Welcome to the Cracker Barrel, last time we finished segment V
which had me chasing myself back and forth between my northern clinics and we
discussed several different Dickerson rods including a casting rod I had won in
an auction on eBay, a 9016 once belonging Tim Bedford and the 8015 Guide
Special and I left you with the fact that I wasn’t sure the 8015 GS was
destined to stay with due to it being too similar to other rods I enjoyed that
had its ability and that I also felt the 8014 G I owned was a superior caster
as well. Well the coffee is brewed and the stove humming along just as fine as
you’d want let’s get started.
I wrapped up my weeklong tour of my northern clinics and
headed back home knowing I’d have a lot to catch up on at home and at work
having been away a week with very little PC access meant I would have a load of
emails to catch up on, chores to do at home, await the arrival of the Dickerson
casting rod plus endless things to do at the clinic I worked at and the other clinic
slightly north of me, such was the life I led.
The next few weeks went by quickly and during the second
week a cardboard tube arrived containing the Dickerson casting rod, a sweet
little 2 piece rod made in 1939 with ACC after the date. It appeared as new as
the day it was made but unfortunately it came without a bag or tube, I did not
know if it ever had one, ant the initials ACC kept running around in my head as
to what they might mean, an owners initials maybe but if that were the case why
were there no periods between them?
While giving the rod a courtesy wiggle I could feel the
action into the grip and being only 6’6” it gave me cause to think about that
rare 6’6” fly rod Dickerson built and how this rod could have easily been a fly
rod or at the very least a spin fly like many rod makers had available but that’s
a story for the future.
I received an email from a gentleman asking if I ever
traveled up his way as he had a couple of rods he’d like me to look at for
evaluation and appraisal purposes and some he simply wished to share. I replied
that I did come pretty close to where he was when I had to work at the other
clinic just north of where I generally worked and would let him know when I expected
to be there again as I generally stayed at one of the motels in town and we
could meet. I finished catching up on email and picked up the casting rod and
figured why not give Jim Schaaf a call and maybe he could give some meaning to
Jim’s wife answered the phone and I told her who I was and
she yelled down to Jim in his shop and announced it was banjo and the next
thing I knew Jim was saying hello. We exchanged pleasantries and I told Jim
about Tim Bedford’s 9016, the 8015 GS and the casting rod. Jim told me he was
familiar with Tim’s 9016 and that it was special since Dickerson made the
extension butt using a male ferrule on the ext butt and a female ferrule
soldered into the cap end of the rods butt and mated with the bamboo that came
through the grip and reel seat. I told him it was definitely different compare
to the 8015 GS ext butt since that was more like what I would see with Leonard,
Payne and FE Thomas. I also discussed the casting rod with Jim.
Jim asked if there were any other nomenclature on the rod
shaft and I told him Dickerson had penned 3/8 oz lures so it would be a spin
casting rod. Jim said that since there were no periods he felt as I did that it wasn’t meant to be made for an
individual but rather for an organization or club and that he would dig into
the Dickerson ledgers which he had a copy made prior to donating the originals,
along with other Dickerson equipment, to the American Fly Fishing Museum and
would call me when he had something, I thanked him and we hung up.
I was asked at work if I could spend 3-5 days at the clinic
north of me doing some maintenance and upgrades to various equipment, PC, LAN
gear etc and I said I’d make the arrangements with the staff there and motel
arrangements as well. Once I had a date and period established I emailed the
gentleman who had written me and set a time and date to meet.
Unlike when I went to the 2 clinics in the far north my work
days were pretty routine since I didn’t have to drive far from the motel to the
clinic and my workday was rather easy to keep on track and I had a good 1 ½ hours
before the gentleman was to meet me at the motel so I dug out a 6’6” FE Thomas
2 piece fly rod I was cleaning up and trying to salvage the varnish and wraps
when I heard a knock at my door.
