Grandpa had a successful business in Manhattan where he sold skis in the winter and fishing gear in the summer. For years during my visits to his home, I would sneak up to his packed attic to look at the gear, some of his personal kit and unsold goods, and especially explore his stash of fly rods. Finally, one day when I was twelve, heading off to a new summer camp in Colorado, Grandpa surprised me with my first fly rod: a Martin James 4 weight with a reel, line, extra spools of leader and a box of dry flies. My Grandfather was a strict man and he knew this was a stretch, I guess that’s why it meant so much.
As he handed me the fly rod in the attic in 1971, my Grandpa taught me to take time to roll the hozzle of the rod on my nose, right next to my cheek. “Roll it slowly” he’d say. “Allow the hozzle to be coated by all of the oil on your nose, then slip it carefully into the upper piece of the rod. This will lubricate the hozzle just enough so that when you take the rod down it will separate easily and not break the hozzle from its connection to the bamboo.” And then he cautioned me not to worry too much, just try hard to catch lots of fish.
With the help of a few older campers from Texas, I quickly learned to set the fly rod up with a Zebco 202 (closed face spinning reel) and use a bubble to add weight to the cast. It worked like a charm, and after a month, I won the best fisherman in camp award. Grandpa’s flies and the Martin James rod did the trick including catching a bat one night just as the moon rose up over the Maroon Bells.