Andy Dear | Monday, 9 May 2022

Last week I re-ran a Front Page detailing a set of handmade fly tying tools that a gentleman named Joaquin Sospedra gifted me over the course of several years. Although Joaquin and I have never met, his generosity and thoughtfulness have never been overlooked or forgotten.

  So recently, when I sat down at the vise to fill the saltwater box for the summer, my mind began to wander, reflecting on all the past gifts that rod builders and fly tiers have given me over the years. Many, if not most of these are still in use and have proven to not only be meaningful heirlooms to be passed down to my son, but also highly useful and functional tools that have assisted in the making of many great memories as well.

In fact, the aforementioned set of tools that Joaquin made for me currently sit right next to a Renzetti Master series vise given to me by my late friend Dr. John Tebbetts. I feel certain that thousands of flies were crafted on this vise by the good doctor, and thousands more will be crafted under my watch as well.  Just a few feet away from the vise sits the Grizzly Hobby Lathe turned dubbing brush spinner that belonged to my late friend Gerald McCasland. Gerald, in addition to being one of the old guard, local, long-time rod builders, was also one of my best friends, and the best man at my wedding in 2004. When he passed away in 2007, his lovely wife Ann also gifted me his rod wrapping jig which I still have to this day. And, although I own and use a much more modern wrapping lathe for most of my rod-building endeavors, Gerald's old wooden wrapping jig holds a special place in my rod building arsenal that reminds me of all the great times we had, not to mention the important life lessons I learned from him over the years.

  Another gifted tool that receives regular use is nothing more than a hand ground "spatula" designed for mixing and applying epoxy from my late friend Ralph O' Quinn. Ralph was a friend/colleague turned friendly competitor of mine in the epoxy business. Ralph believed that the best instrument for applying epoxy to guide wraps was a small laboratory spatula modified to his specs. Two decades ago he made one for me and one for my good friend Bill Falconer with our names hand engraved on them. Bill and I were just discussing Ralph and these spatulas he made for us just a few months ago...we both still have them and use them regularly. Although I am still not sold on the idea of a spatula for applying epoxy, Ralph was right about one is by far THE BEST tool for mixing guide wrap epoxy.

Years ago a rod builder in Finlad whom I helped learn how to use a wood lathe named Antti Kymäläinen sent me a handcrafted fly box that a local woodworker had made. To be honest, I cant bring myself to get it anywhere near water it is so beautiful. Since 2005 however, it has sat on my shelf as a delicate reminder of the generosity of the brotherhood of anglers.

  More recently I received a set of flies tied by a new friend named Darren Scaife. Darren is a customer of my current company and not only ties flies but builds rods as well. I have only had the chance to use these bugs on one occasion early in the season, but they should be perfect for tormenting the local population of Largemouth Bass and Jack Crevalles around the jetties.

  All of these gifts, some of which I haven't mentioned, but are no less meaningful hold a special place in my angling life. Especially the ones whose previous owners are no longer physically present in this world. The beauty of these gifts is that by using them, they continually remind me of all the great memories I have of their previous owner. And, by being able to put my hands to use on something they too had their hands on, keeps me in touch with their spirit as well.

Hope you all are having a great week,