|Column nr.5 2002|
LEONARDS IN 7TH HEAVEN
Shakespeare once queried "Where hides thy sacred bounty?" Tiss cradled in a remote utopia where wild waters meander among ancient ferns and Bald Eagles "Forks", Washington. Bill Sperry known locally as the impatient entrepreneur has been triple blessed and granted keys to the Bamboo kingdom. The long winding driveway that leads to Huckleberry Lodge, Bills world class luxury fly fishing base camp, quickens the heart for a unique fly fisher experience. One can feel the crispness and wildness in the air in this peaceful place built with sensible consideration.
Those who covet rare expensive Bamboo Rods will be humbled and misty eyed at the sight of seven perfectly matched Leonard Bamboo Fly Rods adorning a lodge wall. Bill has always fly fished with fine Bamboo as he has almost from birth waded remote waters and moved the air-presenting flies. If any one piece of sports equipment has haunted sportsmen and collectors, it has to be mythical Bamboo. Not cheap knock off types found in garage sales or thrown together mass produced examples. Handmade Bamboo made by companies like Leonard, Winston, Thomas & Thomas, Walt Powell and a small cadre of brother artists stand-alone.
Those who collect these masterpieces of functional art are happy to find two or three exceptional examples in a lifetime. Being blessed with seven perfectly matched examples is like meeting the perfect woman and discovering she is one of triplets! The fact these seven superb examples complete with custom leather carrying cases and Hardy Reels look brand new, can cause weakness and out right jealousy! This collection is one of a kind and reflects easily the taste of a serious sportsmen. Its akin to liking racehorses and owning a fifth of Seattle Slew, a personal dream of mine. Leather cases, the finest Hardy Reels and line translate into quite sublime fly-fishing under any conditions anywhere. I speak for all Bamboo collectors and fly fishers who have used this special instrument. Take your Bamboo out and use it as often as you like and get back in touch with the natural sensations of this Stradivarius Violin of a fly rod, hail Bamboo.
BAMBOO HOLY GRAIL
Fly fishers worldwide have coveted and dreamed of owning fine handcrafted Bamboo regardless of the advent of glass, graphite and related composites. No other material has captured the imagination like this natural water grown exotic. When famed old school fly rod maker E.C. Powell came in one day from tending his bee hives and said to his wife, "Honey, I think I have finally figured out how to construct a Bamboo rod that can hold up to any size fish and last a life time!" E.C. father of famed rod maker Walt Powell had recognized the strength and exact harmony needed within the shape of the hexagon created in bee hive cells. This natural shape allowed six sided construction, creating strength and reliability that elevated Bamboo to near fairy-tale status. Those Bamboo Rod makers who have mastered the art form including: Leonard, Powell, Winston, Heddon, Cattanach, Gin, Dabrowski, Thomas & Thomas, Orvis, Scott, Payne. Reams, Arguello are highly collectable. Bamboo from these makers are bought and traded and seriously sought after on an international basis.
What sort of fly throwing personality might covet these precise instruments? Bill Sperry, Vietnam Vet, successful entrepreneur, antique dealer, world-class fly fisher, seems to fit the mold. Bill has always fished Bamboo and has acquired many fine examples and a few not so perfect that he restores. The unknowing casual observer would first notice Mr. Sperry likes everything in his world to be the best of the best. On the grounds of his Fly Fishing Lodge stands a handmade log cabin fashioned out of rare old growth lumber salvaged and reworked by masters. The details one encounters throughout "Huckleberry Lodge" are impressive. One quickly realizes this guy does not half step on any project he may undertake. Its the details like perfectly placed animal heads as in the huge black American Buffalo head over the main lodge fireplace.
What a showplace for an accomplished international sportsman. Of course his life partner and artistic director wife Kitty simply smiles when anyone mentions the perfection achieved! This show place high-end fly fishers dream lodge located in Forks, Washington is an oasis for all nature lovers. The guest list is too long and impressive to list. Heads of state, Hollywood types, athletes from the -Dallas Cowboys to humble everyday bug throwers have -prowled the manicured grounds. It is of course the quiet calming effect of Bill and Kitty that one can sense as "Huckleberry Lodge" begins to weave its magic Those adventurers who love the idea of true wilderness experience will savor the fact Forks, Washington and its surrounding area is home to a large Mountain Lion population. A huge head loomed over my most comfortable cabin bed. We saw tracks all over the Sol Duc River in two days of throwing flies. Elk herds share the area along with many Bald Eagles and migrating birds.
