How a refugee from Hungary invented a reel that would tame the biggest, baddest fish in the sea…
By T. Edward Nickens for Garden & Gun
A drapery of mangrove juts from the shore. Tibor “Ted” Juracsik knows it will push the redfish into a narrow channel in the mud, away from the overhang of twisted roots and into the tide. Behind me, Juracsik leans on the push pole, and the flats boat gently rotates clockwise, placing me at a perfect ninety-degree angle to the fish. I wiggle the fly rod tip to free a bit of line. “Another moment, another moment,” Juracsik murmurs, his Hungarian accent hanging in the air of the Everglades’ Ten Thousand Islands. We wait, together.
All of Juracsik’s life, it has been this way—as a teenage tool-and-die maker in a Budapest bicycle factory, as a young refugee in New York City, as a metalworker and the designer of perhaps the best-known fly fishing reel in the world, the Billy Pate Reel. Standing on the poling platform, the seventy-five-year-old Juracsik runs it all through his head—the angles, the loads, the efficiencies—and when the pause on the deck of the flats boat becomes nearly unbearable, he says, softly: “Now.”