Internationally known as Willy, there is no need to say his surname to know who we are talking about. He has been a guide for 30 years in Bariloche, Esquel, Rio Grande and in several countries, for instance, in Venezuela. He is a certified fly casting instructor and one of the best casters we know: his swing and timing come from another planet. As a rod maker, he is considered to be one of the best worldwide; his rods are the perfect combination of art and modern engineering. Undoubtedly, “Willy” is a model of this sport, a true perfectionist in everything he does. Since he is very dear to us, it is our pleasure to be able to share with you his story, transparency and conceptual clarity.
FD: How and when did you start fly fishing?
GR: I started in the year 1978, using buoy and fly. My first trip was to the Chimehuín and Huechulafquen lake; I was touched by the culture of those days when the main destination was Junín de los Andes. Nobody spoke of rivers like the Rivadavia, Carrileufu, or the Limay. Everybody went to the Chimehuín river, Malleo river, Quilquihue river, and Huechulafquen lake.
I was camping with my wife at the Huechulafquen Lake and I had my little spinning rod with a buoy. I had bought some flies from Ginés, a renowned local fly tier. Suddenly, at dawn, a person appeared with a fly rod. I thought, what’s that? And I went closer to him. We started talking and he showed me how it worked. Two hours later, I was in town trying to get fly fishing gear. I never bought flies again because I disassembled all my flies and learnt how they were made. I hand tied them using feathers I found everywhere. I hand tied them for several years. I remember how I stole black hair from the taxidermy of a panther in a hotel in San Martín de los Andes. (FD: laughter)
After coming back to Patagonia for two consecutive years, one day, as I was crossing the bridge over the Limay River going back to Buenos Aires, I shed fourteen tears and told my wife: “I want to live here; I want to be a guide and do this for a living”. I ended up coming alone. I bought two old trucks and merged them in to one. I carried all my stuff, and, in order to tie up flies, all the dead animalsI found on the road during the trip. I arrived to the Amadeo’s house; they were old clients of a restaurant I used to have in San Isidro. When I arrived with all those rotting animals, Mabel almost kicked me out. I was carrying a lot of dead hares, dead ducks…I tied at my night table, where I hooked a very bad vise. I didn’t have anything to tie, just four lousy hairs.
One day, Santiago Lennon, a friend of theirs, arrived and asked me to tie some flies for him. When he was going out, I had to ask him to leave me some money in advance. I was totally broke, I had toothpaste for breakfast!
Two months later, I went to Parques. Back then, there wasn’t a course for guides. The Guide Association was full and they didn’t want any more guides.
I remember that, during a year and a half, I studied and fished, trying to learn as much as I could. I signed up for the test…they had to ask me out because I wouldn’t stop writing. They said, “It’s enough, put your pen down.”
It was then that I started guiding, but I also kept tying. Felipe Larrivière gave me my first guided tours. I guided at “La Primavera” (Trafúl river, Neuquén, Argentina) during five or six years, that was my first job as a guide. Martin Sere hired me; we floated the Limay River for several days because there weren’t any dams. One of the best memories from those days is standing at the bridge over the Collón Cura River at sunset. It was a unique beauty that doesn’t exist anymore. That’s how I started, then, I got in touch with other lodges and outfitters.
I remember how I learnt to row in the Limay River, the police didn’t ask for any sort of license by then. One day, Martín Sere hired me for an outing, I had never drifted a river before. We were set to meet at Limay’s River Bridge. When I arrived, all the rafts were there. I came close to him, away from the clients, and asked him what to do. He told me: “just relax and follow me.”
I lived in several places in Bariloche. I rented an apartment at Tutzauer’s house. All the people who wanted to learn how to tie went there; I also sold some tying equipment. I still have the flyers. That’s how I started to share the little I knew. My whole life was like that, until I co-founded the first Fly fishing Association in Bariloche, in the year 1985 or 1986. I was working at the Casco hotel, when I came out I dashed to the meetings we held at the Apartur hotel. There are pictures of lectures I gave wearing suit and tie, very funny. At that point, I started dating Isabel.
I started to become a reference for real things. For example, back then, we had no idea about how to properly use a shooting taper. I remember that the manager of Apartur, “Big” Ghio, asked me to put together a spliced shooting taper for him. We went fishing together. There is a place with a very deep channel that we call the hen house, it has always been good holding water. “Big” took all the line off the reel and asked me how to do it, I explained. He tried...the shooting taper is probably still flying, the splice was lousy. “Big” ran after me down the hill throwing rocks. You learn through your mistakes!
