Born a lucky, and sometimes ramblin’ man…

The Farm.

The Farm.

Shit. So I have had an entire plan for a blog on ferrules. Something technical and real rod making stuff. Well last weekend I got in a bar fight on Saturday night, which left me mentally unable to write about or make rods. (I swear mom-mom it was self defense, and other guy learned his lesson). This weekend then I told myself, Ill dive into my ferrule maifesto. Plans changed again. Wednesday was my birthday, thursday Thanksgiving, and then I finished off the week watching “The Promised Land”. These three things are of a common thread, they are gifts or intend to make us see the gifts we have sitting right there under our nose.

IMG_2507For my birthday I got the perfect gift from my wife, a Lie Nielsen 212 scraper plane. Now I realize I just wrote a whole long winded blog about using an antique Stanley. But I’m entrenched in the belief that birthday gifts should not be something that is a necessity, but rather what you would like and can’t find reason enough to buy yourself on a normal day. The plane is beutiful and it will see good use. I also need to make mention of my mother here. When she does read my blog she follows up with a call about me never mentioning her. “well Ma its a rod making and fishing blog, ya know?” Here it is mother. As far as gifts go, my mom always gave the best. She always suprised me. If it wasn’t something from my list her gifts were something she knew I would love and was always unique. At 29 she still gives me a gift, this year was cash, which will be Montana fund money. So there ya go Mother. Your big drop into the blog, my millions of readers are now aware of your lovely existence.

Thanksgiving and The Promised Land film. God damn what a year I have had. Just lucky, alot of things fell into place. Alot of of growth and learning, hope it keeps going smooth. On Thanksgiving my mother forces us to each go around the table and say what we are Thankful for. If I really wanted to I could have taken an hour listing all the good fortune I’ve had. But my brothers would make fun of me had I said anything but “good beers”. So thats how I left it. Then just a day later and I find myself watching this movie The Promised Land. Its not great, alot of bullshit but it really left me feeling happy for all that I have, and have had in my life so far. The movie is based on Fracking, and major companies snatching farm land from generation old farmers.

I grew up on a very small produce farm in South Jersey. My parents were not Famers. Its a large plot of land that my great grandparents took ownership of long before I was even a thought. Over the years and throughout this plot family memebers settled down. 7 houses in all today. (I’m, trying to give a short version of family history here). My Dad was lucky enough to inheret THE farmhouse of the property. MY great Aunt, uncle, and cousins still live in the other homes, all a few football fields apart with the outside world bordering the edges of the farm. All family, its not wierd. OK it sounds wierd but I assure no Inbreeding going on. Obviosuly this is true because I’m too good looking to be inbred.

That movie got me thinking about the farm, my family and how unique it all is. My farm or spot on the farm will never leave as long as I can stand it. Its ours, its what made me who I’am. I pray I can give my children the same experiience. From thinking about the farm I started thinking about my Grandfather. He had a massive heart attack while eating a pretzel months before I was born. He was in a coma for a few days before he passed.

Now I have failed most all my science courses in the past, so I dont know much about genetics. Somehow this man, whom I have never met has had such an impact on me. I’m sure that has alot to do with my father telling me stories. I can remember turning down cigerrettes in the 5th grade because I would ask myself what my grandfather would have thought of me. Which is ironic because he smoked, but how the hell did a guy I never met in the flesh influence me so much? Ill also never forget my dad telling me he was the guy that would volunteer to tie a rope around his waste and walk onto the pond ice, making sure it was thick enough to skate on. A daredevil, Pops probably should have never told me that one. But the good people say about him still to this day. The kidness, the patience, and the talent. Most importantly, the fishing and fly tying.

The only fishing I had done up until about 13 was bass fishing with gear. We would go to Maine some summers and my dad would help us fly cast for trout. He would tell us about his dad tying his own flies, his automatic reel and the brook trout.

From there, I got into fly fishing like most everyone else. The cool thing about it was I had my grandfathers copy of Trout by Bergman, and tied flies using his old Thompson vise. The obsession grew from there to what it is today. My grandfather was also a very good wood carver of ducks, geese, ect. Just recently with a small axe got the urge to carve a piece of driftwood I had found on the beach. It looks horrible, but impressive given I had no idea what I was doing and lost no fingers. It got me thinking I could really carve something mantle worthy. So I went to my uncles basement with my dad and found a piece of Basswood that was originally my grandfathers with the intention of carving a trout. What the hell am I doing? Its 2013, who carves wood? Frankly the similarities in hobbies between myself and my dead grandfather are starting to even wierd me out.

