Writing on the Fly: Fly Fishing and Collecting

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George Liset photo

Special fly rod


    Collecting can be an addiction. The first item that I remember collecting were Topps baseball cards when I was six or seven. At that stage in life, it wasn’t so much that I was collecting, it was just I lost interest and instead of throwing or giving them away, I just put the cards in a box in my closet. My collecting habits expanded to books and LP records when I started working part-time in high school.

Years later as an adult, the adage, “The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys,” rang true. My toys cost a lot more than five cents a pack for baseball cards.

    I still collect books and LP’s, but I have expanded to all things fly fishing. Now I need to make a distinction between collecting and hoarding which can be a fine line. Hoarders collect everything and usually never part with anything. Collectors collect with rules and purpose. An example would be that I don’t collect every fly fishing book I come across. I have refined my collection to books that have been signed by the author and/ or first editions. I also will sell or trade for an edition that I would like.

George Liset

    This also applies to fly fishing equipment, particularly fly rods and reels. As your collection gets more refined it usually gets more expensive, which means it is imperative to be more knowledgeable about what you are collecting. I’ll give you an example. I enjoy watching History Channel’s “American Pickers.” 

The Pickers were in Maine and came across an old LL Bean bamboo fly rod that was not in great condition. The seller was asking five hundred dollars for the fly rod because he heard they were valuable. The Pickers took pictures and sent them to their expert who informed them that the fly rod was worth about fifty dollars and would need a lot of work to be restored.

     Without their expert advice the Pickers could have lost a lot of money. Most recently a friend of mine called me and asked me if I would be interested in an Orvis bamboo fly rod made by a guy named Wes Jordan. I couldn’t say “Yes” fast enough. My friend had been at the gentleman’s house who was downsizing and offered to sell him the fly rod. My friend declined because of the price and the fact he wasn’t as knowledgeable about bamboo fly rods.

    I contacted the gentleman and we met at his house. He showed me the fly rod which was beautiful and in great shape. It was indeed a Wes Jordan fly rod. Wes Jordan was one of the Orvis Company’s premier bamboo fly rod makers and his fly rods are very collectible. He shared the history of the fly rod and shared the fact that his dad fished it up at their family camp at the Upper Dam in Maine. He also mentioned that his dad knew the legendary fly tier Carrie Stevens who lived across the road from them. We agreed on a price and I came away a happy collector.

    This fly rod will stay in my collection and get handed down to my son. The fly rod has such a rich history and such a great story which makes it priceless. That is a big part of collecting, the story, and as my man Rod Stewart says, “Every picture tells a story,” and this fly rod has one.

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