My youngest son Easten was a 10-year-old Webelo Boy Scout when he landed his first fish. Just after the snow melted, and before the ice was off the lakes, I spent an afternoon on the front lawn with his den teaching them to cast a fly rod. Easten and I practiced a few more times after that, and he became a pretty good caster.
I told book author and fly-fishing guru Dan Heiner about Easten’s success at casting a fly. Dan asked what kind of gear Easten was using. “Oh, some of my old things that he can’t get in too much trouble with.” Not longer after, Dan asked me to stop by his house. He needed my help. And then he added, “Why don’t you bring Easten with you; I’ve got something I’d like to show him.”
A few days later found Easten and me in Dan’s den, which looks something like the fly-fishing department at Mountain View Sports. Dan talked fly-fishing with Easten for a time and then handed him a brand-new rod Dan had just received from Cabella’s; an 8-weight, 9-foot, graphite beauty. They talked about the merits of the rod and how it felt in the hand. It was lovely, and I could tell Dan thought it was about the best 8-weight rod in his den.
After a few minutes of false casting and passing the rod back and forth, Dan handed it to Easten with a comment something like this, “I got this rod just for you. I wanted you to start fly-fishing with the best.”
Easten couldn’t believe what he was hearing, but he remembered his manners and thanked Dan gratefully for the gift.
A few days after receiving his gift rod, Easten bought his own reel. Not quite the same class as the rod, but serviceable never-the-less. Easten continued his front-lawn casting and practice, and then the ice went out of Green Lake. Easten’s older brother, Lars, invited him to put his fishing lessons and practice to practical application and try out the new rod.
The excitement of the two brothers returning home with stories of a mess of fish landed and released will long be remembered. They became the family entertainment for the afternoon, laughing and kidding each other about the day’s events: the fish that jumped out of the lake onto the beach in search of Easten’s fishing fly, Easten setting the hook so hard on a small one the fish came out of the water and hit him in the chest, and on and on.
Easten still fishes with Dan’s gift rod. Dan’s generosity, mingled with Easten’s natural good heart, has helped Easten become a kind, helpful, considerate young man. Thanks, Dan. You gave Easten more than just a fly-fishing rod.