January 23rd, 2006

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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Hand-Me-Down Rod
By Ron Gregorchik

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


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