Thursday, January 30, 2014

What rod should I buy?

One of the most frequent question one sees on any fishing related forum is - What rod should I buy?

The good news / bad news is that at the same time, this is one of the easiest / hardest question to answer.

The good news is that there are no wrong answers.  The vast majority of fishing equipment available today is good stuff.  It really doesn't pay a company to spend the money required to produce, market and sell schlocky equipment.  In the day and age of the internet, the news would get out quick and the company would soon be out of business.

The bad news, there is no right answer either.  Asking what rod to buy is akin to asking -

What is the best color of t-shirt to wear?
Should I marry a redhead, blonde or brunette ?
What kind of pizza should I order ?

Each of these questions in large part comes down to personal preference.  The fact that my favorite pizza is thin crust with italian sausage doesn't mean that your favorite won't be thick crust with green olives.  Of course the thing to remember is that all the pizzas are wholesome, you aren't going to get sick or poisoned if you eat them.  So you can order any pizza on the menu with some level of confidence.

So if you ask 25 people what t-shirt/pizza/rod you should buy, be prepared to get 50 different answers.  None of the answers are totally wrong, but none of them are exactly right. You will probably like using any one you buy, but you may find you enjoy using one just a little more than the rest.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What goes around maybe comes back around

I went thru the cycle and am back where I started. 

I started out with a cheaply made Garcia fly rod with a cheap knock off of a Pflueger Medalist reel  fifty  years ago.  But guess what, I spent countless hours fishing, caught a bunch of fish, and have nothing but great memories of my childhood fishing exploits.  Over the course of the next 45 years, I accumulated a couple of tens of thousands of dollars worth of some very nice equipment.  And truth be told, I enjoyed doing that as well.

About five years back, I got hooked when I started to fish a fixed-length line system (aka tenkara if you will). Although I still owned all my nice stuff, I  found myself fishing a $12 crappie pole I bought at Walmart coupled with a line I had furled with nothing else than a bit of tippet and a fly. Not only was I catching fish, but every time I thought to check, I had a big smile on my face.  I’ve since update my crappie pole, and spend most of my time fishing an actual $50 tenkara rod.  It’s a joy to cast and fish.  I still spend a lot of time smiling when I’m around the water.

But you know, on occasion I still like to use a reel, and surprisingly enough, as often as not I grab my $25 Eagle Claw Featherlight. It a much nicer rod than I started out with 50 some years ago. I didn't know any better about equipment back when I started, but it didn't matter, it provided endless hours of fascination and enjoyment.  I fully enjoy fishing the Eagle Claw as well.

In point of fairness, I still appreciate my top drawer stuff, maybe more than before. I no longer long for equipment I don't have, but rather enjoy the stuff I do have.  I’ve been freed from lusting for all the new equipment I didn’t own, instead I really enjoy and am thankful for all the stuff I do have.  I no longer have a constant urge to daily scan web sites for new gear, nor does Cabela’s inexplicable draw me there on a weekly basis.

I enjoy fishing in a much different way, brand names and cost no longer matter, it’s just all about going out and enjoying the act of fishing.  It’s a bit hard to actually explain.  I don’t know if it is just another phase or not, I guess time will tell.

In the meantime, I wish you joy and happiness in your time afield.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Save for a rainy day!

Warning!!!!!!! This advice comes from a crotchety old geezer who feels the world is passing him by the wayside.

If you have a piece of fishing equipment you like, buy and extra.  If there is something you really like, buy enough to last the rest of your lifetime.  I can’t say I actually planned it this way, but that is the way it worked out for me, and I’m glad it did.