The fellow was an older man who walked with the aid of 2
canes and asked if I were banjo and I told him I was and that he must be Alex
and he concurred. I asked if he needed help with the rods and he nodded his
head that he did so we went out to his vehicle and I carried them back to the
In all there were 4 rods in the bundle a 9’6” Montague that
had been refinished and needed more work to be complete and we spoke about that
rod which unfortunately was not one I felt worth putting the time and effort,
let alone the dollars, into salvaging as it was a very heavy rod and would be
too much for most folks to handle let alone Alex. The next 2 rods were very
interesting and said they were made by one of his old friends, and neighbor,
Maine rod maker Cecil Pierce. I’d heard of Cecil Pierce and knew he had
recently passed away and he had some very unorthodox methods and ideas on rod
construction and was anxious to see the rods.
Alex unpacked the rods and assembled them and set them on
the second bed in my hotel room. He told me to help myself to inspecting them
and if I wanted to cast them he had some reels in his trunk. I flexed the first
rod, an 8’ 2 pc and it had a powerful very fast and very stiff flex, the second
rod was an 8’6” 2 pc that was slightly less stiff but still very powerful. Alex
explained how Cecil built his rods and showed me a rod section that gave a birds
eye view to his construction method. The rod was hollow and not hollow built
like EC Powell or Lew Stoner and even Dickerson who built several hollow built
rods, Cecil’s rods were hollow just like a graphite or fiberglass rod. How
Cecil did this was he cut away the entire pith, the soft middle of the bamboo
segment, leaving an inside radius and he applied a sheet of graphite using glue
to form a bond to each of the 6 sections and then he rolled the glued sections
together and bound them using the traditional cord wrap method most makers
used. It was easy to see why they were so stiff as the graphite also assisted
in the construction, while unique it wasn’t something I personally was
interested in owning and declined the offer to purchase one when Alex presented
it but told him I would certainly give it some thought as they would be of interest
to different folks in the bamboo community when I would attend a gathering.
The final rod that Alex brought was simply in a bag and it
looked like an old curtain from the 30’s, my friend Streamer would call it the
Chicago Bordello Bag but that’s getting a bit ahead in the story. The rod was a
Dickerson 901812, i.e. 3 pc 9’ rod with ferrules of 18/64” on the mid and 12/64”
on the tips, several wraps needed immediate attention, one tip was down 4” and
parts of the varnish needed help but all in all a pretty nice looking Dickerson
from 1946, seems like the old term when it rains, it pours was true even with
Dickerson rods as they seemed to be in my face everywhere I turned of late.
Alex offered the 901812 for sale and after a few minutes discussing prices I
paid him and helped him with the 3 remaining rods and told him I’d think about
the Pierce rods as well and send him an email.
After Alex left I grabbed a 7 WT and 8 WT line already in
the reel bag I bring with me on such trips and went out to the back parking lot
to give it a workout and quickly came to see it loved the Cortland long belly 7
WT Big Game Line I tried on it and it felt much nicer than even Tim Bedford’s
9016, seems that as quick as a Dickerson came into my life along came another
ready to take its place in my heart and I had yet another dilemma to sort
through. I packed the rod up in my room and went out for a bite to eat.
I returned to my room about 1 ½ hours later and heard a beep
beep beep and looked to see if the light were blinking on the telephone and it
was not then realized I had left my cell phone on the night stand and it was
what was beeping so I opened it expecting a low battery signal but was greeted
with a missed call and it was from Jim Schaaf so I dialed his number.
Jim answered the phone and we exchanged greetings, he told
me he found several references to ACC from 1938-1940 and he figured they were
for the American Casting Club here they would hold casting meets and
competitions and figured the rod was built for them, I thanked Jim and told him
I was going to try and get a decent bag and tube for it someday. I sat there reflecting
the past month and the Dickerson rods that were now in my possession and knew I’d
have to come to some semblance as to which would be staying once I got home.
Well the coffee pot is empty as Bob Corsetti used to say when he ran his
catalog and another segment to the Dickerson series of the Cracker Barrel has
as well, be with us next time as we discuss more Dickerson rods I have known.
Originally written by me and some friends 2002-04 for the Virtual Fly Shop, Flyfisherman Magazine Online. Feel free to discuss the series and if you would like to become a member all you have to do is post something. The Cracker Barrel has been published in book form with the limited first edition hard cover sold out and a paperback version will be available early 2011.
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