Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A perfectly unexpected Christmas gift

This blog post is just a bit belated, but here we go...

Although exchanging gifts certainly isn't the most important part of Christmas, it is a big part of how we celebrate the holiday. In that light, Christmas 2011 was pretty meager compared to 2010. I didn't get very many gifts and they were all rather small... no fishing kayaks under the tree this year. It's perfectly alright though. I already have everything I need and nearly everything I want.

However, a very pleasant surprise came my way right before Christmas. It was a "gift" from a friend of a friend... a person whom I have never actually met. It wasn't really intended to be a Christmas gift, but given the timing it felt like a really special one from a distant family member that you only rarely see. You know the grandmother or aunt who lives eight hundred miles away and mails you gifts twice a year on your birthday and Christmas. Maybe it's that I no longer have any of those distant gift senders that made it feel that way... I miss those gifts... and those who sent them.

Well, to get back on track... My friend Don (biology professor and one of my mentors as a naturalist) invited me over to his house a few days before Christmas, and told me that he had something very special waiting for me. Knowing Don, it could have just been a few nice pieces of lumber he found in a trash pile... or maybe a neat old book. I would have never guessed it would have been fly fishing related.

It turned out to be a box chock full of fishing stuff. In it there were a bunch of lead head jigs, raw lead for jig making, and even a ladle for pouring lead- but no molds. There were a good number of large fishing hooks, feathers (white neck hackle and 18" worth of strung black marabou), natural fur (deer and Black Bear), and more multi-colored craft fur than I know what to do with. There were also two fly reels- a non-functioning beat up old South Bend "Oren-O-Matic" (visible in the picture of the box below) and another that I consider to be a bit more of a treasure.

It was a Pflueger Medalist #1492 fly reel. According to information I found at flyanglersonline.com, it is a 1959 year model. I've seen more recent Pflueger Medalists and I can say that they certainly don't make 'em like they used to. This one is very well made. The only real issue with it appears to be that the spool seems to have come in contact with a chemical (maybe a plastic bass worm) that has softened the paint and made it "gooey." It seems to be in great working order and will be a really nice complement to my 4 wt antique bamboo rod.

1959 Pflueger Medalist model #1492

The box full of goodies minus the big bag of craft fur

To explain how this all come to be...

Don's friend Nancy had a father who was an ichthyologist and a fisherman, and she sent some of his collection of fishing paraphernalia my way because Don told her that I would graciously give it a good home. Don was right, and I am very grateful to be the recipient of such a great gift. As a fly tyer and classic fly tackle enthusiast, it made my Christmas.

So, to Nancy and Don, I offer a belated thank you for my unexpected, but perfect Christmas gift.

20 comments:

  1. Nice surprise! Just think of the story's that old fishing gear could tell.

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    1. The Medalist would probably have some good fish stories, but the "Oren-O-Matic" would likely just ask "why has everybody been pickin' on me?"

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  2. The best stuff is free old stuff.

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  3. Score! It looks like there is even some line on that spool. Silk?

    I have a coworker named Don who brought in a huge box of old stinky tying materials for me to pick through...that was a fun day at work.

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    1. These Dons and their stinky old boxes... it sounds like a mafia conspiracy. The line appears to be much newer than the reel itself. It's definitely not silk. There's actually a sticker on the reel foot that says "SUPREME FLY LINE WF-7-F". This reel is more like a 3 or 4 wt size, but I assume that's what is loaded on it. Either way, the line doesn't match the reel. Thanks for the comment. I and quite a few others will be missing "Lunker Hunt," but glad to have you drop in during your hiatus.

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  4. Very nice. Treasures in a box. You never know, sometimes, what little joys may find their way to you. Enjoy!

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    1. This was totally unexpected. It's nice to be the only fisherman in certain social circles. If I wasn't the only one, someone else could have gotten lucky.

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  5. Jay
    The 1959 Pflueger Medalist is a standout, my Dad use to fish with a Pflueger Medalist reel and he used a fiberglass rod with it---it got lost over the years. You need to see if you can find a fly rod to go with it.

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    1. Bill, the Medalist is a classic that has made a lot of memories. I've already got the rod. A restored late 1940s Kingfisher bamboo "light trout" model that's essentially a 4 wt. I'll post something about it when I get them set up on their first date. A well matched fiberglass rod would be nice too. Thanks for the comment.

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  6. I've had the same medalist since 2000. Works great. Does the job just fine. Maybe not as sturdy as what you've got, but they are great reels.

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    1. D, thanks for the comment.
      I meant no slight to the more modern Medalists. The one I have has survived over 50 years, and I think that alone is a testament to its quality. I'm sure they're all great reels, some may just be greater than others. ;)

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  7. That's a great reel. Your lucky to possess one of Americas best.

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    1. "Made in USA" and the quality shows. If only we could turn back the clock.

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  8. Jay, that's so cool. That old Medalist is still serviceable and should work well with the cane. I would recommend you contact onepfoot to get sculpted pillars and the metal latch cover to spiff it up. Have a ball!

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    1. Well, well, Howard, my vintage tackle guru friend, I have been awaiting your commentary. One of the distinguishing features of the #1492 from 1950s was that it still had the sculpted pillars. (Sorry I didn't really show that in the photo.) The larger models from the 1950s had straight cross pillars. Of course I learned all of this from the website I mentioned above. I may have to look into this metal latch cover you speak of... but I admit I kinda like the vintage ivory plastic. My only concern would be that it might become brittle and break due to its age. Do they make metal handles to match these latch covers?

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  9. I was waiting for Howard to comment too... : ) Jay, this seems to be your lucky box of goodies! Sweet story and I know that this gift did make its way to the right home...

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    1. Thanks, Emily. I think we both knew Howard would have some insightful commentary. I didn't even know "onepfoot" existed. Sadly, it looks like they're shut down currently. I may have to wait awhile for that spiffy metal latch cover.

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  10. Very cool...I have an old medalist or two lying around as well , one of them was given to me by my grandfather and sits on my tying desk. After reading your post I think I might just have to try and acquire a suitable rod to place it on and take it out to a local stream.

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    1. HPFF, I enjoy collecting old stuff as much as anybody, but there are certain things that were designed to be used, and that's what I typically do with them. I have a few retired items, but if it's still functional and in no danger of being destroyed... I say enjoy it. Thanks for the comment.

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