Murder of a Fly Rod: Till Death Did Us Part

by Rebecca on November 13, 2009

in Fly Fishing

~Reds Final Fish, captured Forever in Picture and Thought~

~Reds Final Fish, captured Forever in Picture and Thought~

My first Fly Rod was a Redington Redstart. I purchased it when I was in my twenties and at the time I was about as broke as a twenty year old could be. I knew I wanted to fly fish, I knew I didn’t want to buy my fly rod from K-mart and my soon to be full time Fly Fishing mentor suggested that if I could come up 300 dollars, I could buy a package deal and be off to a great start. My goal took awhile, a lot of pennies saved, a mini-car wreck with a $240 dollar pain and suffering check (yay me!) and I was finally able to purchase Red, my new best friend.

A full time relationship blossomed. There should have been a commitment ceremony to symbolize the love, trust and monogamous relationship that formed between Red and I. An ordained Entomologist could have wrapped leader around my hand and the cork of my Red and pronounced us, ’till death do you part.”

Like any true relationship, Red and I were put to the test occasionally. A 7 year inch almost ruined our relationship when my eyes wandered to the sleek new designs of younger, more flexible models. I learned it was safer to stay out of the red light district, specifically, the ”Fly Shop Brothel” and ignore the sexy options with first names like Sage and Loomis. Each time I put myself in front of the almighty temptation–rows and rows of new fancy fly rods,  I walked away a one rod loyaltist rather then succumbing to the allure of fly rod polygamy.

I also wasn’t into swinging with my Red. For the most part, but not always, I kept Red out of affairs and trists, with other hands. But swinging seemed the unavoidable pitfall of fishing with others. It would always start out innocent enough, someone would ask to ‘give ‘er a try’ and if I couldn’t come up with a dire enough reason to say no, I would reluctantly relinquish my tight hold and pass Red off with a Mama Bear list of cautions and warnings.

If life was fair and just, I would have been the one to eventually kill old Red, but life generally doesn’t subscribe to the fair philosophy. Robert, Russ and I traveled to No’tellum creek in Wyoming for a weekend of fish frolicking fun. They with their spinning rods, me with reliable Fly Flinging Red. The first morning I was up and on the fish. Big Fish. Beautiful Fish. I couldn’t not catch a fish it was so good. Red and I were beyond thrilled and even delighted in the jealous spinning rod eyes trained on our good fortune.  

Hat and sunscreen, I had forgotten both and the sun was blazing down on my skin. I told myself, “One more fish and then you have to run to town, the fish can live without you for 30 minutes.” So I caught that one more fish, and in hindsight, I thank the river gawds I asked Robert to take a picture of the beauty. As I told the boyz I was running to town, one them, who shall remain un-named spoke up, “Hey, if you’re running to town, can I use your fly rod while you’re gone?” Gasp. Double Gasp. Alone I thought? Without my supervision?

But since I didn’t think, “Hell no, old Red needs to rest up, it’s had a strenuous morning” would pacify the eager (jealous) guy, I buckled under the pressure. I gave my normal run down of instructions, rules & regulations and abandoned Red for 30 minutes.

Return
Him: I broke your fly rod.
Me….Stunned silence… Blink, Blink…Blink…. 

Until that point, I’d always wondered how a person “snaps’ or goes to the lands of lala in the blink of an eye. The defining catalyst that spirals a person into a moment that would blacken the sky and sound would suck into a vortex of silence where all sense of reality evaporates. I know that place now, sat right down in the lap of crazed devastation. I didn’t commit murder which seemed a reasonable retaliation for such an atrocious crime, instead I gathered up Red in my arms, and walked to a serene place next to the river to (curse the day the fly rod murderer was born) soothe my broken heart.

I had been fishing with Red for over 12 years without so much as a eyelet guide breaking and in the absence of 30 minutes, Red was in pieces. I’m quite certain the story the boyz offered up was intended to paint a good light on Reds final moments, but it sounded rather fishy. Supposedly a huge fish was on the line, so ginormous that the strain didn’t break the line, oh no, instead the raw power of that fish magically transferred into my Red and snap, snap, a two piece became a four piece…..Although I would like to imagine Reds last hoorah was fighting a fish, I’m still not buying it.

