New Season Wish


“Seek not that the things which happen should happen as you wish; but wish the things which happen to be as they are, and you will have a tranquil flow of life”


let it flow

Clint Joseph Bova



Slow Water Caddis Emerger

 The Caddis emerger is a very important part of the trouts diet. During this life stage the Caddis is especially vulnerable to the elements and is easy prey thus making it very attractive to these very energy conscious fish. The insect is just about ready to break free of its nymphal shuck and the count down for its launch sequence begins with a few wiggles.

I have always been looking for a great surface fly that mimics these little beauties. For a few years now I have gotten a lot of use of this little emerger pattern that tends to out fish most of my other emerger patterns even when there is no discernible hatch.

This is a great pattern for super finicky Brown trout. I have fooled many fish with this pattern and with the right combination of materials it is a pattern that stays floating even in fast water for a long time. With the use of TMC's Aero Wing material (extended shuck) the fly is a great floater. The fibers are not only fine but hollow keeping the fly floating at the proper angle.

                                                Hook: TMC 212Y (emerger hook)
                                                Thread: Green or Gray Veevus 14/0
                                                Abdomen: Green or Gray Micro Chenille 
                                                Wire Ribbing: Extra Fine silver or gold
                                                Shuck: TMC Aero Wing Dry Fly
                                                Legs: Dyed duck flank lemon or gray 
                                                Thorax: Beaver Belly black or dark gray
                                                Hackle: Medium dun
                                                Wing post: Turkey Flats

Photos: Clint Joseph Bova  www.cjbovarods.com


Slow Water Biot Wing Caddis

Wings on caddisflies are always a hot topic when it comes to tyers around the world. There are the tried and true deer hair wing designs, gossamer cut wings made from synthetics, down wing feather geometries, and even stacked hair wings. They all have their merits and of course pitfalls when it comes to actually fishing them. For several years now I have been fishing with a caddis pattern that works for me. A few years back I posted a piece on my biot wing caddis patterns. So I thought I would resurrect it with some new insights.

Biots are probably one of my favorite natural materials to work with. Biots are translucent, waxy like the natural insect, easy to dye, extremely durable, and are cheaper than dirt! If you use turkey biots they are larger than most goose biots and you can make wings to cover the full spectrum of appropriate hook sizes.

When you purchase biot wings you get two opposing feathers. The leading edge of the biot has a stiff rib section, this is your top leading edge of your wing segment. The picture above shows how I bag my biots, left and right orientation. One bag is a left wing, one bag is a right wing. By organizing them this way you do not tear your hair out looking for each segment after dying them. I do not dye biots on the feather. Reason being is that the color does not saturate between the biots very well, the pre-dyed biots on the feather never really look consistent and the color range is too limited.

This is a very very easy pattern to tie once you have your materials set up and organized in front of you. You can easily tie up a few dozen in an hour.

The above photo shows two biots on top of one another. Notice the rib on top of the leading edge of both wings. If you were to only use a single biot feather you would have a rib on the top and the second opposing wing would have a rib on the bottom. Not only would it look funny but it will not line up correctly when you tie them in. The below photo shows a half dozen fibers of Coq de Leon for an optional under wing.

Once you get both biots on your dubbed body tied in put a dab of head cement near the wing wraps this will further help reinforce them when a fish hits them. This particular pattern can take a real beating by fish and many of my biot wing caddis last season after season. The color ranges of this pattern are limitless. I tye this pattern up using a light ginger color way, dusky ginger, and medium dun Grannom coloration.

Slow Water Biot Wing Caddis
Hook: TMC 531 sizes 16-22
Thread: Veevus 10/0 or 12/0 medium dun
Dubbing: Beaver Belly medium dun
Wing: Medium dun Biot
Under Wing: Coq de Leon med Pardo (optional)
Hackle: Medium dun
Antennae: Coq de Leon tailing fibers light pardo


Beneath the Belly

 Every man casts a shadow; not his body only, but his imperfectly mingled spirit. This is his grief. Let him turn which way he will, it falls opposite to the sun; short at noon, long at eve. Did you never see it?
 ~Henry David Thoreau 

 The Fall came like a bolt of lightning this year. The 2012 fishing season was stellar on many fronts for both myself, friends, and customers of mine. The weather for the most part cooperated in the North East. The fish, water born insects, and terrestrials were seemingly unaffected by the mid summer heat. Many rivers and streams that I fished were very healthy indeed. I am grateful for the opportunity to spend so much time on the water this year. Hopefully 2013 season will be equally a memorable one. Stay creative over the winter and think good things that will keep you and others smiling.

