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Got Fishing Equipment Failures? Fix them locally…
By Rob Farris
We’ve all had our equipment issues, whether over time or neglect or damage experienced on the stream, or a manufacturer defect. So what to do in that event? Try and get the manufacturer to replace it at no charge, or buy a new set of wading boots at $200-300? Or perhaps you’ve had a failure on a watercraft? Or perhaps you’ve lost an expensive wading staff; now what?
Been there, done that unfortunately, but this story has a happy ending. For me it comes down to being creative since I want to save my money for my well known fly addiction (yes; dries). I’ve been to professional help for that to no avail, so lots more PMD’s and Caddis emergers for me if I can save a bit…How to do that?
Case study 1: I’ve had Orvis Pro wading boots for 8 years with the BOA laces, and they’ve held up well over that period. I’m a firm believer that quality pays for itself, but now they are end of life. The soles finally began delaminating from the boots and I’m staring at a $200-300 replacement cost. But wait; that’s 75-100 new flies, so this is painful. Forced withdrawal if you will. Shopped extensively online and this is going to cost me, new or used. In the shower one morning I have a brainstorm.
Take it to a local cobbler and just maybe they can help. So I head off to Maseli Brother’s in Pleasanton where I’ve been going for 25 years. “Sure, we can do that”. What? So they re-laminated the soles back onto my boots; no problem in their high end hydraulic press. After two in-the-stream sessions they are working and holding up great. Cost, you ask? $40 plus tax. And they will guarantee my boots for life (how much better can it get?) Let’s see; I saved $260 which is 85 high end finely tied flies for me (don’t tell Jimmy B!).
Case study 2: Feeling giddy I ask if they can re-sew my 30 year old felt Gary Borger leather boots (my early pair that I only use for boat floats with guides) where the stitching had degraded (of course). I haven’t used those boots in a loooonnnnggg time, but why not have a useable pair for float trips. Yep; cost of $20. Maseli Brothers again, and I’m a strong supporter and advocate on their quality.
Case study 3: I just loved my heavy duty Folstaf wading staff (cost of $150.00). Great for collapsing for travel to Yellowstone and my trip to the Great Smokies. But it just disappeared off my hip on a trip this winter to the Feather chasing steelhead. Shoot; that’s another 70 flies…Nope. Instead it’s a quick trip to Home Depot for a ¾” dowel ($2) cut down to staff size. Then a $5 purchase of parachute cord to attach it, followed by a $1.50 carbineer for the belt attachment, and finally a trip to Mike’s Bikes for a handlebar grip at $5. I’m back in business for $11. No, it’s not collapsible for the plane, but it sure works around here. Let’s see: I feel a few more tan E/C Caddis flies coming my way.
Case study 4: Last weeks’ event up on Milton Lake with Mark Spruiell and my pontoon, was different. Great; lots of fish, while it lasted. Water was good with the morning temperature at 48 degrees. I follow Mark out onto the lake at 4:30 AM before daybreak and we’re both into lot of fish by noon, when we head back to park the boats and have a leisurely lunch and snooze during the heat of the day (90 degrees). While I’m waiting for him on shore we hear a “gunshot” that sounds like it’s from up the valley. Not good…Now he’s almost back in, and we hear another. But wait! I’m looking at my pontoon boat and it suddenly shakes big time, and sags over. Did my pontoon just explode? Nope, but the heat of the day expanded my pontoon bladders while I had it dragged up on shore so much that both split the stitching for the covers over them. Crap! That’s a quick $160 for two new ones and another 60 flies that won’t find a home in my fly box. And a lesson learned to deflate them a little if they are parked on shore in the sun without the coolness of the water at 5,700’ in elevation. It’s time to fish from shore at Milton, which is not productive (well, one fish). Mark uncharacteristically laughs at my folly.
But another brainstorm hits me. With a recommendation from my boys at Maseli’s, I take my two covers to Pleasanton Upholstery on Main Street (you know; people that do this for a living). “Sure, senor, we can do that. Do you want to wait?” I go back after lunch and they are stitched up again, good or better than new in an hour!!. And with a quick $40 in cash for both, and I’m back in business. Yea! More flies, but I’m running out of flybox room now (saga sure to be continued, unfortunately)…
The lesson: Don’t give up too quickly and don’t think that fly fishing equipment can’t be repaired. Just be a little creative and inquisitive. It’s a very good idea to access and use your local merchants and shops; you never know how easy it can be, and how helpful they are. You’ll have more flies to add, too. But of course, also be sure to take care of your watercraft at higher elevations and in the heat. Don’t be a Rob!