Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Classic Pflueger Medalist

Old Workhorses ~ Steven Bird photo

A Reel To Meet The Apocalypse

There was a time in trout fishing America when there weren’t a lot of choices in fly reels. A time when it was believed that trout reels need be little more than a conveyance for your flyline. If you owned a Hardy ‘Perfect’ or ‘Princess’ you were considered styling with the epitome of fly reels. The majority of us who didn’t own an English Hardy were fishing the American-made Pflueger Medalist, slightly less refined & a lot less expensive than the Hardy, yet a reliable workhorse nonetheless.

Though well-built, & with utilitarian good looks in basic black, the Pflueger was never an expensive reel, & that may have contributed somewhat to its eventual fade from popularity as our sport started to become more yuppie-fied in the 1970’s. Marketers became canny & the idea floated that more status might be achieved through the use of costlier, lighter, fully-machined reels equipped with technical disc drag systems. Eventually, ever slaves to fashion & the new, flyfishers were shamed out of using the old Pfluegers & put them away.

I said ‘put’ away not ‘thrown’ away. A Pflueger is never thrown away because it never wears out. I’m still using two that I’ve been using since I was a kid, one, my first, purchased in the 1960’s, & the other a rim-drag model I’ve been using since the early 1970’s. Both are imbued with the mojo of a thousand rivers.  And now, ever the crucible of creativity, Washington State has legalized weed & we find ourselves fishing liberated & exhilarated at the verge of apocalypse, assuming a pragmatic frugality & not giving a pfuck about fashion anymore. Guys are breaking out the old Pfluegers & taking them fishing again. Some are stripping down the old reels & having them anodized in creative color combinations, a process Medalist cultists refer to as: “pimpin out de reel.” Yes, apparently the Pflueger Medalist has achieved cult status in the Northwest, & elevation to ‘classic’ can’t be far behind. Those of us who’ve been hiding in the closet fondling our Pfluegers can come out now.    

Flyfish the Upper Columbia/NE Washington with Steven Bird: 

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