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”
~Henry David Thoreau 


Silk Line~Summoning the Humingbird

The sounds on many rivers allow us to fall into a somewhat hypnotic state and transports our senses to a more serene and most often inquisitive place. If we step away from all of the digital madness in the world today and find ourselves completely alone on a river there is a very noticeable difference in heart rate, thought patterns, and levels of concentration. Most noticeable of all is that time has little or no measurable bearing. The position of our shadow or the waters angle of reflection is really the only que when it comes to relative time. The sounds that a fisherman makes is somewhat limited, I suppose that's why I come across so much shy wild life from one season to the next. Fox, Heron, deer, the elusive badger, and turkey are all the usual suspects. This past season two coyotes came sloshing across the river twenty or so feet in front of me with absolutely no inhibition. Recently an unlikely visitation of a hummingbird has kept me thinking about the qualities of silk fly line.

One morning this season while casting in the middle of a riffle on a small stream near my home I heard a low pitched humming noise. The sound startled me because it came so quickly. Like an on-off switch the humm came and went. I quickly realised I was being visited by a hummingbird. As soon as I casted the hummingbird would come back and dance above my rod tip. So I paused for about thirty seconds and the hummingbird disappeared. I false casted a few times and there he was again dancing on top of the rod tip as though he was trying to summon me. I decided to pull line in instead of casting and the sound attracted the bird again. When I stopped pulling he became disinterested and flew off. I’m no ornithologist but there is obviously a sound silk makes running through a fly rod that attracts the hummingbird! I ruled out the motion of the rod while casting. Again it only danced on the tip when the line flowed in and out of the guides. Because silk line (not coated silk) has a subtle textured surface it acts much like a stringed instrument does such as a viola or cello. When the two surfaces meet causing friction a discernible sound is made.

I fell in love with silk line the first time I casted it. Over the years I have found a specific line made in Italy that I have settled on being the best in my opinion and works remarkably well with my bamboo rods. The lines make a certain subtle “zipper” sound when the line slides through the guides. The heft and density of the line is so subtle that I feel I could never return to casting plastic lines with the same level of enthusiasm. I compare it to the sound an electric keyboard makes as opposed to a real piano. There are subtleties that cannot be denied. I suppose I will never know what that hummingbird was thinking I’d like to think he could simply recognise the sounds of a well crafted silk fly line.

The Hummingbird
by Harry Kemp
The sunlight speaks.  And it's voice is a bird:
It glitters half-guessed half seen half-heard
Above the flower bed. Over the lawn ...
A flashing dip and it is gone.
And all it lends to the eye is this --
A sunbeam giving the air a kiss.


Tying The Little Green Tree Cricket

One of the more interesting of the fall terrestrials is the tree cricket. This amazing insect will appear in the bushes or trees bordering fields or meadows during the last weeks of summer or early weeks of fall. Along trout streams this insect is on the main menu for most trout especially big ones. The tree cricket is usually no larger than one inch in length and has a pale green or whitish colored body depending on the species. Found in the Gryllidae family in the Orthoptera order of crickets, roaches, mantids and grasshoppers, the tree cricket is part of the Oecanthinae subfamily. They are nocturnal insects and often hard to spot since they easily camouflage their presence among the leaves of their chosen habitat. I run across them all the time in August and through the fall in my yard. Because I live on a road that quickly dead ends into my home trout stream the insects I find in my yard are generally accessible to the trout down the street. The last several years I have become quite the insect scavenger and readily capture and keep insects throughout the trout season in my house much to the chagrin of my wife Jenny.

 above: The slender legs and abdomen of the Tree cricket is quite 
delicate in comparison to the Black Cricket and common Field Cricket.

