Thursday, September 30, 2010

3M to Acquire Ross Reels

3M to Acquire Ross Reels

ST. PAUL, Minn. – September 30, 2010 – 3M announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Ross Reels, a Colorado-based manufacturer of fly fishing equipment and accessories. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Ross Reels is recognized as one of the top fly reel manufacturers in the United States. Its full line of products includes high quality fly rods, complete fly fishing outfits, reel outfits, rod cases, fishing pliers and other outdoor related products. 3M, through its Scientific Anglers brand, offers a wide variety of products and equipment for all fly fishing experiences, including fly lines, reels, rods, boxes and instructional DVDs.

“The addition of Ross Reels builds on 3M’s core fly fishing portfolio and further expands the business,” said Gabi Sabongi, vice president, New Business Ventures, 3M Consumer and Office Business. “The combination of the well-recognized Ross Reels brand products with 3M’s Scientific Anglers branded fly fishing lines, reels, rods and accessories will allow 3M to better serve consumers and retailers in North America.”

3M’s angling scientists and design team work in partnership with fly-fishing legends to develop cutting-edge technologies and ultimate fly line designs to modernize the sport. Throughout its 60 year history in this market, 3M has been inventing premier fly fishing products—from the contemporary floating fly line more than 50 years ago to the specialty core construction and patented Sharkskin technologies.

Ross Reels employs approximately 25 people at its operations in Montrose, Colorado. The transaction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter.

About Ross Reels

Established in 1973, and based in Montrose, Colorado, Ross Reels employs a team of skilled professionals who are passionate about the outdoors and bring real world experience into every aspect of design and manufacturing. Ross Reels is committed to producing the finest outdoor recreation products.

About 3M

A recognized leader in research and development, 3M produces thousands of innovative products for dozens of diverse markets. 3M’s core strength is applying its more than 40 distinct technology platforms – often in combination – to a wide array of customer needs. With $23 billion in sales, 3M employs 75,000 people worldwide and has operations in more than 65 countries. For more information, visit or follow @3MNews on Twitter.

Scientific Anglers and Sharkskin are trademarks of 3M.

- "3M to Acquire Ross Reels." 30 September 2010. Angling Trade. 30 September 2010.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I've friends - fishing partners - men whom I trust with some of the most important things in life: accurate and timely river reports, glimpses into my fly box, photographing those fish I've caught that are worthy of a photograph. I love these guys like family, like brothers. Really, I do.

But I find myself sometimes thinking that they're all a little nearsighted.

Here's the thing. Each of the boys is a trout fisherman of the highest order. Each chases salmo trutta, salvelinus fontinalis, and oncorhynchus mykiss armed with long rods, leaky waders, and rarefied passion. Each is absolutely dedicated to the pursuit of his chosen quarry, usually to the exclusion of any other species. They're trout chasers who rarely walk the road less traveled. I guess what I'm saying is that these guys are trout fishermen before they're fly fishermen.

Don't misunderstand me. The fellas are dedicated fly flingers, but if they're not chasing trout then chances are that they just aren't fishing. Such has been especially evident this summer as we've had virtually no rain, water levels have been eerily low, and water temperatures have been dangerously high. Trout fishing has been out of the question. Consequently, the boys and I haven't spent nearly as much time stream side as we usually do.

As for me ... well ... I tend to think of myself as a bug chucker first, and a trout hound second. I love cold rivers, emerging mayflies, and top feeding trout, but just about any fish that will take a fly gives me essentially the same thrill as a spinner slurping brown. Trout, bass, bluegill, carp, pike, steelhead ... it makes no difference to me. I love a well executed double haul, the rush of the take, and the adrenaline pumping uncertainty of fighting a solid fish. I'd fish in a toilet if the alternative were not fishing at all.

I suppose I'm going to take some heat from the boys. They'll suggest that I'm being obtuse, that I'm being insulting, that I'm offering some sort of a commentary about their preferences or aptitude. This couldn't be further from the truth. Like I said, I love these guys. They're great friends, and fine fishermen. I learn something from each of them nearly every time we're on the water together.

It's just that ... well ... I get a little lonely out there (here comes the Oprah moment). Sure, I like fishing alone well enough. Fishing alone is fine when there isn't any other choice, but from top to bottom I thoroughly enjoy hitting the water with the boys. If given the opportunity to do one or the other, I will always choose to have the company. Something as special as fly fishing - and all that fly fishing entails - simply begs to be shared.

