A Rodmaker's Dream
A number of years ago I read a book (that I highly recommend) entitled "A Mapmaker's Dream", subtitled "The Meditations of Fra Mauro, Cartographer to the Court of Venice". The book is about a cloistered monk who lives in an island monastery. He spends many years creating a map of the known world, based on interviews and reports from others who have visited exotic places. In the confines of his room he envisions what the places are like that the explorers, pilgrims, and travelers describe and he vicariously travels to them, constantly building a virtual world in his mind that he will never see in reality. It is a fascinating read.
As a rodmaker I have experiences similar to those of Fra Mauro. I build rods that people will use in locations throughout the world that I will never visit. As they describe the fishing situation to me, I vicariously travel to Patagonia for monster brown trout, to compete in bluewater tournaments in Florida, to Ireland and Alaska to fish for salmon, to Long Island Sound to fish for stripers and bluefish, and numerous other places. As I build each rod I realize that what is in my hands, what I am creating, will actually travel to those places and catch fish. Each choice that I make -- the rod blank, the reel seat, the grip, the guides, the guide spacing, the type of thread, the thread colors, the type of winding used to secure the guides, the artwork, the color preserver and epoxy, and even the glue used -- all these help me to envision where the rod will be fished and how it will be used to catch and release trophy fish. In a real sense, a part of me goes to that environment, fly fishing with the owner.
Although I have been fortunate to have fished for many species in my lifetime, my experiences do not compare to the sum of my clients' experiences worldwide. To me, rod building is much more than creating a custom fly rod for a client; it is the opportunity to use my experience, skill, and knowledge of both the technical aspects of the rod and the use to which it will be put, all the while seeing in my mind's eye the location, the battle, and the fun. I have loved fly rods and fly fishing all my adult life and as I get older and less able to travel to my clients' destinations, I am grateful that, like Fra Mauro, I can dream.