I tie the Tree Cricket somewhat similarly to the Black Cricket pattern. The differences are the smaller hook sizes, thicknesses of foam, leg girths, color ways, and hackle turns. This cricket again is quite small but evokes rises from big trout that will leave you shaking.

Hook: TMC 5212 #14
Thread: Uni 8/0 Lt green
Body: Razor Foam 1mm Green
Tail: Biot dyed Kelly Green (Ritt Dye)
Legs: Natural Pheasant Tail (x1) per leg
Antennae: Natural Pheasant Tail
Hackle: Ginger
Wing Case (sim): 2mm Razor Foam 2mm Green
Dubbing: Beaver Belly Green

Tie these up small and they are sure to turn some heads under the surface. Three turns of hackle is all you need for a sufficient hackle collar, the four legs in the rear and the biots do the rest of the work as far as stability. The naturals profile is very delicate and gossamer so cut and wind your materials with this in mind. The tendency is to overdress and use heavy foam, keep it simple and sparse.
Clint Joseph Bova


Tying the Black Field Cricket

The black field cricket is fairly common in many parts of the United States. If you fish near meadows or farm fields you know that they are an important part of a trouts menu during the months of July, August, and even through September. As an avid terrestrial fisher and fly tyer I stock my fly boxes with many beetle patterns, Crane flies, Hoppers, and black Crickets in sizes #8-#14. Many of the patterns I tie specifically terrestrials combine natural materials with synthetics.

 above: I caught this nice Brown on a black Cricket. 
A hot August morning on The Mad River.

The very top photo is a version of Davie McPhail's Black Cricket pattern. I tie this pattern using knotted pheasant tail legs, black wire ribbing over the foam body, and 1mm Razor Foam. The reason I use knotted pheasant tail for legs is I've fished biot legs and they get crimped after they get hit by trout. I use Razor Foam in the 1mm thickness because I fish 2-3wt lines often during the months of July and August and the fly is a bit less wind resistant. After testing the pattern out for quite some time I minimized the amount of materials and can tie these up in about 5 minutes, I loose a lot of them to fish so I'm not trying to create “masterpiece look-alike ties”. These are going to get hit very hard by trout so I may go fishing with a dozen of them and come home with less than half in tact. The important thing is that they catch fish...big fish!

Black Field Cricket
Hook~TMC 5212
Thread~8/0 Uni Black
Tails~Black biots
Body & Wingcase~ 1mm Razor Foam
Ribbing~Fine black Uni Wire
Rear Legs~Knotted black Pheasant tail (x3 per leg)
Dubbing~Black Beaver Belly
Antennae~Black Pheasant tail 


“Shy Dad-Dee”

The Crane fly (order Diptera) is often an overlooked pattern that proves to be an important part of a trouts diet from mid-summer through the fall. Unlike many terrestrial patterns the Crane fly really begs to be tied with a very gossamer and sparse geometry. It is not a “beasty” like a hopper or cricket pattern. Instead upon close inspection you will see that is is very wispy, gossamer, and quite delicate. It is a common misconception that the bulbous end on the abdomen is an egg sack found on the female Crane fly. In fact this is the males genitalia. The female has a more pointed geometry at the end of the abdomen.

Proof of the pudding above: This shot of a nice 16" Brown shows two Crane fly's in his mouth, the lighter ochre colored one shown in the rear portion of the jaw was hooked and 18" of tippet snapped and trailed behind the fly, the fish got away. Three hours later I caught the same fish on a mahogany Crane fly! Both fly's retrieved. Shows that even when the fish is under duress this pattern proves very deadly indeed.

Over the last ten years I have distilled my Crane fly patterns down to some simple and natural materials that have made it a favorite in my fly box especially when fishing over finicky and skittish Browns.

The use of knotted pheasant tail, dyed turkey biots, and hen tips make for a very lightweight fly that can easily be casted with a 2wt. line using 6x tippet if need be. This is not a bulky pattern which was my major incentive for the use and combination of the following materials. This fly has also worked well when hoppers are just too conspicuous. This Crane fly imitation makes for a great search pattern during the months of August through October when rises become exponentially more sporadic on many spring creeks.

