Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Lee Wulff on Fishing with his Stan Bogdan Fly Reel

As collectors, we often forget that fishing tackle was made for one purpose: fishing. I know it's hard to fathom that a Heddon Slopenose or Chapman Spinner worth four or five figures once caught fish, but it is certainly true. Well, maybe not the exact one you have in a display case, but one very much like it for certain.

A recent work worth picking up for those interested in fishing is Fishing Passion: A Lifelong Affair with Angling by Jim C. Chapralis (Evanston: Angling Matters Press, 2002). In a chapter entitled "Fishing with the Greats: Lee Wulff" Chapralis describes the following scene that illustrates my point exactly. Fishing with the famed Wulff, Chapralis declared after watching him boat an epic fish:

The encounter between Lee and the fish was almost a Hemingway confrontation. I noticed his unique fly reel.
"What kind of reel are you using?"
"It's custom made. Stan Bogdan made it for me. Actually he made only two and gave them to me," he replied.
Whoa, only two reels of this model made by a famous reel maker, and Lee was fishing with one of them?
"Aren't you afraid of losing this rare reel, overboard?"
"So?" he replied. "Many people have good tackle and never use it. Stan made these for me for fishing, not to sit in a drawer and collect dust. If I lose a reel overboard, I lose it."
I felt a little sheepish. I have some unusual, valuable fishing rods and reels, but I hesitate to use them for fear that they will break or be damaged. I learned this from my grandmother, who used to save China dinnerware and linens for special occasions that never materialized.

Am I more like Wulff or Chapralis? An interesting question. Will I go fishing tomorrow with my bass-sized Chippewa? No. But I very much may take out my Leonard fly rod and matching Vom Hofe fly reel, for as Wulff noted, they were made to be used and not to sit in a drawer.

My two cents on this Tuesday.

--Dr. Todd

Jim Chapralis' book is Available by Clicking Here.

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