Another Shaggy Fish Story from Waterlog Magazine

Collecting vintage fishing tackle is a game
of highs and lows: great excitement when
one finds that obscure and rare reel, and
stultifying misery when one comes across
a scarce item that is so badly distressed
through lack of care, that the finest
restorer in the land would only shake his
head as he dropped it in the bin.
Rods rotten with worm and damp.
Reels warped beyond any possible use.
Flies ‘mothed’ so badly, that only the
vaguest remnant of the original tying
remains. I’ve seen cased fish that look as
if they have been recovered from a
nuclear holocaust. Creels that crumble to
dust, because they once supplied a million
termites with a hearty meal.
Priceless brass reels, that have been
dropped and bent. And metal tackle
boxes rusted beyond use.
It is not as if anglers lack instruction on
how to care for their tackle. How many
times have you seen that ‘Let’s get our
gear ready for the new season’ article? With monotonous regularity, we are advised to administer a drop of oil here, and a squirt ofWD40 there. We are urged to check our rod rings for grooves, and our fly boxes for bugs. Lovers of cane are told to rub down and re-varnish their rods and if, perish the thought, the top section should have taken a ‘set’, expert advice suggests that one either learns to fish around corners or reverses the rod rings so that the offending section flexes in the opposite direction. If our forefathers had received such clear-cut advice, I wonder if more of their tackle would have survived.
Searching through our ancient angling literature, it would appear that tackle maintenance was closely acquainted with witchcraft! Much of it is preposterous and beyond belief! The book I would recommend that gives a clear picture of how tackle was cared for with materials available at the time is, Frederick G. Shad’s privately published work A Concise Treatise on the Devices for Taking of Fish by the Means of Fly Fishing and the Methodical Maintenance of those Devices Through all Seasons. Accompanied by a Quaint Discourse on the Preparation of Edible Species as Tested by the Experience of Thirty Years.