For almost two years now I’ve felt like a fly rod widow. At first I thought I’d never be able to see another fly rod without thinking only of Red, but as time eased the pain I started dating again. My first purchase was another Redington. I imagine I did that because there was comfort in the name, but I’ve used it, a lot, and it still doesn’t feel the same. My next dating came in the form of a Sage rod. It’s fine as well, does the job and all that, but it still doesn’t feel like commitment time.

Maybe I’ll never commit to another fly rod again the way I did with Red. Maybe each fly fisherman only gets one true love and after that love is broken all fly rods will simply be stand ins…just fly rods. Only time will tell……….

Rebecca

 

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

KirkNo Gravatar November 13, 2009 at 4:43 pm

This is a heart-wrenching tale of broken rods and broken friendships (assuming you disowned the guy who broke Old Red?)

Like dogs, you’ll never replace Red, but hopefully you’ll find another worthy of your loyalty. It just has to be the right one…the right look, the right feel…the sweet action that only you will know is right after a test drive. Do you like the action fast or something a bit slower and more methodical? Personally I have a special thing for my 4 wt Z-Axis. I covet my XP in 6 and 8 wts. I’m a bit of a Sage whore, but I’m ok with that. My wife doesn’t mind sharing me with my long, slender mistresses because at the end of the day I always return home. I didn’t pay retail for any of my rods, which makes it all that much sweeter.

It’s time to move forward, Rebecca. Cherish the memories with Red, but give a new rod a fair chance to win your heart.

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RobNo Gravatar November 13, 2009 at 5:46 pm

This is a great post! Reading your stuff is very enjoyable.

I love my gear. Being a saltwater angler, I’m always careful to rinse and wipe my rod, guides and reel after every use. The reels get a regular tune up, cleaning and lube job too.

Why is it that I have a graveyard, as it were, of fly fishing gear….and more importantly, why do I hang on to it? The busted rods and stripped reels aren’t any good for anything except humor (like the time I packed my rod in the dark and took a busted one). The story will be coming out soon….

Once again, a very enjoyable read….

Rob

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ClifNo Gravatar November 13, 2009 at 10:05 pm

I can only imagine poor Red’s eyelets searching frantically for your face amongst strangers as cold death ran though his mangled tip and tightened it’s grip on his cork…a single water droplet falling from his hook keep.

RIP Red, you will be missed.

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KirkNo Gravatar November 13, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Damn, Clif- that was poetic as all git out. Almost brought a tear to my eyelet.

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RebeccaNo Gravatar November 13, 2009 at 11:30 pm

Kirk, Rob, Clif,
Thank you for your words of sympathy and understanding. Maybe someday I will find my new Red, until then, I guess I finally get to test out all the racy models out there.

Clif…if a time comes when I finally decide to bury the bones of Red, I’m so using your comment in the eulogy :)

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Zach LazzariNo Gravatar November 14, 2009 at 3:02 am

Wow, that is quite a relationship. I manage to break 2-3 rods a year and do not think twice about it. Maybe I should try bonding with my gear.

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Fshing JonesNo Gravatar November 16, 2009 at 2:35 pm

I’d be fine if my first rod, a Cortland Starter Kit, broke somehow while in retirement in my closet. The new rod I stepped on while landing a fish this summer, that kills me.

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Dave L.No Gravatar November 19, 2009 at 11:31 am

Ok, I’m not sure if I loved my first fly rod THAT much, but it was pretty close. When it broke I was pretty upset. I’ve had a hard time finding one that felt just the same, but the good news is you get to try out new fly rods and waste alot of money in the meantime.
I really enjoyed this story, you write good.

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KaitlynNo Gravatar November 23, 2009 at 5:04 pm

I remember hearing this story many times. It is true that you are never going to let the breaker of the rod live it down. Good job.
~Kaitlyn

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maryamNo Gravatar December 6, 2009 at 10:08 am

Rebecca~I really enjoyed this story. I was gifted with my first fly rod this summer and I LOVE IT!! Although I haven’t gone fishing for over a month now, I took it out on Thanksgiving and put it all together….just to feel it in my hand again. I have yet to catch any big fish on it yet, but a few little ones were enough to wet my appetitite.

