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Trout Bums at Large is a monthly column appearing in the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Seattle Times. The column is written by Randal Sumner and Mark Littleton. We will be keeping an archive of these articles on this page.

by Randal Sumner

I have no idea how many fly rod manufacturing companies exist on earth, and when they took me to the Mother ship, it was one of the few questions about the universe I forgot to ask. My guess is there are less than a hundred , maybe fifty is a better number, but really who cares.

            I had a client call me a while back asking me about the gear he should buy to start his fly fishing journey. I listened for a while and finally asked if money was a consideration in his decision making process…no he was loaded. Ok, this is good. I told him that Orvis , LLbean, Simms and Patagonia all made great waders and I had owned them all at one time or another. The wading boots are a bit tricky, the Korkers I use these days are excellent, but boots are a personal fit. Try them all on.

            Finally we got down to the instrument itself, the fly rod, that which all else is hinged on. He told me that he was having a custom rod tied up, with his name on it.            Imagine my excitement.

 When he sensed my silence might be meaningful negativity he asked my opinion about his custom work of art.

            Let me tell you a story I said….

            Many, many years ago I went to Eugene Oregon to visit my brother. During a rather elaborate oyster eating ceremony over the kitchen sink I noticed Gary was using a very handsome knife with his name engraved on the handle. I asked where it was purchased, thinking I would stop and pick one up for myself. It just wasn’t that easy to buy a knife like his. It was CUSTOM

            YOU KNOW I’m not really that interested, I mean really.

            Gary said he thought he could arrange a meeting with Wayne the Knife Maker,( known hereafter as WKM).

            Gary’s attitude was would Ravi Shankar play a sitar off the rack??

             This is how you get bogged down in the details of life. Hey, I just want cut the cheese, not have a relationship with the cow.

            I met WKM in front of his falling down shotgun house somewhere in the green of Lane County; I was advised to come alone. He was a slight man of undeterminable age wearing a black leather apron, eye patch and a wide cowboy belt with a huge oval buckle.  He led me around the house to a tiny grove of holly trees surrounded by a wall of old tires. In the center of the grove were a few damp metal folding chairs. He explained this is where he was going to contact my aura. OK,…. the old aura ploy, I played along. We sat there in silence together for about a half hour, he may have been in a trance; I know I was ready to bolt. Finally WKM pulled out a piece of brown grocery bag paper and began tracing and measuring my hand for the knife. CUSTOM… Then came the detailed discussion about the handle: material, color, and weight, I printed out my name for the engraving.

            Now I knew how the French knights felt conferring with there armorers before leaving for a Crusade. CUSTOM

            WKM was supposed to call me with a final price when the knife was completed. I told him my brother would pick it up and pay him. It’s been eleven years now and WKM has never contacted me. CUSTOM ….  My aura was probably dim.

            At this point in my story the client asked for my fly rod advice.

             This is what you do, I said;” Go to your GLoomis dealer and buy a 9ft 5wt. GLX two piece. It’s called the Classic. I don’t know about the knife I don’t have, but this is the finest dry fly trout rod ever made. CUSTOM is for suckers.”                                                   The funny thing is I never heard form the client again either.

