Sunday, February 24, 2019

An Interview with the Author

As this blog, and my writing ventures turn the corner after over ten years of essays, short stories and vignettes I sat down to reflect back and think about what Classical Angler means in both the literary sense, and the bigger picture of what the writing is stating. I also wanted to detail the creative process as well. How to do this?

I decided to interview myself.

Happy anniversary! Many have found a richer world of fly-fishing and inspiration here. I hope for much more. Writing, like a fine wine gets richer with age.


Question (Q): “Introduce yourself and describe your work.”


Erik Helm proprietor of Classical Angler fly-fishing and the writer best known for being long-winded… just kidding… I live in the Driftless region of Wisconsin where I guide anglers for trout and teach fly-fishing classes and schools, produce fly-fishing related leather craft, and write the Classical Angler Blog of literary explorations into fly-fishing.

I started all this in 2008. ‘Classical Angler’ came from a study of classical music I was undertaking on my own at the time, as well as an appreciation of ‘Classic’ fly-fishing… an era roughly from the late 19th century through the 1970s… the time of the great authors, books, and magazine articles. Sounds all planned out, but I really had no idea it would blossom into a side-hobby of writing short stories and essays. Some friend or another just suggested I start a blog. What’s that? I thought. Well, beginnings are sometimes tender and innocent things like childhood. The future is an open book, and you never know where it will go or take you.

I think of my writing as a blending of examination, philosophy, humor, nature and the essential spirit of fly-fishing as a sort of literary sport if you will… I don’t want to just write ‘How to’ or ‘Where to go’ articles. For me writing is all about the creative process; finding art and meaning in words and expression of the greater meanings of life seen through the looking glass of the sport of angling.

I see somewhat of a vacuum out there in this genre. Articles and books with actual literary content have been on the decline for the last 40 years, and I miss reading the stories and articles in the outdoor magazines I picked out of my dad’s library and curled up with for hours on the floor before the fireplace in long dark winters. Later, after writing for several years (sometimes appalling poorly), I started collecting classic angling books and articles by such authors as McQuarrie, Gingrich, Lyons, Haig-Brown, Atherton and many others, and discovered a sort of symbiosis between my ideas and thoughts and their explorations… an echo with or of what I was trying to say and how I was trying to say it… an affirmation at least for me from a past where creative writing could stand on its own without as many imposed limitations of commercialism. My blog began to provide the perfect vehicle for that freedom of expression. Freedom means not having to confine the realm of artistic expression to less than 750 words or something like having a picture inserted between each paragraph to hold attention span.

Q. “Can you describe your creative process?”

(Chuckling and shaking head while smiling)… Well… I think each process is unique- each work different in its journey. I guess if I had to categorize them, they would fit into several vague paths…

Some works, like ‘Ephemeral’, are like giving birth. The idea is born and it just grows until it comes out all raw and screaming and crying and shouting with joy. The works that develop like that often require little note-taking or planning. Instead, they are born on the spot like Jazz Improv, and are both exhausting and exhilarating to write. Also, with pieces of this type I don’t like to disturb them by over-editing afterwards. The mood, mindset, or passion of the voice of the piece… its soul… if that doesn’t sound too hokey, can be upset and actually ruined by afterthought and picking and poking about. I would almost rather scrap a piece entirely, which does get done, than ruin the fluid thought process which makes it unique. Some pieces are very unique… like something cooked up on the stove without any recipe, and should not be fussed with by adding, subtracting, or even trying to coax it in a different direction. Each piece has a growth process that should not have me forcing any pre-conceived ideas upon it. Each word, sentence, or paragraph effects the one following… each turn bringing new discoveries and influencing new thoughts and ideas. I guess every artist has a different method… Mozart wrote everything down straight out of his head with little or no corrections. He saw and heard the piece in his mind. Beethoven, on the other hand was a meticulous editor, scribbling and erasing and adding and annotating until his scores were often notoriously undecipherable, yet they both produced beauty.