It is the existence of such an impressive Bamboo collection in this quite remote place that captures a fly fishers attention. Each Leonard looks brand new and all rods are identical in wraps, grips, hardware, color and condition. The little two-weight feels like its made of some foreign gossamer material beyond mans understanding, lighter then air. Bill says, "I have fished all these rods in different situations and waters, love them all equally. The two-weight will make your hair stand on end when any serious fish hits it. I have spent my life collecting these rods from estate sales and private collections all over the world. I use these rods on my favorite fly waters in places like: Blue River Central Colorado, Browns Lake Eastern Washington, North & South Skookum Lake, Eastern Washington, Hoh River, Sol Duc, Bogachiel Rivers, and one or two I wont mention".
The one fly fisher aspect about Bill Sperry that stands out is his quiet unassuming manor. Bill is a fellow Vietnam Vet, I loved our dinner conversations centered on our mutual adventures over on the Big Pond as my Marine Corps referred to Vietnam His exploits as an advisor in the Special Forces were honored with both the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and perhaps the only Vietnamese Medal of Honor issued in the endless war. I cannot recall a more moving dinner then my supper at "Huckleberry lodge". Those interested in booking enchanted moments can access Bill and Kitty at 360-374-6008 or 888-822-6008 www.huckleberrylodge.com
If one spends enough time fly-fishing and sharing cramped boat space with guides who really know their trade! One can be spoiled and come to expect the royal treatment. Forks, Washington has such a seasoned practitioner in the art of keeping clients happy and knowing every rock and deep fish holding area for miles! Gordon Gracey is an unusual dedicated fly fisher outdoorsmen, hunting guide, Webmaster designer, jack-of-all-trades. Gordy and I hit it off like Bamboo and silk line. This long time guide has spent time with President Jimmy Carter and Roslyn, Huey Lewiss father, Dallas Cowboys, Micro Soft bug throwers, and now yours truly. We had a ball on the Sol Duc looking for a few of his backyard pets to fool. The season was in between and no big salmon were found. But, we did hook a mess of little smolts and steelies and cutthroats. Gordy was kind enough to help me sharpen my casting skills that are suspect of late. He is one of the finest overall fly casters I have ever fished with bar none. The best part of our two days on the Sol Duc had to be inventing wacky fly fisher type rap songs that actually rhymed while we hunted fish, great fun hanging with Gordy Contact Gordy via www.fishingnorthwest.com or call- (360) 374-630
OLYMPIC PENINSULA FLY FISHER HEAVEN
I have been to few fly destinations as untapped and gorgeous as the area surrounding Forks, Washington. This one time logging dominated remote area is spirit lifting and awe-inspiring. From the moment one gets off the ferry from Seattle and begin driving the three-hour ride to Forks, ancient lush greenery envelopes and peace and quiet rule. Driving and soaking in this natural beauty reminds one of the way all of North America must have looked a thousand years ago. The only true natural Rainforest existing in North America the Hoh Rainforest and all the rivers from the Sol Duc, Calawah, and the Hoh River run wild and untouched allowing a rare fly fishing adventure. The Chamber of Commerce in Forks is lucky to have Diane Schostak as its Executive Director. Diane made a point of providing me with a wonderful concise travel package available to the public by accessing www.forkswa.com or calling (360) 374-2531. For visitor info call 1-800-44Forks.
Diane speaks eloquently about her special town, "We here in Forks are guilty from time to time of taking this wonderful place for granted. When outsiders remind us of its uniqueness, I for one listen carefully!" If any fly fishers out there in the vast web world want to raise the bar a notch or three and sample the best of what North America has to offer, Forks might be the perfect place. Those naturalists who crave silent Rainforests filled with exotic birds and animals or those who simply want to stay in a place that echoes the true spiritual center that is our America. Call Bill Sperry at Huckleberry Lodge or give Diane a buzz at the Chamber; they will forever alter the way you perceive peace and quiet
This is an uncommonly serene place far away from the maddening crowds where nature still rules the day in every possible way. Peace and absolute quiet can found on the Olympic Peninsula. This perfect place was one of my heros favorite destinations; John Wayne often kept his notorious Mine Sweeper boat tied up here. I had the privilege of hanging out with the "Duke" in Vietnam at Danang Air Base near where the movie "Green Beret" was made. I was 17 and catching hell for sneaking out and fishing in areas where I should not have been. The sight of John Wayne laughing at my being chewed out by my upset American Indian First Sergeant haunts this fly fisher. It was great to be driving along the three hours from the ferry drop and suddenly see the big sign "John Wayne Airport" great to see the Dukes spirit alive and well in a sportsmen paradise.
Early morning at Ravens Haven castle finds Fletcher and his Abyssinian Cat Timba glued to the window watching two hawks spar and dive. The phone rings, its one of his mole spies calling from the recent Inca Ancient Mummy excavation near Puruchuco in Remac Valley outside Lima Peru. "Mr. Quill, I have great news for you! Today we uncovered three of the oldest most intact ceremonial robes yet discovered. Thousands of ancient mummies some with robes fastened with jewels and azure blue feathers so vivid its almost blinding". "What else have you found down there? I have a feeling your holding out on me young man".
