At a recent meeting of the “Bamboo Gang,” Roger Menard showed off a pretty rod that had a very curious history. As Roger explained it, while fishing he had met a fellow angler whose father had worked for Jim Payne. This fellow noticed Roger’s bamboo rod and asked if Roger had ever put rods together. When Roger answered “yes,” this fellow said he would send him some glued-up sticks for a seven-and-one-half-foot rod. These sticks would already have the ferrules attached.
Roger doubted he could have such good fortune, but a week later a silver tube arrived. Inside were the ferruled sticks. The other angler asked for no payment but Roger insisted on sending him a gross of flies. It was now up to Roger to add a reel seat and cork handle, and wind on the guides. He would also have to varnish the rod.
Roger fished the finished rod frequently until disaster struck. An accident caused him to break off seven inches of the tip. In hopes of salvaging the rod he took it to Mike Canazon, the rod maker from Livingston Manor. Mike assured Roger that he could build a new tip that would make the rod like new. Mike was as good as his word. Roger brought the rod to the Bamboo Gang meeting so that we could all test it on the grass alongside the East Branch of the Delaware. The repaired rod cast a four-weight line beautifully. I then tried my five-weight silk line on the rod. It now felt that the rod was being asked to cast more weight than it was designed for. This rod was definitely best suited for a four-weight line. Mike had done a fine repair job, and Roger is delighted to be able to fish with this rod again.
At the Summerfest program held at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum on August 4, my friend Peter Kolesar suffered a harrowing experience. First off, he could not wait to show me his latest bamboo rod purchase. This rod was a sleek, three-piece, eight-foot rod made for a five-weight line by the well known rod builder, Ted Simroe. It had pretty pale colored cane, was light in the hand, yet it had a fine dry fly feeling.
This rod will serve Peter well for years. However, he might not ever have cast it. While talking to Wayne Grauer, the bamboo rod broker, he casually leaned the case against Wayne’s table. Conversation finished, he walked off leaving his newly purchased rod behind. Arriving home, he reached into his vehicle for his new rod. He was horrified to find the back seat was empty—no rod. With his mind racing he attempted to recall the last time the rod had been in his possession. He vaguely recalled having it while talking with Mr. Grauer.
Peter leaped into his car and dashed back to the fly fishing center. Having lost two rods myself through similar moments of carelessness, I know exactly what Peter was going through. He arrived at Wayne’s exhibit breathless, with a look of hopeless desperation on his face. Wayne simply gave him a wide smile and handed him the bright, shiny tube saying, “Ah, so you are the one that leaves newly bought fly rods behind.” Peter was ecstatic to be able to retrieve his brand new Simroe rod. He went from the depths of despair to the heights of joy in an instant. He may have retired from Columbia University; however, he still is an absent-minded professor.