As any good RVer can tell you, space is precious! Nothing is much harder than figuring out how to put everything you might possibly need for a vacation in a limited amount of rolling stock! Nooks and crannies fill up with remarkable speed. Soon one is trying to juggle a variety of needs and possibilities with a finite amount of cubic feet. You end up stuffing things under your mattress or in the “toad,” figuring you can shift it around before you go to bed or need to take it for a drive!
But I even have trouble when I have about 3,500 square feet of permanent living space for only two of us! Seems that I like to collect stuff. While my wife is a bit of a minimalist and takes great pride in “Spring Cleaning” on a monthly basis (Goodwill loves seeing our pickup driving toward its collection center!), I do my best to fill up and overload our ever-crowded abode. As you might guess, most of it is my outdoors gear— hunting, fishing and camping equipment! Now going into our fourth decade in the same house, our standing joke is that we’ll never leave because we couldn’t survive the move. So much is crammed into my space that I’m not physically strong enough to pack it all up and unload it somewhere else. We certainly don’t have enough money to pay to have it lugged around!
Things Pile Up
Recently, my love of fly-fishing has put me into a frazzle. It’s not so much the fishing itself, but my need to collect the equipment. Now in fairness to me, always a consideration, I did inherit quite a bit of stuff. I have bamboo rods from my grandfather, fiberglass from my uncle and even a few classics from my friends who know how much I appreciate good gear. But then there are pieces I just have to own!
Each year our club auction offers a dozen or so neat rods, and the goal is wonderful—raising monies for stream restoration and youth events. How could one be so greedy as to not bid when the gear comes up for sale? Sometimes at garage sales I find neat rods that hardly cost anything. How could I resist? When I was in college, one of the best fiberglass rod makers in the world used to live in the fraternity next door. It would be downright disrespectful of my dear old Blue and Gold university not to own one of his works, and he did give me a really good deal!
Most of the rods come in tubes. Some are plastic, some steel, and some even cardboard. While they can pretty easily be slid into a space near the wall or up in the attic, it’s awfully easy to misplace a few. Soon you have no recollection of even having a three-weight cane rod, or a seven-weight Fenwick fiberglass. Then when you need one for your trip to Montana, you slip up and buy a new one! You can see how your collection can really quickly get out of hand!
Not only can your collection get expensive and expansive, but also fly gear is downright beautiful. Some of the delicate rods are so pretty that you just like to put them together to enjoy the way they look and feel in your hand. And rods aren’t the only lovely manifestation of the sport. Reels are also shiny and bright! And there are so many varieties. I have everything from the ancient brass grinders to skeleton reels, to automatics! Again, very easy to misplace in a nook or cranny and then one has to consider the real art pieces, the flies themselves!
Even before I got serious about the sport, I appreciated flies as art. When I was going to outdoor shows on a regular basis, I’d always trade some of my “seconds” books for flies that demonstrators at the shows were putting together. The flies are beautiful, creative and made out of so many interesting and exotic materials. Not only were those flies amazing, but also members of my home club, Rainland Fly Casters, are some of the best fly tiers in the country! So naturally I have fly boxes all over the place, stuffed with things created by the “Rembrandts of the Waters!” But what could I do to get them all out on display???
After a lot of hard thought, I decided to contact my buddy Larry Johnson. Larry is an outdoorsman—his son even owned a sporting goods store—and he’s a retired woodshop teacher from the high school. Over the years I’ve bought a gun chest that he made for me, and just a few years ago, he designed a unique display piece for my archery equipment. Now anyone going into my outdoor room can see a brilliant display off arrows and fletching. I was able to empty dozens of arrow boxes stuffed all over the place and now have a stunning exhibit. Could we do the same with the fly gear? Turns out, all it took was his creativity and skill, and my “minor” investment of funds! A few months of planning and hammers and nails, and I now am the proud owner of a unique piece of oak and glass, with nearly a dozen drawers holding thirty rods, twice that number of reels, and a glass top that my buddy, Henry Hoffman, whose flies grace the national fly-fishing museum, has filled with the best and most artistic works in feathers and fluff that I’ve managed to collect over the years!
Not only can I easily find and display my gear, but also I find I’m getting a lot more practice casting done, now that I can easily get to and use my rods and reels! Even my wife likes the way the display sets off the room. How can you beat that use of resources?
However, I have to admit, it’s not as economical as it might sound. When Larry came over to give me a bid, Claudia found out that he also did cement work. As much as I enjoy my unique piece of furniture, I think she enjoys our new concrete walkway that circles her yard and flowerbeds even more. She should; it cost twice as much!!
Bob Ellsberg’s column, Fishin’, appears monthly in RV Life and at rvlife.com.