I’ve often wondered what makes a good rod a good fly rod. Fly shops can be some of the neatest and most depressing places on the earth. I build cabinets, so I’m not rolling in a lot of money. But like any good fly fisherman I’m addicted so I need lots of gadgets. How many zingers do I have on my vest now? So, in Chicago there’s this great Orvis store. I’ve been in there a couple of times very often drooling over the merchandise. Please don’t misunderstand, I love good rods and good brand names. And if I make a purchase I will do so with thoughtful consideration. In fact, I love my Orvis rod. It’s a great 9′ 5wt. that I can pound some of the small streams around here with. But I’ve also got this Fenwick I’ve been fishing with for almost 15 years. It’s big and it’s got backbone–more than I thought. I just recently tussled with a 20+ lb. chromer and it held its own, proud to say. But I didn’t pay a lot of money for it. In fact, my dad got it for me as a gift when the three of us (my brother included) all decided we wanted to fish with the fly. But it gets the job done. You’ve got to admit, though having one of the cool rods on the water makes a statement. I see those statements all the time. In fact, we get so many guys from the Chicago area I almost feel threatened by an invasion and I’ve only been living in Wisconsin for about a year…is that normal? I almost feel that these are my home waters now and what right do you have to come fishing on our waters with your $3K outfit? Like I said, that’s an odd feeling. My mother-in-law gave me a bamboo rod one Christmas (she really understands me). I’ve fished with it one time. It was beautiful. I felt the ghost of Ernest Schwiebert standing right next to me. I didn’t catch any fish, but I made sure that those around me were watching my bamboo get in some great action. And I felt in touch with the past. I was walking in the steps of Dan Bailey, Joe Brooks, Lefty Kreh, Bing Crosby, Schwiebert, et al. The list is endless. Nowadays, it’s power fishing, trout bums, galore (I still secretly want to become a trout bum–I envy those guys). So neophyte fly fisherman beware. You will plunk down mountains of cash for the simple pleasure of holding a piece of graphite or wood in your hands and you will lose sleep over the fact that you can’t get out to the water fast enough. Oh yeah, and wait till you decide that because you have spent so much money on that fly rod of your dreams you will now have to resort to tying your own flies.