More Trout Bum Articles:
05/01/2015: The wolves will always eat the sheep by R.Sumner
11/17/2014: Red Fish Redux by R.Sumner
08/01/2014: Retirement by R.Sumner
05/01/2013: Subaru Magic by Randal Sumner
01/19/2012: Ding Ho by RandalSumner
04/06/2011: A Cautionary Tale by Randal Sumner
01/26/2010: Redfish Round-up by Randal Sumner
11/24/2009: Kentucky Don and English Bob by Randal Sumner
08/25/2009: A word about Bears by R.Sumner
06/30/2009: Polar bear hugging by Randal Sumner
01/27/2009: Christmas letters by Randal Sumner
11/25/2008: Trip to Eden by Randal Sumner
08/07/2008: Mime Time by R. Sumner
06/02/2008: fuel vs fishing by R. Sumner
05/01/2008: Long sleeve Hawiian shirt by R.Sumner
02/07/2008: The Empire by R. Sumner
11/29/2007: Troutbum self-help by R. Sumner
09/04/2007: The Perfect Client by Randal Sumner
07/02/2007: High Anxiety by R.Sumner
03/29/2007: Grasshopper by Randal Sumner
01/25/2007: Chinese food by R. Sumner
11/30/2006: Old Whitey by R.Sumner
09/28/2006: Chief Holland USN retired by R. Sumner
07/10/2006: BBQ by R.Sumner
05/30/2006: Cashmere by R. sumner
03/30/2006: Sterling Choices by Randal Sumner
01/26/2006: Tying with Pablo by Randal Sumner
12/01/2005: Brrr by Mark Littleton
11/24/2005: Thanksgiving 2005 by randal Sumner
09/01/2005: Anchors Away by Mark Littleton
07/01/2005: Some kinda fun by Randal Sumner
05/01/2005: The Base Lake by Randal Sumner
04/01/2005: Humble Pie by Mark Littleton
03/01/2005: Dance monkey dance by randal Sumner
01/01/2005: Where are the Instructions? by Randal Sumner
12/01/2004: Das Boat by Mark Littleton
11/01/2004: What me Worry? by Mark Littlton
10/01/2004: Priorities by Mark Littlton
09/01/2004: Falling In by Mark Littleton
08/01/2004: Ice Fishing by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Honey, I flooded the basement by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Elvis Lives by Randal Sumner
06/01/2004: Coyote by Randal Sumner
05/01/2004: Redfish and Capt. Dan by Mark Littleton
04/01/2004: Vested Interest by Randal Sumner
03/01/2004: Are you a Troutbum? by Mark Littleton
12/01/2003: Christmas presents by Mark Littleton
11/01/2003: Oklahoma by Randal Sumner
10/01/2003: Steel heading JuJu by Randal Sumner
09/01/2003: Motor Home by Randal Sumner
08/01/2003: Life is Funny by Mark Littlton
07/01/2003: Deschutes by Mark Littleton
06/01/2003: Class of 2002 by Randal Sumner
05/01/2003: BOAT FISHING by Mark Littlton
04/01/2003: ALASKA, LAND OF THE MIDNIGHTBLUE TARP by Randal Sumner
03/01/2003: MARCH BROWNS by Mark Littleton
02/01/2003: DEEP IN THE HEART OF IDAHO by Randal Sumner
01/01/2003: TOP TEN by Mark Littleton
12/01/2002: SAN MIGUEL by Randal Sumner
11/01/2002: DISNEYLAND by Randal Sumner
10/01/2002: CAMPING by Mark Littleton
09/01/2002: MMMM MAYFLIES by Mark Littleton
08/01/2002: CARNEGIE HALL by Randal Sumner
07/01/2002: CRAWFISH PIE by Randal Sumner
06/01/2002: Sons and Pals by Mark Littleton
03/01/2002: Visitation by Randal Sumner
02/01/2002: Ouch by Mark Littleton
01/01/2002: Death by Randal Sumner
11/01/2001: Leakers by Randal Sumner
09/01/2001: Poser by Randal Sumner
08/01/2001: Snake River Diary by Mark Littleton
08/01/2001: It's Hard by Mark Littleton
07/01/2001: Etiqutte by Randal Sumner
06/01/2001: June by Mark Littleton
05/01/2001: Road Trip to Paradise by Randal Sumner
04/01/2001: What Are They Doing Up There? by Mark Littleton
03/01/2001: Gear by Randal Sumner
02/01/2001: Soft Hackles by Mark Littleton
01/25/2001: Motivation by Randal Sumner
12/28/2000: Winter Fishing by Mark Littleton
11/30/2000: Old Blackie by Randal Sumner