Casting The Past & The History
**It's been quite a while for a blog update...... I haven't forgotten but it had been full of life matters. I'll announce on my e-newsletter soon. If you 'd like to join, either subscribe through my website or shoot me your email address.
This year has been the major transitional time for my gear and thoughts about them. And they accelerated during the past few months.
Originally (earlier in the year), I started to develop philosophical thoughts about "what our fly-fishing gear really are and mean to us". The more expensive, the better? The more popular, the better performance? Do the bigger manufactures produce better items than small operations? Are the less expensive gear inferior? And how about the human/user factor? Can a good caster can pick up any rods and hit the target with them? Do the higher-end rod and line compensate poor casters?
My personal and professional conclusions for these questions are that "these are personal choices and matters" (in short). I know what I want and need and where I'm heading.
Then my strong interests started to kick in: fishing the chalk streams and dressing the classic Atlantic salmon flies. If you read and learn how fly-fishing was in late 19th century and early 20th century, you can tell what our forefathers were doing back then and their concepts are indeed the fundamental of our contemporary fly-fishing. So I started to be curious what kind of gear they used and how those looked like.
Of course, the classic Atlantic salmon flies are indeed one of those (though what I do is for presentation mostly). At the same time, i totally understand the gear for salmon fishing have been tremendously progressed in the recent few decades. Especially rods and lines (but not really reels such as Hardy's!! - this will be another story, which may happen here someday soon). Those, and due to the complicated techniques of Spey casting, I'll go with contemporary gears (again, except for reels!!). I don't have many opportunities to fish for salmon and steelhead but I can practice big rods on the Yellowstone River and fish with mini Spey = trout Spey around here.
However, trout fishing on chalk streams is indeed similar to what I do here = fishing on the spring creeks. Although we seldom see someone using or selling silk or horse hair lines any more, there are still so many bamboo rod enthusiasts. GEM Skues mentions his favorite rods. FM Halford was tied up with Hardy's for promoting each other.
But.......... as you know contemporary bamboo rods from known manufacturers or rod builders cost $$$$ with a long wait period and the unshakeable fact that it can break - I know that wouldn't be where I'm heading. But also I don't intend to buy cheap sticks randomly popped up on eBay either. Well-made, affordable, not for collection but for actual fishing, with some history........... In terms of actual fishing, I need to look for 3wt to 6wt for trout fishing. That is too much to ask and look for!!
The answer emerged. On one of the online antique tackle sites in UK, I started to see and be fascinated by Hardy's Palakona Split cane rods. This matches all the criteria. I understand the antique UK bamboo rods tend to be heavier than the USA counterparts. But as long as it will cast the contemporary 3-6wt range (and as long as I can find one or two!), it should work the same for my objectives and my actual fishing. Potential concerns are the same: thought not $$$$, it's still my expense. And it has a higher concern for breakage than fiberglass or graphite rods.
I thought about it thoroughly. Well, it was around Black Friday and Christmas is on the way. Over all all the used/vintage Hardy reels I bought from the store have been "as described" and I've been satisfied. I placed an order............
The Gold Medal 8 feet 6 inches rated 5-weight arrived...........
WHAT A BEAUTY!!! WHAT A CRAFTMANSHIP!!!
I feel it might be a "hair heavier" than the contemporary graphite but not too noticeable. I paired it with a Perfect 3-3/8 spooled with 5DT from 406 Fly Lines. They fit each other perfectly. In our backyard, we have quite a lot of snow, which is ideal for test casting. But it was windy as well - cold and not ideal for test casting. I tried anway.
I can cast it!! Rod, line, balance with the reel, and most importantly "I", all feel fine!!
This was recorded as built in 1956!! All the minute details are so well crafted. Though it seems re-varnished a few decades later (a few decades ago from the present perspective), this is the living proof of ever lasting craftmanship!!
I need to adjust my casting little a bit but at this point I don't feel the wobble that will cause to miss my target - happened to me with a cheap fiberglass.
I noticed the cork handle was a bit stained from use or age. It was a super simple fix! Now it looks as if NEW, really. And it's ready to accept my own stamp!!
I can't wait to cast to the rising trout with this rod in the upcoming season!!
I'll keep you posted!