~Photos: Clint Bova all rights reserved® Copyright 2012

“Shy Dad-Dee”
Hook: TMC 5212  #10 or #12
Thread: 8/0 Tan
Wings: Dyed Hen tips (I use Veniards dyes, but you can also use Rit Tan)
Body: Tan Biots tied over beaver belly or Rainy's Float Foam
Thorax: Silk dyed to golden tan (silk will be easier to control to get good leg positioning)
Legs: Knotted Pheasant Tail
Hackle: Cream Variant or Badger

Tie in dyed tan turkey biot over beaver belly                      
dubbing or Rainy's Float Foam. You can
dub a male or female abdomen geometry.
Tie in knotted pheasant tail (3 pairs) just
above the mid point of the hook shank
making sure that you get good leg separations.

Dub the silk dyed to a golden tan. I use silk
because it lays down extremely tight and I
can control my leg positions so that they splay
perfectly even after getting soaked. The splayed
legs act as outriggers and help the fly sit perfectly
in the surface film like the natural.

Tie in Hen tips dyed tan, I use Veniards dyes but
Rit will work just fine. Make sure you tie them in
with a delta wing configuration. You can vary the
degree of the “V” the wing should end a hook gap
beyond the bend of the hook.

Hackle collar is either Badger or a cream variant.
Other colors I use for entire fly is a rust or mahogany
color or a creamy yellow like the color ways of a PMD.

~Photos: Clint Bova all rights reserved® Copyright 2012


Culm Selection

Original Post~2009
Recently I had somebody ask me about how I go about selecting culms of bamboo for different rods. I suppose that it is not necessarily something elaborated on frequently unless you were to read up on it in the few good books written on the construction of cane rods. So I will try to put in some very simple digestible terms. That said I get all of my Tonkin cane from Charles H. Demarest Inc. whom I have had the honor of meeting in upstate NY years ago. Probably the nicest people on the planet. I occasionally get a few culms here and there from various other dealers mostly because I like to see how they are graded. I have found over the years that the Tonkin cane I get from Demarest Inc. is most consistent in quality. I have a back-stock of Demarest cane which unfortunately is dwindling and because they are no longer in business the cane is that much more valuable to me. I typically go through a bale and pull out cane that is most suitable to make rods for my clients. All of the culms that I use have been stored 3-4 years prior to splitting. I help the check along the length of the selected culms when I receive them because if I don't they will crack and pop in sometimes an undesirable fashion to put it simply. Large checks that are not running the full length of the culm can prompt other smaller checks that can often make the splitting process more difficult. Bamboo checks naturally and if I don't finish a check it will likely set off my “glass break” alarm system. This typically will happen in the dead of night with a loud distinctive pop unfortunately.

Culms are selected for a particular rod based on the nodal geometry and diameters. I do not simply cut culms in half and use the top portion for tips and bottom section for the butt. Instead, because I do a spiral nodal stagger on all of my rods, I find the most node free zone in the bottom portion of the culm for the butt section and the most node free zone in the upper portion of the culm for the tips. This means that I can cut the culm from the right or left of center anywhere from 2-18 inches depending again on the positions of the nodes and the length of the desired rod. Many rod makers make this decision based on their own methodologies and sets of criteria. Many rod makers use more than one culm to make a single rod. I always make predetermined measurements from a culm in order to get the least nodes in any one rod section short or long, 2 piece or 3 piece. I have put this in very rudimentary terms again based on my own methods for supporting the spiral node stagger. In simple terms the spiral node stagger allows the rod maker to position every node in a rod section so that it never has an opposing node directly across from it. The rod maker uses up a lot of cane by using the spiral node stagger so again measuring twice is always a good idea before splitting. With longer two piece rods the maker has to take special care in measuring as well. With three piece rods its less of a problem.

When I get orders I stick an index type card into the check of the culm with the intended owners name on it and label what date stock it was from. This lets me know when the culm was delivered to me prior to splitting it to make into a rod. Again I wait for 3-4 years before splitting cane. I also mark the card with the intended length of the rod after making the correct measurements. Selecting culms takes a bit of creative visualization and measuring but I find I actually conserve and waste less cane by going through these familiar rituals.


