Three Easy Pieces


I have spent a substantial portion of my adult life standing in airports holding a rod tube and being treated like an idiot by my fellow passengers.

“Whatcha got in there, a bazooka?” they’ll ask. It was not funny pre 9/11. It’s less funny now.

“No, they’re fishing rods,” I reply calmly.

Time for the next question: “Whatcha need ‘em so long for?”

Now my aggravation level is increasing. It’s early. The line is long. I haven’t had breakfast or caffeine yet. “They all serve different purposes,” I say. “Like golf clubs.”

“You know,” my interlocutor says, for the first time offering up a look that borders on pity, “They make two-piece rods.”

Thanks for the advice, Jethro. I try to avoid eye contact. I haven’t bought a two piece rod since I was a child. Back then they had big ungainly ferrules, reportedly offered less sensitivity and worse casting ability than the one-piecers that all of the cool kids were using. I’ve accumulated dozens of one-piece rods.

Then a funny thing happened. For our trip to Africa, there was no way we could bring a full-sized rod tube because we were limited to 33 pounds luggage – TOTAL – per person for the trip. At the same time, I wasn’t going to travel halfway around the world and subject myself to the “boat rods” that the lodge might have available. I needed some decent multi-piece sticks. Fortunately, my friend Ray Kawabata had four that he agreed to lend us for our travels. Two were custom-made rods that he’d had built for a trip to the Amazon and two were off-the-shelf models. In Africa, Hanna and I each used one of each and while I won’t say that they were 100 percent as good as my every day rods, they were close enough that it didn’t make a performance difference.

Upon our return, I was confronted with the need to buy Hanna a present. We’ve been married over 11 years, through the tungsten anniversary and well beyond the point where we actually need anything. It’s a steel trap lock, though, that we’ll travel again in the future, perhaps to someplace where our luggage allotment will once again be limited. I decided that I’d get her a travel rod of her own. Lots of quality rod manufacturers make them, but I wanted this one to be something special – her favorite color is orange, so I decided I’d get one custom built in three pieces with orange wraps.

That’s where my friend Clifford Wiedman stepped in. He used to work for a major rod manufacturer and still has a ton of contacts in the industry. He recommended that I purchase components made by Batson Enterprises in Washington, and then he asked the manufacturer who makes Level Rods in the USA to complete the actual build. It turned out beautiful and exceptionally functional. On this most recent trip to Mexico, she used it for topwaters and Senkos and truly put it to the test. It actually became her go-to stick, the one she preferred to her other rods.

 When we got home, she asked me the following question: “Why aren’t all of our rods three pieces? That rod was every bit as good as anything else I own and much more convenient.” Once again, someone was looking at me, Mr. Fishing Writer Expert, as if I’d just fallen off the turnip truck.