The way this tale started was in a faraway place on an all expense government funded camping trip. I quickly learned that one of the deadliest combinations on the face of the earth for one’s pocketbook is hours and hours of mind numbing boredom, a credit card, and the internet. During one of my sessions in an attempt to google to the end of the internet I ran across a posting that this “dude” James Reid was building bamboo fly rods, and more specifically two handed bamboo fly rods. At that time I did not think much about it but noticed that he was building a fan base that was giving him high remarks. When I got back from my voyage, I looked James up after finding his newly built website. I looked at all his rod offerings to figure out what would be the ideal bamboo rod to fish in Hawaii. The rod that stood out to me the most was the 8883 Salt Special. I gave James an initial ring on the phone to chat about his thoughts on the rod and our local fishing conditions and he said that it would be a good fit. I wasn’t able to send my deposit right away to save my place in the bamboo build line, but told him after I made payment on a rod that was in-bound I would let him know. That evening I texted my buddy Craig about what rod I was going to buy. After Craig checked out the rod, I found out the following day that he stole my idea and sent in his deposit. At that time the wait was approximately 6 months. By the time I send my deposit it was up to 1 ½ years.
Sometime during my long wait, James had completed the Salt 8883 ordered by Craig, and as luck would have it, he was scheduled to be in the Islands with his family. I asked if he could swing couple days for a side trip to Oahu. The justification would be that he needed to deliver Craig's rod but the underlying reason was to find time to fish new waters. I was ecstatic when I heard that he could make it, but more so since he said he was bringing a bunch of rods for us to try. It was a blast showing him around our fishery.
One of the rods that James brought down during his that visit was an 11ft 5wt double handed rod which really got the gear in my brain churning. When James notified me that my number in the line was coming up I was really stoked but I had to really think about what rod I wanted him to build. I was torn between a single-handed rod for sight fishing bonefish and a double-handed rod for everything else I do. James put an end to my turmoil by suggesting I get one of his newly designed “companion rods”. I asked him what that was and when he explained I was gung-ho over the idea. I was familiar with the concept since I have two of what Bob Meiser calls a “conversion rod”. What it boils down to is you can have two very different rods by switching out various parts. The Salt Companion rod has a total of 5 pieces (two identical tips, a middle section, and two different butts) that can be configured into a 2 piece single-handed rod or a 3 piece double handed rod. Once all the specifics for the rod were ironed out I left James to work on the rod. He provided me occasional updates on the progress of the rod that kept my eyeball popping out of its sockets.
(Photo rod done)
Eventually he let me know that the rod was completed and if he wanted me to have it sent. I had been trying to convince him during the year that he needed to come back to Hawaii to deliver my rod in person. I must have twisted it really hard since he was able to pull it off. With the dates locked in on the calendar, I told him the only way I wanted to christen such a fabulous rod was while we fished together.
Prior to his trip to Hawaii I read on a blog by Todd Hirano that they got to fish together in Oregon
During that trip I read that he encountered challenging fishing conditions but as always he made the most of the trip. When I thought about how it was last year, I remembered we had to endure many days of super high winds, “cold” temperatures, and occasional heavy tropical downpours. I was hoping James wasn’t planning on bring the bad fishing conditions with him to Hawaii. After what felt like an eternity, the dates for James’s arrival came and went.
Couple of the high notes of the trip was the initial unveiling of my new rod. The nickname he gave that rod was Dean’s Bonefish Buddy, which is prefect since it has now become my most favorite rod to fish.
Getting to break in the new rod by catching a bunch of cool fish with the builder of the rod. I can tell there was much love and aloha put into building the rod which made it an extra special time.
(Photo of first bonefish on new rod)
(Photo James nice Hawaiian bone)
(Photo First Moana Kali on the fly)
Meeting new friends Aki and Elliot along the way and inviting one of them fish with us. We got to fish with Aki “AKA” Bonefish Sandbagger that caught his bonefish within 10 minutes at the start of the day. The inside joke was that we were making fun of him since we suspected he fished the rest of the day without a fly so we would invite him again next time he was back in town.
(Photo making new friends)
Tagging several bonefish that James caught.
(Photo James on board with Bonefish Tagging Program)
Three Bamboo Bonefish Buddies (James, Craig, and myself) fishing together all with James Reid rods. We were all supposed to christen our bamboo rods but to date I think Craig can still sell his rods as “mint condition; lightly fished”. I better not give Craig a hard time since he could only fish with us one afternoon. Sorry no photos since I forgot my camera.
Showing James the beauty of our Islands.
(Photo James soaking in Aloha)
Catching the fabled "monster bones of Hawaii" that everyone hears about.
(Photo monster 13 inch bone)
Fishing hard every day, of which many of our fishing days starting off at the sound of Reveille, and ended our days at the sound of Retreat.
(Photo end of another perfect day in paradise)
One of the most abundant winter visitors to the Hawaiian Islands is the Kolea or Pacific Golden Plover. This is an interesting seabird that breeds in the high Arctic on Siberian and Alaskan coasts.
(Photo Kolea wintering in Hawaii)
These birds, using precise navigation, make a direct flight from Alaska to Hawaii across 2,700 miles of open Pacific to return to the same winter territory each winter. Like the Kolea, I am hoping the seed has been planted that James and wife Emily will make that faithful annual winter trip to Hawaii to get some sun, fun, and fish.