Since the late 1800's America has been taking the first Monday in September to celebrate & honor the contributions workers have made to the country. When I think of it terms of celebrating labor, I like to think of all those rod makers who came before me & their contributions to my craft.
My trade - that of making fishing rods & other tackle & accessories - has changed a bit since the first national Labor Day, but the spirit of making rods the best we can remains the same. No matter what you do for a living, I'm sure there have been many changes to your work over the years as well.
I hope that you all can take some time to relax & have a little fun over this long weekend. Have a safe & happy Labor Day America!!
In the very short video below, legendary angler Left Kreh talks about the equality that fly fishing imposes anglers. I couldn't agree more with him. The one thing that always amazes me about this sport is how it brings people from so many different backgrounds together. The fish will rise for the rich as well as for the poor; for the old & the young alike.
It's always good to hear from Lefty. After all these years spent in fly fishing & the outdoors, we would be wise to take what he says into account.
This past year, my good friends & fellow rod makers Jeff Wagner & Casimira Orlowski were featured on the television program, "A Craftsmen's Legacy". Together, Jeff & Casimira make up J.D. Wagner Rodmakers. This episode featured them, their story, their rods & walks us through the basic steps of making a bamboo fly rod. It is a very well made show featuring two extremely talented rod makers.
Now, I'm biased because their friends, but Jeff & Casimira are two of the finest people you will encounter in the fly fishing business. In addition to making some of the finest rods, they also make a host of tools & sell rod building supplies. If that weren't enough, they also offer classes throughout the summer months, where they will teach you the in's & out's of making a bamboo rod from scratch.
I was very happy to see bamboo fly rods getting the spotlight on a national TV show & I was even happier to see Jeff & Casimira get some well deserved attention for their work. As ambassadors for hand-made bamboo fly rods, you can't get any better than those two!!
Below is a short preview of the episode. To watch the entire show, check out the website for A Craftsmen's Legacy.
The following article is a re-post of one I wrote about six years ago. Considering that today is President's Day, I figured I'd share it with you again......
In honor of the upcoming Presidents Day, I thought I might mention a little about how the sport has been in the office for a long time. Presidents Day was first celebrated on Washington's birthday, February, 22 in the late 1800's. By 1971, the holiday had been moved to the third Monday in February & had been designated to honor all those who have held the office.
Quite a few past presidents have been fly anglers, some more addicted to it than others. Of course, not all presidents were fly anglers, or ever even tried the sport, but many have at least given it a try. It's no big surprise that Theodore Roosevelt was an avid fly angler & of course Calvin Coolidge is the fly fishing president that gets a quick mention in "A River Runs Through It." I think it's also well known that Jimmy Carter is a skilled & knowledgeable fly fisherman. But I never knew that Herbert Hoover was as devoted to fly fishing, saying the sport "restored & nourished" his soul. The sport was a very important influence on his thoughts. He once said: "Fishing is a ...discipline in the equality of men - for all men are equal before fish."
No matter what your politics may be, I think every president should give the sport a try. As we all know, it ca be a great way to relax & spend some much needed time in peaceful thought.
(I often wondered: are there any fish in that fountain?)
I’m always inspired by folks who use the sport of fly fishing to spread goodwill & help make this world a better place. Recently, my good friend from Colorado, Terryll, gifted me with a beautiful box of over 100 of the best tied flies I may have ever seen. I was curious about who could tie such nice flies, so I asked Terryll. These flies were tied by a man named Jerry Warrington from Grayling, Michigan & Terryll told me that Jerry has quite a story. He went on to explain that Jerry makes up these boxes to sell & that all the proceeds go to fund his efforts to teach children suffering from cancer how to tie flies. Well, that definitely sounded like something I could get behind so, on Terryll’s advice, I contacted Jerry to learn more about what he’s doing.
I asked Jerry about his background in how he got started teaching children with cancer how to tie flies & what he told me was truly inspiring. He has a story I think we all need to know. I think that here it’s best if I just let Jerry tell his story in his own words, as he told it to me:
“.... my tying and the sales of my flies/boxes never have been about lining my own pockets. Instead, for the last 18+ years, most of the money has gone back into the annual tying classes with "my kids"-- kids battling/surviving cancer, just like me. It's long been my way of giving back and paying it forward, all at once.
