It was a fine day. Is it ever not when boys and bamboo and barbecued meats get together?
We had but half a doz of the faithful -- many members were called away by honey dos and travel, fools -- so the faithful handful ate tons of grilled meats, sausages, chili, rice and salad, drank mostly water and juices, fools -- and we cast one of the finest representations of roddage ever seen in my yard. Some Brandin fella. Old Young thing, 7 1/2' of perfection. Mr. Leonard, Mr. AJ, a five-sided Mario, no dogs on Saturday.
Some fine hand-planed George Boehme (Bay-me) rods, our pal who's been ill. Watercolorman savored a cool quad, at 7 1/2' for a five line. I own two of his creations.
George in the California sunshine, sitting in the cactus garden holding his fine quad rod.
Been about three years since the last gathering, life intrudes you know. Jerry I. drove down from two hours away. Jim, jz2, stands at George's rod rack, occupied mostly by that Brandin fella -- rods 8'6 on down, with other assorted rods.
Life in California is so hard. I planned on weather, 60s, breezy, cleared the fire pit for a fire to keep George warm and dammit, it was a beautiful day. Again. Hummingbirds in the pomegranite, jays squawking around their nest, hell, just hell.
Jerry, George, John and Alan, Watercolorman, do the casting hang-around thing here. Jerry brought his Perfectionist. Found in an antique shop for a nickle, restored by Bob Summers. I cast it. Now, I'm not normally a para sort of fella, preferring the Goodwin-meets-Payne vibe, and variations thereof. But something has gotten to me. I'm liking that butt. I'm liking that firm, high butt. I'm starting to like that stiffy thing when you swing forward and drive your thumb like you're snapping a fly swatter and the rod doesn't complain but kicks. He was lucky to get away from my place.
Then again, there was that Brandin fella. We cast a three-piece, not usually seen. And I swung a Brandin hex that suited my arm nicely. John liked one model too much. He dropped a bomb. Jim grinned, it was his rod. John, a strong and precise tournament caster: "It's better than mine...".
New man Watercolorman dropped by and had a fine time. We always welcome a fellow caniac. We come not to rid ourselves of the addiction but to celebrate it.
The next day was Hardy Weekend at the Fishermen's Spot, Van Nuys, California. John Shanner who knows two tons of historical fly knowledge and can handle a lube tube and screwdriver to fix your old reel was really on-hand. Rodmaker Robert Bolt drove down.
I flexed every model he brought, about nine of them. I've owned several Howell rods, dealt them off over the years, fool, and retain one 7'. Bolt's renditions are fine rods.
He mentioned his 8' for a three. He cast a wary eye at me. I said put a damn reel on it and hand the noodle over, rover. It worked deep and medium. I liked it like I liked a fella's 40L back on the Gunpowder. In the right place at the right time, sweetness.
He found himself in a sea of asphalt. Then, he went for street cred and turned his cap around. It worked. No one shot at us.
Larry is grinning because he, like a cat with a sparrow in-mouth, was planning. He was taking a Bolt rod home. He bought the famed 7'3 for a three.
It's a collector's dream at the Spot. Several 7 1/2's showed, a Black Beauty Featherweight sold, 600. All manner of piscatoriana, wallets, tools, lures, flies, the good stuff.
The reels. Now, sure, lots of white-handled Medalists, SAs, Cortlands, Johnson automatics in Googie colors, stuff for kids and guests on rocky streams. With big old ugly lines on them, with bad knots. You know the sort you see at swap meets.
Then there's the heavy metal, Hardy fly reels to die for. Hard rubber too, bone handles, reels you don't hand over to examine. No, you can see them just fine inside the glass of the case.
Over the years I've been fortunate to have acquired some nice reels for my fishing. My drooling has stopped. But I still look, and it's a longing look -- 3" flat-head screw St. George, small Uniquas, Perfects, lots of brass and aluminum. Metal line guide St. George, then I don't have to worry about cracks in the fragile agate, hm.
You know your rods if you can recognize the fine little rod box here, and this maker's work. Beautiful work, box, form, and rod. Stiff on the flex, probably a five for the dry. Not for sale. I asked.
But the rod below was killer.
I state that it is the finest from Mr. Leonard I've ever coveted, flexed! I mean flexed! in mine hands. Circa 30s, 7' 3/2 Catskill, for a true DT2 line, deeply medium but with enough wood above the hand for a feel so exquisite I sweat right now thinking on it.
So fine so light so perfectly diminuative that the 2 9/16s St. George looks huge on it. It is a whisper in your hands. It is poetry and it is not for sale.
It belongs to a lady flyfisher who inherited her father's fine tackle. A Rube Cross fly was identified. The gear came from the finest stores from the Depression era. The sort of stuff from the sort of gentleman you'd read about in Swiebert's reminicences in Trout. The guy who gave him the new silk and gut points.
The stuff of dreams.
So it was a good weekend for the bamboo and for friends. We'll have more in the future, long as I last. The Spot guys love the old gear and the camaraderie.
Odd how so many weirdos can be united by a simple fishing tool, a fly rod made of split cane. Somehow it makes sense.