O.K. I rambled a bit. But I wanted to set the stage for my gift. The gift that is most cherished by me over anything I have ever received. My Uncle Jeff, my dads younger brother gave it to me one Christmas about 13 years ago. It was one of those gifts like mom would give. Something right up my alley, and something I’d never expect.

It was a box my grandfather made to hold his flies. And even cooler was the few remaining flies he had tied resting within the slots of the box. I can still remember what Jeff said when I unwrapped it, “now you can use it for what it was meant for.” I had no idea this box existed so receieving it was total shock. One of those hypothetical bar questions you get when trying to make conversation is always, “If your house was on fire and you can grab one thing, what would it be?” For me, its hands down the fly box.IMG_2532

I can’t tell you what type of wood its made from, or when he made it exactly. I just know somehow this man and I had hobbbies in common, hopefully Ill be good enough to posses the qualities he did as a man and a fly fisherman.

So ferrules, my next new shiny tool can all wait. I have family, and a legacy to keep me happy. Everyone does this corny What your thankful for BS around this time of year. Just bad timing on my part, my grandfather is a huge reason I fish and make rods. And his box just so happens to be a gift Ill never forget. Call me a sappy sucker. But read first line about my bar fight last weekend before you say it to my face. 🙂 IMG_2536

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One mans rusted junk, another mans treasure…

choose your plane wisely my friend.

choose your plane wisely my friend.

When you first begin amassing the tools for rod making, all makers have differing opinions on what is essential to completing a serviceable rod. Countless internet sites provide tool lists and contraptions, while published books attempt the same.

One tool universally agreed upon is a block plane. This is the cornerstone tool in rod making. It is the tool you see on book covers, photos, and the one thing you can’t do without. The plane of choice is the antique Stanley 9.5. An adjustable block plane. Antique because it is no longer produced. They produce a similar product today but it’s not the same steel or quality. So rod makers seek out this vintage plane. Most makers seem to suggest that this plane is easily attainable at your local garage sale or flea mart. My geography is against me as flea marts around here are filled with overseas knock offs; including everything from razor blades to electronics. After two trips to a local flea market, George and I gave up and dropped the money on Lie Nielsen American made version of this Stanley. No regrets whatsoever. It’s beautiful and more importantly an exceptionally functional tool. But that hasn’t stopped me from pulling my truck over when passing random yard sales.

About a month ago I did just that, and found myself rooting through a box of old rusty tools on a stranger’s lawn. My heart stopped when I pulled up a rusty old Stanley block plane. My adrenaline began to surge as I ran my thumb across the stamped 9.5 marking on the side of the plane. Once I positively identified the plane as the coveted 9.5 I mentally jumped into salesman mode. I had to play it cool, temper my excitement. Couldn’t let its’ owner realize the obvious rusty gold he was about to sell away.

I calmly located the seller and asked “how much for the old plane?” When he responded $6 bucks, I’m sure most shoppers would have paused, and at least attempted to get his price rounded down to an even 5 dollars. Not me. I took a deep breath, attempting to suppress my excitement over the bargain on my treasure.

Of course I bought it. Was barely across the street before I was reaching in my pocket for my cell to call Pops and tell him about my find. True to nick-name, ol’ “George Costanza” loves a deal like this. Now the tool itself was rusted so bad it was nearly unidentifiable. This believe it or not, is another perk of the deal for George. The old man extracts joy from refurbishing things back into use, especially a quality tool. Before he begins restoring something its use is more often than not undetermined. Despite an items orphan status he proceeds and once complete, strives to find it a purpose.

And I get it. There is a great feeling of accomplishment when you restore something of quality back to useable condition. Just recently a guy contacted me about his Grandfathers bamboo rod he found in a closet. I could not ID the rod so I contacted my friend Sante Guiliani. Judging by the hardware, Sante guessed it to be a Montague and not worth much more than $60. Still offered to restore the rod to fishable condition for the guy, despite him not even being a fly fisherman. Tools, rods, or anything that was made with quality and integrity deserve to be put to intended use for as long as they can possibly stand it. That’s my belief anyway, and apparently pops as well. Luckily for me, in this instance the plane has an immediate use. George cleaned it up to look new, and it’s planning alongside our Lie Nielsen.

George and I both actually enjoy using the Stanley much better than our fancy high end Lie Nielsen. The Stanley has a wider sole, which seems to fit our hands better. Correcting angles, one of the most important steps in hand planning is also much easier with the Stanley as you can adjust the blade to take a deeper cut on either side or a strip, as opposed to leaning or tilting the lie Nielsen.

