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December 08, 2016
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Preserving and reinventing tradition

Joe Fox in the historic Dette Trout Flies shop in Roscoe, NY.
Photos by Steven Schwartz

In the new Wulff Gallery and Catskill Rodmakers’ Workshop, the center’s executive director Jim Krull pointed out some of the items from legendary Catskill fly fishers Joan and Lee Wulff’s extensive collection. “Lee invented the fly fishing vest, sewing it himself. We have his second vest, from 1937, on display,” he said. In the workshop below there are extensive collections of rodmakers’ tools, patterns and machines including an original saw beveller constructed by George Halsteadand built sometime in the very late 1920’s to early 30s .

Coming up on October 12 is the Center’s annual Catskill Fly Fishing Hall of Fame induction and dinner. This year the honorees are Rusty Gates (conservationist, fly fisherman, author), Joe Humphries (fly fisherman, conservationist, author and educator), AJ Campbell (tackle collector and writer) and Paul Schmookler (fly tier, author and collector).

At the recent Catskill Rodmakers Gathering at the Center, 165 people from around the world came to learn about new and classic techniques of rod, reel and silk line construction according to Livingston Manor’s Mike Canazon. Mike is an accomplished rodmaker, having been hooked 14 years ago when fishing in Deposit, NY after he borrowed a split bamboo fly rod and “it came alive in my hand.”

He makes about five rods per year, building each piece by hand including the rod, handle, reel seat and hardware. He donates one or two as fundraising items for youth programs and sells the rest to customers who have pre-ordered. As he is building each rod, he thinks about each piece of the puzzle and how it will best serve the needs of the intended customer. “I handle each of the six pieces of split cane hundreds of time and many that are not the right fit for that rod might go into a future rod.”

The Catskills, the birthplace of fly fishing in America is, as Joe Fox says, “a real treasure. The fall is the perfect time to explore and discover the beauty of nature, the diversity of wildlife and the variety of small streams with actively feeding trout.”