Welcome to the Cracker Barrel. Last time we left off with my
packing up the rod per Jim Schaaf’s directions. The coffee is brewed and the
stove is blaring so let’s continue.
I packaged the 7613 as Jim instructed me and the package
weighed 7 1/3 lbs, I drive it to the shipping agent to send it FedEX Overnight
Insured with signature required and it cost $179 and change.
I was told by the shipping agent that it would arrive at the
destination for delivery no later than 10:00 western time which meant Jim would
have it by 12:00 eastern time. Jim told me he would call and leave a message on
my home answering machine and since I had to be on a teleconference from
12:30-2:00 I could use my cell phone to check for his message using my secure
I dialed home 4 times during the teleconference with no
message from Jim so I figured I’d wait until I got home since I leave at 2:30
coming in at 5:00 in the morning.
I got home and saw there was no message light blinking which
meant Jim had not called so I started getting things ready for dinner. It was
after dinner the phone rang and it was Jim, he told me the rod arrived safely
and he apologized for not calling and leaving me a message but he had been with
the rod all day and was still perplexed with it. My immediate thought went back
to the Dickerson book where Jim and Dr. Stein spoke about finding only one rod
that was counterfeit and it was so obvious, all I could think was Jim was going
to tell me it was not a Dickerson rod!
What felt like an eternity waiting for Jim to elaborate on
what had been said was probably 30 seconds but felt like an eternity. Jim
finally broke his silence and began to elaborate on the 7613. He told me it was
the lightest 7613 he’d ever held having cast the 29 that were found while
researching the book. The sock was definitely an Orvis sock and the tube was
definitely from the aircraft tubing purchase Dickerson made with Paul Young
after WWII and quite scarce.
Since Jim had not said the rod was original I asked and he
said it most definitely was and the best 7613 he’d ever cast. Jim then
explained why he was perplexed, all of the 7613 rods he had seen were either
light, medium or heavy, L,M and H, i.e. the light version was a 5 wt dry fly
medium fast, the medium was a 5 wt dry fly and fast and the heavy a 5/6 wt very
fast taper. He went on to say my rod did not fit in any of those categories and
it would be lighter than the L that he was used to and when he took the
ferrules measurement it was closer to 12.5/64” rather than 13/64” which caused
him to stop and cast the rod.
Jim said that in his opinion the rod shined at 40’ but could
definitely cast much further but it was definitely meant to perform well on small
water. I told Jim that I found the owner of the rod owned a large parcel of
land called Fletcher’s Bloody Woods and donated it to the state of MI for the
citizens to enjoy and that it had several streams running through it that had
trout, Jim felt that was exactly what the rod was designed to do.
Once my breathing was in control and I found I could speak I
thanked Jim for what he’d found and asked about the overall condition of the
rod. Jim said a few of the wraps had dried a bit but he could save them by
injecting varnish under them with a hypodermic needle and one needed to redone.
I asked if he had the yellow silk to get a match and he told me the wraps weren’t
yellow they were Italian red gold and he knew that because he had the stock of
Dickerson silk from the rod shop and that was what was written on the spool of
silk he had in his hand. I was very surprised at this since I thought they were
yellow and had changed color with the varnish aging over time.
I gave Jim permission to do whatever was needed to maintain
the integrity and fishability of the rod and asked him if he had enough silk
for the second tip. Jim told me he wouldn’t make a second tip for the rod and
again I was speechless since it was why I sent it out to begin with so I asked
Jim went on to explain that while he certainly could make a
tip for the rod and it would act just like it was made for it as he had the
wooden taper fixture for the rod and it could be duplicated but he felt the rod
deserved better. I told Jim that using Dickerson’s machines to build a tip was
about as good as it could get at this point and was still confused as to why he
would not make a tip, Jim said that a rare rod such as this deserved a real
Dickerson tip and he had 3 7613 tip blanks Dickerson had made that came with
the ship inventory and he felt that is what the rod should have. We discussed
what the cost difference would be and I was happy to tell Jim to go ahead and
do what he suggested, Jim said he’d set the rod right and let me know when it
was ready for shipment.
As was the case work had gotten in the way and thoughts of
the 7613 were not at the fore when the doorbell rang and I answered it to find a
FedEX driver asking for my signature and a large tube was handed to me. Knowing
I had not purchased another fly rod lately I was puzzled and when I saw the
return address I knew the 7613 had returned but did not know why since Jim
Schaaf had never contacted me that it was ready to be shipped nor had he told
me the final cost of the second tip and work he’d done to the rod.
I carefully opened the dense walled tube knowing what to
expect in how it was packaged since I had followed Jims instruction when I
shipped it I knew how he had packed it. One I got to the tube I found a plastic
zip lock was taped to it and it contained some paraffin, lint free cloth and polyester
Q-tips with instructions on keeping the ferrules clean. It also contained a
letter from Jim stating what had been done for restoration, information about
the second tip and what the script on it meant and a brief description of the
rods action and a bill for work accomplished. I looked at the new tip and it
was beautiful, the inscription reads LLD 74 the same year I was married. I quickly
went to the phone to call Jim to let him know it had arrived safely and to give
him heck about sending it without payment.
Jim answered the phone and I told him who it was and that
the 7613 was home again in Maine and why had he not contacted me as to what I
owed him for the work prior to shipping it. Jim said he thought I might get the
chance to fish it before fishing season concluded and he just shipped it, he
further stated that if I didn’t like the work then I didn’t owe him anything. I
sent the payment out overnight the next morning. Well the coffee pot is
definitely empty and thus ends another series of the Cracker Barrel. Join us
next time as the series about Dickerson rods continues and we discuss a
shootout between the 7613 and several well know makers models.
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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