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PostPosted: October 5th, 2018, 11:03 am 
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Joined: December 2nd, 2001, 1:00 am
Posts: 4210
Location: Ellsworth

Author: Kathy Scott

Disclaimer: It must be admitted, right up front, that I consider Kat a friend....so this won't be, by any stretch of anyone's admission, an impartial review. Please accept that as fact.

Now then. For those of you new to the world of bamboo fly rods, the name "Everett Garrison" is like The Beatles or Stones to music; the name Babe Ruth to baseball; Tom Brady to Quarterbacking; or Michaelangelo to painting and sculpture........in other words...the GOAT: The Greatest of All Time.

This book is quite unlike Kat's previous four books. Her prior four are all wonderfully light reading. Quite entertaining to sit down with on a frigid winter's night by the wood stove, and read chapter after chapter.

The Letters to Everett Garrison is different. It is a book where you sit down and pay attention. The gist of the book; as the title obviously suggests, are letters sent from various customers and friends to the man considered by bamboo cognesenti as the ultimate bamboo rod builder. Most of his customers belonged to the Anglers Club of New York........so they're not your "average Joe". His customers ranged from famous WWII Generals (e.g. Gen. George Marshall of the "Marshall Plan" fame) to the CEO's of multi-national corporations, to, rather incongruously I thought.......a high school student that worked the counter at a McDonald's in Pennsylvania. (As an aside: I seriously doubt that today any high schooler working the counter at any fast food joint could now afford a genuine Garrison rod; as they today fetch what a very decent used car might cost......if one could even get one's hand on one). I believe they're now priced somewhere in the $12,000 to $15,000 dollar range, but Banjo could be able to tell you much more definitively that I could.

Kat takes us through Garrison's life from his early days of rod building; which, btw, I wasn't aware that he built rods as a hobby in his spare time. Garrison was an engineer, and used engineering mathamatics (remember, this was the pre-computer pre-CAD drawing days) in designing his tapers.

Most of the older bamboo rodmakers were extremely secretive about their tapers. Garrison, along with his protege' Hoagy Carmichael, shared his tapers and rod building expertise with all of us.

If you enjoy bamboo rods; are interested in the history of bamboo rods; have a bamboo rod; might someday want to cast a bamboo rod; go to SuperBoo to learn more about, and cast, various bamboo rods and tapers, I have three words of advice for you. BUY THE BOOK! You wont regret it.

Now for a personal anecdote: My introduction to the world of bamboo came in my late 20's. I had just joined the Merrymeeting Bay Chapter of Trout Unlimited........and the first member I met was an elderly Gentleman by the name of Cecil Pierce. I quickly learned that he made bamboo rods; and Cecil invited me to his home down on Rt. 27 on Southport Island to cast his rods. He made two different rods.......both based on Garrison tapers. A 7' 5 wt. (his most popular rod) and an 8' 6 wt.......which he made very few of. I asked Cecil "Why Garrison tapers"?.......and he replied "Because they're the best rods made.....period". He also made, and had me cast, a 10' 8 wt. that he designed for a trip to the Kola Peninsula of Russia to fish for Atlantic Salmon that I cast in his driveway which he had outfitted with a Hardy St. John reel and a shooting head........and with which I threw over 100'....right out into the middle of Rt. 27. I was absolutely astonished. When Cec asked if I liked it, and was it a good rod....I said" Cec....this is a freaking rocket launcher!" He seemed pleased with my enthusiastic response.

As a struggling (read: starving) teacher in the late 70's/ early 80's making less than $10,000/year....my shelling out $1100 (over 10% of my gross salary) for a fly rod was simply not doable....no matter how much I wanted one.

Cecil passed away after I had known, and fished, with him for about 20 years........with me still not having one of his Garrison-taper rods. One winter evening a crusty old Russian came to a MMB-TU meeting bearing six (!!) Cecil Pierce rods. I couldn't get my checkbook out fast enough! My ex-Father In Law used to say that everything is for sale......for the right price. Uhhhhh......maybe; but you'd have to offer me a helluva lot of d'argent to pry that Cecil Pierce 212-E Garrison taper out of my hands.

