Saturday, October 31, 2015

Swap Meet Finds

Over the past few weeks, I've come into some new fly fishing gear in the most unexpected ways. First, about a month ago, Emily and I were having a lazy Saturday, and drove down to the old Lemp Brewery to visit her cousins' booth at the Saint Louis Swap Meet. I've known Emily's cousins, Joan and Theresa, forever - way longer than I've even known Emily. They are a couple of twin hippies that were my classmates from first grade grade all the way through high school. They were right at home selling their knitted goods and custom screen prints at a swap meet outside of an old haunted brewery. We were hanging out in their booth, when I wandered off to go look for nothing in particular. I found a crotchety old man selling a table full of your standard old tools, radios, board games, and jewelry - your standard swap meet fair. However, laying on top of this pile of junk was an old 1960s Heddon Pal Mark IV fiberglass fly rod. It was an 8.5' 2-piece, and looked to be in decent condition. Don't get me wrong. I didn't recognize the make and model on the spot. I had to go home and google the markings on the rod to figure out if it was a hidden treasure or a piece of junk.

Heddon Pal #8457 Mark IV 8 1/2

Heddon Pal #8457 Mark IV 8 1/2
"Heddon Pal #8457 Mark IV 8 1/2"

I wasn't necessarily in the market for a new fly rod, but it sure was a pretty piece. I was especially a sucker for the yellow and black bindings around the guides. The crotchety old man wanted $20 for it, but I got him to agree to $12. I had to go ask my wife to borrow some cash, but soon was the proud owner of a new old fly rod. Emily was surprisingly open to me spending our morning bloody mary and mimosa money on a new rod. I think she too saw the beauty in it. Plus, she's been wanting to remodel out downstairs bathroom with a fly fishing motif, and the rod would look great mounted on the wall down there.

The only noticeable damage or wear on the rod was some cracking on the glue(?) that held the guide bindings in place. In its current state, I don't think the rod is fishable yet. I was in T. Hargrove's last week, and spoke to Craig, the clerk there about it, and he thinks it's fixable. I showed his the picture below, and he suggested that I could add a few coats of sealant, and he even offered to have me bring in the rod and have him play with it a bit. My only concern is that if I fix it myself, I'm going to screw it up and it won't be pretty anymore, but if I have a professional do it, my $12 fly rod is going to turn into my $112 fly rod. So for now, it's just sitting in my basement until I make up my mind.

Damaged varnish on thread wraps
A week after our St. Louis Swap Meet morning, Emily and I were in Astoria, New York visiting some friends in Queens and Manhattan. My buddy Cameron (another 1st grade friend) and his girlfriend Katy were showing us the sights, i.e., taking us to every microbrewery within a 10-miles radius of their apartment. After breakfast, where an old homeless man yelled at me and accused me of kidnapping his family (I didn't! I swear!), we wound up at the Long Island City Flea Market, and I was having deja vu. It too was a bunch of hippies selling their wears in tents in a parking lot outside of a brewery. There was not as many tables of miscellaneous tools and other junk at this one, but there was a guy selling laser-carved Back to the Future wood panels, which is right up my alley.

I was wandering around pretty aimlessly when Emily shouted for me to come look at something. I was expecting her to show me some piece of clothing that I would probably never wear, but I put way too little faith in my wife. Instead, she had pulled from the rack of a scary old hippy woman the single greatest sweater in the history of mankind.

World's Best Sweater
It was a never-before-worn wool sweater from the 80s (original tags and everything) showing a happy ginger-bearded fly-fisherman netting, what I assume is, a gorgeous rainbow trout. At this point, money was no object. My mind was made up and the sweater had to be mine. I didn't care that it was actually kind of warm out, or that 1980s wool is the itchiest material to ever touch man's skin. None of that mattered. I wore that sweater the rest of the day, and will someday be buried in it.

Unrelated to swap meets, as part of me putting in my notice at my current job, I had to cash out all of my HR recognition award points, a system where your peers can recognize you and give you points, that you can use to shop on HR's online catalog. Now, it sounds kind of hokey, but there's actually some good stuff on there. In addition to some new books I picked out, including a book on bamboo fly rods by John Gierach that was autographed(!), they even had fishing nets on there.

New books

New net  
So not a bad haul for the last couple of weeks. I've really been wanting a new net, as I found that my flies were becoming increasingly tangled in the string net I have now. This new wooden net, with the rubber netting should do the trick. Plus, it's very pretty, and nothing beats free. I'm excited to try the net out on the stream, and to wear my new sweater out in public.

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