The only tool we had were 8 feet and a half rods, most of them Fenwick and some Loomis IM6. All of them came in two pieces. There was no culture of using 9 feet or 9 ½ feet rods, not to mention 10 feet. Mind you, those rods were in the U.S. market but no one brought them here. The same was true about tying materials. Then, you understood how difficult it wa sto get a hold of decent tying materials. That is the reason why a lot of flies from those times had natural materials, because every tier grabbed what was available.
I remember when Julio Nocito gave me a bag of pigeon feathers, as a hunter he got hold of all he could. That’s what we all did. I didn’t sleep, my brain was constantly running, the little information we had was explosive. The question was not buying a couple of stuff; we had such a desire to acquire tying materials that we bought boxes and boxes. We bought from those who made feather dusters, from those who owned hens. Our bid taboo has always been hooks and synthetic materials. At that time we used Mustad and VMC.
The next step was my friendship with Tati in the Limay River. We continued with the Fly Fishing Association. We found our starting point, Rincón Chico. Tati lived there in a cabin. It was a meeting place that resulted in a great group of people. We started to discover which the good holding waters were. All migratory fish, anadromous or not, generate their support sites during migration. There, we started to understand the river, why we would catch fishes in some places but not in others. By reading books, we were able to extrapolate a lot of useful concepts. However, I don’t consider texts on models of flies that mimic insects in the northern hemisphere very useful, it is not real. Many go for a light Hendrickson and do not know what they have in their own country.
I started taking pictures of these brown trouts. I knew that the pictures would generate some sort of compromise, some echo to protect these trout. That’s when the pictures of the first “zapallos” (big fish) started to become public; it wasn’t a matter of ego, but a way of showing the rivers potential. This was a precursor to having a river keeper. It gave place to the Limay’s Cleanup project and everything that followed. We set up the fly fishing committee at the Nahuel Huapi Hunting and Fishing Club. I was a river keeper in the Province of Rio Negro for three years. I was shot at the Nirihuau creek and at the Limay River, fortunately they missed. We realized there was a need to hire a professional. Through the Light Cooperative we got people to collaborate with money to afford a river keeper.
That's when the Challhuaco foundation appeared. We got money from donations to get resources and manage projects to protect the environment. We managed to set up the Limay’s river cleanup project, the care of Nirihuau creek, and set a permanent river keeper, to assemble the Carrileufu project, among other things.
FD: A piece of advice for those starting out?
GR: Practice, practice ... and more practice. What people do not understand is that fishing is like any other sport. For golf, if I want to improve the drive, I go driving. To improve at squash you go to the court. It is the same with fishing; you have to spend hours practicing without fishing, either on the grass or in the water. You cannot fish and practice at the same time. If you know there's fish, and that causes a short circuit in your brain that won’t let you practice. Forget it, you won’t learn anything. It takes hours of practice, nothing more and nothing less.
FD: One of the objectives of FD is going back to the basis of the sport. There’s a lack of proper orientation for those who are just starting.
GR: The biggest problem is loosing fly fishing culture worldwide. Today, the famous fly fishing culture that attracted us due to its mystery has been lost. Today, there is a mass of people who follow people with very little fly fishing culture, who in turn learned from someone without experience, who have absolutely none fly fishing culture, and so on... That is the biggest issue our sport is facing today. Culture does not mean I have a whole library in my head; culture is that I get the right information to make a foundation inside me.
As adults, our inner child asks us to fish. As we are all children, many of us get carried away by limitless attitudes; they run races to see who gets there first; they enter the water at four o'clock in themorning and say that they are positioning themselves to start fishing (nightfishing is not allowed in Patagonia) . . . It's the child!
I want to help: there is a lot of information today; it seems that the only thing people want to do is buy equipment and go fishing. Today, what matters is the outcome and not the process.
Last year I wrote an Ethics Code that I passed to the Fishing and Hunting Club from Bariloche and the Guides Association in Nahuel Huapi National Park. The ethics and etiquette rules of the sport are being forgotten, that’s why I wrote it.
Another thing is the lack of river keepers both in Neuquén and in Rio Negro, and this is really terrible.
When we started the Challhuaco foundation 22 years ago, were five lunatics who wanted to do something to preserve. We spent endless hours working together, day and night.
The culture is in the fact that by all means possible (and impossible), the “angler” will do anything to catch a fish and show off.