I have had several pieces take me a month or more of note-taking on thoughts and ideas before I actually sat down and wrote the piece… so yea… there are endless paths to the fruition of an idea. It all starts with the idea… the inspiration. Sometimes those ideas came to me all at once… at 3 in the morning while lying in bed, or while fishing or taking a nature walk. Sometimes the ideas are a dead-end or a failure. I keep several notebooks full of ideas for essays and writing. On occasion I will page through them and find a neat idea that remained an orphan and adopt or merge it with something else and it turns out better after sitting a year on the back burner. I guess one never knows…

One trap I have fallen into several times is taking too big a bite or too wide a view of a subject. Often the ideas get all muddled up and clarity is lost. It’s like a soup with one too many ingredients… it loses its unique taste trying to be too much…. Too many blended ideas and the individuality is sacrificed. I usually try to scrap these and approach them later, but most of my works, including the short stories are actually composed or written in one session at the computer.

Q. “Why the essay? Why do you find this so compelling versus developing much longer pieces?”

Great question! I guess I feel that the essay, long or short, offers a completion, a framing if you will, of an idea, and is accessible to the reader. I like to compel thought with my writing and weave themes in a more artistic expression than possible with chapters or some other format. Maybe it has to do with my personal creative style, but I like to create and then more on to contemplate another work or creation. The essay allows the writer to examine things and proffer an argument even if it is hidden. Often my vignettes have hidden subject matters. Take ‘Gas Station Flies’ for example… ostensibly a piece about history and nostalgia, the hidden subject emerges as the author as a child peeping through the trees with his father at a famous river… it is a piece on growing up… a piece about memories and change. These themes sometimes emerge from nowhere as I am writing… and I love that process! I like not knowing! Let the piece tell me what it is all about. Sometimes the actual subject matter shifts right before my eyes. I find that so amazing and fulfilling… at least when it works…

Q. “And the short stories?”

The short stories by necessity are far more planned. I usually have a framework written down as to the theme or themes and where I want it to begin and end… the subject too and some of the detours, but the writing process still tends to be eclectic. I do like to add mystery and a bit of horror at times as well as local history. It seems to draw in the reader when a story begins innocently enough, but then becomes far more than one thought after the first few paragraphs. I am a very avid reader of the genre of the short story, especially 19th century and early 20th century authors such as H.H. Munro, Somerset Maugham, and others like Checkhov who have the amazing talent to start their stories not always at a definable point or beginning, but in the middle of nowhere and travel through the story in non-linear directions. My chosen wider subject matter, that of angling, can only accept so much pushing at the boundaries of convention, and I do try to push as hard as I can sometimes. I think convention is dull or boring… repetitive and stale. How many stories can you read where a man catches a fish? Hemingway pretty much owns that! But… what about a story with masked themes where the reader forgets all about the fish? That speaks to me.

Q. “I notice you switch voices and moods in your writing between pieces. Is there a reason for that?”

All artist are nuts! (Laughs) or just human…

Well… the mood of the writer and their voice can change… must change I believe. Many writers in a genre like this have one established voice, be it humor, philosophical, romantic, serious, happy or sad. Established voices work. They are predictable. Read some authors out there and after awhile one becomes kind of lost. Each piece is the same. We go fishing, then a reflection and philosophical detour, we come back to the fishing, another reflection, a laugh, and a predictable conclusion. I like to vary the mood. I never want to write two similar pieces in a row. Two pieces of humor for example… I try to include a different tonality in each piece. I often write to a background of classical music, and choose the music or composer based on the piece I am trying to develop. For passion I might play Beethoven, for jazz madness… Mahler comes to mind… Poetic subtlety… Bach… We are getting back to my pre-natal stages of development as a writer. Why, by accident I coined the term ‘Classical Angler’… because the various moods and passions govern music and our interpretation of music. They mimic our humanity. Instrumental music mimics the human voice that expresses our existence. Often I find writing about fly-fishing as satisfying or even more so than actually going fishing. When ideas flow like rivers the catch becomes more permanent and the journey is its own reward. Fishing can often be kind of one-dimensional, but writing can be almost four-dimensional… More freedom to go beyond the rivers into our own existential being…

Experiences on the stream have moods as well: frustration, elation, reflection, joy, wonder at nature, fear of nature, centering and mindfulness…The themes I develop should reflect those moods if crafted properly. Formulaic writing may be successful in many instances, but it bores me.

