Bamboo Tips - Contributors - Yasgur, Steve

< Home < Contributors < Yasgur, Steve

I'm Steve Yasgur, a Minnesota lawyer and relative rookie to this wonderful world of sliced fingers and skinned knuckles known as cane rodmaking -- at least at my level of competency.  I was born in Sullivan County, NY, where my fishing career began at about 4:30 one morning with my Dad waking me up to ask if I wanted to go fishing.  Diner breakfasts, minnow bucket, creaky rowboat in Hust Pond in the mist . . . all intoxicating stuff for a 4-year-old.  After Dad slowly let the fieldstone anchor over the side, I began drumming my feet on the bottom of the boat.  After Pop recovered his cool sufficiently -- after he got me to STOP (!) -- he asked why I DID that.  "Simple," I said, exhibiting a prescient insight into animal behavior that has gotten me nowhere in succeeding years, "I figured the fish would hear it and come to see what the noise was about.  Then you could catch 'em!"  (Hoo, boy!)

Did I mention I come from the school of carpentry that measures once, cuts twice, and curses often?

Against this background, you'll understand why I really had to suck it up when I began to build my first rod, which I did by relying on George Maurer and Bernard Elser's book.  Built my wife a 3-piece Payne 97.  Measured the section lengths wrong.  Didn't beef up the mid-section.  Planed it all on a Black & Decker Workmate.  Ouch!  But when that lightly flamed cane rose from the varnish, I felt a squeeze around my heart that hasn't relaxed to this day.

I'd repaired or made fishing rods since my teens (I'm 61).  But every time I was out on a trout stream with my spinning rod, it seemed as if the wise old dudes who always seemed to be playing a fish were playing it on a 3-piece, blonde cane rod that was casting a Spring green fly line.  This was all very mysterious stuff to me, who considered using a level-wind bait casting reel without getting a backlash on every cast to be a real skill.  In 1960, we moved to Westchester County.  While fishing for Bass one afternoon at the school pond, I saw a Largemouth come completely out of the water to eat a dragonfly, and that was the last straw.  I saved for and bought an 8-1/2-foot fiberglass Wright & McGill monstrosity you could kill Pythons with.  Couldn't appreciate the elegant Granger uplocking reel seat still in use on those rods, though, and I wish I had the rod today so I could scavenge the reel seat.  I started tying flies about the same time.  One of my neighbors was Herb Howard, a cousin of Ray Bergman's, and a "regular" at places like the Antrim Lodge in Roscoe during the Golden Age of American angling literature.  Herb was a formidable character, but always ready to demonstrate the use of the new fly tying material I'd just bought from him on his sun porch, which encompassed a staggering collection of glass vials, cedar cigar boxes, and paper bags, all marinading in mothballs.

One afternoon in the local thrift shop, I found a bamboo rod for sale for $5.  I didn't even know Winchester MADE flyrods, for Pete's sake, and this one had all the sections in a nice gray silk bag.  Only after the publication of "Casting a Spell" did I learn that this probably was a contract rod made for Winchester by Eustis Edwards.  In 1982, my wife purchased an Orvis Midge, used, from the Leonard shop as a Christmas gift, and I fished with nothing else until I'd made my own rod.  That occurred in Jeff Wagner's wonderful class at Sandusky, OH, five days of the most fun an aspiring rodmaker could have (fully clothed).  That rod was a Perfectionist taper.

I've only been on the list about a year, now, and have gained such a wealth of knowledge, I'm positively flastergasted!  (Ability to apply said knowledge, not so much, but I persist!)  But the most amazing thing has been the unqualified generosity of the wonderful men and women who inhabit this list, repaying the debt they feel they owe to their predecessors  with an outpouring of suggestions and knowledge to those coming after.  The feelings of gratitude and community you all have engendered in me are wonderful and humbling, at the same time.  It is a recurring lesson in community building, in honoring our teachers, and sharing what we've learned about Life "so far."  Long may we wave!  And thanks!

Site Design by: Talsma Web Creations

Tips Home - What's New - Tips - Articles - Tutorials - Contraptions - Contributors - Search Site - Contact Us - Taper Archives
Christmas Missives - Chat Room - Photo Galleries - Line Conversions - The Journey - Extreme Rodmaking - Rodmaker's Pictures - Donate - Store