Largemouth Bass Lineup

Largemouth Bass Lineup

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Tale of Two Rods

Shakespeare and their Wonderod line are synonymous with vintage fiberglass fly rods.  One cannot possibly collect vintage glass without exploring and obtaining some of the many models of Wonderods that were offered.  The Shakespeare Tackle Company was founded in 1897 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  They started making the fiberglass Wonderod line in 1947 with the assistance of Dr. Arthur Howald.  According to Antique Lures, the first two fiberglass models were the 1390 and the 1290.  They wrote that "These first production "Wonderods" fly rods were model #1390, a 8-1/2 ft. three piece weighing under five ounces, and model #1290 7'9" two piece weighing three and one-half ounces. Both sported the now familiar milky-white colored fiberglass shaft with the spiral markings of the cellophane wrap, and featured a genuine agate stripping guide, serrated nickel-silver ferrules finished in black, and a ring hook keeper."

Over the past year, I was able to obtain not one but two model 1290s.  Both have different dates of manufacture.  The first one was manufactured in 1953 and the second one was manufactured in 1957.  Both are the 7'9" model.  I think together I might have spent a little over one hundred dollars on them.  One cost more than the other as it came with the original tube and sock.  A collector's dream for sure.  If you are trying to determine the date of manufacture for a Wonderod, you will need to look either on the rod itself underneath the model identification number or on the reel seat.  Shakespeare used a three letter combo for indicating the date of manufacture.  The first two letters indicate the year and the third indicates the month.  Here is the letters and their corresponding numbers for the years of manufacture:


Here is the letters to month table:


Here is what the three letter codes will look like on the blank and on the reel seat:

I already did a short post about line weights and the codes used for them which you can read here for those that might be interested.

Despite being the same model and only four years apart in manufacturing, they are very different rods to look at.  For me, as a collector, I love the difference.  Some of the things that you can see different in the two rods are: decal and company name variations, a difference in thread color, sizing differences in the guides, placement of some of the guides, the width of the thread, the reel seat color, and the way the thread was done... to name but a few.  What's really fun is looking at these two rods and seeing how they evolved over such a short period of time.  For reference the rod in the foreground is from 1953 and the rod in the background is from 1957.

If you are interested in vintage fiberglass fly rods or just want to pick up a piece of American fishing history, I would highly encourage you to check these rods out.  I love mine and I will be picking up more in the future.  Who knows...maybe we will be bidding against each other at some point. 


Antique Lures: A History of the Shakespeare Tackle Company

Fiberglass Flyrodders Wiki page


Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Roll Of The Dice

Do you shop on eBay for fly fishing gear?  What about Craigslist?  Me personally, I hit them both.  The problem is that sometimes, especially with eBay, you get something that isn't quite what you were hoping for.  Recently, I began dabbling in the vintage click and pawl arena.  My first reel was a Cortland clicker and I loved it.  The sound that a clicker makes as a fish takes line can make my heart skip a beat.  Now that I am a (vintage) glass hound, I have started to try and acquire some click and pawl reels to go with my vintage glass rods.  This means that I spend a good deal of time, and sometimes money, on items on eBay or Craigslist.  A lot like fiberglass fly rods did, click and pawl reels seem to be making a comeback.   There is a lot of talk about them on several fan pages I follow on Facebook and recently they got their own fan page there as well.  In fact I believe the hashtag #clickordie is now in use.  Some have even suggested that this be the year of the click and pawl. 

I recently discovered a Bronson Royal 360 that was in a lot of fishing reels on eBay.  This reel was recommended by a friend and the listing was shared on a few fan pages on Facebook.  I was particularly interested in this reel since I also own the Bronson Royalist 370.  I like the lime green color of this reel a lot.  So, I examined the photos of the reel, and it seemed to be in great condition for its age (these reels were manufactured from the 50s until 1970 I believe).  I asked the seller to please send me some more photos.  I specifically asked for photos of the inside and the back of the reel.  What I got was a few photos of the back of the reel and some taken from the top of the reel on its side in an effort to show the "inside" of it.  Despite not really getting what I asked for, I bid on the reel.  Shame on me.  I gambled and lost.  Why did I lose... you ask?  Well, I got the reel the other day in the mail.  It really is beautiful on the outside and has maintained its lime green color through the ages.  However, this vintage click and pawl no longer clicks.  I have tried everything to no avail.  An examination of the metal teeth revealed that they are worn down.  I think in order for this guy to click again he will need another spool.  I have already begun searching eBay in an effort to find that spare spool.  I know its going to take some time and I am OK with that.  Much like the vintage fiberglass fly rods, I enjoy the hunt.  Next time though, I will ask for more detailed photos from the seller... lesson learned.  Moral of the story is... make sure you ask questions and if you don't get the answer you want, either ask again or don't buy it. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Seven Years In The Making