Q. “What are some of your favorite pieces you have written?”

The next one! (smiling)

Seriously… I don’t know. What I like and what the reader likes are often very different. Some pieces stand out to me, but fail to inspire the reader or miss the mark. I aim too high or too low or simply obscure too much… I am told, or have been told that I am at my best from or in a free-form mode… like jazz. I like ‘Dear Theo’ for that reason… for its sheer uniqueness of subject matter and framing. One current author wrote me concerning it that he thought it “Amazingly inventive.” “The Stand” is possible my favorite short story, and short and eclectic pieces like “Depression and Blue Winged Olives” keep coming back to me as compelling. I sometimes wonder what went into it… what drove it when it was written… or other pieces as well, but have to just say… “Well, there it is!” I can never recapture the mood so to speak. “Water-Putting” is a neat little journey of humor and truth as is “Its Complicated.” That last one I never remember writing… It just seemed to appear before me already written… I don’t know…

Q. “They say no writer is ever born a writer, instead they have a hundred lives before they begin to create.”

I agree. I was never a writer until middle age. In fact, although a notorious book-worm, my grammar and spelling was so poor that it drove my parents nuts! I guess I was always creative though… it’s in the genes. My dad was a classical pianist and history buff. Mom was amazing artist and painter of regional acclaim in Wisconsin. She produced thousands of oils, watercolors, sketches, pastels, drawings, etc. So many varied styles and explorations. Amazing artist… I think I got the creativity from her. That and I am an only child, so I was left to entertain myself often enough. There was always music and art in our house on the East-Side of Milwaukee. We had a saying, or my parents did… “Bored? Go mow the lawn!” That could translate as ‘There are a million things to do and explore in life… Boredom is a sin.’

I first tried writing in college. I had an amazing creative writing teacher… a gal who back in the day smoked in the classroom, looked like a cleaned up version of Janice Joplin, and urged us to always explore. I loved writing poetry. She hated it as it was awfully contrived, and she was right. However, she found my creative stories to be very original. She said I knew how to tell a good story.

But I never did anything serious with writing until after both of my parents passed away. As a form of catharsis I wrote a long memoir entitled ‘Up on Downer,’ referring to the street we lived on in Milwaukee, and a play on words. Yikes… it would require a year of editing for subject and consistency if it were ever to be publishable, but it taught me about writing, especially the voice, and how important it is in relaying a feeling or a mood underlying a subject.

It wasn’t until a year or so after starting ‘Classical Angler,’ that I sat and re-read some of the pieces I had written and realized they had some promise. What I lacked was freedom. The pieces that failed were too contrived again: too methodical. The works that sang were less constrained. I began to find my voice or voices. I began to write with confidence. That was a long process, and I still struggle. However, producing something that can be read and enjoyed is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. I spent much of my adulthood for some reason trying to be a business guy… to prove something to myself… from Information Technology to retail management and everything in between. Funny if we find ourselves back at our own roots sooner or later. I guess writing makes me happy, and that I am thankful for, even if the process of general acceptance can be naked at times, and people don’t read in depth anymore, the creative process has to come out. I write for the few people who will appreciate it. I feel lucky to be able to create.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Oath-Takers



Two old friends have an adventure of a lifetime along a northern Wisconsin trout stream… one that they might want to keep amongst themselves for obvious reasons. Copyright 2019 Erik Helm


The plan, as Ed explained it to Pete, his life-long friend and fellow fly angler, was to fish Moose Creek in Northern Wisconsin for brookies. They would park the old Buick at the highway bridge, wade up the creek carrying their lunches, and be able to fish right until dusk without having to retrace their steps after dark by utilizing a dike which lay at the upper stretches of the creek, and ran back to the road through a cranberry bog after skirting a local lake.

This idea emerged after last year’s trip to this same river led to stubbed toes, a dunking or two, a lost wading boot in the bog, and an exhausting trek back out following the meandering river back downstream to the car, and missing the evening rise for fear of being trapped after dark. This seemed like a better plan Pete thought to himself, but asking Ed anyway “Are you sure about that dike short-cut… Is it public…?”

“Old railway bed, I checked with the guy at the gas station, and he says it’s fine.”

It was a warm sunny morning when they parked the car at the bridge after a drive of six hours from the city.

“Risers!” Pete said as he looked over the bridge into the little creek as Ed busied himself with waders and assembling his Garrison bamboo rod, his cherished possession. Pete had purchased a Payne rod ten or so years ago, but he always was jealous of the Garrison. Ed felt the same way, he was jealous of the Payne.

It had always been like that for the two old lifetime friends. Since they met in grade school, they had always done everything together, fished, hunted, dated and even married two sisters, having the ceremony together at the same church. The friendship had warmed to a form where polite teasing and friendly competition always formed a background to their adventures.

