Collections and collecting

Collections and collecting

Viking Lars | Saturday, 18 July 2020

A lot of people are collectors, in some sense we all are, but the essence of “collecting” or a “collection” is, I think, the joy of owning something, just for owning it - not for using it. It can be a rare stamp, a coin, an old Hardy reel, an old limited edition Leonard split cane rod, art (yes, some people buy art and store it), heck - even rare breeds of roses for the garden and people even stick bugs on needles and collect them. Collector’s are usually a bit of an odd bunch, but they are usually also very passionate people.

I’m not a collector - period! My professional life is in archaeology and work as a field archaeologist and curator at a museum, so I know a thing or two about collections and collecting - and I’m not a collector :-). I do own a few fly rods and reels and other paraphernalia, but none of it are collector’s items as such. Yes, a few are rare, but I don’t have them just for having them - I use everything. Some rods and reels don’t see use every year, some even less than that - and amongst these are some rare bits. But they’re not getting little use because of that - rather because they maybe fit a type of fishing I don’t do a lot of. I have nothing in terms of rods and reels that I mind using.

I have quite a few fly fishing books as well (not many by any measure), and only precious few are “collector’s items” and were acquired as such, but I read them and I use them. It’s nice to have a collector’s item, but I think it’s worth nothing that books are nothing if not for their contents, which deserve to be read.

With all of the above said, there are still a few items I’m looking for. I was, for instance, on the look-out for a Waterworks Purist 2 in dark grey (they were and are “champagne coloured”), but a limited run of dark grey ones were made in the late 90s. I’ve been a huge fan of their reels since they came out, and always wanted that dark grey Purist 2 for my dry fly rods. I have the champagne Purist 2, so I suppose you could say this was collecting, but I eventually got it - and I use it! I’m also looking for a Purist 3 for use on my 6-wt - just because it’s beautiful and very light weight, but I haven’t found one yet.

Actually there is one rod I would consider a collector’s item - not because it’s overly rare, but it’s a nice piece and sees absolutely no use. When I was a kid, one of the older members of the local club sometimes took a few of us youngsters fishing. He was probably at that time younger than I am now, but I considered him old and very wise. And he caught a lot of trout - both browns and sea trout. He fished with a Hardy Spinning FibaLite 6’6” and flicked small spinners and lures upstream and that rod was as a magic wand for me. I saw one at an auction some years ago, and just had to place a bid - and I won it. So now I have it - and don’t use it.

Other rods are special to me as well, but not in a collector’s sense. I have been lucky enough to have been asked for my opinion on some of the Hot Torpedo rods. I remember casting prototypes of the 7634, 904 and 908 (and maybe also the 906 - can’t really remember), and giving input on a product that actually ends up in production is nice. And those rods are special to me (for that and many other reasons - true friendship being another). I have a 13’ custom DH rod that I borrowed for one of my first trips to Norway. I caught a grilse on it, and was so happy I drove down to show off the fish to my friend who borrowed me the rod. He was fishing further down on the same river. He congratulated and asked me if I caught it on his rod, which I did, and then replied that since it was the first salmon that rod had caught, I’d better keep the rod as my own. I still have it - and I still use it! I also have a Jason Borger/CF Burkheimer collaboration, a limited run of 20 rods to commemorate “A River Runs Through It”. A beautifully finished, lovely 5-wt.

But what still remains is that I really don’t consider any of these collector’s items. Yes, some are rare, yes, some I’ll probably never part with, but I’d happily use every single one of them.

Have a great weekend!