On October 2, Jim Graham and I took one last trip to the Willowemoc Creek in Sullivan County. We fished the “Finkelstein” water. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has done a fine job of rehabilitating this access that had been slowly eroding into the river. The right-hand bank is now armored with large boulders that will protect it in periods of high water. Unfortunately, the DEC seems to have used heavy equipment to create a very wide, shallow area right at the access. Hopefully the Willowemoc will rearrange this area as it pleases during the next high-water flows. We found no bugs hatching and the river was clear but quite high. We found no action. My Catskill fly fishing is over for this year.
Reading this column recently, you found me bragging about resisting the urge to buy yet another bamboo fly rod. This was not to happen while I was attending the “gathering” of the bamboo rod makers at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center in early September. It did not occur. Unfortunately for me, the speaker at the September 29 meeting of Trout Unlimited was Mike Canazon. Mike is a bamboo rod builder of some repute who resides in Livingston Manor. Mike gave a very enlightening presentation on how a bamboo rod builder goes about producing a fly rod.
Hiram Leonard once described a bamboo fly rod as being “a useful thing, beautifully made.” How many of you are aware that Leonard first gained fame while making oars from oak lumber in a factory located in Honesdale, PA? At any rate, during his talk, Canazon mentioned that he had built a prototype rod that was nine feet long, hollow-built and weighed only four ounces. This rod was built to cast a light four-weight line. Just as a trout’s interest is aroused when watching a Green Drake mayfly drift towards it, Mike’s description of that rod aroused mine. I did my best to proceed cautiously.
First, I contacted Mrs. Ed Van Put. I had learned that she owned a Mike Canazon rod. “Obie,” short for her maiden name of O’Brien, gave that rod a glowing report. I developed the feeling that my feet were now on a very slippery slope.
I then contacted Mike to set up an appointment to both see and cast this prototype rod. During this conversation, Mike mentioned that Dave Brandt, the famous fly tier and member of the notorious “bamboo gang,” had cast that rod and promptly ordered one. You need to realize that Dave Brandt has forgotten more about bamboo fly rods than I will ever know. I felt my feet slipping out from under me.
Barb and I drove over to Mike’s shop and Mike brought out the rod. Barb, Mike and I took turns casting the rod. We first tried it with a five-weight silk line. Then we cast it with a four-weight silk line. After a few turns, the consensus was that the rod was happier when cast with the four-weight line. Despite its length of nine feet, the rod did not feel heavy in the hand. It cast the four weight line with authority, easily putting the yellow practice fly out past 60 feet.
Ah well, can there be any lover of bamboo fly rods reading this that does not sense how this story ends? Mike and I shook hands on a deal that will put a nine-foot, four-ounce, four-weight rod in my hands by April, 2013. I cannot wait for that day to arrive.
If this tale causes you to develop a strong desire to possess one of these rods, by all means contact Mike. Just remember buddy, there are two guys ahead of you.