I believe....Banjo can comment here..... that Banjo has an original Garrison rod; perhaps more than one. I'll never own one (unless I hit the Powerball....fat chance of that happening) but any number of guys/Gals on this Board can make you a Garrison-clone rod that you'll treasure as long as you're alive......and then pass down to your Grandkids.

I buy and sell fly tackle frequently.....but the only piece of tackle I treasure enough to put into my Will (!!) is my Cecil Pierce 212-E Garrison clone.

I could go on here, but this is getting long, so I'll stop. Go out....buy the book. It's not, as I wrote earlier, light fireside reading, but if you have ANY interest in bamboo or the history of bamboo, do yourself a favor and read this book. You'll learn a lot. Trust me.......

Dave M

"Fish the West every year. Life is short; and you'll be dead a long time." Chris Hutchins--2009

PostPosted: October 10th, 2018, 10:03 am 

Joined: February 27th, 2002, 1:00 am
Posts: 1536
Location: Mercer, Maine
Hi, Dave M and All,

Dave, I so appreciate the kind words. Thank you. It really hits home, some times, this rodmaking thing, that it is such a partnership, such a community. The person who designs the taper (Everett Garrison), the rod's maker (Cecil Pierce), and the angler (you) - all give the rod its life and history. Fun legacy to know, adds a richness, I think.

And then there's our collective chronicle, all those fly fishing books, and, in this case, a look at history. I appreciate the support in getting the word out. It would be difficult to justify the years of research, however fun, without people to read the book.

It was fun. Great fun.

I had over 300 letters, collected in a notebook, and then owned by the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum, which asked me to look at a way of sharing them.

Some were obvious. They had a famous name, a header with a title or address. George Marshall, Secretary of State. That he wrote about putting one of two rods on Bedell Smith's plane (Marshall kept the other) really turned them both into anglers from names in history for me. Or Luis Marden, National Geographic. He actually used to come to rodmakers' gatherings when David and I were first involved.

But others who wrote left hardly any clues. For a librarian, they were the most fun. Digging into old newspapers, obituaries, odder places. One guy was next to impossible, but finally appeared in an obscure reference to a covert black-ops style team.

And some were just so wonderfully you and me.

After reading all of the letters, and planning an approach, it took me over 40 hours to create a spreadsheet with each letter's writer's name, city (if given), date of the letter, specific rod mentioned (if given), and interesting notes (where they fished, etc). That way, I could re-order the letters by time period, trout or salmon rod, or note other makers correspondence (Garrison was well aware that people were looking for shared information - thank you Hoagy Carmichael for both the Movie and the Book).

Anyway, if anyone wants to know more process or findings, just let me know.

Or if you want a book, I can maybe save you postage from the publisher. It's a limited hardcover edition with signed and numbered book plates (some of you have the paperback that the Museum issued, but my regular publisher thought Garrison deserved a legacy hardcover).

See you at SuperBoo, if not before,


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Last edited by Kathy Scott on October 11th, 2018, 9:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
PostPosted: October 10th, 2018, 10:56 am 
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Joined: December 4th, 2001, 1:00 am
Posts: 5481
Location: Near the tying bench
This book is an angler's treasure chest full of history. I had the fortune to visit with Kathy and David at a farmhouse in a far off land (Michigan) a few years back. While there, Kathy mentioned she was contemplating taking on the project and I had the fortune to be able to look over the letters. Some really interesting threads there- and likely many more than we shall ever know. I fear in this age of electronic communication, that the days of someone being able to piece together such a volume are waning. How will the history of such an arcane thing as bamboo rodmaking be recorded in the future?

Anyhow- this book is a diversion from Kathy's usual writing style, more documentary in nature. I'm glad she took the project on. Well done Kathy.

"You never miss the water until the well runs dry" - traditional blues

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