I have been a fisherman for most of my life.  In fact I had a rod, reel and tackle box before I was even born.  My father, also a fisherman, was thrilled to learn he was going to have a son.  At a very early age my father started taking me on fishing trips.  He taught me how to cast with my Zebco 202, where to look for fish and how to clean fish.  If only my father knew what kind of monster he was creating.

Fast forward a few (20) years to when my daughter was five.  My father and I took her to a local lake to fish.  My father was so excited to have three generations of the Price family fishing together.  My daughter enjoyed herself.  As long as I baited the hook and did the casting she would gladly reel in the fish.  I think my dad spent more time that day watching us then he did actually fishing.  We went a few more times together, the three of us, before life got in the way.  I spent a lot of time at work and I missed out on a lot.  My father and I never really fished much more after that together.  Over the years my daughter and I have fished together but only every so often. 

When my son was born I remember talking to my father who was elated.  He said "Now you, Gretchen, Nathaniel and I can go fishing together."  I think he really wanted this to occur.  Maybe even more than I realized at the time.  However, my son was never interested in fishing.  No matter what I did, he did not want to go.  For him it was all about getting his hands dirty.  He was very much his mother's son and was worried about being dirty.  I think they might call that mild OCD- haha.  My daughter and I would head out and ask him to go with us but he refused.  He even got a Batman rod for Christmas one year but he wouldn't have any part of it.  That boy just steadfastly refused to fish.  My daughter and I continued to go. I remember talking to my father about it and complaining.  He told me not to worry that he would fish at some point.   Looking back on it now, I should have asked my father to go as well.  About twenty years ago, I made the switch to fly fishing from conventional tackle.  For me now it's not just a hobby or a way to fish, its my passion.  Maybe even my way of life.  In his quest to fish with me, my father bought a fly rod on his own and asked me to teach him.  I promised him I would but I continued to work as much as I could.  I missed out on a lot including birthdays, holidays and time spent with my family. 

Last year during the summer months, my family and I vacationed along the Shenandoah River.  We have been to this area a few times before and we really love it.  I took my daughter down to the river and watched her catch smallies and red breasted sunfish like crazy.  The water was crystal clear and everything was perfect.  At some point during the trip, my son allowed us to talk him into fishing.  He had his own pole which he brought just in case.  So, I decided to tie on a Rapala for him and allow him to see what he could catch.  Secretly, I prayed to the fishing Gods pleading with them to allow him to catch a few fish.  I knew if he didn't catch anything I would never get him back out.  Apparently they were listening because it didn't take long for him to score a smallie.  He was so excited, all he could do was laugh as he reeled in his catch.  It really didn't matter how big that fish was.  All that mattered was that he caught it.  He was thrilled beyond belief.  Over the next couple of days he begged me to take him fishing.  I even got him to wet wade... until he saw a snake.  Then he was done with the wet wading but continued to fish.  In some way I hope that I have created the same fishing monster in my son that my father created in me all those years ago. 

I want to tell my father about my son's catch but I can't.  He is still with us but he barely talks now and he doesn't know who I am.  It makes me sad to see my father like that.  I wish he could hear about his grandson's first catch and while I can tell him, he will not understand.  For a long time I put my career first.  I passed on spending time with my father on my days off because I needed a break or because I wanted to only fly fish and he didn't know how.  I wish now I would have honored his request and taught him how to fly fish.  Better yet, I wish I had one more trip with him.  I know he would have loved to see his grandson land that smallie.  I am thrilled my son enjoyed himself and that he wants to go again.  Hopefully he will migrate to fly fishing in the future.  If he doesn't, well that's ok as well.  I just want to spend time with him and not miss out on anymore memories.  It took seven years, Dad but I finally got him to fish!

