March 15th 2013 Update-
As many of you know who have ordered my fiberglass blanks and rods they still havenít been available.† Well, finally, last fall after considerable experimentation I have the perfect coating.† Itís a beautiful and rich reddish brown everyone who has seen it likes very much.† Several times I was tempted to produce blanks that were less than perfect but I just couldnít do that.† I would rather hear the disappointment from customers not getting them than put out something that wasnít up to my high standards.† Like I have told people you will soon forget how long it took to get a blank or rod but you will never forget poor quality.
I must say how helpful Kerry and his blank coater, Rob, have been working on coatings with me until they were just right.† It has been very satisfying to work with them as they patiently tried different coatings until we had the right one.
Kerry has been delivering blanks regularly and we ferrule and ship them as quickly as we can.† To be fair to our customers itís my intention to start with the earliest orders and work forward. †In the beginning I wonít have the perfect mix of blanks to go down the line filling every early order exactly as ordered but will do the best I can.
I think these are my best designs and it has been very enjoyable working to get them just right. Those who have cast them agree they have turned out to be exceptional rods. Itís great fun for me to watch anglers cast them and to see their faces light up with the discovery of how wonderful they feel.
I want to thank everyone VERY MUCH for their patience awaiting these blanks. I'm confident they will become one of your favorite rods and provide you as much enjoyment fishing them as it has me designing them.
The first question that would come to mind for me if I were reading about a new line of fiberglass blanks and rods would be why in the world are you offering these when your graphite rods are so outstanding? I think the answer makes an interesting and compelling story.
Before buying Winston in 1973, I had enjoyed fishing light line #3 and #4 bamboo rods. I thought that similar fiberglass rods would be popular, so I designed the Winston fiberglass Stalker Rods to add to Winston's already great line of fiberglass rods that were custom-made by the J. K. Fisher Co. The Stalker rods became very popular and continue to be sought after even today with the most popular sizes bringing around $1000 on E-Bay.
Shortly after I bought Winston, graphite rods were introduced by the Fenwick Rod Company. As graphite rods became more popular, they began to replace fiberglass rods, just as fiberglass had replaced bamboo after World War II. Since then, the Madison Avenue marketing machine has convinced most anglers that graphite rods are better and of higher value than fiberglass. As a result, fiberglass has been looked upon in the marketplace for many years as the ugly stepchild of fly fishing without much intrinsic value. At Winston, we stopped making fiber glass rods in the middle 1980s because J. K. Fisher Co. quit supplying the blanks, despite the fact we were still selling quite a few directly to customers.
In recent years, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in fiberglass rods, primarily in lighter line sizes, for two reasons: anglers have discovered that typical graphite fly rods are so stiff that they aren't effective fishing rods at the normal distances where they are fished and many fiberglass rods have the traditional action of great fly rods from past eras. A number of knowledgeable anglers have discovered anew that fiberglass can make wonderful fishing rods covering many situations extremely well.
Because of the delicate touch and "feel" they provide along with their fish playing attributes, I've always been a fan of fiberglass rods for fishing in the short to medium distances where most trout are caught. For a long time, I've thought that I could design fiberglass rods with even more effective attributes and sweeter actions than my originals.
My fiberglass rod designs have been very popular in Japan since I first introduced the Winston Stalkers almost 40 years ago. One of the editors of the Japanese magazine Fly Fisher, Tomonori Higashi, heard I was bringing out a new line of fiberglass rods and wanted to interview me for a story about them. In addition, they decided to put a photo on the front cover of an original Winston Stalker along side a new Tom Morgan Rodsmiths fiberglass rod and some of our new blanks. You can read Mr. Higashiís questions and my answers on our article page by going to this link:
Tomonori Higashi interview for Fly Fisher Magazine
When I bought Winston, Russ Peak was the premier fiberglass rodmaker in the world. I purchased one of his rods as a model of great quality to serve as a reference to improve the quality of Winston's rods. As it turns out, Kerry Burkheimer, who is rolling and finishing my fiberglass blanks, was a student of Russ Peak from whom he learned rodmaking. He now owns one of the premier rod companies in the world. Kerry possesses Russ Peak's attention to detail and desire to make the highest quality rods. I feel fortunate that I can work with Kerry on this project.
Kerry works with E-glass, the original fiberglass material I used, and he has a big variety of mandrels with different tapers, so I can develop the proper balance of taper and cloth patterns. I design the blanks and he rolls them. Then I have several locals, who I think represent a cross section of anglers, cast and/or fish them.
