Up next

Not sure if you’re aware but a couple partners and I purchased Struble components, lo now, about a year ago. What initially sounded like a turn-key situation has gobbled up nearly any free time I have to build rods. You’d be surprised how long it takes to become proficient at making agate guides and rebooting a long abandoned reel seat catalog. On the plus side, I can now afford to use agate guides or Struble’s new ceramic guides at a fraction of the cost I did before; I even have some new old stock Struble seats scurried away waiting the proper project.

Getting back to the time-gobbler…While the time I’ve had to build rods has evaporated, I’ve evidently had plenty of time to order blanks, and I find myself with a number I’d love to build and get out the door. Like always, I’m saving a few for myself but along with the usual suspects of Epic, Sage, and Livingston Rod Co. blanks, I have a few atypicals as well. These include some rare Steffen Brothers vintage graphite blanks (in blue, no less), and a special order purple CTS Quartz that someone asked me to order and then was apparently immediately abducted by Aliens as I’ve never heard from him since.

So, I’ll be building these regardless of initial interest, but wanted to let all dozen of you who follow this site know that if you’re interested in any of these blanks, shoot me an email and we’ll work out a deal…There are a few here I hate parting with but at last count, I had something like 50+ blanks and 18 rods. I think I’ll be OK.

  • CTS Quart 8’6 6wt (Purple)
  • CTS Quart 8′ 4wt (Shine (green))
  • Sage VXP 8’6 3wt
  • Sage X 9′ 5wt
  • Sage Trout LL 9′ 4wt
  • Steffen Bros. 8′ 3wt (Graphite/ vintage blue)
  • Steffen Bros. 7’9 3wt (Graphite/ vintage blue)
  • Livingston Rod Co. 8’6 6wt (Glass/ 3pc)
  • Thomas & Thomas Spire 9′ 5wt (should probably hurry before I wind up keeping this)
  • NFC 9′ 4wt 2pc

If any of these at vastly less-than-retail prices are something that interests you, let me know and I’d be happy to make them yours.

In the Que

I’m sick of COVID. No, I’m making a “statement.” I’m just sick of talk of being sick. I’m sick of commercials reminding me to be scared of being sick. I’m sick of various media assuring me that somehow the oxymoronic hashtag of “alone together” is comforting or even noble, let alone comprehensible.

Apologies; I’m just sick of the sick and everything that goes along with it.

Now, I know that being sick of a sickness doesn’t mean it will go away; furthermore, there are enough people expressing opinions about every dimension of the pandemic that mine is a voice surely not needing to be heard. By all means, stay safe and take precautions you believe necessary.

I’m only saying one thing: I’m sick of it…I would hope everyone would be. I think it would be kind of weird if anyone wasn’t sick of a global sickness oh, about one-half second after it began.

And, here’s what I’m doing about it…I’m going to build fly rods. What does this have to do with a global novel corona virus, you ask? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Which, of course, is the point, except that I said it in a post that reminds everyone of the very thing which I recommend we think much less about.

So, here’s the point: I thought I’d let all several of you who follow this as an actual blog know what blanks will be coming up…Here’s what is in the rod room above my garage, listed in no particular order:

  • Tom Morgan Rodsmiths Fiberglass 8′ 3wt 2pc (around $710)
  • Livingston Rod Co white 8′ 5wt 3pc S-Glass (around $450)
  • Livingston Rod Co black 8’6 6wt 3pc S-Glass (around $450)
  • Sage Trout LL 9′ 4wt 4pc (around $580)
  • Sage X 9′ 5wt 4pc (around $590)
  • RL Winston BIIIx 9′ 5wt. 4pc…Not sure…
  • Thomas&Thomas Spire 9′ 5wt 4pc…Not sure…

The TMR will be the next one available. The last two on the list are getting more and more rare and I might talk myself into keeping them, despite the fact I have no need of another (let alone, two) 9′ 5 wts.

Anyway, these are the rods to look for as I hopefully am able now to spend more time on building and less at my regular job. If any of these is a “must have” for you, let me know and not only will I bump it to the top of the list, I might even take a few bucks off the price. Go ahead and email me and I’ll let you know.

Until then…Stay safe, fish more, and watch less TV.

Merry October! November!