You have to analyze which things have improved and which haven’t.
FD: Tell us about the gear you use in the Limay River.
GR: It depends on the day. If there is a hurricane, I take a SAGE TCX # 7,9' 6'' or a SAGE XP #7, 10’. I always use shooting heads, fast IV from Scientific Anglers with Rio’s slick shooter as running line. For the TCX, I use a Shooting head # 11. This is another of the myths, caused by not getting into the water. For example: I go to the river with two rods, a 9 and a 5 weight, each with a line of the same number. Suddenly, I break my 9 weight rod and my 5 weight line, is it possible to fish? What would everyone say? Popular wisdom would say no. Myth. The important thing is to be a fisherman. Within what means to be a fisherman, there is the sport’s culture that many have, many who have had the mud of a river stuck between their toes while fishing barefoot, or the sand while fishing at the beach, or they had a strong wind cut their face.
There are so many myths generated by salesmen that fishermen are now slaves of the information they generate.
It is a fallacy to believe that you cannot fly fish because you do not have economic resources. One fishes by instinct, not by the equipment he has.
Another myth: What is the point of getting with a heavier line to a trout that is not active? If it is not active, why do you want to get to the bottom? Do you want to snag it?
If you spend hours standing in the river’s edge just watching, not fishing, then you learn a lot about fish. I ask the new guides to go fishing without fishing, I ask them to watch, and I ask them to let the fish teach them. Or even observe other fishermen and learn from their mistakes and successes. There is a lot to learn from the fish.
A fly fisherman is the true predator of aquatic species. How many fly fishermen act as predators against their prey? Very few. If I am a predator, I have to know what my prey is going to do. I have to stand at an observation point throughout the season and see what fish do. Where do they go? where they don’t go? It is not only to know which fly works. You have to know how far they move, and where to.
I have seen super fish go up through huge columns of water when they were active. They simply rise and take.
The concept that a heavier line can help in a river is not true to me, I refuse to believe it because my eyes tell me otherwise.
If you analyze all species, it is exactly the same. Whether it is a tarpon, a bonefish, a brook trout or catfish, it is all the same.
It is not that I disagree with the use of one or the other, but let's put things in their place. If I use 350 grain sinking line to fish for a Chinook, it makes sense. Using the same line in a lake also makes sense. But, does it make sense in a river with a strong current like the Limay or the Santa Cruz? There are so many micro eddies below the surface that the line never reaches even half the depth you think it does.
By using heavy lines, you are automatically sacrifying distance and presentation.
What happens when schools of brown trout are not active and the fly comes? They automatically run scared or move aside.
If I know before hand that the fish will do that, I have gained a lot of ground.
FD: Suppose a brown trout is active and rises to our streamer. Should we move the streamer to trigger the strike? Is line tension itself enough?
GR: One person, who could say something about it, would be Gary La Fontaine. He was decided to study fish reaction to flies. He dived for hours and watched the response of fish. I can see and analyze things, but I have no definitive answer to this. You could generate a lot of knowledge structures and along comes a different fish that throws down the whole structure in a second, like a bulldozer.
You must have a set of resources and use them to your own criteria. There are people doing three different things in each fishing position. Three different casting and retrieving techniques for each fishing position. They walk five steps and repeat. Some people make a single technique, complete the pool and start again with a different one. The ideal thing is to combine as much as possible, at the same time in each fishing position.
I fish very quickly, in a pool I make three casts, then 6 or 7 steps downstream, and so on. I finish one stretch of holding water place and move to another.
Fishing the Limay River, until mid-January I'm not interested in distance because the fish is nearby. Then, fishing pressure pushes fish towards the opposite bank. I always use the same shooting head, I do not use leader, only a section of monofilament.
FD: Suppose you make your cast and don’t get your leader to stretch properly. How important is this?
GR: I have two main cons: the first is that if I have a fly with a long tail it mayfoul. The second is that the pile of nylon creates a knot. These are the two greatest risks.
The sequence should be line-leader-tippet-fly. What is not always necessary is to turn over your fly with a lot of power. You may want a softer landing, with lesser speed and power. There are places where I may want a WB to land in a parachute cast.
FD: You have done a lot of diving, what are your conclusions from that experience?
GR: Let’s analyze it based on visual results. First, I was able to confirm the location of holding water that supports large migratory fish. What I did was to visually confirm that the places where we caught fish were places of support. These, in turn, are near or adjacent to spawning places. When we did a 3 year study fishing during the winter, we generated a map with spawning places. Migratory fish gather near their spawning grounds.
