When Monomoy Tackle started three seasons ago as a passion project, the original products started as bottom fishing rigs for haddock and cod. These simple rigs were based on rigs that I had seen my Uncle Nick tie himself at his home or while steaming out to the fishing grounds on Captain John boats when I was a kid. Whenever we would make our drives from Worcester to Plymouth, to the Captain John boats, we always picked him up in the morning and we always found him, literally, pacing back and forth in the street at 2AM, waiting for us. I can't repeat any of what he would say if we were late.
Once on the boat, he sat on the fixed, metal seat with his small tackle box open, cigarette in his mouth, and a grin on his face. He was to me, a professor, a technician, and my loving uncle. His English wasen't perfect, but through the smile on his face, his demonstrations with his hands, and his jokes, he spoke to me.
There were two rigs in his box that always peaked my interest. The first were these mackerel rigs tied with feathers and thread, some with ten plus hooks he had brought over from the 'old country,' and the second were his high low rigs.
He sat with an unmarked spool of mono, using his arm as a measuring device, and his cigarette at times to cut, he carefully tied these rigs. I make it sound as though he was not precise or sloppy in his work. Far from it. He had made them so many times that it was second nature and if I had put four or five of the rigs, side by side, I would have probably found out how little tolerance there was from one to the next. He didn't have knot pullers or anything like that. He had a small pair of pliers that he pulled out only at particular times.
He scoffed at anyone else in the family touching anything. This was his arena. He enjoyed it. He would sit and compare notes with other anglers sitting next to him and the mates walking around. It's amazing as I look back on it now how the language of fishing crosses cultures, walks of life, and generations. These were the 'architects' of these rigs. The knots, hooks, and teasers were the details on their 'drawings.'
In those moments I was but an interested bystander. I was seen and not heard from. I was a sponge. My Uncle, prior to immigrating to this country, had worked in the family fish market on the island he grew up in Turkey. As a teenager and young man, he caught, cleaned, and worked at the store. My mother tells stories of how my Uncle stood behind the open air counter of the store, right at the entrance, bellowing 'BONITO !!' in the season when bonito were prevalent and being caught in the Marmara Sea. In his life he likely knew more about fishing than I will ever come to know and for him fishing was just not a recreational activity, but literally a way of life and as essential to his persona as breathing.
Before I departed off to college, my Uncle passed away, and we all felt a large void on our fishing trips. The rigs aside, we loved him. He was a prankster, a teacher, a competitor and a tremendous angler in his own right. He was a tactician and a technician. Rod, reel, bait, it all had to be a certain way. He practiced and studied his craft with a rigor that I found inspiring.
Probably twenty years ago or so, when I had more of an opportunity to fish in the Northeast for bottom dwelling species, I started tying the rigs. The basic outline and framework from my Uncle is there with some of my own tweaks. I will never say that the rigs I make are 'better' than his. Those rigs were distinctly 'his' and these in their own way are my versions.
Heading into the 2023 season, I have again made some minor tweaks, less so to the rig itself, but more so on the colors of the teasers.
A Pink - Purple squid skirt that I fished as a kid is taking the place of the Purple - White.
The Glow White has received positive reviews that the Pink White is also now getting a bit of Glow added to it.
The Amber Orange - dark toned skirt is being replaced by an Orange - Glow Squid Skirt. I will always favor an orange teaser and the combination of the Orange and the Glow seems like the best of both worlds.
Green Chartreuse, Glow White and Yellow - Orange remain unchanged.
These rigs represent the roots and essence of the fishing I grew up with. They are functionally simple and can be used for a variety of species. I have used them for haddock and cod pretty much exclusively, but I have heard of several customers fishing in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Virginia using them for sea bass. A new customer last week, told me he was going to fish them in Florida and subsequently also try them on a trip to Africa. There's a large level of satisfaction hearing these stories from customers who are kind enough to share them with me. It's in those moments that I am able to link the present with my past when I think about Uncle tying these rigs and passing on his passion for fishing.
Thank you to everyone that has taken this trip down memory lane with me. Tight Lines. Uncle Onnik, Dad, we miss you.