For those of you who don't know, Ernest Hemingway was one of the 20th centuries most famous authors. He even won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954. However, he was also a dedicated & expert angler, too. "The Old Man & The Sea" is probably his most famous book to include fishing in the story, but many of his other works, including parts of "The Sun Also Rises" have fly fishing in the story as well.
One of his best stories to include fly fishing, I think, is "Big Two-Hearted River". It's a story about a man going back to fish the rivers of his youth, alone, in order to recover & recoup from the horrors of war he has recently witnessed. From a literary point of view, the story was innovative, in that the plot is implied, rather than fully stated. No matter, if you love to fly fish you will enjoy this short story. It has all the elements we fly fishers love: beautiful wilderness, trout, & the challenges of catching them.
Hemingway was also a skilled salt water angler too, especially for big game fish like tuna & marlin. It's believed he could have set many records for those fish.
If you're looking for some good reading, & want to include some fishing stories, you might want to re-visit, or for some of you discover, the works of Ernest Hemingway. Here is a short video about some of his fishing accomplishments:
Autumn can be a great time to go after large & small mouth bass with a fly. At this time of year, as the weather turns cold, the bass begin to feed up for the winter. They know that food will start to become scarce for them & they want to tank up now, while they still can.
Ponds are a great place to fish for bass & other fun fish like bluegills, crappies, etc. They're also great places to take kids to teach them the sport, or for you to practice your casting techniques, all while catching some fish. There are tricks to fishing ponds & other still water environments, & in the video below legendary fly angler Lefty Kreh shows us some tricks & tactics we can use.
Bass fishing in the fall isn't always the easiest time of year, or the fastest bass fishing you'll encounter, but it can be some of the best. The bass are very aggressive & hungry. In the video, Lefty is fishing a pond in the spring of the year, but conditions are pretty much the same in the fall, too.
Enjoy the video below (I love the dog, too) & take some time to catch a few nice bass this autumn.
It's well after 1 am as I write this. I can still smell the varnish on my clothes. My hands & eyes are tired. I've been in the rod shop all day long, literally, with only a few short breaks to grab a bite or another cup of coffee. I want to end the day & go to sleep......& you know what? - I love every second of it!!
I just spent the last few hours prepping rod blanks & mixing varnish. Tomorrow morning those blanks will get their first coats of varnish. After that - & a quick breakfast - it'll be time to glue a grip & reel seat onto another rod. Then I'll need to inventory my line guides, to see if I need to make or order any more......& so on the day will go, until it's 1 am again & I'm taking a quick check of any emails that will need to be addressed for the next day before I turn in for the night.
I once had a friend tell me that what I do is a labor of love. That is so true. No, I couldn't do it - or have kept it up for so long - if there wasn't some money in the equation, that's for sure, but one look at the bank statement will tell me that it can't be for the money that I do this. I've come to realize that there's a trade-off here: I don't have some of the nicer things that people who are supposed to have established themselves in life have. Nor do I really care, when I stop to think about it. Heck, I shun some of that stuff anyway. Don't get me wrong: there are times when it would be nice to have a brand new car, or be able to afford a nice trip to Patagonia, or to buy that fancy bread down at the grocery store bakery. I am human. But if I had those things in place of what I'm doing in the rod shop, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be as happy.
So as I end this stream-of-conscieness ramble about being a rod maker, let me just say that I'm very grateful for it. It's the coolest job I've ever had (& the most frustrating at times). I get to meet some of the coolest people from all over the world. I get to enhance the time people spend participating in the most beautiful of activities ever dreamed up (fly fishing). I get to make fly rods!!! Next to actually going fishing, it's the most awesome way to spend my time that I've found. So, what's the word for a trout bum who makes fly rods?......rod maker bum?!!? Thank you all so much for allowing me to do this. Without you folks, none of this would be possible.
A good friend of mine passed along this video, showing how they used to make wooden fishing rod, particularly salmon fly rods. It's from Britain from back in 1939 & I find this kind of stuff extremely fascinating. Here we get to look into the factory for a quick glance at how these rods were made. As a rod maker, I can't imagine how many rod shafts were wasted as a worker would learn how to turn these rods down to the proper taper!
I think you'll enjoy this clip. I only wish it was longer!!
Lee Wulff was a legendary angler. One of the things he was know for was catching large fish on light weight tackle. You'll get to see that here in this vintage footage of Lee fishing the Miramichi River in New Brunswick. I love watching this old footage.
This film is in two parts, so check them both out. I'm sure you'll enjoy them both.