There are variables by which these populations migrate and change: fishing pressure, lack of food, pollution, and one that will make people consider me mad: the genetic transmission of fishing pressure. If as a species your struggle is to breed and survive, you cannot leave aside damaging factors, such as fishermen. In some way, this is transmitted; it is the evolution of the species.
FD: How do you explain finding a school of 40 adult brown trouts in a back eddie with sandy bottom?
GR: Thatis hard to explain because it is uncommon. There are many behavioral changes in fish today. To be honest, as an example, the things that are happening in the Rivadavia river in the last two or three years have no explanat ion. Fish that you can observe show radical changes in how they react to a fly. It is no longer the black fly in the morning or the white one at noon. I’m also referring to changes in the location of schools, changes in their attitude. It is a new book that I have to read again and again.
It was unconceivable that a tarpon could be fished with a suspended fly in dead drift, but it is now the rule in places with high fishing pressure of Florida.
FD: Today, the Limay River is not the same river where you taught us how to fish, many years ago.
GR: No, that's true, fishing pressure, an increased number of rafts and the increased speed of school migration are reasons why this great river is different. Eventhough that, you can still catch these brown trouts as long as they have not been bothered before. There are a number of changes that are creating the need to change fishermen mental structures in order to adjust to a different fishing reality.
FD: An awful topic to talk about but a present one: the eutrophication of fishing waters
GR: It's a disaster, but there’s no alternative that would bring a quick change. Is it reasonable to clean environments that will get polluted again? The secret relies in education; however, it is a long process. We cannot pretend to solve the problem by taking just a generation; we have to start with their children and grandchildren. It is a real long term issue. On the other hand, there are environments that benefit from this. Sewage is pure nitrogen, this generates underwater life. Water cycles feed on that nitrogen.
FD: With regards to this environmental change: Has the population dynamics of brown trouts changed in the Limay River?
GR: This changed some time ago. If memory serves me right about 10-12 years ago, a new kind of brown trout population began to be seen.
We must clearly define what a resident trout is and what a migratory trout is. The resident trout is the one that establishes in a certain place and lives there for a certain period of time. If I have to talk about stable populations of brown trout in the river, first I have to define their size; there is a population of small brown trout that are residents. There is also a huge population of resident brown trout at the end of the season before spawning. They spend 1 month or more in the river and darken. If they are dark and have been silver I have to consider them as residents. They have different colors than a normal brown. The periods of time are not the ones that our minds consider for a trout to be resident, but it is the period that the trout was stationed at one place. Then, at the end of the season, there is a huge population of resident brown trout.
Why we see little typical residents? The processes of migration of fish occur for several reasons, including food and spawning. Maybe, the chemical composition of water also influenced it, or fishing pressure. Fewer and fewer of those brown trouts spend their entire lives down the willow. They are few and live in some specific places.
FD: Are there “black” trouts in the amphitheatre? (Amphitheatre is a gigantic and very deep pool in the Limay River)
GR: Yes, I have seen them both at the end of a line and from the raft. The color depends on several reasons, such as their need for camouflage, melanin, and the lack of light. That’s why they are so dark. They don’t live in places where you can spend all day trying to catch them. You fish there when these trout are not active.
FD: What about the silver browns?
GR: They are freshwater migratory browns. Silver browns are constantly moving in the river. Since the different runs come together at the end of the season, you can catch a silver fish mixed with a darker one.
FD: Do they eat?
GR: I don’t think so; I’d had to find out.
FD: During those studies you caught the most perfect and large rainbow trouts that could ever be. Would it be good or bad to allow fishing duringwinter?
GR: The reasons given to forbid it make no sense. They talk about the damage done by fishermen to spawning fish. But at the same time there is unregulated fishing and poaching, which makes even more damage. Let’s go back to the basics; there should be an efficient system of control and supervision. Fishing during winter is one of the most delicate things to regulate.
FD: What about trolling?
GR: All techniques can live together if there is logical regulation and control. If everyone respects and follow the rules there should be no trouble. There is significant business around trolling.
Who makes more damage, the trolling fisherman or the poacher? The poacher, by far.
If you are talking about the pollution from engines, I agree, Parques has already begun to regulate it.
We cannot ban a technique that has a lot of people depending on it for a living.
FD: Any special fish that you recall?
