Tuesday, January 11, 2011
To introduce our newest fly rod at Fly Fishing Benefactors, you first have to understand the basis of our decision to build this rod. We typically name all our equipment after our favorite streams we have fished around the world but in this case, we named the rod after a person. The new Fly Fishing Benefactors Jim Hicks Signature Series Fly Rod will be debuted in January of 2011. Jim Hicks was a very good family friend and the consummate fisherman and sportsman. There wasn’t anything that could fly, swim or run; that this guy couldn’t shoot or catch! He was an incredible marksman and an incredibly patient fisherman too. I learned a lot from Jim and that is why I named this rod after him. I called it a signature rod and since Jim left this world a few years back, his actual signature won’t be on the rod but I had it built to a specification that only Jim Hicks would have approved. So, I am sure if he were still with us, he’d proudly sign his name on this rod!
James (Jim) Hicks was born in Macon Georgia on May 18th, 1929. A southern gentleman and a more sincere and friendly man you could not find anywhere else. Jim enlisted in the US Army in 1945 and served his country as an enlisted soldier and an officer (after receiving a battlefield commission) until his retirement in 1969. Though quiet and friendly, Jim was a professionally trained soldier and could execute the mission with little thought to danger or personal harm. He served honorably and was a highly decorated veteran.
He never lost his passion for fishing and hunting and you could routinely find him out on a hunt or on his boat fishing. I fished with him on many occasions and could never put more fish in the boat or on the stringer than he could. An avid “Catch-and-Release” fisherman, Jim never kept any fish he couldn’t let go for others to enjoy in the future. His casting ability and his precise and delicate touch with a fly rod brought many a slab bream or bass to the shoreline or the boat. Despite his adventurous trips hunting and fishing, he found comfort and pleasure fishing from the bank of the lake in his backyard. It was there, I really got to know the man that was a combat veteran, a deadly accurate rifleman, an incredible sportsman and wonderful husband and father. I looked up to him as I looked up to my own father and I respected his observations and his opinions. I also learned that when he gave advice on the aspects of fishing, it was best to pay heed and take notes. He was never wrong but would never say “I told you so” either.
He had humorous insight and though comical in his delivery, he was serious about the message. His adage about plastic worms in bait casting was, “I don’t care what color your worm is, as long as it is purple”, lead to an incredible amount of violet to deep indigo colored plastic worms in my tackle box. I was never “skunked” bass fishing with a purple plastic worm. His suggestion to, “…cross his-eyes” always meant to set the hook with deliberate force, as not to miss the opportunity of a “trophy bass.” Telling me to make the fly presentation so delicate, “as to entice the fish out of the water prematurely to take the fly in the air” was another suggestion I think about, every time I toss a dry at a fish today. He has been gone for a while but his memories and his lessons live on in every cast of my fly rod. He was so resolute in his effort to teach you the proper grip and the proper arm and hand movement as to make the loop tight in your line and your cast accurate and true, every time you brought the fly rod to bear. His patience, his demeanor and his ability to teach, gave me the idea to build this rod and put his name on it.
For me, the culmination of a 2-year project is complete. I have spent many hours designing and developing this rod to meet with the satisfaction of Jim. Jim was always opinionated about the construction of a fly rod. He explained what he thought was valuable in a build and what was not. I tried to exemplify his thoughts of the “perfect” fly rod when I built this rod. I put the effort and the time and money in the places Jim thought were important on the rod; quality materials, technology at its best, and a “feel” as if you were holding something valuable. Additionally, I ensured that the rod was affordable and also had “value-added” performance by offering an additional tip and an aluminum rod tube. I spent the bulk of the design on the rod barrel itself, the grip and the eyes. The best composite materials available, the best cork around and the best hardware are the absolute basics needed for a good, comfortable and performing fly rod. Every thing else was “gimmicky”, according to Jim. The last and final tribute to Jim is the instructional tip for the rod. His thought was how could someone help you better your casting by watching your casting skills. His thoughts on how a rod could be used to teach others lead me to make the statement, “a picture paints a thousand words.” It was Jim’s suggestion that gave me the idea to create this feature. I think he would have liked it!
Jim is pictured above with his beloved "Max", a beautiful Brittany Spaniel. Max spent many a summer day sleeping at our feet or on "Snapping Turtle" patrol along the lake's bank. I am sure Jim and Max are off chasing turkeys, fishing for Bass or scaring and shooting a covy of quail somewhere. I hope Jim will send me a message on my first cast with his fly rod by rewarding me with a great fish! I also hope that what I have built in this rod, will also earn his favor, that I served him well and built the best rod I could build and only when I had it right, would I put his name on it. I think you will agree with Jim, this is my best undertaking to date and I am proud to make it available to you.
The Jim Hicks Signature Series Fly Rod is constructed of incredible IM-12 carbon. It is a 4-piece, 9 foot, 5-Weight gem! It has AAA Portuguese cork, snake guides and an aluminum reel seat with lock ups. The rod comes with an additional tip and an aluminum rod tube at no extra charge. The rod can also be fitted with a high-visibility “instructional tip” that can help you determine your casting plane and help you develop the “perfect” casting technique. Whether chasing your favorite species on the stream or in a lake or instructing on the virtues of the “perfect” casting technique, the Jim Hicks Signature Fly Rod is the rod for you. It is definitely the rod for me!
James (Jim) Hicks passed away on May 9, 2005, a few weeks short of his 76th birthday. He was much younger at heart and far wiser for his age. Jim is survived by his wife Sue, a son Michael and daughter Pat, all living in the Dallas area.Jim Hicks Signature Fly Rod.
This is the song I wrote and performed to celebrate my time with Jim.