Saturday, January 14, 2006

End of an Era

Back in the early 90s when I was still considering a career tangentially related to materials science, I applied to work at a "dream job". At the time, I was hooked on fly fishing and passionate about the inter-mountain West. So it was natural to apply for a job at the RL Winston Rod company, which produced the best "plastic" rods (aka graphite) made as well as some of the finest split cane rods available under the tutelage of master craftsman Glenn Brackett. (I always wanted a Glenn Brackett rod but was never up to the full price. I did live in the Rockies for several years though.)

I wondered as the focus on fly fishing shifted to fast rods and saltwater if the classic rods of Winston would endure. The old IM6 rod (of which I've owned several) with its characteristic soft-tip was hard to beat as a trout fishing instrument. I was pleased to see the saltwater oriented BL5 step up to throwing big flies without feeling like a steel pole.

Many people saw Glenn openly complain about the possibility of outsourcing Winston's low end rods from Twin Bridges to China. Now I'm shocked to hear that the cane rod builders have quit Winston. I presume they will set up an independent shop (Tom Morgan also is building his own line of rods, though the prices are too high for the average fly fisher). If anyone has details on where Glenn and company wind up, drop me a note. I still want mine someday.

Truely the end of an era. With the old guard gone, I doubt we'll see rods of the same touch and feel and quality of the classic Winston into the future; certainly those looking for a rod built under the direction of Mr. Brackett will have to look elsewhere now. Nothing stays the same, but the passing of the Winston rod company I knew still saddens me.


guile said...

nice, cozy place you got here :)..

Jason Lenhart said...

Hi Greg,

RL are great rods - I share you early 90 thoughts. Except for me it was in the mid-90s when I approached a large Guide shop in MT - I was going to leave my job working at NASA, pack up my car, and take the job of being a guide. The gentleman who ran the store politely asked me to not come there and be a "fishing bum" as he felt that I could accomplish more.

He did note that if I showed up I would have a job. Needless to say I did not go.

Since moving to NJ, I feel terrible that my Orvis rod (I know .. I know Orvis junk) has not seen the light of day in years. It looks so lonely in the corner of my basement.

My roll cast would probably be more of a water slap - or tree hung cast :-)

Greg Pavlik said...

I traded a dozen or so rods over 5 years, including some Winstons. In retrospect, the best rod I ever had was the first "serious" rod I purchased: a Green River 7 ft. 4 weight. The rest were for the most part wasted money searching for the feel of that original rod.

I guess there's good saltwater fly fishing in NJ if you have the bandwidth to explore and a boat. Having neither....

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