Pheasant Tail Knotted Legs

Knotted Pheasant tail legs add a certain realism and movement to your fly's. Because I only tie one or two strands (not broomstick clumps) with both 2 and 3 jointed segments I get a lot of inquiries for availability. I sell them in four packs which basically means 4 sets of legs, for a total of eight legs in each pack.

These legs are tied in the most durable part of the pheasant tail, and are dyed with Veniards by myself for all types of flies which include: Damselflies, Drakes, Dragonflies, Hoppers, Craneflies, and Crickets.  Each pack $6.00 Shipping not included. Please specify colors and number of knotted joints. Please e mail or call for availability~ cbova@columbus.rr.com Clint Bova 614 204 9608
Colors Include:


Seasonal Soul Washing

above: An all season quiver of cane by Clint J. Bova  MRRC 
rods ranging from 3-6wts.

"Fishing is the chance to wash one's soul with pure air. 
It brings meekness and inspiration, reduces our egoism, 
soothes our troubles and shames our wickedness. 
It is discipline in the equality of men, 
for all men are equal before fish."
~ Herbert Hoover


“Prime Cut” Reel Seats

Finding the best raw materials is always a major concern for me. I gave up on most “manufactured” hardware years ago just because it was not appealing to me on many different levels. So to make my process and craft more meaningful and exact I decided to take matters in my own hands and customize all hardware based on the particular rods specifications. When you are ready to cut a beautiful piece of wood you always have to visualize where all the figuring is positioned prior to the cuts. Taking the time to do this is well worth it and the end result is a gorgeous spacer not just a run of the mill spacer.

One aspect of making fine split bamboo rods involves the selection of raw materials that transform themselves into not just a great rod but a stunning rod. When everything comes together there is a special cadence, from proportion, weight, fulcrum, taper, and all the details that follow. I make no excuses for anything that does not look right, ever. When it comes to yet another detail about wood selection for reel seats I get pretty particular. 

(Above: Larger 6.0"L x  2.0"W x 2.0" blocks of spalted maple ready for cutting and turning for flared reel seats and standard spacers)

I use “Prime Cut” wood selection, which means I take a larger 1.50" to 2.0" thick section (typically from a 6.0"L x 2.0"W x 2.0"W) of a larger stabilized block and cut into the selected grain that I see the best contrast and variables when it comes to figuring. When I do this I get waste, but the waste then goes to a custom knife maker, my waste cuts are perfect sizes for knife handles and are ready to profile since they are already stabilized. I take larger cuts from the blocks because it gives me more options on the lathe based on where I want a flare and other orientations such as the mortise and cork check locations. Again I work with the figuring, the size of the wood does not dictate or pose limitations to what I can and cannot do.

(Above: Large 24.0"L x  9.0"W x 3.0"H rare spalted curly Koa from The Big Island of Hawaii)
A few years ago I came across a very rare spalted curly Koa block from Hawaii. It made about 15-20 seats that are one of a kind. Looking carefully up and down a blank and deciding where the best figuring is going to be is very important because you want the most striking figuring you can get in a very small footprint. Reel seats are not large so it takes some pondering and alone time with the wood before I feel confident I can get the best looking seat. I often look at the grain on both ends and visualize the end grain hitting the circumferences of the profile. It's time consuming but well worth it, the reel seat is the one part of the rod that gets the most human contact other than the grip. Watch anyone that picks up a fly rod you will see that their eyes almost always go to the seats and hardware first and then travel up the rod, much the same way we look at a person at first glance.
                           ~Clint Bova

Reel Seats~From The Woods

 Its always interesting cutting into spalted Maple or Koa. Its like unearthing hundreds of unique patterns each with its own fingerprint. The above wood is my newest acquisition ready to be sent off to the stabilizer. Half of all of these blanks are already spoken for which speaks volumes about the scarcity of prime spalted curly Koa and Maple. The combination is hard to come by but makes for drop dead gorgeous spacers. Blanks are cut large to accommodate both conventional and flared spacers.
“The things I make may be for others, 
but how I make them is for me”  
~Tony Konovaloff


