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The Fly Rod 'O Rama (or, Dragging Out The Fly Rods - And Their Memories)

Posted by Tom Chandler 3/15/2010

The Rod 'O Rama is a fly fishing staple - an afternoon where pretty much every fly rod you own ends up leaning against something in the back yard, lines strung, loops formed, actions evaluated.

Fly rods

Naturally, a good Rod 'O Rama involves more than one person, and in extreme circumstances, disagreements over rod action or desirability may be settled with dueling pistols.

Mostly, a simple "you're a clueless bastard" is enough.

During a really epic Rod 'O Rama, you can dig out rods you haven't seen in years (I don't want to own any rods I haven't fished in years, but have to admit I do), and - in rare instances - you may unearth fly rods you forgot you owned.

In this case, I found two rods I'm pretty sure I've never seen before, though I finally solved the mystery on one.

It was a Raine bamboo rod tube containing a butt and mid, but - puzzlingly - no tips.

It was a model I'd never owned, but realized later he'd grabbed it out of his shop by accident when we went fishing last fall, borrowed my spare rod that day, and then forgot to retrieve the tube from my truck.

I'm wondering what a reasonable ransom looks like.

The Theme of The Day: 6 WTs
A Rod 'O Rama theme is useful, and in this instance, Older Bro was loooking for a 6wt, which means he got to cast everything from an decades-old Orvis Superfine 6wt to sweet 14 year-old Sage DS - right up to Raine's saltwater 6wt and the high-tech Orvis Hydros that replaced my much-missed Zero Gravity.

Initially, you try to limit the madness to one type of rod, but eventually the words "if you like that, you'll love my XXXX" are heard, and suddenly, you're casting four and five weights too.

Before it's over, you've got everything from a 60 year-old Phillipson to a two-month-old graphite leaning against the rail - every one of which is loaded with some kind of memory.

You find yourself ankle-deep in the snow still covering the yard, false casting a fly rod, adjusting the loop size, and the memory of a rainy day on a lake washes over you.

You may or may not remember how cold and wet you were, but you do remember dropping the rod in the shallow water because you were holding a 17" rainbow, and that its strawberry lateral line lit up the rainy, monochromatic, steel-grey environment you'd come to accept as normal.

Later, I found myself casting a 7.5' 5wt Fenwick glass rod - the factory equivalent to my first fly rod, one I built in the mid-70s from a blank.

While the original rod met its end in a Santa Clara garage, the replacement feels similar enough that casting it reminded me of the bluegills and crappie I caught from a muddy, weedy lake better than 30 years ago.

Putting Them Away... Sorta
Ultimately, Older Bro' found a rod he liked, and since I had a similar rod, sent him home with it.

Yet, when I put all the rod tubes away, I noticed a few - like the Fenwick - ended up a little closer to the front of the pile.

It's not spring yet - there's still snow on the ground and the alpine trails are months away from opening - but we're seeing the signs.

The blue jays who nest under the front eaves came back today, and temperatures could run into the upper 50s all week.

So while I can't fish the small streams yet (not legally), I can set aside a few rods that haven't been fished in a while, and imagine creating new memories with them over the coming season.

See you when the streams open, Tom Chandler.

AuthorPicture

Tom Chandler

As the author of the decade leading fly fishing blog Trout Underground, Tom believes that fishing is not about measuring the experience but instead of about having fun. As a staunch environmentalist, he brings to the Yobi Community thought leadership on environmental and access issues facing us today.

11 comments
Sounds like a grand time.I don't have many rods, so I get to visit them often.I too have an old 7.5 ‘ Fenwick Feralite that my dad gave me when I was about 13 – some 50 years ago.I still like the way it casts, and it has been in my hands long enough to be very forgiving of my “style”
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Amazing and true! Last week-end it actually didn't rain. I was jonesing to fish so badly that I rigged up the rods that I own (except the seven piece traveling 5 wt.). Maybe not as impressive as a rod-o-rama, but I lawn cast until I got tired and the sun got low enough that I was cold. Bliss.
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[...] Chandler, over at the Trout Underground, recently wrote a good post about his annual “Fly Rod O’Rama” spring ritual of getting out all of his rods, rigging them all up, and doing a little lawn casting just to get [...]
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Rod ‘O Rama? Isn't he president now?
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It was indeed a good day. It was the first time I had ever cast a set of really good rods, my only previous experience has been decent, but inexpensive, entry level rods. I remember saying "Whoa!" often as he put one new fly rod after another in my hands. Now I know why you guys own so many rods. I like the "It's a loaner" scam. Might have to try that one.
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I own one rod for every type of fishing i do. One fly rod for trout and trout sized fish. One fly rod for larger fish, like steelhead and salmon. Same goes with my spinning and casting rods. When one gets "used up" (busted), it's time to buy another one. Great Article and Blog. I am considering adding it to my blogroll. Would you be interested exchanging links? I would be happy to. Click on my name ... more to see my site.
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Sounds like a grand time. I don't have many rods, so I get to visit them often. I too have an old 7.5 ' Fenwick Feralite that my dad gave me when I was about 13 - some 50 years ago. I still like the way it casts, and it has been in my hands long enough to be very forgiving of "style"
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I am about to gut my house, which will require removal of all fly rods (all the unused weird flies and farkles purchased for trips to strange places are, thankfully, in another place). Kind of like meeting old friends. Sometimes, as at a school reunion, you are happy enough to see em but remember why you have not been in touch. Sometimes, (as also at school reunions) you end up in the sack together ... more after all these years... I get less sentimental about equipment as I get older. Some stuff will go to the auctions at the fishing clubs I belong to. Younger people should be able to get good stuff and make new memories with it.
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You have hit upon the #1 reason why I spend 1 to 3 days a month hanging around Dave Roberts....have you ever seen the pile of rods in the corner? Now I have way to many rods according to the "little redhead", but Dave, even he can't remember were he got them all and the keep comming. Testing honey, honestly I'm only testing it...belongs to some guy in the club and he loaned it to me...worked for years ... more until she asked "his" name...damn wife's get smarter with age, why don't we? That reminds me...I have a new (damn, guiet guys) Orvis 7.5 4wt (bamboo) that needs to get out and stretch it's legs. Sounds like a very cool (no pun ntended) way to spend a day with the older, wiser (he got a new rod) and probably better looking brother.
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It's inevitable that you accumulate too many rods, if only because we might be test casting a 7.5' rod on a lawn, but in our head, we're on that small stream we've driven over once - but plan to fish someday.It's all about the "Fly Fishermen: Powered by Hope" routine.Good luck with the gig.
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In the past, I made a point of trying to fish each rod I own at least once every year. I have too many rods and do not fish often enough any more to do this. So, it's once every tw0 years now. First up this year is a 70's vintage W. Powell 9' 5 wt. plastic rod and next up is another late 70's W. Powell , a 8' 6wt & 7.5 4wt. Golden Signature companion set that I took as collateral on a loan that ... more was never repaid. It's a terrible thing having too many rods. If I don't fish my rods I feel guilty and pass them on to someone who will. It's very hard for me to part with rods that bring such fond memories. I know, there are worse things than having too many rods....Like the company I've worked for the last 15 years is being acquired and in a few months I may be redundant. Oh well, change can be good and I might have more time to fish.
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