My own war with the disease began on my 44th birthday in 1997, when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Two weeks later, the tumor had been removed and my long road of treatments and physical therapy to realize a full recovery had begun. I had to re-learn the normal things that we all take for granted-- speech patterns, the mere buttoning of a shirt, eating with a fork or spoon, and to an extent, even just walking. The first weeks were far from pretty, but they were necessary for me to regain any sense of normality.
Fortunately for me, my chief oncologist also was a fly-fisherman like yours truly. One day, not long into my therapy, he struck upon the idea of using my love of tying to help me regain my hand-to-eye coordination. I had been tying most of my life, and setting me up in my hospital room took little more than having my wife bring my portable tying kit with her on her next visit. Despite some very awkward attempts early on, my flies slowly began to take shape, thanks in no small part that I tend to be stubborn when challenged, and it soon became obvious that "Doc's" idea was starting to pay dividends.
As I spent my "non-therapy" hours sitting at my fly vise and trying to wrap hackle, I started getting the occasional visitor to my room-- a kid or two from the Children's Cancer Wing enroute to the lab. The "occasionals" soon became regulars, and it didn't take long before my room became something of a gathering place for the kids. They all were fascinated with the fact that I was taking a simple hook and turning it into a fly-- well, something of a fly --and they would stay until the nurses ushered them back to the Children's Wing.
These regular gatherings continued until the day of my discharge and the long ride home. Before my departure, I held one last tying session in the Children's Cancer Wing, at the end of which each child was presented with one of my flies in a small plastic box, each with the hooks cut off flush to the body of the fly. On the drive home, my family and I collectively agreed on the idea of hosting tying classes in our home for small groups of kids battling/surviving cancer like me, and "my kids" soon became a reality. That was over 18 years and three other tumors ago, and we're still going strong.
As it stands today, we continue to do the annual tying classes for "my kids" completely FREE OF CHARGE!”
What a story & what a guy!! Personally, I’m blown away by Jerry’s fortitude & kindness. This is something that I think we can all get behind & support.
Folks, these flies are simply amazing & expertly tied. He calls these boxes his “Miracle 100+” boxes. In them you get a large amount of flies (110 to 120 flies) from dries to nymphs to cover just about any fishing situation. Not only that, they come in a very cool 2-sided fly box which is included in the price.
Now here’s the best part: these boxes currently cost only $85, including shipping!! Folks, that’s about 78 cents per fly, with a box, coming right to your door!!.....and all the proceeds go to a great cause!!!! How can you beat that?!!?
Here's a couple photos of the boxes...just look at what all you get!!
In addition to his “Miracle 100+” box, Jerry also offers a streamer box. In it you get 65 streamers for $65, including a 2-sided fly box & shipping. When you add it all up, that’s way less than $1 per streamer - & tied way better than any fly you’re going to get from a catalog!!
If that weren’t enough, Jerry will do up custom ties for you. Just tell him what you need & he’ll tie it up for you.
I can’t say enough good things about Jerry, his flies, & his efforts to help kids fighting cancer. Please folks, if you need flies & can help him out, then please get a hold of him. I’m sure you’ll be glad you did.
You can contact Jerry directly through his email address here:
Get a great deal on some of the best tied flies you’ll ever fish & support a great cause. To me, what Jerry is doing represents the best of what fly fishing can be!!
Had enough of the nasty politics during this election year? Well, for those of you who aren't happy with either candidate, good news - your fly fishing expert guide Hank Patterson has decided to run. For those of you who follow Hank, well......okay.
Rather than go on about how Hank is the guy for the job, let's just hear him tell us in his own words. Hank doesn't hold back, so mind the language in this video. Hay, he's a passionate guy!
I often get asked questions about vintage tackle by folks looking to learn more about an old piece of tackle they've acquired. For those of you interested in automatic reels, here's a re-post of an article I wrote a few years ago.....
Automatic fly reels have been mass-produced by many manufacturers throughout the twentieth century. As a result, there are many of these reels floating around out there in all the places that one will find vintage fly tackle. To me it's very interesting how some anglers dislike these reels while some others swear by them. Either way, nobody can deny they were, at one point in time, very popular.
