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.
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….
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
I’m not really that interested, I mean really.
said he thought he could arrange a meeting with Wayne
the Knife Maker,( known hereafter as WKM).
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
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.
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.