It isn’t the racquet! The reason I still fish my old beat up fly rod, and still love it.

18 Mar

When I was a kid I played lots of sports. But the one that I really took to was badminton. Badminton is a very under rated sport. Most people play in gym class or in their backyard, which gives the sport a reputation of being fun and easy. Competitive badminton is a very challenging sport. An excellent balance of rapid fast twitch movement paired with hand eye coordination and aerobic endurance are all required to excel at the sport.

There were only two games for young guys to play in my hometown; hockey and badminton. I have a sneaky suspicion that I was guided to the latter due to the relatively cheap equipment cost. You only need three things to play. Sneakers, the non-marking sticky rubber type, a shuttle made of either feathers or plastic, and a racquet.

When I first started playing at age 10, I had simply borrowed a racquet from the school. They were all the same, green paint chipped and missing a string or two. They weighed just shy of a pound. Of course I am exaggerating but they were built to withstand the abuse of 9 year olds, not be light nor responsive.

My first racquet was bought when I was twelve with money received for mowing the lawn for the guy next door. He was getting on in years and I was willing to put in the three hours of pushing a lawnmower to get a few dollars. I was never happy with that racquet. Too slow, too heavy, too cheap. I believed it was holding me back. I believed that somehow the racquet was to blame for me losing games.

My coach must have over heard one of my conversations. Young boys do have a habit of speaking out loud in such a manner that no one in earshot could avoid eavesdropping. He challenged me to a game and brought out a vintage wooden racquet. He almost made a ceremony of removing it from its oversized frame. This wasn’t his normal racquet and I was thinking that this game was going to be easy.

Well it was easy, for him.  He toyed with me for about an hour, running me all over every inch of the court.  When he had finally won, I said,’That is quite the racquet.’ To which he replied,’It isn’t just the racquet. I can’t even hit a smash with this thing.’  In the practices after that night he explained some of the tactics he used to beat me, without ever using the big shot, the smash.

Every time I walk into the fly shop and see the brilliant new rods, each with all of their promises of longer casts, more control, and of course the envy of all of your friends, I can’t help but to think of my badminton coach.  It isn’t the rod.  Well it isn’t all the rod.  There are plenty of guys out there who could outcast me with floppy noodle rods, or 40 year old bamboo.  Good fishing is timing and practice and familiarity with the rod in your hand, which allow those great presentations right where you need to place it. You have to learn to fish your best game with the tools you bring to the river.

So I give the new rods a little wiggle, because that’s what we do, and set them back in the case.  I am sure there will be a time for a brand new big name rod, or a sweet custom built just for me.  But it will be for the only reason anyone needs a new rod, to spur the envy of my friends.


One Response to “It isn’t the racquet! The reason I still fish my old beat up fly rod, and still love it.”

  1. stevegalea6953 March 18, 2013 at 8:01 PM #

    Well said. I see the same things with bowhunters. If some guys aren’t getting faster bows every year they think their hunting season is going to fall apart. I always tell them that the deer they took last year didn’t know the bow that killed it wasn’t fast enough.
    We are all sheep sometimes….

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