The first time I saw James’ work was in a review on the classic fly rod forum of one of his single handed canes, and I was struck by how beautiful this rod was. I’ve seen my share of beautiful cane rods and dogs, but this rod really stood out from the rest as something visually intriguing, striking and distinctive, yet gave the impression that it was a completely capable tool and not just a pretty object of desire.
Much later, I was able to put this to a real test of my own. I had stumbled upon another one of James’ mastepieces on another forum, a double handed spey rod of his own taper, hollow built, splice jointed, and no less beautiful than the first I had seen, in his trademark styling and impeccable finishing. For sure this was a head turner, and promised to be as equally a capable rod as its single handed counterpart; floating lines, scandi and skagit heads with heavy sinktips and big ugly flies, this rod could do it all, but a bamboo spey rod? Wasn’t that an affectation? Could a bamboo spey rod still be a viable tool alongside high tech graphite? Having gone down the bamboo trout rod path five years earlier, I was sufficiently intrigued to do more research to try and convince myself that as much pleasure from a trout cane could be had from a bamboo spey. Finally satisfied of this, and of James’ skill as a maker and designer, I made contact with James to commission him to make me a bamboo spey in the classic style, but with capabilities of more heavy duty work if required.
I was immediately impressed with James’ desire to find out more about me – my experience, likes, dislikes, to try and home in on what was an appropriate tool for the job, and not what caught my eye from a rack of off the peg standard builds. When my turn finally came around, although I had stipulated that I wanted something in terms of styling which reflected James’ own preferences, a “JM Reid Favourite”, he was insistent on getting my input on the final cosmetics and appointments; what we finally came up with was the most satisfying experience and outcome I’ve had in a custom build of a rod in any material.
James also went the extra mile in delivering the rod to me to make a special trip on the Skeena; though tight for time and shorter than his normal delivery schedule, James accomplished this and delivered a rod which did not disappoint in either impeccable finishing and cosmetics, or extremely pleasurable casting and fish fighting characteristics. This object of desire will surely become a favourite of mine and is destined to be passed down as one of my treasured possessions.
Long after my rod was delivered, James continues to impress in the continual research and innovation in techniques of bamboo rod construction and its applications, and I never tire of seeing some eye catching build of his for some lucky client.
“James – Rod arrived this morning from the Post Lady. I am almost speechless – I say almost because I am a salesman and we can’t always be speechless. The rod is nothing short of wonderful. I knew your work would be as such but once I had it in my hands – WOW!!! Well I guess I need to start thinking of the next James Reid rod!!!”
“Just wanted to let you know that the rod showed up yesterday. Let me tell you, just a beautiful piece of work…it brought a tear to my eye when I pulled her out of the tube for the first time! I absolutely love the elm on the reel seat and splice protectors and the green wrap/agates with the darker flame is just mint! So happy man! cant wait to get out and cast her, I am hoping this weekend. Thanks again, you are a true craftsman my friend. If that is the last rod I ever buy, I will die a happy man!”