Fall is when everything happens at once — including denial.
To say the Underground’s office is a mess is to give messes a black eye. A stack of computers fills one corner while two architect’s blueprint racks fill the other (they’re holding rod tubes). Bookcases line the back wall and my actual work stuff — desk, Linux-powered PC, random piles of paper, etc — occupies most of the middle.
In between lies the detritus generated by what I’ll grandly suggest is An Outdoorsman On A Fall Tear. After all, Fall is the season where everything happens at once. Call it an assault on the space/time continuum.
In one big pile, I’ve got recently used fly rods and my fly fishing gear duffel (a smaller pile to the left holds M1′s fly rod and tiny pack).
In another pile, I’ve heaped targets and shooting gear (oddly, I won two local shooting competitions the last couple months, and with only one or two matches left until next spring, I’m practicing).
And after a two-year hiatus, I’m again shooting the Bogey Charity Sporting Clays tourney (Sunday, November 3, and it’s for a good cause), so two cartons of bright orange, biodegradable clay birds — and the machine that throws them — sit right in the middle of the floor.
Frankly, you need advanced survival skills just to make it to my desk.
Too Much Gear; Too Many Fly Rods
What I’m politely calling “The Disorder Issue” came to a head a few weeks ago when I had a 90 minute window for fishing. Sadly, I spent 15 of those precious minutes looking for a specific fly rod in the rod rack.
It’s possible a less hard-headed fly fisherman would have gone with whatever was on the top of the pile. And a more organized one would have put the rod back into the right tube in the first place.
Given that my office looks like an exploded sporting goods superstore, I’m clearly prone to learning a different lesson.
It’s time to thin the fly rod herd.
Tellingly, in just the “small to medium stream bamboo fly rod” category I’ve got two James Beasely built 8′ 5wts and a 7.5′ 4wt. And two (identical) 8′ 5wt impregnated Phillipson Peerless rods and a somewhat lighter-tipped 8′ 5wt Phillipson Premium. Plus a 7’9″ Para-14 (blank built by Mark Ruhe), and an 8′ 5wt prototype of Raine’s best-selling Upper Sac Special.
That’s just the cane.
In the fiberglass bin I can see a mind-boggling dozen fly rods in the small stream club (to get an accurate count, I had to go downstairs and look at the rod rack). In graphite, there are four more contenders.
For those of you who are not math savants, that’s 24 potential small stream fly rods, all of which are hiding in tubes (many of which are generic PVC).
Add the embarrassing number of longer/heavier fly rods, and things start to look a little grim in the denial department. (How many 8.5′ fly rods do I own?? Are they reproducing in there?)
Hi, I’m Tom, And I’m A Rodaholic…
I’ll admit to emotional attachments to a lot of my rods, but I can identify at least ten really nice fly rods that remain sadly underfished.
The powerful, tight-loop throwing 8.5′ 5wt Thramer hollowbuilt is wonderful, but I don’t live in a windy environment or fish long distances from a drift boat enough to use it. Same goes for the 8′ 6/7 wt Dickerson Guide Special built by Gary Williams, which caught a 16″ Upper Sac rainbow trout the first time out, and hasn’t been fished since.
The 8′ South Fork fiberglass 5/6 wt has never been fished, and for that matter, do I really need three 8.5′ Phillipson 5wts (two of which are Premiums)? Shouldn’t that 8.5′ 5wt Diamondback Classic go to someone who will fish it?
I suspect these are the kind of questions almost every fly fisherman asks at one point or another, though I get the impression most do it privately — before pretending the whole inner monologue never took place.
This is starting to take on the tenor of a confessional, which makes this next bit even worse.
I don’t have all the rods I want.
Chris Raine’s 8′ 4wt is a stunner. I can’t afford one at the moment, but whenever I walk into the shop, I casually look over the rod rack in the hopes of finding an 8′ 4wt, thinking I’ll cleverly distract him before taking off with the rod (“Look over there at that thing which is nowhere near the rod rack!”)
Problem is, every time he finishes one he sells it immediately. He recently built one to order and cunningly crafted another at the same time, figuring he’d finally get one for the rod rack.
It sold before the varnish dried. Thus, my life of crime remains on hold.
In addition to my cane rod lust, we’re seeing a raft of new fiberglass fly rods (from Redington, Orvis and Echo). It’s only fair they get a trial. And the Steffen 8′ 3/4 wt fiberglass fly rod (the maker’s favorite) still beckons. As does the 8′ 2wt Orvis Superfine Touch.
Fortunately, I can quit any time I want.
Blame The Other Guy
At least I’m not alone.
Just a week after the Frantic Rod Search, I had an email exchange with fellow gear whore Cameron Mortenson of Fiberglass Manifesto fame, who allowed that maybe he’d also collected a few too many rods. Still, I admire his artful avoidance of the problem; he said maybe if I decided to stage my own intervention he’d do it too.
That’s basically one addicted gambler betting one someone else’s addiction — a wholly artful dodge worth at least a salute, if not a drink.
Still, the concept of a lean, mean fly rod rack is a seductive one; even with a 90-minute timer running on a trip, I could saunter up to the rod rack, unburdened by uncertainty or the greatly reduced chances of a misplaced fly rod.
I would be the master of my own fly rod domain. I would rule my fly rods (instead of apparently the opposite).
Attractive thought, but as we know, money corrupts. And the money raised from the sale of those unused fly rods would — as the Greeks taught us — come back to haunt me (like Client Eastwood in High Plains Drifter, only less organized).
After all, I never did buy that sporting clays shotgun. Or the German-made 10-meter airgun. And let’s not forget the list of rods above. Or all the goodies surrounding the outdoor sports.
I wouldn’t stand a chance.
In other words, in terms of outdoor sporting equipment, the Lord may taketh away (mostly via eBay), but he has a tendency to giveth back, and in ways that clutter your storage space even worse.
See you at the rod rack, Tom Chandler.