For some time now I’ve been planning an off-road trip with some friends to the Valle Hermoso region in the province of Mendoza, about 500 kilometers to the south of the province’ s capital city of the same name. Within the group of 4×4 enthusiasts, who call themselves “Inedito 4×4”, I am to be the only fly fisherman on the trip. [I’ll be posting my first of multiple entries on the trip soon, so keep an eye out for that.]

CMF Bamboo Fly Rod 7553

CMF Bamboo Fly Rod 7553

As part of the preparations, (and preparation is where the trip actually starts of course) I called up my good friend Claudio Fanchi and asked if he’d been able to repair a bamboo fly rod that I had given him. The tip of the rod was broken because I had over-weighted the #4 rod with a #7 line. (Yes, a rookie mistake perhaps, but I didn’t have a lighter line at the time and thought I could pull it off… lesson learned.)

When I called up Claudio he suggested we meet at our usual café in front of the Rosedal Park in Palermo, Café Martinez. We often meet there to talk about fly fishing, look at his new rod creations, and sometimes walk over to the park and try them out with a few casts.

Claudio had arrived early and already downed a cappuccino, but still ordered another along with mine. In no time at all we were both wide-eyed and jabbering about our shared addiction (fly fishing, not coffee — one addiction at a time). I explained my trip plans to him and he gave me a few local contacts in Mendoza to follow up with to check on fishing conditions and get other tips on the area in which I’d be traveling. [Claudio had heard of the Rio del Cobre and Rio Grande, but some of the other spots he wasn’t sure of. Later I got some great tips from Eduardo at Mendoza Fly Fishing aka Old Smuggler Fly Fishing.]

So finally, when I couldn’t wait any longer, and the caffeine had me bouncing in my chair, I asked about my fly rod. Claudio explained that he hadn’t had time to fix my rod but he offered me a trade. That’s when he produced a eye-catching #5 rod, 7.5 feet in length, and with a stripping that housed a beautiful rose colored agate. Also, unlike his previously crafted rods, this rod didn’t have a wood handle base [reel seat], but rather the toasted bamboo extended past the winding check  to become the reel seat, ending at the spacer/butt cap. The reel would be held in place with reel seat rings evoking silver bijouteri; and this time he remembered I like the water design!

All I could say was “wow… uh.. wow, Gracias!”

Fanchi bamboo rod 2009I have two CMF bamboo fly rods. The procurement of the first was how I came to know Claudio in the first place. I’d been doing some work, back then, with the US Embassy in Buenos Aires and since fishermen seem to find each other one way or another, a TSA agent friend named Joe showed me his recently acquired CMF rod. Like a Pavlovian dog I ogled over the sublime brilliance of the artistically crafted gem.

[Argentinians are very creative people, in many respects, and it shows in their capacity for artistic expression.]

I’m very much indebted to Claudio for his friendship and for his generosity. It’s not often that you meet people who are so naturally talented and at the same time are barely aware of it. Claudio is the kind of guy who lives life like it should be lived… or at least gives the impression that he’s just taking life as it comes. Maybe in his own mind he’s dealing with stress and suffers life just like all of us. But unlike many of us, he gives at least twice as much as he takes from life.

Jumping a week into the future, I found myself placing a Prince fly just above a visible drop-off 15 feet offshore with my new CMF7553 in the Laguna de Las Cargas. After catching three fish in 20 minutes, the adrenaline of the first-casts-of-the-tip and the unexpected luck with the Prince gave way to an EGO Time epiphany.  My surroundings;  the arid valley unknown to all but cattle, sheep and eco-trekkers, the clear blue skies juxtaposed with cathedral-like mountain peaks; all of this started to sink in and create a “moment”. A moment, that when I think back on, is more about a country, a passion for fly fishing and a friendship – all represented by a rod.

Thanks for the rod Claudio. It’s priceless.