I’m writing this in September, you know, there time of year we celebrate Christmas in Big Box Stores all across America…

Funny how time flies…I started this blurb in October when I first saw Christmas paraphernalia in stores and tomorrow is November. Sheeesh…

Anyway, what I was going to say was I have some outstanding blanks arriving over the next month, and while that is true, most have already arrived. If you’re not like me (up late Christmas Eve praying our Big Brother, Amazon, has a Star Trek-like “transporter” delivery service for all the gifts you have yet to buy), then you might be looking for some nice Christmas gifts for the fly fisher in your life who has everything- or nothing.

Look no further! Over the next month, I’ll be finishing these rods:

  • Tom Morgan Rodsmiths (7’6 4wt 2pc glass)
  • Sage Trout LL (9′ 5wt. & 9′ 4wt.)
  • Sage X (9′ 5wt)
  • Epic Fastglass II (9′ 5wt in Olive)
  • CTS Glass (8′ 4wt in Light Lime Green & 7’6 3wt in White)
  • Livingston Rod Co. in several configurations

I’m really excited to have both TMR and LRC in the bullpen…Both companies run by great guys making fine rods. TMR is aptly continuing- and building on- the legend of Tom Morgan, and LRC produces some of the drop-dead finest casting rods available. Conveniently, both of them set up shop down the road a little from my house. All of which makes me a little partial, but anyone who knows the “Wulff” in “Royal Wulff” is named for a person and not a canine would agree.

So, check back occasionally to see what’s been finished and available for you Merry November Christmas shoppers, and remember: If you want to get an even bigger jump on Christmas, you can let me know if you’re interested in a specific blank listed above and I’ll bump it to the front of the Early Yuletide Line.

Why “Rods for the Rest of Us?”

I remember way back when Ronald Reagan was embarking on his second term as President, I whittled the night away at a gas station on East Main Street for $3/hour in what was then the sleepy little town of Bozeman, Montana. I had recently transplanted myself from Nebraska because, well, there were very few trout there and even fewer fly rods.

Back then, the number of people living in this small ag-centered village was being reduced almost daily by people looking for better fortunes in places that paid considerably more than a Big Mac an hour. This meant I had most of the evening to myself manning one of the last fuel outposts before hitting I-90 on the east side of town; despite this, I saw almost no one during the last few hours of my shift. So, my “whittling away” took the form of tying flies and dreaming over catalogs.

When I arrived here in 1985, there were three fly shops and one of them was closing. Fly-fishing was fringe, people kept and cooked every fish they caught, and the only catalog I had to dream over was Orvis. I was confined to dreaming because the graphite rods Orvis offered were an unholy $225 each…Juuust a little out of reach for a guy making three-hundred pennies every sixty minutes.

Over the last thirty years, Bozeman has been invaded by every stereotype imaginable, a Super-Max cell awaits anyone with the gall to keep a fish, there’re a few more fly shops around whose summer parking lots now have more watercraft than a Third-World Navy serving the bazillions of people jetting in from around the world to fly-fish, and I no longer work in a gas station. BUT, one thing I’ve never forgotten is what it felt like to dream of a rod I could never, ever afford.

Just like the population of Bozeman, the cost of a decent fly rod has reached unimaginable heights. And, that’s fine…I’m a confirmed Capitalist and I know it’s not 1985; people have to make a living, and some people can definitely afford it.

I still can’t, and I doubt I’m alone.

“Rods for the Rest of Us” is my way of saying I remember what it’s like to want a fine rod but knowing I’d be hauled straight to Debtors’ Prison if I ever tried to buy one.

To solve this problem, I began building rods for myself in 1987. Along the way, I built a few for friends and, more recently, I’ve started to make “spec rods” I sell in various venues like eBay and Craigslist. The purpose for this website is to sell some of them here.

What I do is nothing fancy (when was the last time you heard a custom rod builder say that?); I’ve done “custom rods” but I don’t really consider myself a “custom rod builder.” What I do is take the guts of some of the finest rods in the world (the blank), grab quality components and spin everything together with silk and glue to build a rod that is as lovely as I can make it, as solid as anyone would need, and casts no differently than its manufactured counterpart.

Oh, and they cost a lot less….And that’s why I say, these are made to be “rods for the rest of us.”

So, if you’re one of “us,” look around, see some rods I’ve done in the recent past, check out any finished rods that might be available, and let me know if you’re looking for something specific, whether glass or graphite, I can probably get it.

And, no matter what, thanks for stopping by…

Welcome to Shopkeeper Fly Rods…