Did I Say Summer?

June 19, 2022, and it is forty-two degrees here in Crooked Eddy. I fired up the furnace last night, at least for the upstairs. Wishing I had hit the downstairs thermostat too. It has been colder here at my tying desk, yes certainly much colder, but perhaps it is my recent acclimation to sunshine that makes it feel downright icy. It was eighty degrees on Friday afternoon.

I trust that Beaver Kill anglers are benefitting. There seemed to be plenty about yesterday morning as I drove to The Manor. It was good to see some friends at the Museum. I have missed fishing with JA since April’s abundance of mucho grande Argentine trout recked his casting arm. Mine has continued to hold up thankfully, despite the advance of arthritis, carpal tunnel, and the various intricacies of age. I credit the magical properties of bamboo with cushioning the stress of casting five to six days per week.

Long and recurring bouts with high, cold water and overzealous winds have found graphite in my hand too often this season, though I continue to shun the stiff, fast action rods the fly fishing industry seems to insist we torture ourselves with. In truth I have minimized the damage thanks to a pair of Thomas & Thomas Paradigm graphites that have passed their twentieth birthdays. Funny how they will present flies so perfectly at distance when they aren’t anywhere near being fast action rods.

Nothing beats bamboo though. My only regret is that I learned on graphite and, like many, believed too much of the hype as rods became stiffer and less tractable. Fly fishing for wild trout is not about power.

Daydreaming fantasies find their way into my consciousness every once in a while, particularly dealing with the chance to walk back in time. Imagine it is say, 1960 and you have five hundred dollars in your pocket; you stroll into Jim Payne’s rodshop, visit Fred Thomas and perhaps Leonard, walking out with money in your pocket and a few of the greatest bamboo trout rods ever made. Though the economies of time are vastly different, there are a multitude of choices today.

You can still buy a Payne, Thomas or Leonard, though of course you won’t be visiting with Jim, or Fred, or Hiram. There are a lot of truly gifted rodmakers out there today that you can go talk to. My friends Dennis Menscer and Tom Whittle will be pleased to make you a rod you will truly enjoy for the rest of your days. This spring I cast a three weight Per Brandin rod that stole my heart, and Dennis made a new model last year that took my breath away: an eight and half-foot, fully hollow built four weight that feels like the ultimate summer Catskill rod for fishing fine and far off as I love to do.

Fantasies are entertaining, but the art of bamboo rod making has advanced. Modern makers like the gentlemen mentioned have learned from the cherished old masters, using their own ingenuity, taste and skill to create amazing fly rods!

Well, time to get back into the warmer part of the house…

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