Even if that means it's carp instead of brookies or bass instead of browns.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Paying It Forward

When I'm not fishing, tying, blogging, or responding to the triplets' incessant cries of "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy" ... I am a teacher of composition, rhetoric, and literature (also known as 12th grade English). And while it may seem a stretch, teaching can be a tough job. Yes ... I am painfully aware of all the arguments that might suggest otherwise.

Teachers have an extended summer vacation. Teachers have all those days off around the holidays. Many teachers don't teach; they spend the work day reading the newspaper. Teachers take Caribbean vacations courtesy of the tax-payer. Ten months in a classroom hardly equates to ten months on a crab boat in the Bering Sea.

I'm not going to try to dispel those myths here, and they are myths - except for the crab boat thing. Instead, I ask only that you suspend your disbelief, and try to understand that working with kids is sometimes very difficult. Not only does the job try one's patience, but it also erodes one's resilience. The ubiquitous chatter, wise cracks, and spit balls aren't what makes for a difficult day. The real challenge is the heartbreak. Over and over again, I hear the stories.

Mary's father is a drunk. Steven's mother has been out of work for over a year, and Steven works nights at the local grocery to pay his family's rent. Emma's uncle has been arrested for raping Emma's sister, and he was probably raping Emma too. These nightmares - and myriad others just as terrible - are incredibly sad, and all too common.

Even more common is the story of the talented young person who is too apathetic, lazy, or short-sighted to care much about his or her education. It is this apathy - a complete and all consuming lack of ambition with which I am too often confronted - that most affects me. I don't expect my students to be passionate about the content of my class; I'd be a fool if I did. I only hope the young people in my charge are passionate about something. With ever increasing frequency, they are not.

That's why I did something the other day that I have not done in the ten years since I first took ownership of my classroom. I took a student - a former student actually - fly fishing. When he was under my tutelage, William would often speak of fishing with his grandfather, and when he did he invariably smiled. I don't recall him ever smiling outside of those conversations about his grandfather.

As you might expect, Will knew I was a bug chucker, and often asked if he might someday join me on the river. I'm ashamed to say that fears of liability and litigation kept me from ever making that trip. His disappointment at having been repeatedly denied was obvious that last day of class. I've thought about Will quite a bit since then, and when I was given a chance to redeem myself I jumped at the opportunity.

To make a long story just a little bit shorter, Will and I finally managed to share some water. We ran into each other near the end of the summer. I made sure to give him my number, and an open invitation for a day on the river. He called that same night.

The following morning, we strung up a pair of long rods, and flailed away at one of my favorite sections of smallmouth water. Will cast surprisingly well. His grandfather must have been quite a teacher. After a dozen or so bass we were sated. We parted ways with a firm handshake, and an awkward bro-hug.

Later in the week, I received a series of text messages from Will (seems like everyone his age would rather text than talk). He thanked me for taking him, expressed his happiness at having caught a few fish, and intimated that he might want to go again. He also shared a rather remarkable story.

Following our trip, he returned home, and flipped through his mother's photo albums. He explains that he felt nostalgic, and was looking for pictures of his grandpa. He found several, including a picture that was taken when Will was just a boy. The photograph might have depicted the first time Will fished with his grandfather as he didn't remember the day or the context in which the photo was taken.

What struck him most about the photo is that he and I had fished in exactly the same spot that he and his grandfather had fished some 15 years prior.

So ... what's the point?

I guess the point is this. Kids are surprising. They seem not to care. They seem apathetic, disaffected, and lazy. They're not. It's all a show. Kids are razor sharp, deeply emotional - virtual well springs of passion and fury. They need to know that someone cares enough to see the best in them, even when they bury that character under layers of ignorance and bravado. They want someone - anyone really - to care enough to share with them a few laughs and a day on the water.

That leaves me with only one more thing to say.

Thank you Will.

Thank you for taking time away from your friends to spend a day with me. Thank you helping me to take off my blinders. Thank you for refreshing - if not restoring - my waning faith in young people, and helping me to realize that people like you are almost always more than they seem to be. You're a good man, and I think I'm a better man for having known you. 

I can only hope that someday I'm given the opportunity to pay it all forward.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Interview with a Master Angler

Earlier this year, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife began what it calls the Master Angler Program. According to the promotional material on Fish and Wildlife's website, "the program is intended to recognize the achievements of anglers who catch exceptionally-sized fish from Vermont water ... [and] the fish's accomplishment in surviving and growing to such an admirable size." 

And why not? Don't we all like to be recognized when we do something well? Isn't this especially true of bug chuckers, who have matched or surpassed their own personal milestones. The simple truth is that as long as men have been baiting hooks with meat or adorning them with fur and feathers, they've been telling the tales of their catch and the stories of the ones that got away. For proof, one need only look at the recent explosion in fly fishing related media: magazines, e-zines, HD films, blogs.

