Thursday, April 23, 2015

Everything Old is New Again

At left, a picture of Mile Howell of Rochester, Michigan fishing in June of 1939. Image by an uncredited photographer of the Department of Agriculture's Forest Service.

Everything the fellow is wearing looks new. If you look closely, it even appears the reel has come off the rod in mid-cast. I suspect it is a staged photo for some official purpose.

He's not wearing a wading belt and I suspect that becomes an essential piece of kit very early in a wader's career. I've done without and cut myself out of my waders before just to get up the bank so I've a little understanding here. I'll pull the belt out of my pants to use as a wading belt before I go missing one again.

Everything looks new.

I've a bunch of used gear - that is, gear acquired used from another angler - and I like all of it.

I also have one of these I acquired from another angler in an unused state.

At left, an Essex Side Bag from Finn Utility.

It is an expedition quality piece of gear. It costs as much new as a very nice reel.

I was fortunate and got it at deep discount partly because it was customized but mostly because the fellow I bought it from talked to me about fishing then told me the price he wanted. I protested but he said he wanted it used well and long.

So I'm using it.

I also love it.

I've had a vest forever.

I had a nice second-hand Filson (the guide model with all the little pockets) that I left a ham-and-cheese sandwich inside and which my dog destroyed getting at the ham-and-cheese. That particular dog also ate an ex-wife's birthday present purse soon after she opened it.

The dog and I didn't last much longer in the house after that. I probably shouldn't have laughed.

The dog passed the hardware in about a day. I was a little worried until then.

The Finn Utility bag has all the hallmarks of being made both by someone who knows what they were playing at with fishing gear and by someone who knows their craft. 

I'm going to have a lot of fun with this thing for the next couple of decades. You'll understand if I try and stretch that into three or four decades. I could blather on about it's function and design but the simple truth is: the bag works as needed, not just as designed.

Buy one and use it if you have a chance.

A couple of the Amber Anglers have moved to  new sling packs this year. They bought them last winter on end-of-year gear sprees. I'm anxious to see how they like them.

 The designs look wonderfully useful; but, I know I hate something around my wrists (like shirt sleeve cuffs)  and I can't stand a sweat-soaked pack hanging against me.

These new technical bags look to have solved these sort of "close to you" objections.

I'm impressed with a lot of the innovations which are on the market. 

I wrote earlier that the Vedavoo fishing backpack designed for wear while wading looks awfully well engineered. I could be tempted if I knew I wouldn't load it up with stuff (see earlier posts: I'm a confessed gear whore).

Brady bags, Chapman bags - these are the things of classic angling. Hardy made a few nice side bags in their day. Now, here in the USA  (Maine, actually) we have the Finn bag. It too will be a timeless classic. I'm glad to have one.

I'm always on the lookout for great used gear.

I'm looking for a Payne 204 right now.

I think I'm going to join our friend in the top picture and have a new one made by a fine rod maker I've come to know. I'll talk about his products later in the summer but they too are on a par with the Finn Utility bag. First class work.

Something about a strong 5wt, rod,  a fly wallet of wets and soft-hackled flies, a tiny day box of a few choice dries in case anything is rising, and a summer evening.

I had snow flurries of a pretty determined sort blow through here yesterday.

I bought and paid for all the winter I need. I'm selling the used pieces cheap.

Make an offer, steelhead guys.


  1. Some of us have always been old. As a young kid, not liking hauling a tackle box on my bike, or afield, I somehow procured a WWII surplus shoulder bag, & that served as kit until I got married, moved to Colorado, & bought my first vest, which I ended up not liking, as it was too cumbersome & hot (though it did make me look official). Tending to pile stuff rather than taking the extra time to compartmentalize, a bag works better/quicker for me. I have several war surplus canvas shoulder bags hanging in the barn with bass stuff in them, still in use. When Orvis first came out with sling packs about 10 years ago, I bought one at the low introductory price & am still using that one, but intend to replace it this year with the new Orvis guide-size sling pack. The new version is a better fabric & with a clean, timeless look (I don't like stuff that makes anglers look like spacemen.)

    The vest evolved from the fishing coat, which was cold-weather gear. At some point (Lee Wulff is credited with this) guys started cutting the sleeves off the fishing coats to create warm-weather versions. At this point one might begin a discourse on the market-driven group-think accelerating post WWII until now, but I'll spare you that.

  2. "begin a discourse on the market-driven group-think accelerating post WWII until now"

    Stay tuned. I'm not kidding about the undue pressure on our sport from the Trout Industrial Complex. I'm just working now transitioning from "diatribe" to "reasoned position."

    I'm sometimes a little harsh for "reasoned position."

  3. I have a hard time dialing down to "reasoned position".

    The resource is becoming a fiction, as reflected in the text of popular TIC catalogs. Orvis (only one example) marketers are so disconnected they are unable to hide it or don't even see it -- pushing products with names like 'Access' & 'Encounter'. Loaded labels reflecting the essence of groupthink attitude. Buy some access, buy yourself an encounter. Hey, encounter & access... oh!