Monday, January 5, 2015

This Time Last Year

Man it is hard to believe that another year has gone by.  It seems like the older I get the quicker they go.  I'm not sure I totally understand that but I know I can't be the only one who feels like it either.  I feel as though each time I post on the blog, it comes with an apology.  For me, it is always hard to write a fishing and tying blog without fishing or tying.  However, with this new year, I have a new attitude and I am planning to get back to my roots so to speak.  Sadly, I still can't fish or tie but maybe later this year.  Who knows?

This time last year, I was making an all out pain in the ass of myself to all of our friends, family, followers and customers.  I know I was a huge pain.  I am quite sure people were getting sick and tired of seeing me pop up on their chat screen or private message on Facebook or via my countless emails begging them to cast a vote.  What were they voting for you ask?  Well they were voting for me to win The Fiberglass Manifesto spotting contest.

For the past six or so years, Cameron over at The Fiberglass Manifesto had been running a monthly spotting contest coupled with an end of the year contest.  For those people who won the monthly contest, they were entered into the end of the year contest.  The spotting contest was about taking photos with TFM gear in various places and then having people vote on it each month.  You had to hustle to get votes from family, friends, etc.  So, I naturally took photos with the gear I had bought over the past year.  I have stated it before, but I am almost positive I own every type of clothing item Cameron sells.  I have been a follower of Cameron for quite some time.  He got me started in glass rods and pretty much created a monster.  I am sure there are a few of us out there who could say the same thing right?  In 2013, I had the pleasure of meeting Cameron as well as a few other amazing people on a trip to Beaver Island.  Some of you I am sure remember that.  Anyways, I hustled my butt off not only for the win for the month but also for the end of the year contest.  The prizes for the end of the year winners were a Kabuto rod of your choice built for the first place winner and the second and third place winners got a Kabuto rod blank of their choice.  For those that maybe unfamiliar with the Kabuto rods, I would highly encourage you to check them out.  They are in high demand.  The Kabuto rods are Japanese fiberglass rods and more information can be found here for those that are interested.  Needless to say, I had to have this rod.  I wanted this rod.  I needed this rod.  Badly.  I hustled and hustled and then I hustled some more and made a general all out pain of myself.  In the end though it was worth it.  I won second place.  I certainly could not have done it without my family, friends, followers and customers who took time out of their days to cast a vote for me.  You guys are awesome and I totally appreciate it.

Knowing that I won, the challenge now became what rod to get and who to built it.  I checked with a few friends and the general consensus was (a) get the 6'6" 2wt and (b) have Christian build it.  The reasoning behind (a) was that you really do not see a lot of the 6'6" models out there.  Also, I love Brook trout and really cut my teeth fishing for them in the mountain streams.  They are such stunning fish with a voracious appetite.  I love stalking them.  Plus they aren't pellet heads with a lot of pressure from other anglers.  The reasoning behind (b).....well Christian is an amazing rod builder and this item was certainly in his wheel house.  Not only is Christian an amazing rod builder but he is an amazing caster and an all around great guy who I am proud to call a friend.  I had the pleasure of meeting Christian at Beaver Island in 2013.  I sincerely hope we get to fish together next time we meet.  Please take some time and check out Christian's work.  You may find his site here. So, I reached out to Christian and he happily agreed to build the rod.

Over the course of last year, my 6'6" 2wt travelled from Japan to Sweden to be built.  From Sweden it travelled to the United States upon being built.  About a week before Christmas, I got a rod tube in the mail.  I had totally forgotten about it, despite Christian telling me it was on its way.  To say I was blown away by his work would be a gross understatement.  My jaw dropped upon opening up the rod tube.  He certainly is a master builder in his own right and I am so pleased with what he did with the rod.  Christian asked me a few questions but really I left the build up to him as I always do with rod builders.  They are the masters not me.  I don't want to tell them how to do their job.  That's not my style.  Christian really did an amazing job on this rod.  I cannot wait to take it out for a spin.  Brook trout be very afraid. 

I would like to say thank you to all of my family, friends, followers and customers who voted for me.  Without you all this would not have been possible.  Thank you to Cameron for taking the time to put such an amazing contest together.  In the final year of it, I am glad I won.  A big shout out to Kabuto rods.  They truly are fiberglass rods at their finest.  Thank you Christian for building it.  You did a fantastic job my friend.  Last but not least, thanks Melissa for putting up with my addiction to fiberglass rods.