The Durango Kid
I think his name was Charles Starrett, the 'Kid' was a
cowboy, an movie actor back in the 40's. We needed guys
like him then. America has always needed it's hero's,
real and imagined, both hero and super-hero and somehow
we have always come up with them. Sometimes they were
more or less common folk, Hewitt the fly fishing guy,
he was one. Probably didn't know it at the time, but
he was. And that Leonard fellow, made great strides
in building bamboo rods, he was one too in his own way.
But there are some differences. Some were real and some
were not. In fact, the made up ones were often larger
than the real ones.
(Guest column by a writer about J Castwell)
Take for example some of the writers over the years.
Some names that were of real people, became famous,
Zane Grey for one. Annie Okley might be another.
Sometimes the line between the real and the fictitious
became a little blurry. Zorrow? Was he real or not?
Lash La Rue, how about him? Where is all this going.
When we have needed a hero, if there wasn't one handy,
we made one up, Superman is a good example. One thing
though, fly fishing has always had someone.
Look back over the years. Leonard, Hewitt, Marinaro,
any of the other rod makers, hero's all. Payne, Young,
at least in my opinion. So now I ask you to envision
some of them in your mind's eye. Can you 'see' Trueblood?
How about Frank Forester? Wulff? We all have our own
images of these great men. There is another yet who
has accepted the gauntlet and is jousting against the
windmill's of environmental destruction and bait-fishing.
He is a fictional character, invented by a lowly outdoor
writer in Washington State, USA.
Actually it was 'Crabby Crabwell' who he invented as a
'side-kick' to his adventures of salmon fishing. An event
occurred and Crabwell got a job writing for the FFF but
wrote under the name of 'Castwell' as he had always
enjoyed the time worn Skues tale of the man by that
name who died and went to Hell. So, he doesn't really
exist. J Castwell is one of the made up ones. One who
is a mixture of things thought, learned, hoped for and
downright stolen. You picture him and think you know
him and that is as it should be.
When he is called to that great casting contest in the
sky, there will be someone who will accept the yoke of
tutelage and attempt to carry on the mission of offering
the information to those who might be seeking it. Just
as the Lone Ranger went fearlessly into the hills of
danger, so does Castwell enter into discussions with
those who would attempt to lead the younger ones astray.
Astray I tell you, by recommending knots that do not
work well. Knots like the nail knot which was invented
to use from gut to silk lines which did not have a
coating that could separate. But, no. There are yet
those who will swear by the thing, only saying that
it has not cut itself or pulled the coating off...yet.
And so it goes.
I, perhaps, know him more closely than any other,
having a peculiar insight to his pervasive nature.
And his generosity and affability. And his talent,
his unfathomable talent. Is there no limit to this
mans talent and luck. There are those who would
claim he is impatient. He is. But with justification.
It is with those who are not willing to help others,
not willing to learn how to teach fly fishing and
fly casting and all other things 'fly' related. Yes,
with them he is impatient. As a super-hero he is to
be especially admired as he 'goeth it aloneth'
withoutest a side-kicketh,' that is true dedication.
To see him in person is indeed a remarkable event.
Few indeed are they who even claim to have seen the
real 'J Castwell.' As I stated, remember, he exists
only in the shadowy mind of his followers. If they
do not believe in him, he does not therefore actually
exist. So it is with some timidity that I will say
that perhaps he will make an appearance at the Michigan
'Fish In' in Grayling. I have been given to understand
that he has created a rank of 'Fly Caster' that is
unsurpassed by any and in fact unequaled by any. Time
and the cameras will prove this for posterity. Can you
say 'Maestro?' Again, our 'hero' has come forth.
Lighter Side Archive