Vermont has provided a forum by which we might all be recognized, and perhaps learn a little something along the way. One of the first anglers to embrace the program, and the first to receive recognition as a master angler is Drew Price, a guide working with Stream and Brook Fly Fishing of Middlebury, Vermont. 

The Rusty Spinner recently had the good fortune to interview Drew about fishing, guiding, and Vermont's exciting new program ...

TRS:      How did you come to fly fishing?

Drew Price:  I got my first fly rod outfit in December of 1993 as a graduation present when I completed my first degree at SUNY Plattsburgh. I had been spin fishing for a few years but I wanted to try fly fishing. It seemed more challenging and in some ways more substantial to me. So I practiced casting in the snow that winter, got a fly tying kit and started tying, and then didn’t catch a fish until the middle of May!

TRS:  To where have you traveled to fish?

Drew Price:  I have fished all over New York state for a variety of species from muskies to salmon and steelhead, been to Cape Cod for stripers and I have been twice to the Everglades in Flamingo, Florida for snook, baby tarpon, and anything else we could catch.

TRS:  Have you any one place you tend to think of as a favorite?

Drew Price:  Well I try to get to Oak Orchard Creek in NY at least once a year, usually twice. Huge browns get my attention for sure! I really want to get back to the ‘Glades now that I know what I am doing much better.

TRS:  What place haven't you visited that's on your bucket list?

Drew Price:  I am not sure that we have enough space for that! Here are a few:
- East Texas for alligator gar
- Midwest for buffalo (the fish not the mammal)
- Somewhere for bonefish and shark
- The Amazon for a wide variety of fishes
- Mongolia for taimen

I suspect you get the picture… A lot of what I am most interested in are non-traditional species. And fish that get big. But I will fish almost anywhere.

TRS:  What are your home waters?

Drew Price:  The Lake Champlain watershed is what I really consider my home waters. I fish primarily the Winooski and Otter Creek watersheds, but I have spent a great deal of time on other rivers (especially in New York) and a lot of time on the shallow bays of the lake.

TRS:  When did you begin guiding?

Drew Price:  That was about 3 years ago. Stream and Brook was looking for some extra help and I thought I could bring them something a bit different. Now the Big Game fishing that I brought to the guide service is almost a quarter of our business.

Longnose gar up close and personal (note the "hookless fly"- although to be legal in VT it has a hook point: a size 20 dry fly hook)

TRS:  What do you enjoy most about your work?

Drew Price:  I meet some really cool and interesting people! And the office environment doesn’t suck to be in either.

  You seem to have very eclectic tastes in terms of the fish you pursue. Have you a favorite species?

Drew Price:  No. I love to fish for almost anything. Except walleye. Totally overrated fish.

TRS:  Of the species you chase, which do you think is most under appreciated by fly fishermen?

Drew Price:  I think that many species are underrated by fly anglers. From sunfish to bowfin to carp and pike many species have a bad rap with a lot of folks. I find that a lot of the “next generation” of fly anglers has a greater appreciation for these fish rather than the old school mentality of trout and salmon only. I do find a big bias from the traditionalists. Kind of like this “why would you bother” attitude. I bother because it is fun. To borrow a line from Ben and Jerry, if it’s not fun, why do it?

Drew getting a kiss from one of his favorite targets. I think that's Drew on the right.

TRS:  Why should fly fishermen consider pursuing these fish?

Drew Price:  The challenge that they present. I started fishing for trout and salmon and still do.  But let’s face it, if you run into a situation on a trout stream you can probably find someone that has written about how to meet that challenge. There is a kind of constant with it, knowing when and where something will hatch, how to imitate that insect, etc… A lot of what I have found angling for alternative species is that I am learning a lot about what I am doing with it every time I go out. No one has written much about it. I have dialed it in pretty well so far, but it is always a learning experience.

Most of these fish are bigger than your typical freshwater fly rod target. They fight hard, can be tough to get to take, and are in places you don’t see many other fly anglers. A lot of these species are also safe to fish for when it is super hot out (usually the best time to target them) making them a great option during the heat of summer.

Personally, I really enjoy the variety of angling for so many species. I would get bored just chasing one kind of fish or group of fish.

TRS:  As best you can, please explain the Vermont Master Class program.

Drew Price:  I think the best thing here to take a look at the Vermont Fish and Wildlife website.

TRS:  What is the goal of the program?