Ed opened up the sack with his lunch to check it before stuffing it into the back pouch on his vest, and the smell of burned bacon wafted forth. Betty was a great cook, Pete reflected, but she always burned the bacon. Everything Ed owned tended to smell a bit like bacon, even his fishing tackle. Pete’s wife, on the other hand, had a thing for cabbage, and cooked it into everything, even the eggs. His lunch would be stuffed cabbage rolls wrapped in foil. Between the two of them, they smelled like a cheap diner blue-plate special, but Ed liked burned bacon, and Pete had an affinity for cabbage. The friendship fit together like two puzzle pieces.

The rising trout were a good omen as the two friends fished their way up the stream. The air was filled with little brown mayflies, and each angler had several dozen flies they had tied in the weeks before the trip that matched the hatching insects perfectly, even if Ed’s flies smelled a bit like burned bacon.

By the late afternoon they had made their way a mile up the creek and stopped for lunch. Both Pete and Ed had released a dozen brook trout in the ten to thirteen inch ranges, and kept several of the largest for the ladies to cook for breakfast. They paused for an hour after they had eaten and smoked a pipe, quietly enjoying the beauty of the conifer forest, the spring warblers, the wood ducks flying overhead, and hidden calls of woodcock and bittern.

They needed this trip away from the noise and fast pace of the city and their jobs, Ed thought. They were both nearing retirement age soon, and the thrill of business was slowly being replaced with a longing for memories made in quiet places.


Pete thought about the time in their early teens that the two of them discovered his dad’s beer stash under the porch, and climbed an apple tree to drink a few in secret, feeling like men, or at least playing at being one. The beer was warm and kind of skunky, but neither of them would admit it or say anything, so they finished drinking them while telling stories of the future, and what they would do when they were older. The problem became how to get out of the apple tree. Pete’s legs didn’t work right after the beers, and Ed was seeing double. They both had thrown up their dinners, and it took them several hours to sober up and get down from their perches among the branches.

Ed reminisced upon the time when he and Pete had first hunted grouse together. Pete’s first hunting dog was a remarkably dumb lab named ‘Pep’, short for Pepto-Bismol because that damn dog gave anyone hunting over her a case of sour-stomach. Sure enough, Pep never did flush a bird that day, but instead found a skunk, and deciding it might be a funny kind of grouse, chased it into some bushes. They returned to the car and drove home with Pep in the trunk covered in tomato juice. They both had to burn their hunting clothes.

Funny all the memories that old friends can share, and through all of them, they had kept the vast majority of any misadventures to themselves, despite temptation after a few drinks to tell the boys a hell of a story. “Let’s keep this to ourselves,” became their oath of silence.

With evening approaching and the sun beginning to angle, the woods and river cooled and mists began to rise along with the trout, giving an otherworldly almost spooky church-like atmosphere to the upper stretch. It was worth all the planning though. As dusk set the two friends caught more trout than they had ever caught before, and Pete hooked one while his fly was dangling beside him in the water between casts, while Ed managed to hook a trout on his back-cast. The fish were suicidal now in a crazed frenzy to eat the falling spinners of the brown mayflies that hatched all day.

The last light faded from orange into pastel pinks and fuchsias as the mists rising from the creek and surrounding bog became thicker. It was time to go. They could keep the trout fresh in the cooler in the car and breakfast tomorrow would be heavenly.

Ed led the way through the bog to a small rise that indicated the side of the dike or railway grade dimly appearing through the growing fog which smelled and tasted like something from prehistoric times. Whippoorwills began to call all around them, and darkness blanketed the woods.

They were ten feet from the dike when Ed stopped.

“Shh…” he whispered. “There is something big and dark standing out in the cranberry bog right ahead of us… Don’t look like a tree, kind of like a bear or some animal…”

Pete had better eyes than Ed. “That’s a Moose,” he exclaimed in surprise, trying to keep his voice low.

“Shoot. Moose are unpredictable and dangerous. Does it have antlers?”

Ed squinted through the fog. “Yup, big rack too. I can see them clearly outlined against the sky.”

As darkness settled into inky blackness, the two stayed very silent and still. Neither had any idea what to do at this stage, and the thought was beginning to occur to them that they may have to spend some time stuck here until the moose, still dimly outlined in the near distance, moved on from its feeding. Ed found a large boulder nearby, and suggested that if they were going to be stuck here for a bit, they might as well be dry. They climbed the knobby chunk of granite careful to not make an errant sound.