I was shopping for cork the other day & I noticed that it happened again: the price of cork went up across the board. Maybe it's the value of the dollar (most cork comes from Portugal, who's currency is the Euro), or maybe it's the time of year, or maybe because it was a Monday (he says with tongue in cheek)? Either way, it got me to thinking about cork, how we rod makers use it, & I thought I'd share with you some of my thoughts about the cork used to make rod grips. You probably don't spend a much of your time thinking about cork in your daily life, but believe me, rod makers sure do.
Cork is a natural product. It is actually the bark of a certain tree. Most (maybe all) of the cork used in the rod making industry comes from the country of Portugal in Europe. The folks over there who raise the cork are very careful about how & when they harvest it. They need to make sure they don't take too much cork off the tree, or too soon.
The cork that rod makers use typically comes in rings. These rings are usually 1 1/4" round in diameter & are either 1/2" thick (the most common) or 1/4" thick. The rod maker determines how many rings are needed to make the grip they're working on & then - if they don't already have a center hole - bores a hole in the middle of each ring. These rings are then glued together into a cylinder shape, as long as the grip will be. Once the glue sets up, the cork is spun - usually on a lathe - & sanded down to the desired size & shape.
Cork comes in different levels of quality. There's a bunch of factors that go in to determining the quality of the cork & it takes a trained eye & some knowledge of rod grips to classify the cork. What we're looking for in our cork is the absence of dark particles, few pits, & the density of the material. It used to be that cork was graded by letters from A to E, with A being the best. There are also other terms used to describe cork quality like "flor", select, & extra-select. Of course the problems with these terms are that they're subjective & because of this nobody is exactly sure what they mean anymore. One person's flor or AAA cork is another's AA. Get the idea? Over the years, as the price of the cork has gone up & suppliers have tried to make their cork sound higher in quality, these grades have meant even less.
As I said, cork is a natural product. No two pieces are exactly the same & each will have at least a few imperfections. That's to be expected. The rod maker simply works around these imperfections by placing the rings so that the grip will be the best it can be. A cork grip is most vulnerable to damage at the ends, front & back. A conscientious rod maker will be sure there are very few pits in those areas of the grip.
About the time bamboo rods had their resurgence in popularity in the 1990's, rod makers began to use the highest grade of cork possible. They wanted perfect cork, with no blemishes at all. That quality of cork is very rare. At some point in time, in the late 1990's or early 2000's, this demand peaked but the result was that the prices for all grades of cork had been driven up greatly.
To me this trend of using "perfect" cork made no sense at all. Cork is supposed to have little imperfections here & there in my opinion. Like bamboo, it is a natural product. These grips made with flawless cork always looked fake, or somehow unnatural to me. As the price of cork goes up it is becoming one of the most expensive components on the rod. To me it gets a little ridiculous to be paying $3.50 or more per 1/2" ring of cork (not counting the costs of the glue, the tools, & the labor to turn it into a finished grip)- especially if that perfect cork looks strange (in my eyes).
Using totally flawless cork never made sense to me from an angling perspective either. I mean, you're going to be paying a lot extra for that very rare cork on your rod. Wonderful, if that's what you want but have you considered how it will look in a little while? Cork will, for lack of a better term, 'patina' with use. It will change color from holding it in your hand as it absorbs & takes on the dirt & grime on your hands. Your fishing, not sitting down to dinner, so your hands aren't always their cleanest when you're along the stream. The cork will darken as time goes on. True, you can make the cork look new again if you clean it. Most anglers, I suspect, don't clean their rod grips with soap & water after every outing though. So how long will it be before you "perfect" cork grip is no longer perfect?
I say give me a few imperfections in my cork! Obviously, I don't want any cork that is so pitted that it will crumble or break as it's being used on the rod. No, I want quality cork that will make a grip with good integrity to it, one that's comfortable to fish with all day long. Still, those little imperfections are, to me, a reminder that I'm fishing with a natural product. They show off the beauty of the cork, as nature intended it to be. Plus, it will save you a lot of money.
I've discussed the legendary angler Joe Brooks on the Pliant Rod before. If you don't know who he was, please learn more about him HERE & also HERE. I've always been a big fan of Joe's writings & his teaching - I've learned a lot from him through his books & articles. So I was really jazzed when I found this old TV commercial for Grape Nuts cereal, featuring Joe.
If eating that cereal is what it takes to catch fish like Joe did, then I'm going down to the store right now to pick up a case of the stuff!!! Check out the commercial below:
I hope you all get a chance to get out on the water this autumn. It really is a great time to go fly fishing......
