Bruce Richards | Sunday, 1 March 2015
To get a job as a fly line designer you have to go to fly line design school. But of course there aren’t any, that’s a complication…... There is one other way… Get a job at a fly line company doing something else and quietly take over the design job when no one is looking, that’s what I did!
I started out doing a variety of jobs at SA but snuck into the production area as often as I could to play with lines, do some casting, try to figure things out. This was in the late 70s, compared to today, we knew little about casting, or fly lines. I was teaching casting too, but didn’t know then that I didn’t know how…
As time went by we all learned but I had a little advantage, I was getting paid to learn about fly casting and lines. Back then it was tough to experiment, lines were made on machines that weren’t very flexible, it was time consuming and expensive to change tapers just to see what they would do. Finally, in the early 80s, our line machines were converted to computer control, line tapers could be changed quickly, and an explosion of new line designs began. We went from being able to try a new taper every few weeks, to making and testing 5 generations in one day! Heady times for a casting/line geek! Most lines have to be a compromise, something the experts will like, but the average caster can use effectively. Fortunately, that works well. A few lines were not compromises, the Expert Distance for example, the only line I designed specifically to my likes.
Now SA makes somewhere around 1800 different fly lines (including sizes, tapers, colors, etc.). That was WAY too many for the guy who had to generate and maintain the databases necessary to make them, literally millions of numbers….
So now there’s a new guy doing the design work, a great young guy who’s a lot smarter than I was when I started. I’m enjoying still being involved in a consulting role, I get to back out when the real work starts and don’t wake up in the middle of the night worrying about fly lines and production issues anymore! These photos don't really go with this FP, but I like them!