When I graduated from law school so many years ago, I trucked myself over to the Orvis store and bought myself the graduation gift of a long-awaited Orvis fishing outfit. Because I was planning to do some traveling looking for a job after taking the bar exam, I opted for a lower end offering of the Orvis company: a four piece rod with reel and line in 6 weight.
I had been getting Orvis catalogs since I was about 11 years old. Of course, I could never afford their higher end rods and reels back then, and although my parents certainly kept me equipped with some excellent fishing tackle in more moderate price ranges, an Orvis rod back then was out of the question. I would by flies and various accessories from Orvis though. Back then, in the early 70's, Orvis ran promotions in the fishing magazines, where if you sent in a few dollars, you would get an item like a leader wallet with some leaders or a streamer wallet with some streamers, and so on. I still have and use the promo items like these that I bought in my pre-and-early teens via these promotions in Outdoor Life, Sports Afield and Field and Stream.
So when I bought my own graduation present, which I think went for about $300 when all was said and done, I remember declining to purchase an extra spool for the outfit. I've always been a WF floating line fly fisherman. But lately, I've been using an outfit I picked up used that had a sinking tip line on it, and found it to be productive in the heat of the day. So I set about to find an extra spool for the Orvis Madison III Disc Drag reel from the graduation rod purchase.
I knew that Orvis had not made this reel for many years. I think the Madison might have been one of the last "low end" Orvis reels made in England. You can still get that English quality nowadays, but you're gonna pay big for it. I looked on ebay, and didn't find any spools there. On a whim, I emailed Orvis, and over the next couple of days had some back and forth with a very nice gentleman about the specifics of my reel.
Orvis then emailed me that they had an extra spool in their parts warehouse and I could buy it. I figured a spool was going to cost me some dollars, as much or more than an entire lower end fly reel from an asian manufacturer, and was amazed when quoted the price of $11.
$11. That might be cheaper than it was back when it was in production and a regular selling item. In any event, it's on it's way here now, and I've got some backing and a dandy Orvis sinking tip line ready to load on it.
I'm also on the lookout for a reasonably priced spin/fly bamboo Rocky Mountain rod from about 40 years ago. There are several on ebay right now, and failing that exact model, over the next few weeks I'll be looking for a good used 30-40 year old Orvis bamboo rod, in anywhere from a 2wt to 4wt and hopefully of a shorter length, anywhere from 5' to 6.5'. I've seen some auctions end under $200 for decent rods lately, and that's encouraging to a working man with a family who can't come close to affording one of Orvis's few current bamboo rod offerings.
Orvis has been making excellent fishing and hunting gear for many years now. One reason I keep coming back is because there is so much service after the sale. In this case, many years after the sale. And that service I got from two gentlemen and one young lady who took my order over the phone? It couldn't have been more polite, efficient or respectful.