If you can afford the time I highly recommend searching for an old Stanley. Bang the rust off, true the sole and sharpen the blade. We’re making clean accurate cuts with the original, and feeling damn good about it.

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Plane

Plane

My favorite step in the process. Words coming Sunday.

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Glue

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UNIBOND is the replacement for the classic URAC 185. Most makers are still working from their own supply of URAC and have yet to experiment with other options. Jim Downes taught us to use URAC, obviously before it was discontinued. George and I have used tightbond, but I worry about the glues ability to withstand heat, and have heard it makes a softer rod than a URAC glued rod.

George and I simply followed the mixing directions on the can. With no scale we measured by volume 6 tsp. of glue to 1 part of the supplied hardener. The glue mixed fairly well, I noticed some very small bits of hardener that no matter how much I stirred wouldn’t dissolve. These ‘bits’ of hardener remained white and were easy to locate if they were spread onto any of the splines.

With the 6 to 1 ratio George and I had enough glue for two, two tip rods. The open time was enough for one man to spread the glue, carry the strips to the binder and one man bind. Our sections were then baked in the oven at 160 degrees for 1.15 minutes.

The glue dried very similar to URAC. It was hard, but sanded off fairly easy. Even after kicking the glue in the oven we waited 24 hours to unbind and sand. The results were sections similar to URAC. So while a lot of makers continue to search for the next best glue we will stick with URACs replacement, UNIBOND.

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Go West

we're gonna get lost...

we’re gonna get lost…


Almost a half year into marriage and I’m being forced to become a grown man. Like a round peg being shoved into a square hole, I’m resistant. It is uncomfortable, but with compromise bearable. I’ve taken a stand that before any attempt at procreation is made I will venture West for a mans fishing trip.
George and I have kicked the idea of doing a trip out west for years. Chow and Luke are interested despite the normal ball busting and complaining regarding what lie ahead. At our planning meeting last weekend Chow dubbed me the “guarantee fairy” after I described to the three of them everything I have read on the Flat Head rivers south fork. Chow then concluded that he only hunts “hammer trout, especially if I gotta to walk for em”. Kid once went 4 week long trips to Maine in what he called a “slump”, trout-less.

The South Fork of the Flathead river is apparently one of the most remote rivers in the lower 48 states. Despite its increased fishing pressure over the years it remains teeming with wild west slope cutthroat trout. Thankfully, to satisfy Chow this river system also contains the mammoth bull trout. From what I can gather online, books, and maps were looking at about a 25 miles hike into the wilderness area. I did get a D in geography so George will double and triple check our route before takeoff from Jersey. He will also be flying out with his .44 magnum to fend off grizzly bears. Chow and Luke both have no fear of said animal of course. I on the other hand will be loaded with bear spray, bear bells, singing Miley Cyrus up and down the trail.
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Joe Humpreys, the famed Pennsylvania fly fisherman once said that “you always have to have something to look forward to. That’s the secret to life.” Typically I’d dispute this as Id like to focus my attention on the moment at hand. However in this circumstance I cannot agree with Joe more. Everyday I spend at least some time thinking about Montana.What we need, the rods I will make for the trip and reels that will accompany them. What it will look like, the fish we will catch, just the sheer size of the mountains.
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As a self proclaimed gear nut I cant help but think about rods and tapers to make specifically for the trip. I’d like to have at least 4 cane rods done for our trip in late July. I have gotten some advice online from guys who have fished the river and most recommend a 5wt. Atleast a 6wt for the bull trout. It will definetly have to be a three piece taper. The first rod that comes to my mind is a Granger 8040. Known as a work horse do it all rod that was born in the West. Problem is, to accuratly replicate a granger taper you would need custom drawn ferrules. I do not make ferrules at this junctior. Many rodmakers use stepdowns or modify the taper slightly to accommodate different ferrules. Another roadblock is I cant even locate a reliable copy of this taper and don’t want to make something modified at the ferrule stations. I love Paul young tapers, but they are mostly parabolic in action hence nearly all two piece format. Pending someone loaning me the taper for a Mike Clark Geirach/Best taper 8.5 5wt, my western rod will be derived from a familiar eastern maker.

