Written and contributed by Shawn Bratt
A guide friend and I were catching up on each others’ lives, to include fishing, beer and women. While discussing the finer points of each I was reminded of a favorite graphite rod that is now sitting in an ex-girlfriends closet and likely has not seen the light of day since I last put it in its’ tube. During the conversation I came to the realization that that is not the only fly rod abandoned with an old girlfriend. At least two more of my custom built rods are now languishing away in a closet somewhere. The conversation evolved to discussing the actual locations of these lost fly rods. Did other guys come along and take up the sport using one of them? Did any rods get pawned out of spite for my love of fly-fishing? Could a rod have been burned like I burned one of their clothes after I caught her cheating? Did a once fine split cane turn into tomato stakes for another’s garden? It’s hard to say what the scorned fury of a woman could do to an innocent fly rod.
For weeks after this original fly shop conversation I searched out other stories of romantically lost rods. I recalled how a close female friend (who casts better than most men) still owned a “lost rod”. Over beers she detailed the tale of how she came to own this lovely Scott 4wt. How the original owner had passed it over as a peace offering in the break-up. Since I am a guy who understands other guys, I was suspicious. I sure as hell would not have handed over a rod as a piece offering. So, did she really just steal the rod? I likely will not know for certain until I have beers with the original owner.
Yet another angler reminded me of a particular evening back in college. A relationship had ended over a rod. The two were fishing together and at the end of the day—when putting away gear—she closed a car door on the butt section of his old graphite 3wt. He lost his mind. Things were said and the relationship ended promptly. Later that night he and I had drank to the memory of that sweet little 3wt.
Other fishing friends seem to demonstrate better self control with the ladies. These guys are puzzled that I would actually lone a good rod to a girlfriend for the day, let alone entrust her with one as a gift. I understand their skepticism, but do not enjoy spending as many nights alone as they apparently do. I suppose many of us male fly fishermen, above anything else, just hope to introduce our wife or girlfriend to our own joy of fishing. We often speak fondly of times and relationships when things are new and blossoming and the prospect of a lifetime fishing partner is still there. Those were my own feelings as I was building that first lost rod—now most likely hidden in her closet or in a thousand little pieces under a sea of landfill.
In the end, I am left with a decision. Do I contact these women from my past? Do I find out where my fly rods are now? No way. I guess I am left with only hope. I hope they all did the good thing and passed the rod along to some eight-year-old stranger floundering on a local trout stream. In my fantasy, she would hand off the rod to the startled kid, telling him that this object will certainly help his casting, but may be the key to ruining relationships for the rest of his life…
Green Drake Bamboo