We marvel at his child-like love for the sport despite using an old, fiberglass rod that is about as responsive as a hickory limb. So, last fall, a bunch of us decided we'd get him a serious fly rod .
Having built many fly rods over the years, I suggested that I build him one instead of buying one, and make it real special. With that, everyone pitched in enough greenbacks that I could get a top of the line rod blank and components. I built the rod over the winter - a Winston IM6 Graphite 8' 6" 3-piece, 5 weight rod, complete with nickel silver hardware and a coccobola wood reel seat. The rod is forest green, and I wrapped it in deep red. I even measured his hand and formed a custom, reversed half-wells grip on my lathe. Here it is, what a beauty!
Dave, the Man-About-Town, threw in a Bauer reel, which we filled with line, and now he has one serious trout rod and reel combo to stand in the cool, clear currents of our trout streams with. Seriously, its one bad-ass outfit. When we gave it to him, I think he may have even wet himself a little.
Now on to the good part. Chris only has one day off, so over the weekend we planned to get out this past Monday. He was dying to fish the rod, and I figured the Hendricksons would likely be hatching. A perfect opportunity to break in the new rod.
When we got to the river, it was clear and flowing at a perfect level. The sky was pale blue and warm, with a slight breeze carrying the scent of early spring. Bright green buds, freshly emerged, peppered the stems and branches of streamside shurbbery and saplings. Tall trees, covered with buds that ached to burst free, swayed overhead. And the harbinger of the Hendrickson mayflies, the forsythia, glowed with its yellow flowers. It was early afternoon, and the only bugs we saw were dark grannoms - small, dark bodied, tannish ruddy-winged caddis. The trout ignored them, as is the norm.
The Hendricksons began to show around 3:00 PM or so. At first there were a few here and there, and as the sun moved on, more of them appeared on the water surface. The trout joined the dance, rising here and there at first, then, as more flies appeared on the water, more trout rose to sip them in. The feast of the mayflies was on.
Chris and I split up at first, but after I took a nice, wild brown on a dry, I thought I would see how he was doing. I walked downstream along the rocky trail and about 1/2 mile downstream, I found him standing knee deep alongside a rock filled, hip deep run. I stayed back and watched him cast his new rod for a bit, and then walked down and asked him how he was doing. He said there was a nice fish working just about a large, submerged rock, but he was having trouble getting a good drift over it.
After he showed me what fly he was using and watching him cast some more, I had him bring in his line so we could change his fly. I gave him a caribou Hendrickson emerger, which he quickly tied on, then gave him a quick casting lesson - the curve cast - so he could put the fly above the fish and ahead of the line, and get a nice, drag-free presentation over the trout that was now rising in a steady pattern. Once Chris was ready, I stepped back and waded downstream, leaving him to solve the riddle of the rising trout with his new casting tool.
A managed to get maybe 20 feet down river of him, and with my back turned, I heard him calmly say, "I got him." I turned and the rod had the sweet curl that only occurs when a fish has taken the fly and pulled the line taught. It was a nice fish. The rod pulsed with each run of the fish, its butterscotch flanks flashing for a moment in one place, and then again in another. I offered assistance in landing the fish, but Chris told me in no uncertain terms that he would land it. He had to touch it to feel the moment of his success without any interference for it to be real.
After a brief battle, he eased the trout into the slack water along the bank and bent down and cradled the fish in his hand. "Holy shit! That was awesome," was all he said as he gently backed the hook out of the corner of the fishes jaw before holding it face first into the current and releasing it.
The rod was christened exactly as it was meant to be.......in the hands of a passionate angler.
Life is Good. Even if you're a fly rod.