Dennis Stone was gracious enough to post the taper for an FE Thomas special he had mic’d on the Clarks Classic Fly Rod Forum. Dennis describes the taper as a rod that casts itself, performing with just the leader out to 50 feet of line. It’s an 8 foot 3 piece 4-5 weight. My only fear is it being a little light for the West. But the beauty of being a maker is that Ill have plenty of time to try it out and decide if I need to make another rod with a little more muscle. Yet to cast an FET I haven’t loved, whether this rod makes the trip or not I wont regret planing this taper.

George will most likely end up with something by Payne or maybe try out a Dickerson. He seems to prefer the faster, stiffer rods. Something that does not flex above the grip. Chow and Luke could probably do with anything from a broomstick to a more sporting Dickerson taper that Ill end up making them both.

Why such an intense, crazy trip? If there is one thing the old man has embedded in my brain, its that “this ain’t no dress rehearsal”. We only go around once, and who knows when my next opportunity to go west will be. Especially a trip deep into the wilderness that requires so much preparation and time. And if I have children it would be irresponsible of me to venture into the heart of bear country, this has to happen now. That was excuse #323 that I have given to my new wife as to why this trip HAS to happen.

So we are going all out. If what I read about grizzly bears is true, Chow should be the one eaten first. No matter how many times I warn him, “guarantee” he will sneak food into his tent for a late night snack.

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Best Damn Man

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From the time my brothers and I began exchanging gifts on Christmas and birthdays my mother has accused me of buying them something that I want. Not nessacarily denying this accusation, but I hope my groomsmen gifts for the wedding didnt reflect this.

So my buddy Nick was awarded the privilege of my best man on the big day. For years Nick has asked me why I don’t bring him fishing. I try and explain to him that I typically don’t catch much and its not the type of fishing we both grew up doing. So for his groomsmen gift along with a bottle of Walker Blue, I hired a guide out of the Feathered Hook for a day.

While driving along Pine Creek, a trib of Penns Nick asked “What does no wa-dd-ing mean?” I couldn’t help but laugh. No Nick, that says no “wading” and its what were gonna be doing in an hour.

At that point I think we both realized we should have went over the whole fly fishing thing in more detail before the trip.

We ended up having an amazing day on Penns Creek and Spring Creek. Our guide Mitch from Outcast Angler was awesome. Of course Nick and I turned the day in to a heated bass master style competition running Mitch up and down the stream. Nick held his own, couldnt believe he managed to smoke a cigar and effectivly nymph a run. Kid suprised me. Despite what Nick says, he did not win competition. Nick and I also got laughing when looking over photos from the day it would appear our guide Mitch, has no legs. He does in fact have legs.

We didn’t fish cane during the day. Despite our guide Mitch having a rod of his own making packed in the truck in case we hit a hatch. That and I don’t ever want to be one of those pushy clients that insists on using a certain fly or a rod. Let the guide do his job. This payed off. I learned a ton from Mitch about nymphing and caught some amazing wild PA trout. Oh and Nick had fun too.

Lately I have only been able to get into the shop once a week. This simply won’t do. Expect more cane rod shop news as the season turns. “If you want something different, do something different.”

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Cool article and video on maker Jim Downes

http://www.centredaily.com/2013/05/04/3604977/casting-call-jim-downes-artfully.html

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Bound and Baked

Fresh out of oven. Ready for final planing!!!

Fresh out of oven. Ready for final planing!!!

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Roughing it.

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Split, enamel scraped, nodes attended to and ready to start looking like piece of a rod.

 

When showing someone the rod making process, it’s the transition of an 8ft long, 3inch around stalk of bamboo and transforming it into equal triangles 1/16th its original size that provokes the wide eyed look. Once the culm is spilt, sawed or hacked into smaller rectangular sections you have to turn those into triangles that will lay in your planning form. Rod makers do this a number of different ways.

 

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Rough spilt strip, bevelled strip.

 

 

Once we visited Jim Downes he showed us another option. Jim ran his strips through Bellingers Little Giant rough out beveller.  I immediately knew I had to have one of these machines. Square or rectangular strips are fed into the machine cutting both sides of your triangle in one pass. The bed is then continually raised to take off the desired amount of cane. Awesome machine, but as an amateur rod maker the price was out of my range. This machine also takes some criticism due to the cost of getting the unique cutting bit sharpened.

 

So I began researching. Most guys make a variation of this machine using a router and fabricating a bed. For about 300 bucks you can make your own beveller. Typically called a Medved style, which will cut one side per pass. So you send strip through, raise bed, flip strip and cut the other side. . Basically takes two passes to get what the Bellenger machine does in one.

