Lessons In Cane

My Jim Downes Garrison 206 and Friend

Summer fishing seems to leave me with a lot of time on my hands. My forays to the rivers are shorter at this season, whether seeking cooler water in early morning, or timing the sun angle on a forested reach of river. Fishing for two or three hours leaves a lot of the day to amuse myself otherwise, a more difficult task in these days of Covid isolation. Fiddling with tackle is one way to kill a little time, and sometimes it can be quite productive!

I had been thinking about the relative usefulness of a longer three weight rod. I fished my D. W. Menscer 6′ 8″ gem the other morning and really enjoyed it. That rod is so versatile, performing admirably at distance, as well as pinpointing casts in tight quarters. The only caveat to the joy and practicality of fishing a short rod on bigger waters is the necessity for more false casts, more strokes, to get the line in the air and extended for longer casts. This extra effort is minimal on small waters, but can become significant when there is a lot of water to be covered. Picture the difference in fishing the shady pockets on a quarter mile of a 20′ wide stream versus that same outing on a good sized river. With my carpal tunnel and arthritis in my casting hand, extra rod work comes at a price: wear and tear and pain.

Browsing used rod lists and corresponding with rodmakers gives me some enjoyment, but there is the practicality issue. A three weight bamboo rod is definitely a specialty rod. Do I need one bad enough to trade another rod I enjoy to acquire a new three?

At one point while pondering this thought, a bolt of lightning hit: what about the Garrison? I have a lovely 7’6″ two piece rod built as a close reproduction of the venerable Garrison 206 from the Coburn, PA bench of rodmaker Jim Downes. That rod is a full working four weight that I fish with a Cortland Sylk WF4F line, and it is extremely accurate. What if…

It only took me a moment to take the rod and an old CFO with a DT3F line out to the yard. That rod casts the three weight line like it was made for it. The Garrison taper responds to a more relaxed casting rhythm thus its slower and gentler on my compromised anatomy too. Voila, a new rod!

I have written before about the rewards to be gained by casting bamboo rods with several different fly lines. Cane seems more adaptable to different weights and tapers of fly lines, and of course every caster is different. Taking some down time to play around with lines and rods can reveal some amazing performance attributes you might never have discovered, even in a favorite rod.

I won’t stop daydreaming about tackle; its a long, hot summer. After two discoveries in my own rod rack though, I’ll be spending more hot afternoons in the yard with a box full of reels!

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