So who is ready for the excuses? It has been nearly three months since I have posted anything to my blog. My free time and mental well-being were compromised when I was sent to Baltimore for nearly two months courtesy of my employer. Ill skip the gruesome details and move right to the present. I’m home, I have rods to finish, this horrendous weather is finally starting to turn and I’ve kicked my season off in extravagant style. Sunday George and I drove to Coburn PA to attend the Feathered Hooks “Extravaganza”. It was a fun event and has me primed to crank out rods and spend more time fishing this year than ever before. A few things stuck out to me during the day and I thought presenting them in a list format would help accentuate.
Jonas Price, the owner of the Feathered Hook fly shop. I’ve only visited the shop 3-4 times a year over the past 4 years. Jonas still manages to recognize me on sight each time and recall the details of my life. As much as I drink, I don’t have that kind of relationship with bartenders around my home town. Jonas held this event, got speakers to come, and on such a hectic day I witnessed him approach every single person that walked through the door. The passion Jonas exudes for his shop, the river and his friends is something very rare and inspirational. More importantly his shop is stocked with bamboo fly rods, classic reels and a ton of new Simms gear.
Jeff Wagner. So George and I decided to walk over to Jim Downes shop and say hello, when we walked in Jeff Wagner was posted up at Jim’s bench shooting the shit with another guy. “Jim ran to the hardware store, he’ll be back in a half hour but you can hang with us if you want.” UH, hang with Jeff Wagner, living rod making legend, yes please. Jeff got up walked over and introduced himself. I’ve been told by my wife and close friends I can be awkward when initiating conversations. So after introductions I nervously blurted out that I owe Jeff $4 for a tip top guide that he and his wife had generously sent me free of charge the previous week. Luckily there was no awkwardness, Jeff erupted in laughter. He was awesome. He would totally be a good guy to have a few beers with. The other guy Jeff was talking to eventually asked if we had seen the rod Jeff had made him and handed it over. It was the nicest rod I have ever held, one of Jeff Wagners Classic series. I’m not going to shame the rod and its craftsman by attempting to describe its detail and beauty but suggest you check his website for photos of the rod series. Bottom line another down to earth rod maker who has crafted the finest rod I have ever laid eyes on.
Customer Service. I’m one of these internet guys. I make purchases via the internet, I google answers to questions and it has instilled a need for immediate satisfaction. My generation scours the internet for the cheapest prices on items we want and expect perfection with every transaction. Quality has eluded us. It is our own fault; every day I and others my age are willing to sacrifice quality and customer service for immediate satisfaction. Shortly after Jim arrived to his shop Sunday I witnessed something foreign to my internet consumer experiences. An older couple came into Jims shop to check on a rod they had order for the man’s wife. Jim had the blank done and ferruled allowing the customer to wiggle her soon to be rod alongside him in the shop. Jim noticed some discomfort as the woman wiggled the rod, her hands being smaller then Jims typical clientele he suggested that he turn the cork grip down to better fit her hand. He walked the couple over to his lathe and began turning the grip as they watched, stopping periodically for a test fit. Think about that. You’re buying a rare handmade fishing rod, the maker allows you to stroll into his shop, and then stand alongside you to ensure complete satisfaction. You do not see that when you walk into Dicks Sporting Goods or another place I’ve gone to make a purchase of any kind. Maybe to some people this isn’t a mind blowing observation, but it was for me.
Alright enough talking up those guys. I’m ready to embark on what should be an amazing fishing season, upon returning from Baltimore Pops, Chow, Luke and I all booked our flights to Montana. The trip is an absolute reality and I cannot wait. I’m also doing a lot to ensure I use my free time fishing locally as well. I hate to do it, but I have decided to put a numerical goal on my fishing days this year. A modest 50 days, farms ponds for bass, long drives to Pa, Montana, hopefully Maine, they all count. Putting a number on a hobby could prove stressful but my thinking is that a little extra motivation won’t hurt me.
Rod making will also get a strong push this summer. Most makers take time off from making during the spring and summer, I have no interest in doing that. We need 4 three piece rods done by July for Montana. This week I should finish up the butt strips on a George Maurer Bitch Creek taper and then begin our Montana rods. Below is George Costanza is unwinding string from the binder; right before I snuck this photo he proclaimed “I’ve reused this same string 16 times now.” Thanks god, we only have 600 more yards of the stuff left.