
guides, and rod glue. I re-wrapped the guides, cleaned the
bamboo, and glued the rod tips on both end pieces.
The hardest thing to fix was the ferrule socket on the
bottom piece. It was split lengthwise, about an inch. I
took it to a fly shop on Kettle Creek, to look for a new
socket, but was told to "put it up on a wall." An old-timer
at the shop, identified the rod as a Montaque, based on the
size of the sockets. I thought about the split socket for
several months. The socket was nickel silver, so solder
didn't hold. I got the idea to wrap the socket tightly
with copper magnet wire. Then I heated it and floated
solder all through the copper wire wrapping. It looked
like part of the socket and held it firmly together, even
under casting pressure.
Well, two years later I finally got that rod and reel
out to the water. The rod was heavy and long, nine feet!
The reel was heavy but seemed to counterbalance the rod.
Casting was a little slower because of the weight. However,
I could feel the bamboo "load and unload" through the cast.
It made the longest casts and was a genuine pleasure to use.
I've caught numerous trout using that rod and reel.
The rod and reel now hangs on the wall at my camp. But I
make sure to use it at least once a year, just to thank
Uncle Walt. I know he's smiling down on me when I use that
old rod because I catch a trout every time I use it.
~ Ron Gregorchik