Wednesday, November 18, 2015

An Old Thorobred

     Cruising by a yard sale I notice what looks like flyrods poking up above the assemblage of stuff. Curious, I pull over.

The rods are a Wright & McGill bamboo, & a glass Heddon Thorobred, bunched with a set of rusty golf clubs.

I look the rods over.

The guides & guidewraps are degraded & missing on both. The bamboo would need a lot of work… but do-able.

Other than needing a guide set, the Heddon blank is pristine & straight; the grip & reelseat in good shape. A two-piece, 8’, D-HDH. Considered an all-around trout rod in it’s time. It would throw 5wt or 6wt lines. I like its tobacco color – the color of old mojo.

The ferrules are good. I put it together & wave it, shaking a parabola into the air. It feels good. A lot like bamboo. At the time of its making, probably around 1952, parabolic split-cane actions were the model for Heddon’s newly introduced line of glass rods. It is surprisingly light. I picture it restored & doing business again, trying to imagine a suitable color change for the guidewraps.

 Among the items on display atop a retired coffee table are two Ocean City Wanita flyreels, the same vintage as the rods. The smaller of the reels features a mummified silk line & I presume it is mated to the old bamboo Wright & McGill. I pick up the larger reel & wind on it & it works fine. A perfect match for the Heddon glass.

A guy comes out of the garage. I try to act uninterested. The rods were his dad’s, he says. He doesn’t fly fish & he needs to make room in the garage for his monster truck.

I probably could get it for less, but my mouth jumps ahead of my brain & I hear myself offer 100 bucks for the two rods & reels.

Done deal.

Though an earlier issue, the Heddon Thorobred is very similar to the 8’, 6wt Heddon Pal my grandfather gave me in 1960. That one lived up to its name, truly a pal, until meeting its demise in the early ‘70’s when it bounced out of the bed of a friend’s pickup strapped to my backpack frame, shattering on the road. It still haunts me.

Anxiously awaiting the new guide set & some A thread for the Heddon. I’d like to fish it before the end of the year, new again. To be continued.   


  1. Great Find! Those OC reels are great classic gear. Not too many around my part of the world but a fly shop owner I know keeps 'em for himself when he finds them. That tells me something right there.

    Can't wait to see the fiberglass restore.

    I haven't a great deal of attachment to the Wright & McGill cane. I've cast a WMcG 9053 Granger. Works fine but didn't do a lot for me. What do I know? My favorite cane is an 88" little 4 on an adaptive one-time Pane taper that the hobby maker (local surgeon) laid up. Speaks to me, though.

    I had an odd 6/7 wt Hardy in my hand last summer that made an unusual two-bend type of delivery; but, man, would it cast like a laser with a sharp little Belgian side-arm cast. Unreal. A guide I knew put his hand around it and wouldn't let it go. You never know what you really have until you put a line on it.

    Looking forward to both the restores. Certainly - a great deal. The Heddon will be a beauty folks will ask about. I'm hooked on the glass gear. Great action.

  2. Spike, thanks for the word on the W&M cane. This one's in pretty rough shape, bent sections, & I found several delaminations after I got it home. Put it away in the bundle of similar canes awaiting a future make-over. While the glass Heddon is nearly ready to go. After stripping the old hardware I taped guides on it & tried it out. Graceful parabolic action like I like. Casts well with a 5wt Wulff triangle taper & also a 6wt DT. It feels like an old friend already. I'll post it when I'm finished wrapping it.

    Last time I looked there was a bunch of Ocean City reels on ebay, around 25 to 50 bucks.