The Art of Slowing Down
By: Keller Northcutt
There is a valuable saying, “Anything worth doing, is worth doing slowly.” As an angler, you understand this every time you pick up your rod. Fly fishing cannot be rushed. To be successful you must be present with the river. You move slowly, knowing that if the fish sees you, you will no longer see the fish. You choose the quietest path along the bank or over the riverbed. Most of all, you embody the flight patterns of tiny insects, some of which are only alive on this big planet for a few minutes. All of these actions allow you to be fully immersed in the present moment of fly fishing, and in order to do them well, you must slow down.
It is a creative and meditative endeavor to choose the proper flies, line, and rod. These decisions reflect your goals and objectives for your time on the water. You are envisioning your environment: the weather, the flows, the bugs, and where the fish are feeding. Ultimately, those choices are put to the test through one swooping motion, the cast. And when you succeed, it shows that you became one with your environment and perfectly presented an utterly irresistible meal to that trout.
So why hurry this experience? Humans live in one eternal, fast-action society. We spent most of our lives raising children, building homes, racing to get things done. Fly fishing presents you with the opportunity to live more intentionally, to take a deeper breath, and to spend time on the river. Do you really need that fast-action rod? Sure, if you’re trying to win tournaments or set records. But if you are fishing to connect with the rippling stream, to inspect the belly of a riverside rock, to feel the heartbeat of the trout in your hand, then you deserve something slower, something deliberate. You need a natural bamboo rod with delicate loop and line control, a rod with patience and grace on the water.
No one understands this better than Paul ”PJ” Dufour, a carpenter, artist, and lifelong angler. He decided it was finally time to slow down when he was diagnosed with cancer in his mid forties. While recovering from cancer treatment, PJ began crafting premium quality bamboo fly rods. While working the bamboo, he thought of other anglers, much like himself, who were also at a point in their lives where they appreciated slowing down and being present to every cast. The creativity and mindfulness in this work strengthened his spirit and body. And so his bamboo fly rods were born in the Rocky Mountains of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, with intention and detail, made to be fished for lifetimes.
PJ’s rods are irresistibly unique. On the technical side, bamboo provides a smoother cast and truer feel for your line. They move gracefully through space, presenting flies more naturally than their carbon-based counterparts. After fishing bamboo, your cast becomes consistent and presentation lighter. PJ’s rods are made from Tonkin bamboo and premium wood species, two sustainable and renewable materials and will outlast and outcast for generations of anglers. Bamboo is the only fly rod material with enough weight to support the counterbalance of a wooden grip, making this one-of-a-kind option impossible to duplicate on mass-produced, synthetic rods.
But what truly sets PJ’s rods apart from other bamboo rod companies is the time and attention he invests into each client. He wants to know where you fish, what fish you catch, the best fish you’ve caught, your dog’s name and breed, your kids’ names, your grandkids’ names. He wants to know who you are and what slowing down means to you. He presents dozens of options for wood, inlays, and reel seat and grip designs. He shows you sterling-silver and pewter inlays, traditional rattan-wrapped grips, and silk-wrapped ferrules. He even offers custom 2D and 3D engravings of a favorite river or a loved one’s initials into the grip or reel seat. No two PJ’s Fine Bamboo Rods are alike, and after over 80 hours of personalized craftsmanship, each one tells a complete and unique story. Upon seeing their finished product, customers can’t believe something so beautiful would also fish so beautifully. Yet therein lies their magic.
PJ’s rods are built for people who are ready to slow down, reconnect with nature and friends, and find a new perspective. They are for people who appreciate the artistic craftsmanship, longevity, and history of a custom bamboo fly rod. They are for the retiree who can finally spend more time on the water and less in the office. They are for the grandfather longing to teach his grandchildren the art of fly fishing, and perhaps one day pass it down to them. (Just like little Norm who learned on a bamboo rod in A River Runs Through It.) They are for the fishing guide to demonstrate versatility and offer something unique to her clients. These rods are for the adventurer, the purist, and the collector.
Here is the reality: it is time for all of us to slow down and do more of what we love. We live in a world of disposable, mass-produced products, and many rods will break or be quickly forgotten. It’s time to return to the roots of fly fishing and add one of PJ’s Fine Bamboo Rods to your collection. Choose a rod that will outlast the rest, a rod that expresses your style as an angler, and most importantly, one that tells your story. Because in that moment on the river, you are there and there is nowhere else to be. There is nothing else to do. Allow yourself that moment to cast with patience and intention. And in doing so, you just might discover that true peace is in the palm of your hand.