Fishing rods and reels are not that big or hard to store.  You can stockpile a true treasure trove in a surprisingly small, out of the way corner.  If you have certain preferences about the equipment you use, there is a good chance you might not be able to find a replacement sometime in the not too distant future.
Case in point, I don’t like ferrules on my reeled rods.  I’d fish a one piece reeled rod if it wasn’t for the logistics involved. I do need to transport rods inside my car, so I compromise (I’m flexible) and fish two piece reeled rods.   I recently took the time to count while flipping through a fly fishing catalog.  The catalog listed 440 rods in various models by various manufacturers.  Out of the 440 rods, two were 3 piece, the rest were 4 or more.  Not a single 2 piece rod was listed.  Granted, if I needed to travel about a lot in airplanes, I might opt for a more multi piece, but what percentage of my or anyone else’s fishing time is done out of an airplane?

I feel that fly reels are also quickly passing me by the wayside.  When I use a reel, I like a simple, small arbored, non disk drag reel.  A fly reel should look like a fly reel (think Pflueger Medalist), not like an alien spacecraft.

If you still need further convincing, quality fishing gear holds it value pretty well.  At least a lot better than a lot of stocks and bonds I’ve owned over the years.  Back in 1986 I bought two Hardy Perfect reels.  They cost $75.00 each.  Now they are easily worth over $500 each.  It’s easy to sell a Medalist reel for at least what you paid for it 50 years ago, so really you had the use of the reel at no cost to you.
The trend is particularly evident with fixed-length line rods.   Just over the few years that tenkara has started to enjoy some level of popularity in the U.S., the complexity has dramatically increased.  I like the simplicity – a stick, a string, and a fly.  I don’t feel the need to use a rod that can be lengthen and shorted or to carry along 14 different lines.  But again, that’s just me.   If that’s what folks like, they should, and will, buy what they enjoy.  I have no problem with that, I just want to make sure I have my own personal (and perhaps quirky) needs covered.

So when you find a piece of equipment you like, buy it.  Don’t consider it an extravagant purchase, rather consider it an investment.  We all know there is wisdom in the age old tome – Save for a rainy day.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Simpler Times

I was recently reading a fly fishing forum in which someone asked why they no longer made the Pflueger Medalist reel.  I think the honest answer is because there is no longer a significant demand for that type of reel in today’s market.

The Medalist has always been one of my favorite reels.  When I first started fishing, my folks bought me a cheap Medalist copy as my first fly reel for my 12th birthday.  It worked fine for catching bluegills, but even at that young age, I lusted to get a genuine real deal Medalist.  Over the course of the next 50 so years, my wish came true, I did get a Medalist.  Actually truth be told, many Medalists reels.  Over the course of the years I’ve caught countless tens of thousands of fish with a Medalist reel hanging off my rod.

Other than the few Hardy reels I own, the Medalists are still my favorite reel.  They look ad feel the way a fly reel is supposed to look and feel, at least to me. Maybe the reason I like Medalist reels so much is that they seem to have become an old relic, just like me.

Harsh reality tells me I think the reason they are no longer made, is because there was no longer a demand for them. It seems like unless a reel is large arbor, with a disk drag and a $300 price tag, it just isn't what is what folks want to buy or use. I actually don't have a problem with that; folks should buy and use what they enjoy.

When I was a kid, I use to love to shoot a bow and arrow. I had a Fred Bear recurve bow, I thought it was state of the art with its laminated fiberglass limbs. For whatever reason, I got out of archery. A while back I looked into getting back into shooting arrows. As I started looking at equipment, everything had changed. Bows no longer were more or less a stick and a string, now they had wheels , cams, cables  and a bunch of other space aged looking gizmos. 

Fly fishing has seemed to undergone a similar progression. I guess that is just the nature of things.  I am convinced that fly fisherman say they enjoy the simplicity, yet they are drawn to complexity like a moth to a flame.  And again I’ll state there is absolutely nothing wrong with that if that is what floats one’s boat.  It just isn’t for me. I am glad in my younger days I bought alot more stuff than I really had a need for, I have more than enough of the stuff I like to last the rest of my lifetime.

Over the years, maybe subconsciously I felt the world was passing me by, taste and styles change.  I think that was the major appeal of tenkara to me.  it took me back to my roots.  I provided the simplicity that first attracted me to fly fishing.

Of course, as an aside, I’m not sure how long the simplicity will stay in tenkara trends.