Let’s talk a bit about safety! I’m talking rod safety here! You got that nice new rod, you know you’ve been on that waiting list for who knows how long! To your surprise the maker has called you and you are gonna be able to get that rod in time to fish this fall! Cool! So you jump in the truck and carefully put the rod tube in there somewhere so it doesn’t get scratched, maybe even leave that plastic bag that it came in around the tube! That will be there for a while until it gets to be a bother! Anyway you get to the stream and you are so excited to fish that new rod that you just can’t stand it! You take the tube out and assemble the rod…OK hold on here! First off maybe you should get your waders on first, and your wading shoes, and your vest. Now then that rod is still in the tube safe and sound. This may sound funny but think about it for a while! It is a law of nature that if you assemble that rod first you have to put it somewhere while you get dressed. So you lean it on the truck or somewhere close. Just as you are tying your wading shoes, you know in that awkward position, trying to bend enough to reach the darn laces anyway (get harder as you get older) and a gust of wind comes up, you look up just to see your new rod sliding down toward the open door…which has also been caught by that gust of wind and is now closing on it’s own. Never has the timing of the universe been so well done…kinda like the timing of a fine Swiss watch! Oh crap is all you have time to say (believe me you don’t move that fast!) and SLAM!!!!!!! the door latches closed! Never have you seen anything look so bad in your life, believe me! If you are lucky (well we already know you are not) the door just broke the tip section, now you know why bamboo rods come with a second tip! You can still fish for the day if you want to, but your day is already ruined. OK, so that didn’t happen, but it could and has so maybe you’d better be aware of that and be careful…get dressed first!
So we dodged a bullet there and we are off to the river, super! It’s gonna be a great day! Look over there…nice brown rising! You tie on your favorite dry fly, or match the hatch and position yourself for that perfect cast (in your mind anyway) and on your first back cast you snag a tree (pine tree no less!) Darn, well a couple of snaps forward with the rod tip should get it loose, I hope you say! Snap you just took off the first 5 inches of the rod tip, why didn’t you just point the rod at the fly and use your hands on the fly line to break that $2.00 fly off instead of that $250.00 rod tip? Well now you know why bamboo rods are made with a second tip! So you walk back up to the truck and get the second tip, replace it and decide to lean it against the truck while you get a drink of water…wait a minute there cowboy we should have learned that lesson already!
OK, so that didn’t happen but it has and you should be aware of it and be careful! So since none of these things could possible happen to you and your new rod, you are down at the river and remember that nice brown rising over there? So your cast is perfect and he takes the fly on the first cast, he is bigger than he looked at first glance and off he goes, you try to keep him upstream of you (well that ain’t gonna happen) and downstream he goes…into the current and in the white water over all those rocks, you gotta turn him or at least stop him! So you remember those old picture of men hauling in tuna from the side of a tuna boat, you lean into the rod, pull it up at a 90 degree angle and …well maybe not that extreme but you need to know that you should fight you big fish off the butt of the rod, no 90 degree pulls, point the tip a bit more toward the fish, maybe a 45 degree angle or so! I once watched a fly fisher trying to land a fish with a Garrison 201 copy that I made and while the fish was at his feet the rod was being held high in the air resembling a shepherds cane! I brought this behavior to the attention of the owner as he bought the rod from me and is a personal friend. Well a couple of years later he called me and said “I snapped the tip on my Garrison…it was my fault, I did what you told me I shouldn’t!” well I made him a new tip and reminded him that the correct way to land a fish is to hold the rod over your head and point the reel upward causing a much less severe arch. I hope that he remembers it!
OK, so I don’t land fish like that you say. You have had a great time with your new rod. After several hours on your favorite stream catching so many fish that you lost count, you head out. Back at the truck you lean…OK you learned that lesson. You take the rod tube out of the truck and break down the rod before you do anything else. You even wipe it down if it’s wet before you slide it into the tube… wait a minute there! Many rods have had their stripping guides broken right at this point! Or snake guides with one foot pulled out from under the wraps! How in the world did this happen you ask yourself when you take the rod out the next time? It was fine when I put it away! Well here’s how that happens… when you are sliding the rod into the tube you need to be careful not to hit the opening edge of the rod tube with a guide! Make a temporary opening with your pointing finger and your thumb to cushion the rod tube opening! If you do this you will feel the guides as they slide past your hand not as they bump the hard rod tube opening!
Well, this article has been full of fictitious scenarios…or are they? I’ll bet some of you have cringed at reading this and wondered where was Joe standing when I did this? Worse yet some of you will do this in the future and say to yourself…I should have paid attention to Joe’s blog!
Should we talk about not submersing your rod and reel to get that photo effect you see in the fly fishing magazines…nah you wouldn’t do that anymore than you would bite down on the handle to get a picture of that fish and your rod now would you?
Did I ever tell you about the time I tried to pole vault with my 7’6″ 4 wt. ?…well that’s another story for another time!
Take care of your rod and it will be a friend for life and the two of you will have many great memories to come.
Joe E. Arguello