"More valuables, but it hasnt been opened yet". "Listen kid, I just wired you another five hundred bucks, you and I know if this gets out, youre through in the archeological Dig biz, savvy"? The hot phone rings loudly letting the boy digger off the hook for now. "Clare, Sweetie how are you?" "Listen Fletch, put down that spoiled cat and listen carefully, I just found out another dig in Northern China has found something most unusual, an ancient battlefield complete with all the adornments that include feathers and something your going to love, remains of six hunting falcons we didnt know existed!" "Oh yeah, you have my undivided attention, what is it going to cost me to get a bit of that rare plumage?" "Im working on it, found a young girl very motivated who may crack and smuggle out a little package. It is going to cost you Fletch". "It always does, get back to me, miss you little one".
Quill paused and looked at his complete mini laboratory including electronic microscope with digital laser technology enhanced photography and interphase with all his laptops. At an instant he can either download any photo or scan or whatever into his home lab computer system while sending out via any medium from DVD to broadband or satellite dish. Life at this remote castle is anything but remote. Fletcher has known since early childhood about his diagnosed lack of any Herd Instinct. He never relishes much human company of any kind; girlfriends, wives or favorite writers or fly-fishing guides with standing. He would much rather stay either on or near running waters or hold up in his library, laboratory fly tying salon nestled on the very roof of Ravens Haven. Quills skin begins to chill and his Irish temper begins to erupt at the sound of an unannounced chopper about to descend upon Ravens Haven also known as Dunluce Castle in County Antrim.
Timba begins to growl like he does when he first hears a chopper approaching before Fletchers ears can pick it up. "Timba, we have company unannounced hey?" The somber black copter with the tiny CIA mark on its tail swoops onto the pad that well-heeled visitors use. No one ever comes to Ravens Haven unannounced, no one that is but notorious ex American Presidents. "Phil, what the hell brings you here without calling me first. Man, thats why I chose to live way the hell out in the middle of nowhere! I cant stand having anyone, even you Mr. President dropping in unannounced" " We got serious mutually satisfying business or I would have to suspend your helo flight status sir!" "Sorry Fletch, had to make this trip fast without any prep, we got trouble my friend". "Whats new, did that Saudi Prince go nuts over the price of the flies I sent him?" "No, he loved the Royal Coachmen tied with the feathers found on ladies hats uncovered by the Titanic shipwreck people. Thats the least of our troubles. Its a bit bigger then that caper Buba!. I have been asked by our new President to arrange a sit down with you; he says its a matter of National Security!
Which really means he wants something big and cant justify it any other way". "So what do you think this is about Phil; I gave him one of my prized - Bamboo Rods for his inaugural present. Told him he would get one of the new flies tied with the dinosaur skin given to me at the last Bohemian Grove encampment". "Well, my gut says its probably some kind of gift peace offering for one of those dam greedy mid east negotiators that keep putting the squeeze on him. That Texas oilman has his hands full trying to appease these boys. Every time he turns around, its I gotta have this or that Mr. President". "Yeah, reminds me of your first year in the hot seat. Remember when you called me trying to finagle that "Fallon Slayer" streamer I got a hold of? That damn fly writer never stops causing me grief. Wish I never seen or heard his name.. Just because its tied with a lock of President Lincolns coal black hair for crying out loud. Its not like its ancient or anything, damn fly writers, all the same half crazy with huge egos like film directors and ex presidents. That fool writer drives me crazy with his rare flies."Tied with this or that historic feather, now I hear he has tied dry flies with strands of General Custers locks. What the hell else can he be up to?"
Fletcher grabs Timba still mesmerized by the diving hawks and takes the spiral staircase up into his fly tying room complete with every type of vice and gadget any fly tier could possibly desire. The hot phone rings again, this time its non other then
(To be continued)
EXOTIC WOOD HANDLED CUSTOM FLY ROD
The special limited edition numbered fly rods designed by famed rod maker Ira Stutsmen and my self have been almost sold out. The 100-rod offering is now winding down to last few in the series. This one of a kind custom traveler with leather carrying case is a fully functional heirloom quality rod that will warm the hearts of generations of fly fishers. The rod can be seen by clicking onto the hot link on my web site at www.fallonfly.com. Ira will tailor make the rod to your exact needs in regard to weight or length. One cannot attain a fly rod like this beauty anywhere and it is an attention getter to say the least. Exotic wooden handled adorned with Nickel Silver and the look of fine Bamboo sets it apart quite nicely.
Written by Dan Fallon, May. 2002 ©
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