The Placebo is the Brand

Placebos are wonderful because they don’t have any side effects and they actually work.
— Seth Godin

The Placebo.

Prescribed for the psychological benefit, not the physical benefit.

The Brand.

I’ve been highly susceptible to the placebo effect of a well crafted brand since an early age. I was a mediocre basketball player in any shoes, but I would pursue the latest Air Jordan sneaker release at all costs.  Any jacket would warm my bones, but only a Patagonia would suffice.

The performance remained the same. I was buying the brand. I was buying the story it told.

Nearly thirty years later, very little has changed.

Today, I found myself beaming with joy as I gazed at my purchase from my friends at Deschutes Angler: a 13 foot, 9 inch, 6 weight, CF Burkheimer Presentation Spey Rod. I’m so proud of this purchase, I carved off a piece of my schedule today to take portrait photos of the beauty.

Yes, I was once again feeling the effects of my placebo. I stopped and questioned WHY? My answers lie in the Master, the Maker, and the Memories.

The Master.

I purchased this rod from John & Amy Hazel at Deschutes Angler. From the first day I darkened their doors, I was a fan. We instantly found some mutual connections, including a unique silver trout bracelet from Three Forks Montana. Connections aside, their history with the fish that captures my mind daily, sealed the deal. They’ve forgot more about steelhead than I currently know. The truly love the art of the sport.

When I decided I wanted to upgrade my spey collection, I called them for advice. Their excitement for the mere mention of Burkheimer was clear through the phone. The stories they told about the role they played in the Presentation Spey sold me, I was really feeling the effects.

The Maker.

I have a weak spot for handcrafted products. I always have. I’m all for technological advances in production, but it’s the craftsman that I love. The maker cares more. This attention to detail radiates every piece of the C.F. Burkheimer Presentation Spey. The plaid rod sleeve, the smoked nickel & buckeye reel seat, the five layer cork handle. The art that comes at the bench of a maker. The differences in style matters to me. It speaks to my style.  

The Memories.

It’s no secret that fly fishing captures my heart and plays a restorative role in my life. I’d like to say the countless hours swinging flies for steelhead has dampened my fishing spirit, but the opposite actually holds true. The chase, the mystery, the extended periods of time between fish, increases the desire to go.

The first swing through the first run with the new rod found a bright steelhead that disappeared on the horizon deep into my fly line backing. A memory never to be forgotten.

Did I pay more for placebo effect that comes with the C.F. Burkheimer Presentation Spey Rod in my hand?


With this purchase, I salute the master, the maker, and the memories. The stories they tell and what these stories tell others about me. That’s my placebo effect. The placebo is the brand.