A day on the water with Allen Elishewitz

Every so often, my two worlds collide. Seldom is it as completely as they did yesterday. For those who do not know, my day-job is owner/head guide of Smoky Mountain Gillies Flyfishing. I have been a flyfishing guide for almost 20 years now, in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Idaho, and for the last 10 years in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

Allen Elishewitz is a well known knife designer, both under his own label – Elishewitz Custom Knives, but also as exclusive designer for Hogue Knives. He also is a fellow resident of East Tennessee, and he and his wife Valerie have been wanting to learn how to flyfish for many years now.

Yesterday, we made that happen.

Neither Allen nor Val had ever held a fly rod. This is not an issue, perhaps 40% of my clients have no experience with the long-rod. We started the day with a lesson in the field behind Little River Outfitters in Townsend, TN. As an aside, LRO is one of the best flyshops I have ever been in, anywhere – and I have a fairly large sample size for reference after 2 decades in the business.

Both Allen and Val were quick studies, and before long we were headed to the river.

After finding a solitary stretch of river I did a quick demonstration of how to put what they had learned into practice. On the second cast I hooked a small rainbow trout, and the game was on.

The fish were cooperative and before long they both had landed fish of their own. The weather was gorgeous, the conversation easy, and the the morning passed quickly.

We had a streamside lunch, complete with table and tablecloth. Homemade cookies (my great-grandmother’s Ginger-Molasses recipe), completed the meal and we were ready to return to the water. These cookies have become my trademark when I guide, and I am including the recipe below.

I led Allen and Val up a small tributary, away from the road. The little canyon is one of my favorite places to take clients, because it offers solitude and beautiful scenery. We spent the next couple of hours in further pursuit of trout, to mixed results. I even had the opportunity to put the Sean McWilliams Model 1 to the test on a couple of 2″ branches from a fallen tree that had snagged our flies. The knife is not heavy enough to be a chopper, but its keen edge shaved away wood until the limbs were easy to break off.

When the time had come to head back, we retraced our steps, changed and broke down the rods, and returned to their car. It was there I received one of the nicest tips I have ever received- a new Hogue X5. The lavishness of this tip aside, receiving it directly from Allen at the conclusion of such a wonderful day on the water – suffice it to say this knife will always be among my favorites.

I will be testing the knife for review in the coming month, and will publish a “First Impression Review” in the coming days, but I can already say with confidence that the action is smooth and the blade geometry is excellent.

In the end, I could not be more thrilled with how the day turned out. I built upon a budding friendship with Allen and Val, and after long being an admirer of their vocation, I had the opportunity to share mine with them.

Great Grandmother McVay’s Ginger-Molasses cookies:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine in mixing bowl:

1 egg
12 oz sugar
5 oz shortening
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. powdered ginger

Add 12 oz AP flour

in small ramekin combine 2 tsp. baking soda and 3 oz molasses. Mix until acid/base reaction occurs. add to mixing bowl and mix until combined.

form dough into 1″ balls, roll in sugar and place on cookie sheet.

bake for 10 minutes.

Cool and enjoy.

 

comments

  1. Allen Elishewitz says:

    Clay, thank you for an awesome day of fly-fishing and the great write-up with lots of pics! We learned a lot, caught some fishes, enjoyed a day out in the Great Smoky Mountains but more importantly I enjoyed our conversations.

  2. Sam L. says:

    Looks like none of the fish you caught were big enough to eat. Still, a good day of fishing.

    1. Yeah. They were on the smaller side. I typically take beginners to water tending towards quantity over quality.

      Most of those fish were 1 year olds born last spring. They’ll g ow up over the course of the season.

      1. NavyRetGold says:

        And so it remains that a poor day fishing is still better than a good day at the office. I sincerely miss the time I spent on the streams, rivers, and woods of Tennessee fishing and hunting. It is one of the things I remember most fondly. Clay, you may have the perfect job. I hope you enjoy every outing, as I have enjoyed your stories about them.

  3. cwp says:

    When I first got interested in knives, Elishewitz/Benchmade collaborations like the Stryker, Dark Star/Blue Star, and Sentinel were just starting to hit the market, and I’ve been a fan of his designs ever since. It’s great to see that such a talented knifemaker is also a good guy to spend the day fishing with.

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A day on the water with Allen Elishewitz

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