GR: After so many years there are many, I cannot think about just one. A very special trout for me was my wife’s record (Isabel) in the Limay River. It was something that blew my mind in every way. One afternoon, I went fishing with Isabel; it was 6 in the afternoon. There is a stretch of holding water that has about 6 meters of gravel coast and a cut bank behind. I stopped and told Isabel: "You start fishing here." She looked at meand said: "Well, I start here and then I go down." I replied: "No, stay here. Make 139513 casts, I don’t care, stay here, I'm going downstream. "What I had left for myself was a spot full of bushes; I got tangled up two or three times. It was getting quite dark before I could even make a single cast when I heard Isabel’s shout. I ran. It was a hell of a fish, 8.200 kg. It took her 35 minutes to land that hog. After 139513 casts at the same place! It took a gigantic WB.
What did that fish taught me?
Something important, which, in turn, destroys my theory. If I am fishing good holding water, I have to be patient. That fish probably wasn’t there, but cruising around. It is, therefore, essential to understand a little of the behavior of these brown trouts to have a chance to catch them.
The year before, we went to the Limay River with Isabel and Luciano Bacci. I said: "I want to be in the water at half past 5 in the evening because there’s full moon." They replied,"Don’t start with that nonsense."
We arrived at Rincón Chico, to the wire pool. It is great holding water, but very short. We got there at 5.15, I started to get ready while them were having bakeries. I said, "What are you guys doing? It will bite at 5.30 " They answered: "Come on, cut the BS". I putted on my waders, tied the fly at 5.28 and bet a roasted lamb before casting. One cast: one monster brown and a tasty free roasted lamb that night! (FD: laughter)
I remember another story which was published in a book about fishing in Patagonia.
It was another full moon day; I went to the bridge at the mouth of the Limay River with Evan and Barrett. Barrett is a guide in BC, outstanding using two-handed rods. I told them that since the moon was full we should be fishing the bridge pool at 11.30 AM.
We arrived at 9 AM and began to see the some big fish, one was remarkably big. As soon as I pointed it to them, Barrett went crazy and to hurried out to fish. I said, "No, Barrett, it will not bite until 11.30 AM". Imagine how he laughed. I told Evan, "Let’s fish elsewhere; it will not bite until 11.30". Barrett put together the two-handed rod, spent at least 45 minutes fishing without notice. When he came back. I said: "Told you, it will not bite until 11.30”. We waited, at 11.24 I said: "It’s time". Evan stopped fishing and joined us. It took Barret’s fly at 11.30 and a few seconds. The two of them were speechless. I know I was lucky the fish bit, but also years observing and recording things helped.
I consider myself fortunate because guiding I can spend a lot of time in the water.
FD: Do you still keep record of every catch?
GR: Absolutely. I collect data about the time of the catch, moment of the season, moon phase, atmospheric pressure, wind, water temperature, and all the information I get from my friends and colleagues.
I don’t keep record with the enthusiasm I used to have many years ago because I realized two important things: The first one, if I’d get to have all the results I wanted, and got to know everything about the behavior of these brown trouts... the mystery was going to fade, and I was going to lose interest. Second one, the unpredictability factor of all wild animals, makes writing all this factors useless.
FD: You have fished for salmon, trout, in saltwater. Of all the species, which one you like best?
GR: Tarpon, I have no doubt about it. It blew my mind from the first day. It’s awesome, there is nothing like it. It demands your best and rewards you with its best also. I have to give the best of myself to fish, and the fish that has brought the best of me, by far, was the tarpon. While tarpon fishing you cannot make any mistake.
Fish that attracts me the most is the difficult one, and that’s what the tarpon is.
You can study and practice, but believe me: when you get a tarpon in front of you and you are about to throw your fly… all that banish in a nanosecond.
FD: Your rods are considered among the finest custom rods in the planet. Which was the trigger for you to do this? Can you tell us a little about the building process?
GR: Thank you, but I do not agree with that.
Regarding the question, do you have 6 months?
FD: No, please squeeze those 6 months of information into 10 minutes!
GR: It all started here 16 years ago, sitting with my agent in the United States. He said: "Why don’t you begin to build rods?" During my next trip to USA, they showed me the assembling steps at his fly shop. I went crazy, they ended up giving me the keys, went there at 4 AM. I built my first rods then. I came back with a drain pipe filled with rod blanks and that's how I started.