Drew Price:  There really are three goals for the program: showcase the excellent fishing variety available in Vermont, acknowledge anglers that have made exceptional catches, and to collect valuable biological information from the anglers that have submitted their catches.

TRS:  How does an angler go about submitting his or her catch for recognition?

Drew Price:  Super simple! Just go to the aforementioned website, fill out a form and send in a picture with the online form. The important things to keep in mind are to know the minimum lengths for the species you are targeting, take a picture that can be used (best to take multiple pictures) and resize the photo before submitting it. Oh yea, and get out there to fish your butt off!

Shawn Good - Vermont state fisheries biologist and mastermind behind the VT Master Angler Program with a Master Class bowfin

TRS:  How many entries have you submitted

Drew Price:  So far, 27 entries with 10 different species. I am hoping to increase both of those numbers. And they are all on flies.

TRS:  Which entry did you find most notable?

Drew Price:  They are all notable! Seriously, they really are. All of them are large representatives of each species and were challenging to catch. A lot of homework went into figuring out when and where to target these fishes. Obviously it has paid off.

TRS:  Have you any plans to expand your list of Master Class fish?

Drew Price:  Well my original goal was to hit 10 species. Now, I will shoot for 15. I want to get as many as I can on a fly rod. I would say that I can get all but 4 or 5 of the 33 species on a fly, but then again, I have not targeted those few species yet. I have caught bullhead on flies before so I do think I could get one of those and probably a channel cat too…. I want as many as I can!

It all begins again starting January 1, 2011! The Master Angler Program resets at the beginning of each year. I am already plotting out my fishing for next season with the program in mind.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Patriot Day

Today, I find myself thinking of that horrible day nine years ago. I was in my classroom when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. My students and I watched as the second plane hit its target, and we were all aghast as the towers fell.

Nine years, but it seems like only yesterday. The memory is fresh. So too is the anger.

Today, The Rusty Spinner isn't thinking much about fishing.

God bless the souls of those poor unfortunates who - nine years ago today - sacrificed their lives to a hateful ideology. God bless their families. God bless our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who fight to right a wrong, and to keep the rest of us safe.

God bless The United States of America.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mr. Smith Goes to Arkansas

The first time I fished with Shawn Brillon, I was left dumbfounded. It must have been some ten or twelve years ago when I met him at a predetermined spot alongside a little tributary to the main river. As I recall, it was in the predawn moments when Shawn parked his Grand Cherokee, exited, walked to the rear, and popped the hatch back. From a bag in the back he pulled out a bottle of brandy, and upended it. When I refused his offer of a hit, he again upended the bottle, this time draining it. While I looked on, he sat on the tailgate, donned his waders, and dropped five or six cans of cheap beer down inside. After blowing snot out of each nostril, he looked at me and exclaimed, "Well, I'm ready fuck nuts. What's taking you so long?"

Shawn and I have both come a long way since that first trip together. We both drink better beer, although not nearly so much as we once did, and we try to stay away from the brandy. I'm a teacher now, and Shawn is the fly and fly tying product developer for the Orvis company. I find I'm sometimes jealous of Shawn's job. He travels quite a bit; often going to Colorado, Idaho, the Florida Keys, or Montana. He has the opportunity to fish in places I'll likely only ever dream of fishing. Most recently, Shawn visited the White River in Arkansas as part of a trip to Wapsi.

As you'll see from the photographs included below, Wapsi isn't nearly so ... antiseptic ... a place as you might otherwise imagine. There is fur and fluff everywhere. The equipment used to process the materials so many of us use is somewhat archaic, and looks to have done duty in a 19th century textile mill. The sheer volume of material is absolutely staggering. Also staggering is the quality of fish the clowns at Wapsi take after dark. Clearly, Mountain Home, Arkansas is a fly tyer's nirvana.

How much marabou do you suppose could be dyed at one time in these vats? For reference, those are canoe paddles laying across the top.
Saddle hackle ... half full or half empty?
Someone has a lot of venison in his freezer.
So, what do you do for a living? Oh .. you know ... I staple rodents to plywood.
Dubbing mixer?
Is that you Bambi?
Oh ... the humanity!
Z-lon or Rapunzel's hair?
Somebody turned the Wapsi boys loose on Sesame Street.
Anybody know where I put that bag of 500 pink bucktails?
Just in case anyone needs to tie 525,000 dozen hendricksons.
I'm pretty sure this thing was pictured in my 11th grade history textbook in a section on child labor.
And now I draw your attention to the center ring.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Stuff

The Rusty Spinner is now offering steelhead and carp themed merchandise in the storefront.

You know you need a new coffee mug.