fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)


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my trouble with fly rods

VapenApparently more and more fly rod builders are chasing customers younger than I can pretend to be.

My tenure in the sport isn’t long, but long enough to absorb more than a few old timers’ tales, tales in which rods are referenced by the manufacturer and either a simple model number or more elegant name reflective of fly fishing. Examples: older rods such as the Paul Young Perfectionist, the Phillipson Epoxite Registered Midge and contemporary models like Winston’s Boron series or Orvis’ Access and Clearwater lines.

But, according to Sage, there can be only ONE*. While the Orvis Helios implies it’ll imbue one with god-like powers on the stream, at least that name still has an indirect connection to fishing†. Two years later we have the new Vapen rod from Redington. Vapen? Look it up. The first few results in a search of the Internet will show its etymology is Swedish for “weapon.” A bit of an odd name for a niche of fishing that typically embraces a catch and not-kill-or-wound philosophy. Then there’s the Vapen Red, with a polymer grip, co-developed with a golf club grip company, that’s the color of Technicolor lipstick. Yes, correlations between golf and fly fishing are many, and fly rod development — as well as that of nearly all fly fishing accoutrement &msash; has always been about chasing and adapting the latest technology from other industries.

But I’ve been thinking about stepping up to a nice, and lighter, fly rod. Now, it seems, it’s all moving a bit too fast for me and getting, well, a bit too flamboyant and aggressive for my tastes.

Maybe I’m that is slowing down as the world speeds up around me. Perhaps I’m closer to “vintage” that I’d care to admit. After all, I remember when marijuana was the “evil weed.” My high school education included a typing class. And these days I increasingly have to explain my pop references to the staff I’ve hired.

Guess there’s little hope I’ll ever be hip on the stream.

The comments, as always, are now open.


* Is someone at Sage a “Highlander” fan?
† Helios, the Titan god of the sun and god of the gift of sight, lived in a golden palace located in the River Okeanos.


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a benefit to keeping fly fishing one of the smaller sports

I suppose it’s inevitable that with time and age I’ll someday become that “get off my lawn” guy. This week, however, I purposely took a step in that direction.

Over the last few years I have dealt with customer service at Sage, Redington (prior to its acquisition by Sage), TFO, Orvis and Galvan. In every case, response was immediate and exceeded my expectations.

Last month I contacted [name redacted], the manufacturer of a now relatively well-known brand, regarding the replacement of an integrated iPhone adapter. Apparently, I can replace it myself, saving a bit of money, but the part can only be bought from the manufacturer.

Hindsight being 20/20, I should have seen trouble on [name redacted]’s website email form, which stated, “Due to extremely high email volume, if you require order changes or immediate assistance, please call our Customer Service Department,” followed by a toll free phone number and the typical office hours. Heeding this advice, I called. After a cursory “hello,” I described the issue to the customer service representative, offered the model number and was told they could certainly send out the part.

“Can you take a credit card,” I asked. The answer: “No.”

The silence that followed was finally disturbed by the representative telling me that I could send a check or money order. I did so on Oct. 5.

Life interrupted and it wasn’t until earlier this week that I realized the part had not arrived. The check had been cashed, but no part. So I called. And called. And called. And called. And called.

Each of those five calls, no matter the extension I chose, entailed more than a few seconds of silence before an automated message told me that my call was important and a representative would get to me shortly. That message was immediately followed by a click and dial tone. I’ve since sent an email, despite the advice mentioned above, and three days later there has been no reply.

Sidestepping any debate of the merits or problems of growing the sport of fly fishing, it dawned on me this week that the relatively small population of fly fisherman — those who regularly support manufacturers and retailers of fly fishing gear — offers a benefit rarely seen in other consumer segments. Strong customer service.

That’s why I’m now more inclined to encourage only a limited number of folks join the sport. The fewer of us who fly fish, the harder retailers and manufacturers have to work to keep our business. Not necessarily a bad thing.


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folks might think I’m one of those guys, but I’m now old enough to not care

This is how my journey of self discovery (one of many recently) started this week:

“The new seat for my custom motorcycle seat arrived today. I’m going to test ride it tomorrow,” I told my brother, realizing that its arrival Monday sort of made it a birthday gift to myself.

“Cool. How much did that cost?” asked Mark.

“Oh, about $400…”

“You mush like your tush…”

The conversation went on with justifications about spending that kind of money, talk about long rides that have been planned for some as-yet unset date.

I’m certainly not wealthy, but with a bit of scrimping and saving in other parts of my life, I can equip myself with motorcycle (or fly fishing) gear that increases my enjoyment. Good gear is worth it: not thinking about how my butt may start to go numb is priceless.

Stuart Smalley

“I deserve good things, I am entitled to my share of happiness. I refuse to beat myself up. I am an attractive person. I am fun to be with.” Three out of four ain’t bad. Dig the sweater.

I’m tough on all my gear, but the big name waders I purchased almost five years ago only recently needed repair after hiking through brambles and blackberries, scrambling over boulders, only to be unceremoniously crumbled and thrown in the trunk until their next use or being unpacked and hopefully cleaned at home.

There’s also that one rod I use most, even when it’s not an exact match for my quarry, even when it’s a bit too long for the brush-lined banks of relatively small water. It’s the one that casts best. I don’t have to accommodate the rod, it fits me. Like that motorcycle seat, I don’t think about it, it just does its job. Also like that seat, my favorite wasn’t cheap. But it does everything that I ask of it, without me asking.

In some respects, I was a fly fishing snob in my formative fishing years, arguing that landing a 14-inch trout on my less-than-$100 rod was equivalent to a 21-inch fish on more expensive gear. Back then, I figured waving around a more expensive rod would scream “poser.” Perhaps I’m wiser now. Or, like that honey badger, I just don’t care.

Luckily, my wife’s been the most ardent support of my purchasing good stuff. I’ve just been a bit too miserly to listen. So when the bill comes, she can’t complain. She started it.