Hello Rodmakers & Restorationists!
It’s September and I’m updating, not entirely re-writing, this cover letter to the Golden Witch website again. Summer slipped through my fingers. The kids are winding up their first week of school. The leaves on our cherry trees are already shifting to yellow. Too soon, too soon. It may not be fall on the calendar, but a late autumn chill is stirring the air as I write this – longhand – while sitting on the front porch. I invite you to continue reading to learn about new products that have made it to the website over the course of summer, plus a few other components that will be posted shortly. Upcoming shop closures are addressed at the tail end of this letter. Very quickly, though, let me reiterate a few important points from the previous letters for any who may have missed reading them.
If you’ve already read this paragraph, skip on down to “New Products.” On January 5th, Erica retired after many years of managing the office and inventory end of the company. I’ve been doing my best to stay on top of the craft work while temporarily taking over these new responsibilities. Please bear in mind that until I make a full-time hire, I’m a bit crushed for time. If you happen to call and listen to the long-winded voice mail message, please don’t worry that leaving a message of your own is in vain…I really will call you back, but it might be a few days. I’ll be the first to admit, I prefer emails because I can respond here & there throughout the day as I find a free moment. Until I have a full time staffer in the office, please order custom products several weeks in advance of your needs. Anything I make, I usually wind up making on the weekends and it’s not unusual for me to be running 5-10 days out with guides, the new nickel silver hook tenders, and that sort of thing. On a related note – and worth mentioning because it has cropped up a few times as a minor issue – I do charge for products at the time they are ordered, no exceptions, whether it’s a $30.00 guide or a $300.00 gold & blued reel seat. Buying a product puts you on the build list (or the order list in the case of, say, a rod sack or a large ferrule). Excepting back-order items and orders with custom or special order products, most orders are shipped in three business days or less (many ship the same day).
New Products. I never accomplish as much as I’d like to with the company, but there’s always progress. Let me start with the products that are new to the website since I last up-dated this letter.
Guides. The Vintage Series of stripping guides in 10mm keeps expanding and is now on the website in four frame formats and three finish options. You can choose from the High Frame (my favorite), Medium Frame, Cradle Frame, and Low Frame, then select a Bright, Blue, or Bronzed finish. Slowly I’m working to get photos of every guide option posted to the website which will help to eliminate guesswork when you’re composing your next rod. The 14mm Vintage is also available on the website now. These larger rings are all mounted in a proportionately larger Cradle Frame, with your choice of all three finishes. For you silk line enthusiasts, I have a miniature Vintage Series guide in the works…more details later this fall.
Silks. Previously I had promised an expanded selection of silks. They’re here, and they’re being added to the website in a process that, for Beka, can only be described as a long slog. There are hundreds of new images that she is posting, so you’ll have a far better sense for the available colors than ever before. As I type this, Pearsall’s (updated), YLI (needs updating), Tiara (new!), and Kimono (new!) are on the website. The Tire silks have arrived and we’ll be working on adding them in the next few weeks; after the Tire silks are added, we’ll go back and update the YLI pages. But for now, please, go explore the Tiara & Kimono silk pages for a taste of what we’re planning across the board with silks and also because these silks are worth adding to your creative repertoire. As I write this, I have solid inventory on the Pearsall’s, YLI, Tiara, & Kimono silks and shallow but complete inventory of the Tire silks….this fall, I’ll continue boosting the inventory depth as needed based on your interest.
Hook Tenders. Great news here – The Dickerson-Inspired Twisted Tenders, bright & blued in two wire diameters, are now available in our shop-made line of Golden Witch Nickel Silver Hook Tenders. Perhaps even more exciting – if you get worked up about hook tenders! – is the Arcane Component Works range of Silver Snake™ Nickel Silver Hook Tenders. Like so much of what we do at Golden Witch and Arcane Component Works, these tenders offer rodmakers a new twist on a trusty old component. Silver Snakes™ are crafted from solid nickel silver wire. They feature a loop akin to a modern snake guide, but rather than an open loop, it’s a closed loop, i.e., the heels of the feet touch, or nearly touch. The feet are traditional paddle feet – they’ll look great under translucent silk wraps! Please note: I didn’t personally make all these tenders – they were crafted in Germany using early “automated” equipment. This means they are pretty darn uniform from piece to piece. It also means you may need to touch up the feet just a little, like you would if you were using NOS vintage snake guides. A finely cut hand file, 400 or 600 grit paper, Green polishing paper, or even an emery board, will all make quick work of perfecting these feet. One of my goals in bringing these to market was to offer nice nickel silver hook tenders at a price far below the custom tenders we’re making in the shop.
