Today features a great big storm raging across Northern California, and I mean to tell ya it is pouring out there right now. The storm isn’t so bad really if one imagines sitting in a little cabana staring out across a little inlet in front of you from between dancing coconut palms kissed by the mid-80’s temperature somewhere around the equator. Ah tomorrow, a day with the captain hunting dorado or sail fish. Yep, it isn’t so bad.
All that crazy dreaming aside, I did spend the day at Strictly Fishin with Gary Manies talking about fishing, and his beautiful character crafted rods. I found Gary to be a wealth of knowledge honed by a lifetime of fishing here in Northern California waters, and guiding other fishermen covering said waters for 15 years providing them with coveted catches.
He began building fishing rods as a hobby at an early age, and just kept it up through out the following years. His attention to fish behavior combined with rod behavior gave him valuable insight on how to pick the best character of blanks to perform in a manner he feels worthy of staking his a name on.
Gary’s name and reputation for building these character crafted specialty fishing tools has earned him a good following among anglers all over the place. He told me of orders for rods in Africa and Europe both, but admitted most of the word of mouth reputation has come from west coast steelhead and salmon anglers. It was my understanding that many of those lucky anglers learned of his rod work from playing Sacramento River Chinook out of Gary’s guide boat.
Gary spent a good deal of time showing me his line of salmon and steelhead/trout rods with explanations of each instrument’s character. The character is how the overall power of the rod transfers to the fish. The positioning of lift versus flex in the rod will be unique to each blank, and Gary looks for the exact blank with the feel he knows is perfect for the desired experience.
Although I have not been fortunate enough to plunk down the cash for the really high end salmon, or steelhead rod, I have at least studied and test drove a few. I put the rods Gary showed me today in the high end category. They have the look, but most importantly, these rods have the feel of a tool than can be as comfortable using at the beginning of the morning as it will throughout the day.
It has been my experience with medium high end rods to have them break at less than opportune times. Gary was proud to tell me his return for breakage was about two rods in a hundred. His policy for returns is a limited warranty for the first year of service, and parts cost for the remaining life of the rod.
In the weeks to come I will be taking a more in depth look at each of his models and displaying my review here. This time of the fishing season has turned to the big winter steelhead, so I plan to review the steelhead rods first. I can tell you now that the rods he demonstrated today are Sweet.
I look forward to this task, and may my research go a long way to help you be Ketchinnee.