Thanks for sharing, good luck in your quest for a new rod.

maryam

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NerverackerNo Gravatar December 7, 2009 at 12:22 pm

As most of you know, I have recently been hooked on my new rod. My matte finish 6wt Echo Carbon. If you’ve read another of my replies, you know my very first fly rod was a Scientific Angler’s 5/6 wt that I bought at Wal-Mart. Now, here’s the story as to why I have my beautiful, new, Echo Carbon fly rod. And, here’s the “rest of the story”.
Where to start…. hmmm….
At this point, I had only been fly fishing for @ 2 months. Back in mid October (2009), the water had cooled, the leaves were turning, and there was a distinct chill in the air here in Oregon. The October Caddis was in its full swing (but very sparse at least in the upper section of the McKenzie River where I was fishing). The other hatches were BWO (Blue Winged Olive) which wasn’t very impressive at least this day, and a few small caddis flies that were so sparse one couldn’t call it a hatch and the old faithful midge hatch. I had put up the dry fly box and tied on a #8 tungsten bead October Caddis Pupae about 7 ft under a thingamabobber on a 4x leader/tippet.
Having very little experience with nymph fishing up until this point, I wasn’t terribly sure what exactly I was doing except for dead drift. Mend up, get your fly line above your indicator and let it float. Were the words that I kept hearing over and over in my head.
Hung in the tree behind me… DAMMIT(and several other profanities)… you retard! watch your backcast! Out of the water, tie on more tippet, and new fly.
Ok! Watch the tree.. the fly landed perfectly in the water, mend.. mend.. PERFECT!!!! At this moment, the world stood still. Everything slowed down and nearly stopped. My thingamabobber dropped out of sight, and I set the hook! My rod stopped dead! Then, there was the headshake. Woah, a good fish, I thought. Then everything changed. All of a sudden, for some reason, line began peeling off my reel so terribly fast I didn’t know what to do! This fish was making a blazing run down the river! 90+ feet later, well into my backing. My thoughts were to make line and get my fly line back on the reel. Reeling as much as I dared, not to put too much strain on the 4x tippet, (that had 2 blood knots in it already) I made up enough to get the fly line back on the reel, and then some! It was getting close, and I could feel the strain of the line and the rod under the pressure of this fish. Again, a reel melting run!
Could it be? Up to this point I’d only read about this type of behavior and it could only be one fish! Steelhead!!! After about 20 grueling minutes of give and take, I get my very first steelhead up to my feet. She was between 6-8 lbs @ 26″ long. Just as I was reaching into the water to tail her, the tippet snapped under the pressure. I was shaking like a leaf holding on by its last fibers in late October in a stiff breeze. This was the first time I had been so close to that big of a trout in my life!
Fast forward a couple hours and the move to a different fishing hole. Again, much the same as the first time! This time a #8 Prince Nymph (as I’d lost all my October Caddis Pupae). The second time today? Are you kidding me??? NO WAY!!!! Two big fish in one day? There’s no way! Nobody has this much luck! Well, it seems that the fishing gods were smiling upon me this day! This time after about 30 minutes of up and down the river, (new leader this time and only 1 blood knot, as I lengthened my leader to @ 12ft) I landed the biggest trout/steelhead I’d ever laid eyes on. She was between 30-32″ and @ 12 lbs.
The sense of joy and elation of landing a fish that big, on a 5/6 wt on 4x tippet and still a total noob with a fly rod was terribly overwhelming. I called my friends, family, and everybody else I could think of to tell them about my fish on this day.
Fast forward a week in time. Yet another steelhead takes my trout fly. This one breaks off after 15 or so minutes.
Fast forward another week, and another big steelhead, almost landed on my 5/6 wt
So, skipping ahead in the story. After several big fish, my noobie rod started to succumb to the strain and the ferrules began splitting and cracking between the 2nd and 3rd piece of the rod (right in the middle where the backbone of the rod starts). Now mostly retired, my noobie rod stays in the case, and in the fish-mobile. But, she’s never too far away from the action. That 80 bucks was the best 80 bucks I’ve EVER spent.
Oh, Rebecca, I’m in love with my new Echo Carbon rod! Try em out. Superb rods for the money. Really good value! Not to mention the lifetime warranty!
See ya’ll on the water!

Dave

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DavidNo Gravatar April 21, 2011 at 9:18 am

That is a sweet and sad story. It reminds me of a line from one of the Harry Potter movies (a small obsession of mine, books more so). “Oh, to be young and feel love’s keen sting.” You were lucky to form such a bond, never to be traded, and though terrible is the loss, it is worth the cost.

Thank you for sharing the story. I probably wouldn’t have found it if not for the scavenger hunt :)

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