Being ‘Reel’

Being ‘Reel’

The wind caused me to choose a slightly heavier fly rod. It was the first time I used it after it was gifted to me from the hands of an experienced and well-traveled fly fisher. I stripped line off the reel, did a slow backcast, paused for the loop to unroll and then sent the line forward. As soon as the dry fly kissed the water’s surface, a rainbow trout grabbed it and danced with me. As it arrived in the water at my feet, I gave the line slack and it unhooked itself and swam away with a no-contact release…my favorite way to end an encounter.

I considered it an auspicious way to receive the new rod and reel into my care. I think the rod was happy to feel the sun reflecting off its deep, translucent green surface. And the reel had its first-ever experience doing what it was born to do. 

Three hours of wading in the creek—under sunny, unseasonably warm air—was filled with rising trout, leaping trout, pouting trout, and the utter beauty of the Smoky Mountains. Water levels had dropped enough to once again make wading one of my favorite creeks safe and enjoyable. But I kept thinking of the reel. And the rod, but especially the reel.

It was a special purchase many years ago—a collector’s item of sorts with a special finish from a high-end manufacturer. My friend told me, when he gave it to me, that it had never been used. When I took the rods and reels he gifted me to Little River Outfitters, the guys there enjoyed each piece I shared with appreciation but especially the Abel reel and the Winston rod. Daniel helped me pick out line and backing that complemented the finish and suggested pairing it with the classic Winston. 

I wonder how the reel felt, after waiting all those years to fulfill its purpose, to be on the water, attached to an experienced rod, holding line and catching trout. I felt the balance of the pair as I lifted them to make that first cast, the smooth delivery of line, and the action as the fish engaged. The reel is a click and pawl reel, having no drag. Every reel has a voice and its voice is a growl, but after our time on the water yesterday, I think I heard a bit of a purr of contentment at being what it was born to be.

How many of us have waited and worked, hoping that someday our talents and skills align with work the world needs? What would that look like? What would it feel like to be ‘reel’ with the work we gift to the world? To be doing what makes our heart sing…or growl…or purr.

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