It became obvious to both of them before long that they were well and truly stuck. The moose might or might not be still there, and they could no longer see through the fog and moonless night to be certain.

“O.K., let’s take inventory,” Pete quietly murmured. “I have a bag of peanuts, what do you have?” “A half a pint of peppermint schnapps,” Ed replied. They had left the half-full thermos of hot coffee back in the car because it was such a nice day. Both of their minds ended up focused on that hot coffee as a light drizzle began to fall, and their backs began to ache from sitting on the uneven cold rock.

After midnight, they broke down. Ed offered the schnapps to Pete after taking a swig himself, and Pete opened the peanuts. “Wait a minute Pete!” Ed exclaimed. What if Moose like peanuts? I can smell them like anything, and I bet the moose can too.” The peanuts were put away, and a long silence began. After an hour a staccato rattling was heard.

“What’s that?” Pete asked in a hush. “My teeth!” Ed answered. “I’m freezing, and I can’t feel my feet!”

“We need energy… food. I am so hungry I could eat my hat.”

“Kind of like the Donner Party…”

“What…. Eat each other and our hats?”

“No, as in we need food and we are marooned. Moose don’t eat trout, get it?”

“Cold trout? I can’t see my pocketknife to clean them.”

Hunger and cold can drive men to do things they might think themselves incapable of in better circumstances. The raw trout tasted like bog, slimy and silty, and made an interesting combination with the last of the schnapps. They almost gagged, but managed to eat a trout apiece to help keep them warm through the night.

The two old friends spent the night on a cold knobby boulder in a cranberry bog miserable with the drizzle surrounded by woods noises that to both of their now acute imaginations sounded like a huge moose on the prowl. In the weak dead hours of pre-dawn, they managed to nod off to sleep, propped against each other for warmth and stability.

A cloudy and misty dawn broke slowly into the forest and bog, the light increasing until the two anglers could begin to see again. Awake, but bleary eyed, they both peered through the banks of fog and into the heart of the cranberry bog in the direction of the road and the position of the moose the night before.

“I can’t see it,” Pete sputtered, “It must be gone by now…”

“No… there it is!” Ed chattered through his teeth, “It hasn’t moved!” “It’s in the same place as last night.” “It’s huge! I can see its antlers from here!”

“Wait a minute…” Pete exclaimed, the increased volume of his voice causing Ed to cringe. “I smell foul here. No moose is going to stand out there in a field all night and not move. I am too tired and cold and hungry to care any more. I am going to creep forward and check it out.” They decided that Ed would follow behind, and if Pete got mauled, he was in charge of breaking the news to Erma, Pete’s wife. Pete figured he had the better end of the stick.

The two crept slowly forward on the relatively dry abandoned railway dike toward the outline of the moose, appearing now menacingly large before them. Fifty feet away they paused. Pete spoke first, standing up and clicking his tongue in disapproval. “Look Ed, It has wooden posts for legs!”

“I’ll be a monkey’s…” Ed began, trailing off into silence. They walked up to the moose. Ed knocked on it with his knuckles. Wood. It was over life-size and was painted black. They could see the highway now clearly as the meager sun began to burn off the fog of morning.

They walked around the moose and stared at it from the front. A stylized moose it was. Looking not half like Bullwinkle the billboard proclaimed cheerfully…

“Visit Scenic Moose Lake! Next Exit.”

“I’ll be damned…” they both exclaimed quietly.

“I feel like an idiot,” Ed admitted.

“That is beside the point Ed,” Pete laughed rather seriously.” “The point is I feel the fool too, but the important thing is to keep this to ourselves. Nobody, even our wives must ever hear of this.” “Even our wives?…” Ed grimaced. “Yea, especially them. You know the boys at the lodge and the tavern would here of it sooner or later, and we would be the butt of jokes forever.”

They came up with a story. The car broke down, and they had to spend the night huddled under blankets until in the morning, when they discovered the problem: wet spark-plug wires. That would do the trick, Ed thought aloud. “Yea… Betty is always nagging me about getting the spark plugs changed anyway. She would get a chuckle out of that one, and it would only cost me a few bucks for new plugs.”

“I am serious about the silence thing Ed,” Pete said shaking his head and smiling. “I think we should take an oath.”

“What… like double dog dare, or spit and shake… that sort of thing?”