The first automatic fly reels were side-mounted affairs. The first patent for these reels came back in 1880 by Francis A. Loomis from Onondaga, NY. The next year Loomis got help with his designs & credited James S. Plumb from Syracuse with half of his second patent in 1881. These two formed a firm called Loomis, Plumb, & Co which started manufacturing the first automatic reels. These new reels caught on quickly among anglers & soon they were making them in nickle-brass, three finishes in bronze, & other metals.
In the mid-1880's they sold their company to another called Yawman & Erbe who continued to make the reels exactly the same. Of course they did make changes in later years, one of which included a key-winding method for the tension of the spring. These were called "Improved Automatic Reels". They were available in only two sizes.
Soon after 1910 Yawman & Erbe sold their company to Horrocks-Ibbotson who took the patterns & machinery to their factory in Utica, NY. The first reels that H&I made were called "The Y&E Automatic Reel". H&I made them with that name on them until sometime after 1923.
Because these reels were so popular from the very beginning, many companies got on board with making their own automatics. Many tried to find success, but the man that would be the most successful making automatic reels was Herman W. Martin, a jeweler from Ilion, starting in the 1890's.
Martin made these reels in four sizes - already offering anglers more options than previous makers. These reels were produced by a company called "The Martin Novelty Works". They were very well decorated with etched filigree on the face plate. Sometime after 1907 or 1908 the company changed it's name to "Martin Automatic Fish Reel Company". In 1921 the company moved to Mohawk. The reels made there were plainer than the previous ones with simple trim bands on the face. Over the years the reels went through further changes, but the newer reels are less sought after by collectors. You can still buy reels by this company today - we now know it as "The Martin Reel Company".
Throughout the twentieth century many companies put their names on auto reels including South Bend, Shakespear, Pflueger, Meisselbach, & others. The most collectible of all these reels are the earliest ones by Loomis & Plumb, Yawman & Erbe, & Martin Novelty (with the filigree).
Ever since they came on the market automatic fly reels have been a source of debate among fly anglers. Some anglers who advocate the use of single-action reels feel that the autos are unsportsmanlike to use. The push of a lever immediately re-spools the line & quickly puts a tight line on the fish, giving the anglers a fast advantage. Of course these reels are heavier than a normal single-action reel, which is another aspect that some anglers disapprove of.
However these reels won the respect of many fly anglers. One of the more famous advocates for automatics was E.C. Powell, the well respected angler & rod maker. In his "A Discourse on Trout Angling & Tackle" he states:
"The old school of expert anglers use a single action reel & condemn an automatic as unsportsmanlike. I have always believed this opinion was formed without practical knowledge. This much I know, that if you learn to use an automatic you will find it hard to get along with an ordinary reel again as you will find it too slow."
It seems to me that anglers, whether they like automatic reels or not, seem to have their minds made up about them. To each their own. Some of you will find an advantage in using them & others will not like them at all.
You can, of course, still buy new automatic fly reels today, though they may not be of the quality that some of the vintage reels were made with. Regardless how you feel about them, they were very popular among fly anglers not so long ago. With so many of them made & available on the used tackle market, you should have no trouble finding a decent automatic reel to try them out on your rod - if you're so inclined.
More than just a novelty or a passing fad, automatic fly reels have developed & evolved through the years, just like all other types of reels & tackle. The history of how they came to be is, to me, fascinating.
In a previous post, we discussed the book "The Trout and The fly" by Brian Clarke & Mike Goddard. In it they show the results of years of study & experiments into how trout feed, their behavior, how they see their underwater world, & what it all means to the fly angler. After the book was published, a short film was made based on the concepts by the authors. Here, then, is that film divided into four parts. Enjoy!!
Here is a video featuring Tim Rajeff, a former world champion fly caster. Not only do we get to see him casting, but also instructing others in how to do it, too. He's a great teacher, in my opinion.
The coolest thing in this video which might help your casting &/or to teach others, is the trick he shows with the wet paint brush as a learning aid. Fantastic!!
I'm going to go outside in the yard right now with a paint brush & a bucket of water!!
Okay, sit back & have a laugh as you watch our old friend Goofy show us how to fish. I think some of this has happened to all of us at one time or another while fishing! Enjoy!!
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.
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