Ode to my trusted fishing ally

    I will make no bones about it: I enjoy summer fishing. I even enjoy fall fishing (though not ice fishing).
    When I began getting serious about fishing, I started to build fishing rods. The first three were from kits. They were bait casters.
    When the first rod was finished, I spent hours pouring through catalogues reading about reels and was torn between many models before finally settling on my first bait caster reel.
    I remember taking my sons and nephews fishing and on that opening weekend of that season, I was using that brand new handmade rod.
    Alas, in the confusion of someone snagging bottom and someone else catching a fish, someone managed to step on that brand new handmade rod and snapped the top eight inches off.
    It hadn’t even caught a fish. It became a Muskie rod.
    Another kit was ordered and another rod was built. The quality of my rod-building had improved and today I still have that rod. It has been re-wrapped several times—and every time it is prettier than the last.
    Over the course of years, I have built more than two dozen rods, giving many away. My wife has a rod done up in Girl Guide colours. My eldest has a rod in the colours of his university, Guelph,
    My rods have evolved. I like the way a split handle feels and that has become one of my signatures. I also have modified the distances to the first guide (some casting rods now have as many as 10 guides).
    One of the changes I started using was creating a casting rod where the guides wrapped around from the top to the bottom. Some people call it a revolver rod.
    The reasoning behind it goes something like this: With the tip pointing down and the guides below the rod, the line doesn’t fight the rod. The rod behaves more like a spinning rod.
    And they have given me lots of confidence.
    They all seem to have grown shorter in the past two years. Tips have been broken off and then new rod tips have been attached.
    This year to add injury in one quick step, I managed to step on a revolver rod, snap it into three pieces, and then shatter the base. Countless hours of work disappeared. Countless hours of fishing memories have been put in peril.
    My trusted spinner bait rod became garbage in a second of carelessness.
    It was the rod that I caught the biggest northern of my life with. It was the rod that I caught my biggest smallmouth bass with.
    It was my trusted ally when fishing. That rod and the white spinner bait attached to the line gave me confidence. And since the rod was shattered, I haven’t been able to catch a fish with a spinner-bait with any other rod.
    It has been that sort of year for fishing. I have snapped several tips off rods. I have broken rod guides. Every rod injury has hurt.
    The memories of the fish that were caught with the rod remain. But I won’t be picking up several of them again because they are beyond repair. And the fishing memories that those rods illuminated will fade.
    They have been like friends in the boat, knowing that when the baits were cast from their eyes, success was going to follow.
    I can salvage the guides. I can order new blanks and reel seats. I can remake the handles.
    Can I duplicate the way those broken friends felt in my hands? I hope so.

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