The Price of a Cane Rod

One of the most common questions for people new to bamboo is “why are cane rods so expensive?” The answer is actually very simple. Anytime something is built from scratch whether it is a custom firearm, knife, or a bow it starts from nothing but raw materials and evolves into a very usable artifact of some kind. It is not made overseas, it is made in the USA, it is completely made by one persons hands, and the process has not been robotically mechanized. This typically means that many hours are spent preparing the materials, compiling the materials, and finally finishing the end product. Sounds so elemental but there are more steps in building a bamboo fly rod than constructing an automobile on a factory floor and it takes much much longer. Again there are only one set of hands touching these to be artifacts from start to finish. That being said the following should be considered:
The cost of electricity, mineral spirits, varnish, cane, stabilized wood, insurance, mixing cups, stirring sticks, coffee, bamboo, guides, planing irons, sharpening stones, vacuum bags, Advil, prescription glasses, three different kinds of epoxies, silk, nickel rod stock, maintenance of power tools, cleaning supplies, light bulbs, finger cotlets, sports tape, phone lines, long distance order phone calls, shipping costs, bubble pack, high quality rod cases, custom rod sacks, blades of all shapes and sizes, tape, string binder threads, q-tips, measuring cups, maintenance supplies for lathes, maintenance supplies for mills, pvc tubes, silica, rags, respirator masks, boring bars, drill bits, router bits, sand paper of many grits, the minutiae list goes on and on and I have not mentioned the “T” word.... time. This would all be thrown in a different light if again the process was mechanized but for me it is not.

I have always said “if time was something I could purchase I would buy chunks of it and go fishing” Time is the most costly part of making any fine cane fly rod.
~Clint Bova

A Reason To Be

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” 

                                                                          ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


In the Moment

                                                                                                                   photo: Clint Joseph Bova
“Nothing great was ever achieved 
without enthusiasm.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Starting Young

I guess the notion of your 5th grader standing in front of a large running metal lathe is a bit horrific. It's especially spookey to visualize them actually using it on their own. Growing up in Hawaii and going to a school that was at the time somewhat experimental was a blessing. Punahou provided me the opportunity to use my hands in spirited ways at a very young age. We had a wood shop at our school that was a bit like a full blown machine shop, and at the time pretty high tech. Ironically the name of my shop teacher was Mr. Woodward, which is kind of like a home economics instructor named Mrs. Cook. Mr. Woodward was one of those quiet instructors that would scratch his beard a couple times, grimace at what you were working on, and walk away if he thought you were just “screwing around”. The incentive was simple, if you show him you are responsible you could upgrade in machinery. If he saw you do something absent-mindedly you lost the privilege of using a tool. So if you were respectful of the machines you could actually be using a milling machine or even using an arc welder as young as 10 or 11 years old. This was a badge of honor for me at the time. Both my brother and I excelled on lathes at a very young age. My brother Tony was actually a pretty remarkable craftsman and being two years older than I was made his skills seem all that much more advanced and honed, especially on a wood lathe.

I started using a metal lathe at age ten, it was a monster. It was during the summer in 1975 and I was handed a piece of aluminum rod stock and told “don't screw around”. I was in seventh heaven. The big old South Bend lathes chuck was bigger than my head, and I had to stand on a block of Koa wood just to see my turning stock. I started out making basic shapes that Mr. Woodward drew out for me. It eventually got more elaborate when he wanted me to make a working canon out of bar stock aluminum. A great first turning project for a ten year old that involves fire power! Needless to say I was hooked and my skills aquired are still used to this day. I learned a lot of things at Punahou which included catching 15 pound koi in our pond, drawing nude models as a minor, making bottle rockets, casting bronze, glass blowing, jumping out of a banyan tree with a rope around my waist thinking I could fly. My all time favorite activity... using a metal lathe. The banyan tree rope jumping actually worked, I still claim to be the first bungee jumper.

