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Discussion Starter #1
Last year, my friend RyanAK made inquiries here on my behalf about locating a Wes Drain reel, and discovering possible relationships between Wes Drain, Robert P. Terrill (originator of the Surgeon General and other steelhead fly patterns) and Paul H. Young of Detroit, MI (mid-20th century bamboo rod maker). I own a Paul H. Young 9'0" "Bob Doerr" salmon/steelhead rod that was built for Robert P. Terrill and subsequently owned by Wes Drain. I recently acquired a Wes Drain reel with the intention of matching it to this rod.



My interest in Wes Drain grew out of the research I have done for years on Paul H. Young (see my Paul H. Young Database, the largest publicly-available source of information on this rod builder) and more recently on Robert P. Terrill, Ph.D. graduate from Stanford University, economist, and holder of various US State Dept. posts at the end of World War II through the Eisenhower administration, who retired to Oregon to pursue steelhead. Terrill owned at least four Paul H. Young bamboo rods, of which I currently own and fish two, including the "Bob Doerr" (named after the Hall of Fame second baseman for the Boston Red Sox, and Rogue River steelhead angler. The flies in the photo below are a Baron and a Green Highlander tied by Bill Costello).



I always try to research as much as possible the previous owners of my Young rods. In the case of Terrill's "Bob Doerr" rod that was later owned by Drain, it seemed most appropriate to try to find a Drain reel (the fly shown in the photo below is a Skunkade tied by Alec Jackson.



I seek any information folks can share about the Drain reel, generally acknowledged to be scarce, but estimates of the total number produced vary from three to thirty. For example, did Drain build them in a machine shop at Boeing, as I have heard? Are documented examples of his flies, such as Drain's 20, or flies tied by Terrill, in any public or private collections? Are there any letters, correspondence, photos or other documents linking Drain and Terrill, or linking either of them to Paul Young? I would be grateful for any information that helps me better research and understand the legacy and accomplishments of steelheaders Wes Drain and Robert P. Terrill. Many thanks for PMs or replies here.

Here are some additional photographs of this 4"-diameter steelhead reel built by Wes Drain. It is a strong but smooth-running click-drag reel (note the forty teeth in the gear; a Hardy St. John has only twenty-five):













Please visit my Paul H. Young Database pages!
 

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Quashnet,

One of Wes' reels was a raffle prize at the Washington Steelhead Flyfisher's party earlier this month. So we got to talking about when Wes was making these reels. I recall discussing the number of reels that Wes made, and the consensus is that there are six. With most of the oldtimers being gone, you could probably learn as much as possible by talking with Alec Jackson. The men who were close with Wes at that time have also passed away, so I can't think off hand of others who might be able to add information.

Wes did not work at Boeing and was retired when he made these reels. He made them at home on his small metal lathe. I recall Wes saying that the Hardy St. John was the basic model he made his design from. He decided on adding a counter-weight to the spool and leaving the spool unported. I remember his saying that machining the spools was particularly difficult.

I have an E.C. Powell rod from Wes' collection and am pleased to own a small piece of PNW steelheading history.

Sg
 

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I was fishing the Skagit or Sauk in the early 1990s, with John Farrar as our guide. We pulled onto shore for lunch, and John showed us a Wes Drain reel that he'd just received. You might contact him at Patrick's Fly Shop in Seattle.
 

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Thanks for posting this. Its always interesting reading about the history and development of our sport. Like many, I was only aware of Mr.Drains fly: Drains 20. so seeing the reel(s) is very interesting

Though I'm Canadian and much of what is recorded of the early days of our sport comes from Washington state, there is a Canadian connection. Not wanting to derail or hijack this thread I'll leave it at that as its only peripherally relevant. Being able to still seek out some of the second and 3rd generation gentlemen who were part of the sports development is something that should be done before it is too late. I'm lucky enough to have spent time with and fished with fellows who fished this areas water back in the 1940's and 50's before many of the dams went in. It always was a thrill to hear the stories of those days.
 

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Very cool reel :smokin::smokin:
That is a bit of history right there , congratulations on the find :)
Paired with the bamboo rod , not much out there that would be a cooler set-up !!


Mike
 

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Have you visited the "Classic Fly Rod Forum"

Maybe ask for info there.

Lots of fellows that specialize in makers of all things fly fishing.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you for the posts here,as well as PMs and other contacts to date and in the future. I have now seen images of a gold-and-black Drain reel marked for saltwater coho use, dated 1985 and believed to be the first one built. One correspondent has a black Drain reel almost identical to mine; he reports that ten reels were made and distributed by Drain, followed by five more reels found after Drain's death in his home workshop. It seems as though now is the time to develop as many facts as possible, before all memories fade. I continue to seek any relevant letters, photos, or other documents.

On Monday afternoon I fished the Drain reel and Doerr rod, and caught a twelve-inch brown trout. So I put this outfit away in favor of a 7'6", 4-weight Paul H. Young trout rod, and promptly caught a twenty-inch brown trout. I don't seem able to match the appropriately-sized angling outfit with its designated quarry. The twenty-incher on the four-weight rod was a blast, though.
 

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Hi, gang. Not much to add, except to say that Quash is one of those anglers who honors the history of our sport through deep research into a subject that captures his interest, and then sharing his knowledge in a public way. As the years pass, more and more of the pioneers and innovators are lost, and with them, the stories. Often, it is only because of passionate amateur historians that the knowledge is saved and passed on.

I'll add my thanks to anyone here on SpeyPages that can help document the Drain reels. Wes Drain was in important personality in steelheading history, and we're lucky to have some artifacts made by his hand that will help keep his memory and contributions to the sport alive.

Best,
Ryan
 
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