Over the years Alaska West has had many memorable guests who have become woven into the fabric of our lodge. Don Leydon is surely one of them. For years his gifts to Alaska West have hung in our lounge and dining tents as reminders of our past. One of the pictures shows “Salmon Camp” in 1987, barely upstream of where the camp presently sits. Don was known for his ability to constantly talk “shop” with guides and other guests. He was very interested in fly fishing equipment and could always be found at camp “tinkering” with tackle. We could just imagine how his shop at home was probably a fisherman’s dream!
One year Don showed up at camp and proceeded to hand out a special little package that he was pretty excited about. Most of us just looked at each other, a bit mystified by Don going on about what he had just handed us. It seemed as though we had been given the “Holy Grail”, but for what? Within the bag were just a couple 3” pieces of dowel with some duct tape wrapped around them. It was then that Don reached for a fly rod to explain himself and the two dowels.
To start, Don unwraps about half the tape off the dowel, while leaving the other half attached to the dowel. He then wraps the end of the duct tape around the fly rod about an inch from the ferrule. Don then does the same thing with the other dowel, but this one is placed on the other side of the ferrule and is wrapped in the opposite direction. He then grabs a dowel in each hand and twists his hands in opposite directions which easily took the rod apart. Now we all see what he was going on about; a homemade rod breakdown tool. It was ingenious! Don was smart enough to know that this simple little tool could be the difference in safely getting that treasured rod apart at the end of your trip, and he was cool enough to make one for each of us.
To this day we have some of these kicking around at Alaska West and barely a season has gone by where we didn’t need to use one. It has saved countless rods from being broken while trying to take them apart. We have had camp rods that were left set up all season and seemed to be joined forever until you use the dowel and duct tape on them. It pretty much works every time.
Another thing this little kit works well for is an impromptu fire starter. A nice dry dowel and some duct tape will burn very well, and it’s super easy to replace!
Don would be proud to know his little gift is still getting used today along the banks of the river he loved so much…
Step 1: Start with two small dowels that are a bit wider than the duct tape, add about six wraps of duct tape to the dowel.
Step 2: Unwrap a couple of inches of tape and place about an inch from the stuck ferrule. Then wrap the duct tape until the dowel and rod are tight to each other as in the pic below.
Step 3: Now do the same with the other dowel, but going in the opposite direction.
Step 4: Now grab a dowel in each hand and twist/pull each hand opposite of the other. The rod should separate without much effort if done correctly.
Step 5: Unwrap each dowel and store away for the next time.
Other Fly Fishing Tips: