Monday, December 17, 2007

Ode to a Simpler Time


I was saddened to learn that Hardy Brothers. of Alnwick England, yes that Hardy Brothers, had outsourced much of their reel making operations to places such as China. It should have come as no surprise though, as it seems like the claim of high labor costs and materials have left many fly tackle manufacturers with no other choice.....supposedly.
Slowly but surely the spectre of cheap labor and higher profits have invaded almost every aspect of this affliction called fly fishing. It's just that one would think that Hardy might be immune to the effects of the global economy but that is unrealistic wishful thinking.
Excuse me if I don't buy into the whole global economy mantra because I have been personally effected by it.
I worked during a period of time where assembling hamburgers at McDonald's did not fit into the manufacturing category that our current administration would like us to believe. Remember when the Reagan administration attempted to classify ketchup as a vegetable on school lunch menus? Yep same type of bait and switch going on today. Gotta love them republicans huh?
Perhaps I'm just feeling nostalgic and thinking back to a different time.
You know the different times I' m talking about? I miss the time when you could go to places like Sears and Montgomery Ward and buy quality fishing tackle. They had a large sporting goods section where the images of Ted Williams or Curt Gowdy would be advertising the particular type of fishing tackle they endorsed.
At one time you could walk into just about any local hardware store and purchase a bamboo rod! Now in order to get the good old "Made in the USA" label on your gear you pay a premium price and "Made in Alnwick, England" meant ever more money! I didn't mind though because I felt the extra dollars on the sticker price meant superb quality and in many cases it still does.
I am so very lucky that I can still fish unpolluted coastal streams for trout without seeing another fly fisherman all day. I can rig up my fifites vintage Wright&McGill Granger bamboo rod with my sixties vintage Hardy reel with a fly I tied myself.If I had a silk line and gut leader then I really would be in a time warp wouldn't I?
Those days are magical and I should cherish each one. I fool myself into thinking it will always be like this. I get shocked back into reality when I leave the lush green rain forests of the coast range and reluctantly return to 2007 and the Portland metro area.
You can all me old fashioned if you like but if you love an avocation the way I love fly fishing you long for those throw back days. Heck even the seventies weren't all that bad.
So now with almost all fishing tackle manufacturers going over seas in the name of profit and relaxed environmental standards I think I'll search out the old stuff. I love my older reels and bamboo rods they are seasoned and experienced like myself...in other words they are vintage or in my case aged.
It seems ironic though that the best rod making bamboo world wide comes from China and always has but some of the cheapest and lesser quality rods also come from there, go figure!
Yes there are still many quality rods and reels made here in the states and in the UK but it looks like the numbers are dwindling every day.
So I think I'll grab my vintage gear and jump into my Canadian made Ford pickup and head to the river. If you see some old nostalgic looking guy fishing and picking out wind knots then stop by and say hello.

3 comments:

  1. Nice post. Kind of scary to think that these will be "the good old days" someday, isn't it?

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  2. flyfishertc11:14 AM

    I sympathise.

    Whilst on holiday in London this last Summer, and feeling somewhat removed from trout country, I thought I would do some prospecting in Pall Mall, a high class shopping area in London where Hardys used to have a store.

    There was a time when you could visit three fly fishing shops within 5 minutes of each other: Farlows, Sportfish and Hardys. Now, after a series of mergers, only a refurbished Farlows shop remains and what a disappointment! It now caters more for fashion than fishing. Gone is the rather chaotic jumble of kit where you could find the odd surprise and have a natter with other anglers.
    Now it's a bit like walking into Dolce & Gabbana. Beautiful shop, visual merchandising, expensive brands, modern retailing philosophy. But the shop was empty - no people, no craic, no heart.

    flyfishertc at http://www.streamthought.org/journal/

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  3. I will stop and say hello sir, great post.

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