We receive the blanks from Kerry and after they are checked, the next important step is to deflect them to make sure they meet our deflection standards. His blanks have proven to be very consistent so it might not be necessary but itís part of our quality control process. The blanks are then checked for dust specks and they are polished out. Ingunn Vatnestrom, who does all the work on the fiberglass blanks, and I check the blanks for straightness. The blanks all come longer than the finished rods so they are then cut to the proper length, the solid fiberglass ferrules are cut to length and fitted, and then they glued into the blanks. These blanks have a white solid fiberglass spigot ferrule like the original Winston fiberglass rods. One great improvement on these blanks over the ones we made at Winston is the accuracy of the ferrule stock. In checking the old ferrule stock we used to use it varied considerably so the ferrule fit wasnít perfect. The new ferrule stock is ground by a precision grinding company and doesnít vary more than a ten thousands of an inch over its length of twelve inches. This provides a ferrule fit the same as the blank taper so the ferrules shouldnít wear over the life of the rod.
Another extremely important aspect of designing sweet feeling rods in the lighter line sizes is using light weight guides and tip tops. My recommended guide sizes are typically smaller than many anglers use, but from my experience they are far superior in preserving the proper design characteristics. I also think smaller guides allow the line to track through the guides better. We use the lighter guides and tip-tops on our rods, and we provide the recommended guides and spacing on our blanks to insure that anglers don't put on heavy guides and thereby dramatically change the action along with the rod "feel".
Fiberglass blanks have bigger diameter butts than graphite rods; therefore, many of the current wooden reel seats won't fit over some of the blanks. Because of this size difference, a plug needs to be fitted into the butt on the larger rods in order to install a reel seat. With each blank whose butt is over 3/8 inch in diameter, we provide an appropriate graphite dowel that fits inside the butt with a straight section outside the rod where a seat can be installed. We use graphite because it's lightweight, extremely strong, and won't flex. The blanks have a nickel silver tip check to reinforce the bottom of the tip where the ferrule joins it with the butt. A complete set of instructions with drawings is included.
There are a number of good suppliers of guides and reel seats but there are two that I have found reliable with good service. They both have a very good selection of guides and reel seats for fly rods. REC supplies a large variety of seats with the option of having different diameter bores many of which will accommodate fiberglass rods. Anglers Workshop carries reel seats from a variety of manufacturers. Both of them have an excellent variety of guides. Joel Lemke makes beautiful wood spacer reel seats with extra large bores that will accommodate even my largest fiberglass rod butts. Here are the URLs.
We have decided to sell guides ourselves to make it more convenient for customers to purchase them along with the blank to save the trouble of going to other suppliers with separate orders. We are supplying three different styles to suit customerís preferences and budget. They are all stainless steel and hard so they will wear well. All of the tiptops are from Snake Brand because we think they are best.
Since there are different numbers of guides on different rods the price varies depending on the blank length so Iím quoting a range. These are all light wire guides and tiptops. The import and regular Snake Brand are traditional snake guides.
The Snake Brand Universals are unique because they have concave feet to easily fit on a round blank and are self aligning for straightness on a blank. As with all of the Snake Brand guides the feet are consistent in length, have tapered ends to make wrapping easier, and have a beautiful round form. They are available in 1/0 as the smallest so I recommend them only for 5-weight through 7-weight rods.
The guide sets are available with or without agate stripping guides. If you donít want a stripping guide let me know and we will subtract $25.00. Joe Arguello hand-makes the agate stripping guides using nickel silver wire and traditional reddish colored rings with their subtle natural colors. Joe does an exceptional job and they are like fine jewelry.
Snake Brand Regular Guides Set with Agate Stripper -- $43.45-$45.40 depending on rod length and size
Snake Brand Regular Guides Set without Agate Stripper -- $18.45-$20.40 depending on rod length and size
Import Brand Regular Guides Set with Agate Stripper -- $35.05-$35.95 depending on rod length and size
Import Brand Regular Guides Set without Agate Stripper -- $10.05-$10.95 depending on rod length and size
Snake Brand Universal Guides Set with Agate Stripper -- $51.75-$54.75 depending on rod length and size
Snake Brand Universal Guides Set without Agate Stripper -- $26.75-$29.75 depending on rod length and size
Note. We make a special tool as an accessory to help line up reel seats during their installation. It consists of a reel foot with a 2" pin sticking straight up. You install this foot centered in your reel seat, glue on the seat, and then sight down the butt from the tip end aligning the seat with the stripping guide. It makes alignment very easy and accurate.