Grips. Also from Arcane, we’ve added the three new grips that were promised in the last update of this cover letter. There’s a 6.5” Cigar Grip, a 7” Full Wells Grip, and a 6.5” Torpedo Grip inspired by the handgrasp popularized by Everett Garrison. If these three new grips haven’t made it to the website by the time this version of the cover letter is published, they’ll follow shortly.
The Near Future. There is so much more happening behind the scenes, but I don’t want to spoil all the surprises in any one draft of this letter, so I’ll focus on just one forthcoming product that is nearly ready for the website: The Oyster Special Guides. Midsummer of 2014, Bill Oyster & the Oyster Fine Bamboo Fly Rods Shop Manager, Riley Gudakunst, approached Golden Witch and asked me to collaborate on a guide project. The goal was to create either a white or transparent stripping guide which would become one of the defining hallmarks on the unparalleled Oyster bamboo rods. Using a combination of vintage and modern components, I created a handful of samples. One pair of guides, available in both 9mm & 10mm O.D., struck their eyes. These guides were created using vintage NOS German porcelain rings, snugly wrapped in their original, solid brass bezels. I mounted these rings in modern GW nickel silver frames. Riley was the first to respond to the sample pictures: Love those brass and porcelain guides! I do, too. The Oyster folks love them bright. My preference is for the blued version of these guides, which creates an intense light/dark contrast between the frame and ring. Either way, they’re entirely classic, yet unusual. Another rodmaker who saw sample images wrote:
Whoa. Those strippers are *really* cool. I’m not sure which ones I like better… I guess it would just depend on context. But those are fresh. Very cool. I have to assume that there are lots of guys out there who have, over time, accumulated such a stash of other strippers that they really don’t need to make any purchases. But I’ve never seen anything like this, and I, for one, will need to grab at least one of each when they’re available. Because… how could I not? Right? That’s how it’s done. Nice work. Hard to get me excited about rod components these days, but those are cool.
So, I am very pleased to announce that Golden Witch will be officially releasing the Oyster Special guide series in 9mm & 10mm. Quantities are limited, and Oyster Rods has quite a pile dedicated to their future rod production, but anyone who’d like to add a touch of Oyster class to their own rods is welcome to do so while these fancy rings are in the bins.
Wrapping Up. More updates will follow every 90 days or so. Arcane component works is developing a new website – our old domain was, unfortunately, captured by a parasite, a squatter. Along with the new website, there will be a new downloadable PDF catalog. Once that’s complete, my friend, Matt West, and I will get cracking on the new GW catalog. I’ll keep you posted.
Finally, let me point out up-coming shop closures: Due to some exciting family adventures, which are detailed in the Golden Witch Annual Letter, there will be irregularly spaced closures through-out the year. Please keep tabs on the website and you’ll be able to place orders and have them shipped prior to the closures. This fall I expect to be closed October 15-22. Because so many Golden Witch products are made, or finished, to order, it is best for you to place your orders at least two weeks in advance of a closure if you’re ordering guides and that sort of thing. For items we stock deeply like ferrules, silks, reel seats & whatnot, you can safely order up to three business days prior to a closure and I should be able to get your package out the door. Always bear in mind that inventory does fluctuate and the occasional back order will happen at the least convenient time – Murphy’s Law. Plan ahead – order ahead! - and it will save both of us a lot of grief. Thanks!
Many thanks for your time & your business. I couldn’t do this – build a better component company - without you. Inside the website I mention that buying this or that product supports an American craftsman and that doing so is good for your soul. I want to briefly expand on that. I’m partial to American craftsmen and women because I’m immersed in this water, but I’ll be the first to say I couldn’t make this company work without craftspeople from all over the globe. I’ll highlight the Portuguese…without the fine people who are taking my cork grips and turning duplicates by the hundreds, I wouldn’t be able to offer the ACW grips to rodmakers around the world. When you buy a grip, or a guide, or a ferrule, or a rod sack, you are helping to support an artisan who earns their living making something in this world (an increasingly rare feat in a world addicted to synthetic pleasures and technologically enabled sloth); in turn, when you make a rod or restore a rod using these components, you are an artisan making this world a more worthwhile place. I strongly believe that supporting those who make, who craft, who grow, helps us to grow in intensely worthwhile ways. This extends far beyond rodmaking. If you aren’t growing your own food, I urge you to meet a local farmer and stock your table with their produce. You might brew your own beer, ferment your own wine or mead, or bottle your own bitters, just to develop a taste for the challenge that artisanal foodcraft presents. This process will help you to better appreciate masterful food when you meet it, in the same way that making a rod from scratch allows you a depth of insight into tacklecraft that most anglers don’t have. The act of creating gives you a worthy edge in this world. Hone that edge everywhere you can.
The GW Annual Letter – 2014