When using a lathe; wood, cork, and various nickel alloys are the primary mediums that one needs to master to create a truly custom fly rod from start to finish

In today's overly paranoid and liability ridden world developing such skills for youngsters is very difficult. I feel truly blessed that I had this opportunity at such a young age. I strongly feel that more kids need to be exposed to many different tools and mediums at a very young age. To this day I'm convinced that God gave us opposable thumbs primarily to be able to make and operate tools. When using these tools I feel as though I am simply exercising my beliefs and rituals on a deeper level. In the end it really does bring meaning and purpose to my existence and I know many other craftsman that feel same.


Fishing In the Moment

I had a compelling conversation the other day with a friend of mine in regards to the current interest in fly fishing. Over the past three or four years many of the outdoor retailers have been hit pretty hard based on the economy, peoples time, and even technology. Understanding how technology has contributed to the lack of interest in the outdoors is easy to see.

We have all of the techy tools to supposedly help heighten our overall experience outdoors. There are GPS systems to help us find our genitals at any given time of the day, high tech clothing to keep us from our own repulsive God given smells, super nano hologram enhanced floating lines, and apps for tracking mayfly hatches along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. There are those video games that allow us to fish in a reclined position, waders or underwear optional. There are fly patterns that are so overdressed and covered in synthetic co-polymers that its hard to believe that there is a hazmat disposal unit that will clean it up if it happened to burst into flames. There is a fully casted social network on the internet filled with creepy guys in front of newfangled fly tying vises claiming they have the one and only “NASA approved true rotary vise”. 

Our time is split between our devices and our actual living experiences. If the devices were developed to expand and deepen the outdoor experience then there would be exponentially more interest in spending time in the woods. This is not the case. Simple observation cannot prove me wrong. I can’t tell you how many people I have seen on rivers lately spending time screwing around with their phones and not fishing! Two years ago I heard a guy screaming on his phone in a run above me for 45 minutes. He came sloshing down stream, passed right in front of me, scowled, and said “are you getting cel reception here at all?”.

Last season a canoe on a local stream passed in front of me. There was a little boy in the front of the canoe frustrated and holding a Sponge Bob spin casting rod. His father was busy texting and seemingly having his own conversation in his own little world called “else where”. It brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. As they meandered further downstream I heard an audible grind, they hit a gravel bar and the expletives started flying. Apparently the father dropped his phone inside the wet canoe. The little boy started to cry. So did I.
~Clint Joseph Bova


Visualize the Possiblities

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; 
that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
~Henry David Thoreau, Life In the Woods


Fishing the Little Gems

Above: Some of my reels that I frequently use and have refurbished

I recently fixed one of my old Meisselbach reels and am currently using it on one of my light trout rods and have come to love fighting fish on it. I fish an old Winchester raised pillar reel pretty hard as well and actually prefer it over an old Hardy Featherweight I use to use quite often. I suppose people in general are afraid to use these older reels for a few reasons. Frequently the pawl mechanisms simply corrode and fall apart. Or the pawl spring is either bent or broken and the reel spins freely. Another common reason is the spindle shafts are bent. The reel foot on most older reels such as Pfleuger’s, Meisselbach’s, Winchester’s, etc. were stamped brass or nickel plated steel. If you happen to have an old ring mandrel you can easily tap the foot straight as an arrow with a ferruling or jewelers hammer. Pawl springs are easy to make with the proper diameter spring steel wire, a pair of jewelers pliars, and a propane torch. Careful with the torch you can end up branding yourself with the shape of a pawl spring, the mark of a true die hard. With a few simple tools you can make your reels look and function like new.

I have a modest collection of older reels that I’ve refurbished myself using a mill and a metal lathe to primarily fix head and tail plates, revolving plates, pillars, and spindle shafts. These older reels are typically great for silk lines because they are well vented and the line dries quickly. I tend to like to use the old stuff as opposed to let it collect dust or trade it. I am not a collector of things but the stuff I do own is old and very well used. Occasionally I get a huge sparkly glint from an olde’ timer on rivers especially in Pennsylvania. They get all excited to see me using a favorite Meisselbach reel, especially when I bring in a fish with one that’s over a hundred years old. I had one old timer in Warren County a while back tell me “I bet your grandfather wasn’t even born when that reel was first used”, I replied “it fishes like it was brand new!” The reel was a Meisselbach Featherlight #260, a reel little gem.