 

From the beginning of this journey the old man and I had decided we didn’t want to waste time on making our tools, we would do our best to purchase what we could from reputable sources. So I did what I always do when the next shiny item sparks my interest. Started selling off my fishing gear to finance the purchase.  I came across a JW rough out beveller. Extremely similar to all the homemade medved type bevellers but classy as hell. I had found the machine used on a popular bamboo rod website. Before making my purchase I contacted the maker of the machine. I believe his name is Jerry, I honestly forget. What I do remember  was his awesome customer service  and the time he spent with me on the phone knowing I’d be purchasing a used machine, he would be receiving no business from me. He explained the usage, materials and construction. He was extremely helpful, and I pulled the trigger.

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I cannot recommend this machine enough. It cuts clean, fast and efficient. If you’re not lucky enough to find one lightly used they can be had new from http://www.jwflyrods.com/   for a price that is still half of the bellinger machine.

 

If anyone has questions on the machine feel free to ask.

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Ed Engle; Still “Splitting Cane”

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Modern day fishers of bamboo fly rods, credit the writing of John Gierach with having sparked the interest in cane rods. Fueling the desire to search the internet, hide away a considerable amount of money from the wife and purchase his first cane rod. For me it happened in my local Barnes & Noble when I picked up Ed Engle’s Splitting Cane. At the time, even my religious study of all works Gierach had yet to enlighten me to the beauty of a cane fly rod. The wooden rod on the front cover drew my attention and I purchased Splitting Cane. I finished the book in three days, thirsty for more. And so began my desire for knowledge regarding bamboo rods and there makers. While it continues to this day, I have come across nothing so intimate and enjoyable to read on the subject more than Ed’s book.

When I told my wife that I’d not be eating dinner, I had to interview someone for the blog she asked who. Why in the hell would she ask? As if she would possibly know anyone whom would relate to the content of my blog. I’m learning that’s what wives do. They ask questions. Sometimes they truly need an answer, sometimes it childlike curiosity, but more often than not they know the answer. The latter is when you can get in to trouble. Tread carefully.

Despite My loving wife exhibiting genuine curiosity I shifted my eyes, grumpily not wanting to have a conversation on a topic nor man she would have no knowledge of. I cockily gave her the answer, “Ed Engle, Heather. Know him?”

“That guy’s book is always left on the dresser.” Well shit. Guess I have to be careful, she is paying attention. Point being if Heather is able to correctly ID Ed Engle I don’t think a greater compliment can be paid to Ed, as I obviously worship his book.  After reading, purchasing, and at one point even stealing literary works on bamboo fly rods, no book gives me greater pleasure to read than Ed’s. A detailed look of some of the country’s finest rod makers and there way of life.  It’s the book I pick up when I cannot be at the work bench, it takes me to the places these rods are made and fished.

Once I started this blog I knew I had to interview Ed. He is the guru on today’s rods and their makers. Only problem is, I suck at interviews. Actually I don’t blame myself totally. The two guys I have interviewed for the blog have been so down to earth and genuine that we end up just bullshitting. Hopefully you find some of it to be of interest, and if not do yourself a favor and find a copy of Splitting Cane. That recommendation should make up for my sub-par “interview.”

We started with small talk, Ed genuinely interested in the guy calling him long distance. After me gushing over his book, John Bradford came up.

“He was a good guy, really nice to me. He was a character. His big deal for a while was restoring Payne’s, and then got into making his own tapers. He gave a rod to John Gierach; it was just a sweet casting rod. You can make the exact same rod from the same culm, but sometimes there is just one that stands out which is the beauty of using a natural material.”

I loved this. As many reading will know, John Bradford passed away not too long ago. But I found myself hearing first hand stories about him. Through his rods he is alive and well, and now a guy from New Jersey shares a piece of the man’s life through a blog. I have to believe that when John Bradford began making rods, no random guy from New Jersey would be typing his name on something called the internet. But his craftsmanship and the material carries him on. I hope to be so lucky someday. Just hope random guy from Jersey is a better writer than me.

Shortly after that, I bring up the chapter on Mike Clark. Engle takes us through the entire waiting process and into the building phase of his very own custom rod from Clark. If you don’t want to order yourself a rod after reading it then you probably carry a plastic cup of worms to your favorite fishing hole, and shouldn’t be reading my blog. 

“Mike still hand planes everything. He doesn’t use any beveling machines or any of that stuff and he has the back to prove it. Thing a lot of people don’t know about Mike is that he is a great fisherman.”

That thought had never crossed my mind. Possibly one of the most well-known rod makers in the world and I had never considered or asked myself if the guy could fish? And sparks the question, do you have to be a great fisherman to be a great maker? Or at least a great caster?

