Chris Reister recently posted a few photos of a very unique Willow Classic Reels on their Facebook page and I asked him to share the story on why this reel was made. Needless to say it's a pretty neat and personal story that I am happy Chris is letting me share.
Chris wrote... "This is kind of hard for me to write because the essence of my fly fishing existence is credited to the recipient of this reel. It all started for me 24 or 25 years ago when I met my wife and her family. Our first Christmas together her younger brother, Ryan, gave me an empty Richard Wheatley fly box. Being an avid bait dunker and lure guy and having never been introduced to a trout stream, my natural first question was, “This is cool…what is it”? The reply was quite simple, “A fly box”. Having just graduated college with an engineering degree and being naturally curious, the next question came just as easy, “Why do I need it”? “You’ll see” was the very matter of fact reply.
Although being ten years younger than me, Ryan was much wiser even as an 8th grader. He knew about trout, where they lived, what they ate, how to fly cast and in my very trout naïve mind, everything. So, promptly after Christmas dinner, Ryan pulled out a vise and materials. I sat next to him and prepared to learn how to fill the fly box with proper flies used on the Au Sable River here in Michigan.
That spring I learned how to lawn cast and shortly after that came my first lesson on the stream. I have been hooked ever since and a whole new world was open to learn about. Fly fishing is my one true addiction and if my wife could take back one thing (and the thousands of dollars I have spent since) it would be that first fly box that got me started. Then in the next breath she will tell you that fly fishing is the one thing that calms me and allows me to function in the world surrounded by stress and worry. For that gift, there is nothing I could ever do to repay Ryan.
Ryan has been with the Michigan State Police for the last fourteen years and was recently promoted to Lieutenant over one of the state's crime labs. His wife and I had talked about a reel to commemorate the occasion. Ryan found this small replica badge and got his original Trooper badge number engraved on it. We all sat down together and carefully chose the wood (Sassafras Burl) which would accompany the badge. I think it turned out pretty well.
Check out the Willow Classic Reels website for more information on their fly reel offerings.