I grabbed two cycling wheels, joined them with a broomstick, added a wood strip and welded to the wheels a V-shaped iron, then I made an EVA foam lining. That was my first rotating machine operated with a small microwave engine. I had it in the bathroom; I could not build rods of longer than 4 pieces. I learnt how to manage the epoxy with feather inlays (feather inserts) because I loved it. Then I built another machine, a little more advanced, then another to dry the epoxy under temperature.
I began to learn more and more about rod splines or axis. I wanted to make sure that the line would follow the exact flexion of the rod. Any mistake will cause an increase of stress in graphite or graphite malfunction due to improper flexing. I always start placing the tip guide. The guides must follow the flexion of the rod you have chosen. This is a major factor in the outcome of your cast.
Due to the graphite cuts and the way you roll it over a mandrel, there are two lines that are called axis or splines within this circle, these lines generate a greater resistance to the rods bending. Of those two axis, one is stronger than the other. Depending on the desired rod function, I choose which one to use. If I need ability to lift, I leave the strongest axis below, if I want to cut the wind I turn it and leave it behind.
If you want to fish with a dry fly, harmony and delicacy are required. I leave both axis on the sides.
Another critical part is the cork grip. You must look for the best anatomical fit since the grip receives the impulse ofthe muscles to flex the rod.
I place one cork ring at a time. That’s how I achieve the perfect adjustment, they never move.
Another thing I do is adjusting the grip to my hand. I sand down the cork carefully, adjusting it to the shape of my palm and fingers. When I have to make a demanding cast this makes a lot of a difference.
My first tarpon broke a 12 weight rod in several pieces in Holbox. It didn’t give me time to react or do anything. Everything happened so fast that it produced a tremendous stress on the rod and it broke in 4 pieces.
FD: Willy shows us his rods and the way in which they were decorated. The reel seats are made from local woods, and even from ox horn. To make the feather inlays, he uses feathers meant for historic flies such as jungle cock, blue chatterer, kingfisher, peacock, macau, and such.
FD: How many hours do you spend building each rod?
GR: It varies, depending on how many rods I’m building at the same time. There are certain processes where I can build multiple rods at the same time. One rod takes a month; maybe four rods take a month and a half.
FD: Howmany people have you got working with you?
GR: May I laugh? It’s just Isabel and myself.
FD: And the guiding?
GR: We're only taking 5 or 6 groups during summer and nothing else. They are all American clients that have been coming for many years.
FD: Do you still sell flies?
GR: Yes, we shifted and left 15% for the public and the rest for guides. Today, although a little cheaper, we sell flies for guides and special clients who want special flies (salt water, golden dorado, trout).
FD: A friend in fishing?
GR: Thousands. Tati, a friend who’s fishing other waters. All my group of friends from the Limay. all crazy about the river and fly fishing. Most of the people who come to my cave are friends. There is a real friendship, no trade. Pure honesty.
If you were looking for a celebrity, a great friend was “The old guy” (Mel Krieger). He was one of my best friends, I found something much bigger in him than I expected. First of all, he was a normal guy, very humble. A person who selflessly gave everything he had to give.
In my opinion, he was the best communicator. Besides, he discovered something that no one else could. He taught the essence of fly casting, simple, no style. If you have a profound knowledge of the essence, you can take it from there to build your own style. Mel was a great communicator of that simplicity. It was amazing to watch his energy and joy. When he grabbed your hand he had a very special gift, he was the best at conveying the pure sensation of fly casting.
FD: I took part in one of his fly casting clinics, I had such a great time.
GR: I remember my early days in fly fishing, after seeing his videos, I dreamed of shaking his hand at least once. Then I met him in America when I went to get certified as an instructor at the Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF). Part of my dream was fulfilled, but friendship, that relationship almost as we were relatives, came later.
FD: A final balance?
GR: I have "adopted" many young fishermen as pupils; no one ever wanted to learn the art of rod building. None of the 20 or 30 lying around ever wanted to learn this. It’s the culture of doing things the easy way. I wish I had turned at least one of them as mad as I am. When they watch me doing my job they freak out because they realize the degree of concentration you must have, the degree of perfection that needs to be achieved. I’m never satisfied or settled, I’m always trying to find a way to make it better. Its how I am, I seek for perfection. In the United States they call me "picky" because I'm always after small details. I do not think it’s a good aspect about me, but it’s just the way I am.
FD: We are very grateful to “Willy” for his willingness to help, thoughtful lessons, and on top of everything, for his friendship.