Monday, August 4, 2014

Outfished By A Kid And Fishing With Cheap Rods

Last week I packed up the family and left the unseasonably cool south for a visit to my hometown on the banks of the Mississippi in northern Illinois.  Its a pilgrimage we make less than we would like to and one that always brings back a wave of memories.
   Before I left however I took time to construct an outside home for our old girl.  Our dog - affectionately known as Nonna by our kids - has been acting up lately when she is left in the house for even short amounts of time so she was relocated outside while we are on our trip.  With a helpfull neighbor offering to care for her while we were away, it was up to me to create a suitable, and dry place for her to sleep.  This 4x3foot shed was built out of 2x2s and fencing cedars and from what I understand Nonna rarely left its comfortable bed.
  With our old girl secure we boarded a plane a lit out for the north.  The upper Mississippi river has held a special place for me since I was a kid.  I explored its muddy banks every summer as a kid and once even built a driftwood raft just like Huck Fin with the intention of sailing it down to the next town.  Luckily for me it broke up a foot off shore but ever since, that search for adventure has never left me.  Like the riverboat captains of old, I share their drive to do something very few people have done.  I credit a childhood of freedoms in a small town for that.
   I also credit my love of fishing to the summers I spent on the banks of the Mississippi.  I caught so many fish from its banks that it was inevitable that I would grow up to love fishing.
  I now nearly exclusively fish with a fly rod and even as I get odd looks from the bass anglers cruising the river banks in their flat bottom boats, I continue to try the muddy waters for a cruising fin to take my fly.  Unfortunately this trip I was limited to what I could bring and the fly outfit just couldn't make it, so when I got there I went to the only outdoor sports shop in the area and started my search for a fly rod and reel setup I could purchase and leave as a permanent fixture at my in-laws house.
  I knew it was going to be a task to find a fly rod in an area of the country where spin casting is king and Fly fishing is seen as some exotic form of behavior akin to a trying to surf on the river.  What I didn't expect was only one fly rod on the shelf.  Its was a $20 Eagle Claw combo #7/8 - great weight for the Mississippi but.... what the heck - the price is right.  I brushed what looked like fifteen years of dust off it and grabbed the only 7w line they had in stock (they also had one 5w) the only fly leader they had, and a dozen $1 flies tied a decade ago.  Add in the only fly line backing they had and a pound of dust and I left the store with a $90 river fly fishing setup.  The most expensive part of my entire outfit was the $26 fly line.
  Shortly after stringing it up and casting it into the muddy water I hooked this little bass proving that you don't have to have the most expensive outfit out there to catch fish.  I was actually surprised at how good it casts.  I rarely if ever use the reel on fish but this eagle claw - even though housed in plastic - also performed admirably with smooth action .  I wouldn't take this outfit out west for salmon fishing but for the banks of the Mississippi it is more than suitable.  I was expecting a willowy, unresponsive stick and what I got is a tough simple rod that flings small flies and big streamers with relative ease.  For a cheap outfit I'd say B+ and I know all you out there are saying - Its an Eagle Claw?!!  But I say for the only outfit in town, it has done its job and I was glad to have purchased it.

  Despite my efforts at fly fishing, it was my little boy who won.  Its hard to beat a worm on the bottom in a muddy murky river.  Besides the great looking bass he is holding to the right, he also caught a large catfish, a blugill, and a few more bass putting both myself and my father-in-laws meager catch's to shame.  Yes, you can say I left a the river a proud dad.  My boy out-fished me and he did it legitimately.  Well done.... well done.

7 comments:

Howard Levett said...

Nice post Joel. Good for the kid for catching the fish of the day! As a collector of Wright & Mcgill fly rods I have to say that most people's opinions about a lot of their rods are way off base. But don't tell anyone, the prices are already moving up.

Joel D said...

Thanks Howard. I've never held stock in the idea that an expensive rod is exponentially better than a cheaper one but i really wasn't expecting such performance from a new $20 fly rod. Its ugly as sin but it does well slinging bugs and hooking bass and that's all I can ask for.

Mel Moore said...

Enjoyed reading the post, Joel. Hail to your son for having it a little better than dad on this day. By the way, I am all in on the fact that fly fisherman do not need to spend the money for top dollar equipment to enjoy the sport of fly fishing. Eagle Claw has a lot of fanatics amongst us..................

Mark Kautz-Shoreman said...

Glad to see your son out fished you. He is the future of fishing and is off to a good start. The part about the raft, why is it that your raft and the many I built as a kid, disintegrated as soon as it hit the water? It's just wrong, I tell ya.

Joel D said...

I fault the vines I used to tie it together Mark. That and my 6th grade engineering skills at the time.
Thanks Mel. It wont win a beauty contest but it does its job.

Atlas said...

Perhaps surprisingly I keep hearing great things about that Eagle Claw rod. It's glass right?

Joel D said...

Sorry Atlas - not Glass, this one is a cheap Graphite rod but surprisingly it fishes rather well.