Interview With A RodMaker

Interview With A RodMaker

Andy Dear | Monday, 3 May 2021

Since I started writing for Sexyloops some 2 1/2 years ago, several folks have asked how I got started in this discipline. Since it's been exactly twenty years since my first piece was published, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at how it started, as well as some experiences I had with some of the great rod designers I got to know through my association with RodMaker Magazine.

.  The genesis of my association with Rodmaker happened back in 2000. I had just completed a 2-part series of “how to” articles for Rodmaker Magazine on hand turning  reel seat inserts. At the time there were not very many people involved in that segment of the rod building craft. I just happened to have some knowledge regarding the subject, so Tom Kirkman and I decided it would be a good idea to run an article outlining the process of choosing and using a wood lathe, with the end goal of turning cork grips and making hand turned reel seat inserts. Both the subject matter and the articles were very well received by the rod building community. So much so that I ended up doing several lectures at trade shows, as well as eventually producing the first instructional DVD in the rodbuilding industry on the subject. 

  Shortly after those two articles ran in 2000, Tom approached me about doing some more writing for Rodmaker. I was more than happy to do so, but was not content to continue down the path of “how to” articles. There was already so much of that out there for public consumption, and it just seemed like a corner I did not want to back myself into. As luck would have it, out of the ether came the privilege to have dinner with none other than Gary Loomis at a Rod Builders Guild Conclave in Jan. 2001.  Gary and I spent close to three hours discussing multiple subjects, including, deer hunting, steelhead conservation, rod design and manufacture, and my love of rod building history. One of the names that came up in our conversation was graphite rod pioneer Jimmy Green. When I inquired if Jimmy was still alive, Gary replied: “Yeah I’m pretty sure he’s still living up on the Snake”. A remark that later would prove to be very helpful in my quest.  It wasn’t long after, that I came up with the idea of doing a regular columin the magazine of “profiles” of folks who were influential in the fishing rod industry. When I approached Tom about it, he thought it was a great idea, and subsequently gave me free reign to pusue the project as I saw fit.

  At the outset of the series, my main focus was to profile the interviewee’s life and career a highlight their accomplishments. I quickly learned however that equally important, maybe even more so was the story behind the accomplishments.  There was always a “story” that added a level of tension and drama to what was supposed to be just an interview about fishing rods.  Whether it was Dick Kantner’s involvement in top secret government programs like the SR-71 Blackbird Spy Plane or Tom Morgan’s boundless courage and unrelenting detirmination to live his passion in spite of a debilitating neurological illness, there was ALWAYS a story. 

Even though almost two decades have passed since the first interview ran, I can now look back and see what an important series this was for the history of the craft that we all love so much. Many of the folks who were featured in the series are no longer with us, and in the back of my mind I knew at the time the interviews were being conducted, how important it was to get these stories down on paper, because as they say “time and tide wait for no man”.

Over the next month or two, I'll share my personal experiences with these folks, and how many of them went on to be good friends.

Hope you all have a great week!