Why do I fly fish and specifically why do I use bamboo rods.
This was written in 2002 so it's bit dated as my knee has been repaired and I managed to make it to the Miramichi the following year where I lit into a 40 plus inch Atlantic on my 9' Winston Bamboo. Enjoy...........
I tried to master a flyrod back in the 70's when I found one in a little out of the way whatever shop, it was glass and what looked like Conlon blanks (from what I know today but back then you could have told me it was bungee cord and I would have known no better). Tried every possible way of learning the casting technique and it was a pain!
I didn't know anyone who flyfished so finding someone didn't work so well. I finally fished it with a worm and caught my first fish on a flyrod (a sunny) and it felt like a 4 lb Bass to me (later in life I'd find out what a 4 lb Bass really felt like and boy, was I wrong!!). Anyhow, since my progress was dismal with the flyrod I packed it away but the feel of that fish made me want to learn but it was gonna take some help.
I moved to Maine shortly thereafter and got into salt water fishing in a big way but didn't have the money to get the gear I wanted. A guy at work came in with a pile of salt gear one day and was looking to sell and I asked what he wanted for it, to which he said he wanted to get back into flyfishing and was looking to gear up. I said I had some stuff but didn't know much about it but if he was interested in looking at it I'd bring it in and maybe we can work something out.
I brought the rod in and the Pflueger 1492 and the extra stuff I had. He loved it and said he'd trade me even and I said OK. We each went off happy and that was that. As time went on I got the urge to try flyfishing once again and this time I had found a wealth of information to be had i.e. magazines, library books, video tapes, a couple of fly shops and people who knew how to do it.
I bought my flyrod right off at our local sport shop (Kittery Trading Post in Kittery ME) and to show you how little I really knew it was an Orvis package with an Orvis Graphite Reel and plastic tube, an 8 WT. Followed all of the stuff I read and people tried to help and it was hopeless I hated the rod (still have it, still hate it but it trolls well). Got an award at work for doing a job beyond expectations so I went back to the KTP but this time I went armed with questions as well as the $'s. After several hours of trying things out finding a rod I could cast very well the fishing dept. manager said I should try bamboo as the rod I picked was similar to bamboo in how it cast and it was his personal favorite graphite rod (it's a 6 WT Sage from the early 80's which is soft compared to todays rods and I still like it).
He then walked me over to the little display case and showed me 4 bamboo rods by REC and when he told me the price I said I'd buy the Sage, a 6 WT Scientific Anglers flyline, the Marryat 7.5 and spare spool but there was no way I had anywhere near what he wanted for a bamboo rod, but he planted a seed. I managed to do well with the rod and saved my money to someday buy another and maybe it would be bamboo.
As time went on I started travelling for work as the work I did was needed at other facilities but they didn't have the expertise and each trip found me stashing $'s away. I finally got the chance to get a job for 13 weeks in Scotland and was dizzy with excitement about it and it was at this time a gentleman who recently passed away came into my life as a friend.
While in Scotland I ended up with a virus that caused a disorder called Guillane Barre' Syndrome and was shipped home. GBS attacks the motor muscular functions and other memory functions so it was an ordeal. Once diagnosed, my Dr's. set a course of rehab for me which included having to relearn skills I already once knew how to do. My wife took it upon herself to rent some videos on fly fishing since I was not responding very well and she figured maybe this was the incentive I needed.
My friend that I mentioned earlier stopped by and we talked for awhile and I told him about how disappointed I was about having to leave Scotland and never being able to fish but that I had visited a tackle shop in Glasgow and saw some really neat bamboo rods. The next weekend when he came up he said he had something for me and went out to his car and opened the trunk. He took out a tube and handed it to me and told me it was his dads and since he was getting on in years he no longer fished for Salmon so he thought I might like it.
It is an F. E. Thomas 9 1/2' 3pc 2 tip Salmon Dry Fly rod with add on ext. butt. The videos my wife rented did the trick as casting became part of my muscles rebuilding exercises and that Thomas became my friend. I had to really pay attention to the rod or I would become very tired very quickly as that is how this disease is. I learned to really feel what the rod was telling me and found that since I had limited movement I didn't want to waste extra energy casting and I became very prolific in my casting abilities.
When I had rehabilitated to the degree where my Drs would allow me to return to work I did so with a new outlook. When I fished I enjoyed the experience of feeling the life of the rod beneath my hand and used its secrets to bring fish to the net. Since bamboo was now under my skin I tried to learn what I could about the lovely reed and the makers who transformed a once living plant into a lively fishing companion. I found it interesting reading about all the people it took to get the bamboo to the makers and the processes that it took to make a rod and how many lives it touched along the way.
I earned another award (a large one) and found myself back at the KTP and I had enough $'s to purchase one of the REC cane rods (REC was ceasing operations at this time) I left with a neat 5 WT 7 1/2' 2 pc 1 tip called Golden Shadow. I then started searching out rods by famous makers to see them, feel them etc. What I experienced was amazing as each had a different personality just like human beings.
As I shifted jobs to one that allowed a certain flexibility in lifestyle (the opportunity to purchase bamboo rods) I found myself making friends of more and more bamboo rods but specifically used rods. I work in an extremely high tech stress oriented job that chases electrons and bits and bytes all over the world and with users who for lack of any better reason are just too thick headed to ever become literate with a PC that I find life consoling knowing when I go home I have some old friends sitting there waiting for me.
When I cast or fish them I see the Chinese farmers who grew them and the cutters who harvested them and washed them to ready them for their journey. I see the packers and shippers that moved and warehoused them, the sellers that sold them and the parcel workers who delivered them. I feel the lovely personality endowed to them the maker put there after many hours of toil and when I catch a fish and feel the life at the end of the line I feel like we are all tied together as one.
I fish bamboo to capture a life with a substance that once had life to fulfill my life. I feel that bamboo retains not only its own unique spirit but it carries the spirit of all that have moved it along on its journey to me and since I will someday cease to exist as I do now I am reassured that my spirit will someday stand along those that live in each of my bamboo rods.
The past 6 months have been a challange and those events that caused it need not be revisited and I have been having great difficulty with my legs and not feeling up to my usual self but hopefully with the physical therapy I'm undergoing and the opening of fishing season around the corner these old bones might get a renewal. Just past yet another birthday which kinda gets old but I also got an invite to fish the Miramichi with some good friends in mid April and perhaps that old Thomas will go back and try to bring in a bigger Atlantic than it did the last time it went in 1954 but that 38 lb'er might be the best it will ever see. Come on spring........
I also enjoy smoking my pipes, bird hunting with my best friend Levi (my Weimaraner) photography, astronomy and spending time at my camp in the White Mountain National Forest region of western Maine.