At Farlows, a leading London retailer of fine fishing rods, the bespoke split-cane fly-fishing rods are crafted in Chris Clemes’ UK workshops. A former fly-fishing guide in South Africa and England, Clemes came into the market when traditional cane rod-making was a dying art. His company now has three workshops, which make just 20 to 30 rods a year.
The bespoke process involves a short walk down to St James’s Park to cast alongside the pelicans. Clemes will construct a rod that suits the kind of water the buyer fishes in and the types of fish they want to land, as well as their height, weight and casting action. In the top-end Symphony range (€1,790, from thereelthing-fishing.com), there are 180 decorative combinations. For those who travel a lot, Clemes can make a three-piece rod for easy packing and a leather rod tube; a custom-built wooden presentation case is also possible by special request. EMMA CRICHTON-MILLER chrisclemes.com; farlows.co.uk.
Michigan-based businessman and keen fly-angler Chris Reister decided to set up Willow Classic Reels after a chance encounter with a Chinese craftsman. “I have travelled the world in search of rare and beautiful fish, and on my adventures I found Mr Lee,” he says. Together they make heirloom-quality fly-fishing reels entirely by hand. The reels can be inlaid with rich South African maple burl ($649), mother-of-pearl ($699) or black lacquer – the latter decorated with sprigs of delicate hand-pressed white flowers on sterling-silver stems ($699). Customers can also request bespoke inlays and patterns. “We have taken personal items and company logos and inlaid them into the face of the reels,” says Reister. “It’s totally up to the client to define what they would like, and then we try to make it a reality.” CHARLOTTE ABRAHAMS willowreels.com; bespokeglobal.com
The ultimate e-shop
Urban Angler is a happy haven for fishing enthusiasts. On New York’s Fifth Avenue and online, the store sells top-of-the-range kit for the complete novice and the expert alike. In “Rods and Reels”, you’ll find items from US makers such as RL Winston (from $850) and G Loomis (from $395) – with their graphite rods – and state-of-the-art reels by Lamson or Nautilus. The lines and leaders include Scientific Anglers’ textured Mastery Series (from $74.95) – a perennial favourite.
Those in the market for waders, meanwhile, should head straight for the Simms G4 Pro stockingfoot ($750), which, with their five layers of ultra-light fabric, the Urban Angler has deemed “simply the best waders ever made”. And for fisherman-friendly gifts there’s rich pickings, from the Fishpond Road Trip Fly Tying Kit Bags ($89.95) to a fantastic pair of water-repellent Leica Ultravid Binoculars (from $699). CHRISTINA OHLY EVANS urbanangler.com