I grew up chucking big Rapalas and Beetle Spins at bass in farm ponds and lakes in Kansas—it was a great way to learn some basics of casting and working a lure. I remember my Dad (who in most respects is not a patient man) patiently showing me how to tie an improved clinch knot and not complaining at all when I’d cast wildly into a tree or log and he’d have to motor in and retrieve it. He gave me one of his Zebco rod and reel outfits to get started.
When I was a teenager, he let me have a Fenwick glass flyrod with an old click and pawl Pflueger Medalist that made that thrilling clacking sound, as if you had ahooked into Jaws. I still have the reel and it works great and is near indestructible.
About the same time I got started hunting quail and doves with a Sears and Roebuck model single-shot 16 gauge that my father had learned on. I still remember vividly swinging into passing doves as they darted and careened over a stock pond. Another hand-me-down.
As an adult, I started amassing my own fishing gear and I’ve probably amassed too much and spent too much for some of it. Many of us have gone in that direction, chasing after the latest high-tech, high-status stuff.
Don’t get me wrong—of course these finely crafted pieces of technology are a pleasure to own and use. But it’s good to remember that many of us got started fly-fishing and learned just fine and had a load of fun with simple, affordable equipment. Many of these were hand-me-downs, like that Pflueger Medalist. (It’s great that Pflueger is making these again.)
My niece Maddy recently moved to the Denver area. She wanted to learn how to fly-fish and one afternoon last fall I took her up on Boulder Creek. She caught on to fly-casting very quickly and just as quickly caught a few nice trout—honestly, she did better that day than I did, which is not unusual for my fishing companions.
She was happy. And I was happy to get to spend some time with her on a trout stream.
So, later back at the house, I rummaged around in the garage and gave her some of my equipment that was ready to pay forward: a lightweight fishing vest I’d always enjoyed but didn’t really need anymore; a pair of older Orvis waders (fine but they need patched), a no-name 5 weight backup rod I’ve had for a long time—can’t remember where it came from but it’s got decent action. I scrounged together a few basics like that to get her started.
This wasn’t a great act of magnanimity of on my part—I realized an opportunity to unload some of my used stuff that I don’t really need. But it also felt good to be the one handing down some fishing gear to a family member and helping a young person get started in what might be a lifelong pursuit.
She seemed excited to get the gear. We’ll be going fishing again soon.