Got Cane on the Brain ?
My first one was an Orvis “Flea” purchased the year I graduated from college, 1971. It was a single tip rod purchased for the outrageous sum of $ 89. On a side note, I had only $ 150 left in my savings account and owed the government $ 3,000 for college loans, but had to have a rod different from the Fenwick Feralite glass rod that got me through school.
This “Flea” rod was rated for a # 4 and probably threw a # 3 better. It was a slow and soft rod to begin with. I wore that rod out fishing it hard for 10 years in 3 states and still sold it for more than I paid for it. By the time I was finished with it, it was more of a # 2 weight because of so many flexes with heavy streamers, weighted nymphs, etc. during that 10 years. Many of the power fibers had simply broken down. Yep, I even fished that little “shortie” on larger rivers like the Smith in Virginia, Watauga and South Holston Rivers in Tennessee, and many other smaller streams – sometimes making rather long casts with #6 streamers loaded with lead. It was not the ideal rod for such abusive casting, but it was the best one I had.
In my growing bamboo collection, 3 of the 4 produced models of Orvis Superfines ( late 1960’s) show up as well as two Deluxe models ( made prior to the Superfine series). All are very comfortable with a # 4 or # 5 in spite of their # 6 markings. I have some rods that have more than quadrupled in value in a very short number of years due to the makers’ deaths or their rarity. The Orvis’s do not appreciate as fast as some, but they make fine starter rod for a first time cane owner, an excellent value, and with careful use will still appreciate better than your passbook savings account.
If you know what to look for, cane rods can be the best investments one can make outside of being Donald Trump or Bill Gates. One rod I parted with three years ago paid for most of a new Hyde drift boat with an initial investment of only $ 675. What was an initial invertment of $675 turned into $3,700 in a very few years, because the maker had died and the rod was still mint, unfished, and very desirable. I would not have sold it but needed the boat worse (and besides, I had two more slightly used rods by that same maker).
Bottom line: If considering a first time cane, don’t be afraid to plop down $ 550 – $ 750 for a 2/2 (two piece/two tip) Orvis in excellent or better condition. There are also other American makers making much better rods today than the old ones for this same price range. The glues and varnishes are better than those of the old days. At those prices, one can carefully fish the rod, enjoy it a few years, and get all of his money back or even make a few dollars. You will not go wrong.