Fly Fishing and craftmanship - the perfect match!
How often have you heard the phrase 'what can I get for the man/woman who has everything?'. Well with a little thought of course there is always something out there, or someone who is pushing the envelope just a little bit further than everyone else and making something truly special in their particular niche market.
One such person is J. Marcus, owner of FlyrodJewelry.com who handcrafts the Rolls Royce of reel seats for that special 'once-in-a-lifetime' fishing rod. A master goldsmith by trade of 35 years experience, he decided to bring together his two passions of fine jewelry making and fly fishing and create something truly unique and special as every piece is individual. 'I do not come at this from the standpoint of a machinist, a widget maker, (not that there is anything wrong with them or their products) but as a highly-experienced, artistic, designer goldsmith. I craft these pieces myself, by hand, one at a time, and they are truly one of a kind. Carefully selected woods are inlaid with fine metals, gem-quality stones and fossil ivory. Metal parts are hand-crafted from nickel alloy ('Nickel Silver'), silver, gold, platinum, palladium and other fine metals, textured, patinaed and buffed to a luster comparable to the finest jewelry.'
From his workshop in Washington state overlooking the Puget Sound out to the San Juan Islands, you can imagine the inspiration that must come from such surroundings. Another very useful benefit is the fact that this area of North America is an epicenter for scrimshaw carvers which come into their own due to the fossil walrus or mammoth ivory used as inlays. 'In lighter shades this material will accept scrimshaw perfectly. This allows for personalization and/or additional artwork on the piece. Other materials used for color or pattern include semi-precious gemstone, various kinds of shell, coral, gold, silver, colored woods (natural—not dyed), and other materials and objects that I find compelling.'
To demonstrate the amount of work and the quality of the materials that goes into one of his designs lets look at the detail of a recently completed piece. This is the materials list for the 'Tamarind River' reel seat;-
- Reel Seat turned of Spalted Tamarind pressure stabilized with polymers and inlaid with Lapis Lazuli, Gold Lip Mother-of-Pearl, fossil mammoth ivory and ebony.
- Butt cap of Manzanita Burl, Lapis Lazuli, Gold Lip Mother-of-Pearl and Mammoth Ivory.
- Hood and slip ring hand fabricated of nickel silver, ornamented with 18K gold. The slide band has also been hand turned on a lathe.
- Rivets of nickle silver with bonded 22K gold heads.
Definitely not your run-of-the-mill materials and the complete list of rare and interesting woods used often have some fascinating stories behind them.
'For instance, a large piece of desert ironwood that I am using is an ironwood tree root that my grandfather brought in from the desert to my great-grandfathers homestead early in the last century in what is now Phoenix, Arizona. I figure that it's pretty well cured, considering it's age!'
With the pound doing so well against the dollar currently now may be the perfect time to splash out (or remind someone Christmas is coming!) on a unique piece of craftmanship such as this which is certain to be a conversation piece whenever it is unveiled. Current prices range from $285-$367 which is quite remarkable when you consider the work that has gone into each unique piece but this may not last according to the man himself! 'I am offering this first selection of reel seats at very attractive prices in order to get them out in the world as quickly as possible among the community of discriminating, fine, fly-rod fanciers so that these folks (you, I presume) can see them close up and in hand and will, hopefully, pass the word on.'
You can see the full range of reel seats as well as hand-turned ferrule plugs made from the same fossil ivory mentioned earlier at Marcus Fine Handmade Reel Seats.
by Paul Sharman
Articles by the same author
- Essential Skills - Dry Fly and Mayfly with Oliver Edwards
- New Canadian Beaver report spells doom for Scottish salmon
- Fly Fishing for Atlantic Bass - new book reviewed
- The Streamside Guide - Road Trips
- Wet Fly Fishing on Rivers - Essential Skills with Oliver Edwards
- Venezuelan smorgasbord at Los Roques
- Pope of the Madison
- The principles of layering - the base layer
- Game Fishing by Bob Church
- The Streamside Guide - Planning the Trip