Against my will, the Christmas lights have been hung outside along the gutter, the plastic Santa and Frosty are now illuminated on my front yard each night, and the annual “Flyers guy” dispute has taken place, and continues (see photo below). We again attempted to get our two dogs – Gordie Howe and Gucci – to pose in front of our tree for this year’s Christmas card. This ended the same as it has in previous years; in disaster and no custom card created.
In my fiancé Heather’s eyes, my Christmas duties are nearly complete (the annoying ones, anyway). All that’s left is to create my list. Yes. That sounds pathetic, a 28-year-old man drafting a Christmas wish list but I assure you it is a necessity. If guidance of no kind is provided to Heather in regards to my gift shopping, I will end up with clothes from the mall under the tree. No fun there. So, I make a list of all the fishing gadgets and gear I’d like and where she can get them. It’s typically very modest, a new fly line, vest or a net, etc.
While I enjoy making this list once a year, it’s not my dream list. The dream list is composed in my head quarterly, upon the arrival of the few classic tackle dealer catalogs I receive in the mail. Coming home from work and pulling a fresh Jordan-Mills catalog out of the mailbox turns a bad day into a great one. This immediately diverts my plans for the evening from typical weeknight drudgery, to wide-eyed, pouring over the small booklet filled with vintage bamboo fly rods. Straight to my man cave I proceed, then cover to cover, rod by rod, I read each description. No intricate detail is missed.
Once I’ve read every rod’s description – sometime twice over – my dream list is then mentally constructed. To start, I try and pick out the “go-to rod,” that do-it-all rod that will become an extension of my arm. Almost always I can find a near-mint Payne rod for this particular niche. How could I deny myself a fish-able Payne? Considered by many to be one of the greatest rod makers of all time, his tapers are still copied and adapt well to modern day fishing techniques. Even the smell of his varnish is revered.
Then I tend to specialize. I look for that minuscule rod, a blue lining for brookies type stick. I don’t get to fish these smaller waters much, so whichever rod I choose could damn well last forever. In his present catalog, Carmine Lisella has a weepy little Leonard listed. At only 6ft in length and its tiny cigar grip, it is a prime example of the history of rod crafting in America. Historical prominence, beauty, and the ability to allow its user to feel every wild twist and turn from a small stream brook trout. The complete, albeit small, package.
Now when I get to the big dogs, my mind is already made up. I want, and will someday own an example of an F.E Thomas. Despite its popularity and accolades, I don’t want a light trout taper from this maker. I want a strong, grey-ghost-chucking, salmon-hauling machine. Complete with those exquisite signature wraps and aged Spanish cedar reel seat filler. Having cast my first fly for Maine brook trout, I have a hunger for one of these home grown rods and all the history that comes with it. It would be a big enough stick to be required for special waters only, allowing me to bring it out only on occasion. Thus; allowing it to be both a celebratory occurrence as well as a reason to spend most of my time on the water fishing rods of my own making.
The thought of my current finances, and the fact that I have completed nothing at work today as I type and dream of classic fly rods, has dropped me back to reality. I check my email; my inbox reveals a message from the Fiancé. It’s her Christmas list. Good thing she sent it. I all but forget about me actually having to buy something for someone else. I think I’ll put that 6ft Leonard on my list this year. The $3,500 price tag will get a rise out of her, and at worst make the $400 hardy reel on my list all the more appealing for her to stick under the tree.