19 hours ago
Sunday, June 26, 2011
I received some sad news a week ago that my good friend and respected mentor Jack Charlton passed away from a battle with cancer.
I thought I would share the first time I met Jack over 10 years ago.
I had come back home from college for the summer and, after fishing a few of his reels for stripers back east, thought id like to meet the man behind the machine. So I called their office to see if I could schedule an appointment. After talking to Jack for a bit, we decided on a day for me to make the drive up to Burlington, WA to see how these works of art were made.
I really didn't expect to be there for very long but still set aside the entire day just in case. Good thing I did, as Jack, to my surprise, took the entire day off and not only took the time to personally walk me through the entire process from start to finish, but gave me the entire history of his reels and the philosophy of what makes a Charlton reel. Ill never forget how he took a spool he had sitting on his desk and, to show the durability of the anodization, had me take my key and try to scratch it! after wiping off the metal shavings from my key (!) , the finish was as good as new! Then he had me stand on the spool on one foot in an attempt to flex the spool. Not a budge. Needless to say, I had already been impressed by the quality of his reels, but seeing the passion behind the product, in person, was something different.
Jack was a great guy who was never too busy to talk to friends. He will be missed, and his family is in our thoughts and prayers.
Brian and Dawn Chou
In February of 2009, after having a great steelheading trip on the Skagit and Sauk Rivers, I was invited by a mutual friend to stop by Jack Charlton’s shop in Burlington, Washington. As soon as we got to the shop I was surprised as hell to find out that Jack actually knew who I was and had even read this blog. I was also impressed that Judy, Jack’s wife was also a night shift Critical Care nurse. My impression of Jack and his shop was one of wonder as I found out in more detail how he took the NASA aerospace technology and techniques learned in his previous profession and applied to them to the precision machining of his reels.
Jack was a smart, down to earth guy who loved every aspect of the sport of fly fishing. His giving nature and hospitality was a wonderful ending to a great trip to Skagit Country. After not allowing us to pay for the dinner that evening, he went on to invite me to fish with him in British Columbia during the summer. Meeting Jack for the first time that evening, I could not help but be flattered and impressed by this humble gentleman.
Jack Charlton will be greatly missed by all who knew him. His exceptional products and works of art will always be a part of fly fishing history and sought out by fishermen and collectors alike. I am proud to say I had the opportunity to spend some time with him and his family and got to get to know the man behind the reel. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.