There is something about a wooden boat that has its own mystique, its own character. Maybe it’s the way it moves in the water or the way it looks, or maybe it’s just the fact that you know they are a lost art. Wooden boats are unique, every one of them. If one were to make ten of the same sort of wooden boat, each one of them would have its own personality.
Once wooden boats were the norm, now they are the exception. The reason for this is that in the race for profits we have managed to automate everything. Now our canoes are made of plastic and our jon boats are made from aluminum. By and large the boats that our grandfathers made were heavier and required much, much more upkeep. But it was a craft passed from father to son and so on. Each one was made for a purpose unique to each owner and builder.
The same goes for the way we fish, and what we fish with. Now we live in a world of graphite rods and super fast and strong reels. In our grandfathers’ day it was a world of bamboo rods, silk lines, and small 1 to 1 gear ratio reels. But it was with these simple tools that Alaska was fished, the Everglades were explored, and the creek behind the house was experienced. These rods were an extension of its owner and through them the world was seen in its own light. They were humanized, they took on a personality in the eyes of their owners. I suppose that much of that has slipped away, we don’t take the time to fix our gear when it breaks, we have no hassle return policies for that. The love and craftsmanship that went into these tools and implements of our enjoyment is now nearly nonexistent, or is it?
I suppose that there are still a few of us that haven’t given up. I’m one of them. As a matter of fact folks like me have managed to take an old art and add new technology and make a superior boat. Boats that can be passed down from father to son are simply timeless and are being made right here in Alabama. But now we have the advantages of fiber glass or even Kevlar to make extremely strong and extremely light boats. With the advent of products like line-x coatings, it has taken the amount of upkeep needed on the hulls and dropped it to nothing. I suppose I’m just partial to the boats I make.
We brag about history but it is really each family with their own individual history that makes a city.
Does your family have that? Mine does, my grandfather left a split bamboo fly-rod. It is a family treasure. It has the hexagonal lay up that made R.L. Winston famous, it has the beautiful nickel ferrules, but the best part about that rod is that you can still see where his hands stained the cork grips. It was a part of the sport he loved and therefore a part of him. I don’t suppose that I will ever know who made that rod, the makers mark has long been gone. All that remains now are the marks left by its’ owner and those left by fish brought to hand.
I hope that soon I can begin to make my first split bamboo fly-rod. But now I am building boats. Boats that could become part of your family and your family’s history, and like the traditions what we share during these holidays, something that can be passed down from generation to generation.
To learn more or get in touch you can check out www.lostangler.com or visit us on facebook.com. In closing I will leave you with these thoughts by Jimmy Carter, “Why do I fish? The easiest answer is: my father and all of my ancestors did it before me.”