....& don't forget, I'd love to see some of your photos from your fishing adventures this fall (or any other time). If you want, I'll post them over on the Beyond The Rod Shop page for all to see. So, show off that beauty you landed, or even the gorgeous places you've been fishing. I'd love to see them!!
Remember, I'm here for your fly fishing needs. Want to start the season off with a great accessory like a new fishing bag, leather fly wallet, or mini fly wallet? Perhaps you'd like to have a new mortised fly rod this fall? Please contact me if I can be of any service to you.
Have a great time on the water this fall & please, save some fish for me!!
If you're like me, then autumn is your favorite seasons of the year. I really seem to come alive in the fall - the weather, the changing of the leaves, I really enjoy it all. I really like to go fly fishing in the fall. The fishing can be very good & you don't have as many anglers on the water. It really can be the best time of year for trout fishing.
So if you'll be heading out on a trip or two this fall, you might want to stock up on a few things first. With that I'm here to help.
Folks, I'm really proud of the accessories I offer. Each one is made right in my shop & is the result of many years of thinking about how we use these items along the water. I think you'll enjoy them a lot, too.
Fall fly fishing is a great time for nymphs & wet flies. Why not store them in a classic leather fly wallet? These are all made from real leather & have enough pages in them to hold a ton of your favorite sub-surface bug puppets! Their the perfect size for your fly vest pockets & they look really nice.
If you like the full sized leather fly wallets, then you're going to love the mini fly wallets, too. Made from either leather or canvas, these versatile wallets are perfect for keeping your most-fished flies near at hand - perfect for those times when multiple fly changes are needed. They're designed to fit into a shirt pocket, hang from a lanyard or a vest, you can even use them as a drying patch, too. Try them out & I think you'll be back for more of these handy little wallets.
Don't forget about the fishing bags I make as well. These are a fantastic alternative to wearing a vest - especially convenient in the colder weather when you're all bundled up. Everything you need is right at your side, plus they have those traditional, classic look to them from a time before anglers wore vests. Decked out with multiple pockets & a very strong liner, these bags are the sturdiest, most well-constructed bags on the market today, hands down.
Have a reel with no case? Well, I also make soft-sided reel cases from leather or heavy canvas material. These cases are lined with soft wool padding to protect your reel. The best part?...you can have them made to fit your reel exactly!! You give me just a couple of measurements & I'll get you a reel case custom sized just for your reel. Where else can you get a case with a tailored fit for your reel?
To see more photos & to learn more about all the accessories I make & offer, please visit the Accessories page of this site.
Take a classic-looking mortised bamboo fly rod out fishing this fall. Over on the Available Rods page I now have two unique mortised rods at different prices. These rods are a lot like the old, antique rods that were the hallmark of the rod maker's craft around the turn of the century. These rods have that look, but with a more modern action & feel.
Keep any eye to this blog & to the Available Rods page, as there will be more rods listed very soon. These will be some very nice rods that will cover a bunch of different fishing situations.
Are you thinking about a custom fly rod? Well, I'm here to help. It's never too early to plan a rod for a gift for the Holidays or for next season. Getting a custom fly rod is really a a fun process I'm sure you'll enjoy. You & I work together to design your fly rod just how you want it to be. I've always felt that I don't just make & sell fly rods. I do that, sure, but it's also a tailored service geared completely to you & what you want in a fly rod. No matter if you're dream rod is a bamboo, graphite, or fiberglass rod (or one of each), contact me to see how much fun & easy the process is. Let's work together to make you the rod you've always wanted.
I still have a bunch of vintage fly reels listed over on the Available Reels page. Please check them out if you're looking for a decent reel at a really low price. Plus, each reel comes with a custom-fit reel case - for FREE!!
"Everything changes a little & it should. Good ain't forever & bad ain't for good". -Roger Miller
In the coming days look for some big changes to this website. A new design that will allow for easier reading, larger & more detailed photos is in the works. It will still have the same material & info, still be easy to navigate, but it will allow you to see images more clearly & allow you to read the text with less effort. It's time for a change on this site & I hope you like it. This is all part of my plan to have the best website possible & to offer you the highest level of service you'll find anywhere. Look for these changes to be implemented soon!!
If you have any questions, or if I can help answer any questions you have, please contact me. I'm here to help in any way I can. I hope you all get some time on the water this fall & can truly enjoy the season!!
The Pliant Rod
News from the shop of Chris Lantzy, Custom Rod Maker along with industry news, profiles of interesting characters, reviews, history, & whatever else strikes our fancy. Your comments & feedback are welcome. Please email me your thoughts.
Cases, bags, wallets, & other fine leather angling accessories.
DISCOUNTED REEL CASES