Talking different makers led me into my next question, how many rods have you cast or own?

“I really don’t know, you go to these conclaves and all that stuff. But at home I’ve got about 30 bamboo rods. And I will fish graphite – if I’m travelling sometimes you’re forced to fish graphite. There was a time when all I fished was bamboo.”

You’re killing me Ed. He continued,

“But over the years I have been fortunate that people have let me cast a lot of different rods. There is actually a guy here in town that is a rod maker and is going to up and cast some of what I’ve got.”

This was just another example how cool some of the people involved with cane rods can be. Allowing strangers to come over to your home and cast your most prized possessions. Just to help someone learn more about this craft. At first acts like this were foreign to me. But the more people I meet in the bamboo rod community the more common such acts are. Few and far between will you come across the mythical curmudgeon fly fishing old man.

“I always tell people the more rods you can cast the better. That’s the beauty of it. It’s the wonderful material where guys like us can out in their garage experiment with tapers. You can’t do that with fiberglass or graphite.”

“I actually think bamboo rods make you a caster, as opposed to shooting line with graphite rods. You cast bamboo and you shoot graphite in terms of line. And I’m not a great caster either, because I fish smaller streams.”

I have read Ed say exactly that same quote somewhere before, and I love it. People are so intimidated by fly fishing due to the casting motion. Truth is you can get by catching fish on a fly while being a pretty horrendous caster. I’m living proof. However, as you get more into it, casting does take on its own art form. I’m not at the art form point yet but it’s something to shoot for, no pun intended.

An aspect of rod making that truly intimidates me is achieving my goal of developing into professional status. It seems that the guys that are able to do it are old, and have gained a reputation over time. Breaking into it and making a name for yourself seems to be quite the challenge.

“I can guarantee you that everyone one of them struggled at one point, and then just decided ok I’m going to do this.”

At this point Ed’s positive attitude was a breath of fresh air. The above statement really reassured me that all it takes is desire and hard work. As I have gotten older, I’ve come to realize that if you have passion and work towards a goal, you will eventually accomplish what you set out to do. Why can’t I become a professional rod maker? As George would say “You have to want it bad.”

Once you get over the mental hurdle, you have to buckle down and put the work into the rod. Otherwise you’re just bullshitting. So back to the rods our discussion went.

“It always comes down to how the thing fishes. If it’s a taper and I don’t have to change my style of casting, that’s the main thing for me. I’m a fisherman first. But nowadays if you’re going to review a rod or talk about it, the cosmetics always come up. But if you look at some of the older rods the cosmetics were crap compared to now. Those guys were trying to make rods that cast well. Payne had a great finish, he was the complete package.”

On that point I couldn’t agree with Ed more. They are all just fishing rods. Personally I’m drawn to rods that have a simple, classic look. The ultimate in simplicity and functionality to me is a Charlie Jenkins rod. Straight-grained cherry spacer, cigar grip, and neutral cane accenting wraps. Hearing Ed talk of Payne so highly coupled with what I have read and seen of his rods already now have me lusting for an example. After our conversation I even searched online, found a few that would be perfect. For a brief moment I contemplated what I could sell, how I could make it work financially all without Heather knowing. Then I realized that I bought my pickup truck for less than the original Payne 96 I was drooling over. I’ll just take Ed’s word for it on the Payne front.

Ed and I went on to talk about a variety of topics. From both of our weddings to writing, fishing etc. While I have read his books on fishing, I was still blown away by his knowledge on just plain fishing and how he was able to translate it to me over the phone. He must be one hell of a guide. Hearing him talk flies and techniques was one of the best learning experiences I have had to date regarding fly fishing.

When I do go to fly fishing shows and meet makers and rod dealers, I’m always fortunate enough to draw their attention and learn so much through conversation. However, some of these guys will be telling me a story or history on a maker and they will be giving me misinformation, and I’ll know it at the time due to my own research. Of course I never disagree or argue any point as I’m truly grateful for any time I can spend talking with these guys. With Ed there was none of that. This guy knows cane rods, both past and present. Not only has he had way more hands on experience with bamboo fly rods than me, but he has obviously studied and committed much more to memory than I could ever imagine. I could sense the passion for cane rods in his voice.  Speaking with him that day was truly a privilege, and I will always be thankful for his book Splitting Cane. Had I not picked it up in Barnes & Noble all those years ago my life and passions would have been completely different. I might have ended up a golfer or something ridiculous like that.

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