“I was thinking more along the lines of something else… If you tell anyone, I get your fly rod, and if I tell anyone, you get mine as a penalty. That should keep our mouths shut for a while.”

The two old friends shook on it and the oath was taken.


Ed got the nickname of ‘Bullwinkle’ a few weeks later. Pete was referred to as ‘Moose’ for the rest of his life.

It was worth it, Pete reflected as he landed a nice trout on his new Garrison rod. Pete was in the distance, proudly playing a fish on his equally new Payne.

Author’s note: On a trip to the Brule’ river in northern Wisconsin, I passed a field on foggy autumn morning and glancing to my right, spotted a huge bull moose with black fur and white antlers standing in a boggy lowland, partially shrouded by the enveloping mists. I was pumped to see such a rare sight in Wisconsin… until…
Two years later I was driving the same stretch of highway up to the Brule’ on a sunny day, and reflected that right about here is where I spotted that moose…

Out in the field stood a perfect replica of a moose, made of plywood and life-size, and painted black with white antlers. Some farmer’s idea of a joke. I felt the fool. Now that might make the basis for a good story I thought… until three years later here I am with the idea fully formed. A fishing trip and an oath of secrecy… else the fool!




Winter brings on a time for reflection and creativity. Here are two of my latest projects.


Rebirth of an American Original:

I purchased a highly used Savage Stevens 311 side by side shotgun in 20 gauge this winter. This blue-collar piece of Americana looked like somebody had glued shotgun parts to a stock for a Daisy red-ryder BB-gun. Selling for less than $100 new, these shotguns were made bombproof. They were utility no-frills hunting tools and had to function even after being thrown into the back of a pickup or carried on a tractor. No room was left at that price point for aesthetics. A walnut stock was eschewed in favor of beech wood. This was sprayed with a mix of stain and varnish that often aged badly, melting and fading unevenly. Checkering was burned in poorly and often crookedly as well. It was a diamond in the rough, with nice casing to the metal, but would require the stock to be altered and refinished. As I looked at it in the gun shop, I saw both the flaws and the possibilities. The challenge? Could I manage to restore this and make it look like a respectable side by side? I had never refinished or reshaped a stock before.
Raw stock with bad finish and crappy checkering
Sanded and re-shaped
Staining in progress

Stain completed


After 3 weeks of work, this is what came out. I took the stock down with sandpaper and files, reshaping the squared off blocky looks to a more slender and elegant form, and re-sculpted the grip. I took off some of the burned in checkering as well. Then came hours of hand sanding using progressively finer papers to achieve a glass like surface of wood. Every step was done without any use of power-tools. I like to feel the raw material in my hands and let the material and my fingers guide me instead of trying to force myself on the subject by grinding away with impersonal electric appliances.

Multiple stains were tried on scrap wood until I finally was happy with the coloring. The bare wood beech stock had little grain to it, so that would have to brought out as well. How it would turn out was a mystery since I was on un-trodden ground here at least for me. It was all a great experiment. The two color and two-part staining worked out beautifully, especially after copious rubbing with a tack cloth.

Now for the finish…

Ah, Tung-oil… the stuff of frustration… will it ever dry?

Six coats of thin Tung-oil went on slowly in the late morning sunlight of a cold January. Every day the stock was sanded with wet-dry paper and another coat of oil rubbed on by hand with my fingers.

Finally assembled, the old Savage-Stevens was now unrecognizable from its original form. It had arisen from rust and dust and poor machine finishing to glow with pride.

Hunting with it for the first time was a joy, even if no bunnies were actually harmed, and the day consisted of wandering around the woods and briars with a shotgun in hand.

In the field

What mattered is the pride of ownership I felt at having something I was proud of and labored over lovingly for all those weeks.

Handcraft can be so fulfilling.


Rod tube commission.


The second project was a commission from a client and friend. He saw several of the first leather rod tubes I handcrafted and wanted one to fit several Joe Balestrieri bamboo fly rods which were being designed and built for him.


The problem: Each of my prior rod tubes looked beautiful, but were not, at least in my opinion, ready for production or sale. The finishing processes were just not quite up to par.


I challenged myself to make a piece of art worthy of the rods that were going to be carried by it. No corners would be cut here. Time would be taken to ensure a perfect fit and finish. I also wanted it to be ornate, unique, and rather antique looking.


The owner is very happy with it, and I am proud to have produced a little piece of art out of time and leather. I can now make these to custom order. Price is $700 for the standard model pictured below.