Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Voices from the Past: Raymond R. Camp (1955)




The following epistle is from the great Raymond R. Camp, long-time outdoor editor of The New York Times. In an article entitled "Production Line Equipment Fails to Dim Popularity of Old-Fashioned Fly Rod," published on March 11, 1955, he opined on the great bamboo rod maker Jim Payne:

Many new tackle items are being displayed and tested at the booths and pools at Kingsbridge Armory, many of them fabricated of plastic, fiber, glass and assorted materials. But it was a relief to find one angler at the casting pool with an old-fashioned fly rod.

This man was dropping a fly lightly on the water with a Payne rod, a precisely engineered and fabricated wand formed of six carefully selected strips of bamboo. It cannot be "thrown" in a boat. You can't arc the tip around until it touches the butt. No angler would try to stretch a cast to 100 feet with this old-fashioned but far from obsolete item of tackle.

But there are quite a few dry fly purists who would seriously consider some other sport if Jim Payne stopped making these rods exactly as he made them when father was a lad.

In the midst of production line tackle, it is refreshing to find a rod that has a quality undimmed by time. Custom rod makers are aging, and apprentices are few. So many anglers are worrying about the future source of this equipment. Prices for custom rods have increased, but who ever met a wealthy rod-maker?


-- Dr. Todd

1 comment:

rickcamp9507 said...


When I was 12 years old we lived on Andros Island, in the Bahamas, and I had the pleasure of watching a fishing competition between Lee Wulff and the legendary Ted Williams. We were after Bonefish, an inedible fish that could put up one hell of a fight. All were using fly tackle except me; I was the only one using a spinning rod and reel. And I was the only one really catching any fish (on a red and white Daredevil). My father was probably the best fly fisherman I have ever known, but he set down his gear to watch the competition. Ted and Lee were seeing who could put the fly out the furthest. Using wet flies, neither of them actually spoke about the fact that this was a competition. Lee could lay down a fly on the water with nary a ripple. Ted, on the other hand, while clearly the winner of this casting event, landed his fly like it was a small brick. My father winked at me with an enormous grin as we watched this war play out.
My best day of fishing ever.