Alignment Jig Price: $15.00 plus shipping.
|Reel Seat Alignment Jig
|| Alignment Jig Installed
Included with each blank is a Tom Morgan Rodsmiths logo decal you can put on the blank to identify it.
There is a property of fiberglass material that I think warrants discussion in regard to rod design. Fiberglass is unique in that it accepts a load quite uniformly up to a certain point then it will continue to bend, but the resistance to bending drops off dramatically. This behavior can be easily demonstrated with fiberglass rods in distance casting. With a rod designed for short to medium distance, you can easily reach those distances. As you try to cast farther, however, the rod stops accepting the increased load, and it becomes more difficult to cast longer distances.
Naturally, this material characteristic has to be taken into account when designing rod fishing distances. My preference for trout rods has always been a progressive action which these rods have, taking into account this fiberglass material characteristic. The tips are supple enough to allow the rod to work well in close while providing good stiffness in the mid- and butt-sections to support medium-length casts. Incidentally, these rods have been designed with true weight double taper lines and not with some of the heavier lines designed for graphite rods.
My life in the rod business over a thirty-year period has always been about designing great fishing rods based on my fishing experiences and those of customers who share their ideas with me. It's also been about trying to build the best quality so my customers won't be disappointed when they receive the rod or blank. And, most importantly, when they take it out on the stream they think it's one of the greatest rods they have ever fished. Looking back over the years, the customers who have praised my designs in fiberglass, bamboo, and graphite overwhelmingly confirm my design philosophy. From the feedback I have received on these rods that tradition will continue. I am looking forward to providing anglers with fiberglass rods that will provide them with another choice for their fishing.
In addition to the standard weight blanks and rods, I have added two 3-weights in 6' 9" and 7' 3" lengths with a slightly lighter action designed especially for Japanese anglers who generally fish shorter distances than American anglers. I worked with a very knowledgeable Japanese angler to get these rods just right. When he cast the final design he thought it was absolutely perfect. These rods are designed to fish in the 12 to 35-foot range. However, this is not to say that my normal 3-weight rods are stiff because they are not. (Note: Other anglers may also prefer these rods under special conditions where they are primarily fishing short distances. In addition, some anglers will like these light action rods with 2-weight lines for fishing longer distances or where they are accustomed to a little faster rod.)
This weight is the lightest light-line rod most anglers usually fish. These rods have supple, sensitive tips for fishing small flies and light tippets along with moderate mid- and butt-stiffness. The standard rods are designed to fish best in the 15 to 40-foot range with enough power to reach out some when called upon, but they aren't designed to be distance rods. These blanks and rods are available in 7', 7 1/2', and 8' lengths. (Note: On a whim I decided to make an 8' rod to see what it felt like and it felt so good I decided to include it in the rod selection. It's naturally slower because of its length but it's still very effective for those situations where a longer rod is beneficial.)
This is the standard light line rod for many anglers. Here again these rods have correct tip stiffness to handle light tackle fishing while having appropriate mid- and butt-strength for close to medium fishing distances. They are designed to have their sweet fishing range in the 15 to 45-foot distances. They work well under a wider range of fishing conditions than the 3-weight, providing greater versatility. They permit very delicate presentations, yet they will cast small wet flies or nymphs and medium sized dries. These are light, lively rods that are fun to fish and are available in 7', 7 1/2', and 8' lengths.
This is a versatile line size for fishing a variety of flies in small to medium-sized waters. The tips are still supple for excellent fish striking and playing capabilities while the mid- and butt-stiffness is enough for average fishing distances. These rods work well in the 20 to 50/55-foot range. This line size covers a large range of fishing conditions for dry fly or small nymph fishing and has become a standard for many anglers around the world. A great rod that is fun and easy to fish, these blanks and rods are available in 7 1/2' and 8' lengths.
Special Fiberglass Rods.
This project has been a great deal of fun for me because my passion for many years has been designing fishing rods and these are some of the sweetest ever. During the testing process my good friend, Per Brandin, was here helping with the casting evaluation. In my opinion, Per is one of the great modern rod designers and casters. He has lots of experience casting rods in all three materials and has a great "feel" for rod action. Every time he visits, he wants to cast what he considers to be one of the greatest rod ever built in any material. I also think that it's one of the smoothest and best casting rod I've ever felt.
Let me tell you about this rod and its history. I have loved streamer fishing for many years fishing unweighted flies such as girdle bugs, gray ghosts, and muddlers right at the surface using a floating line. I developed a special technique where the fly is moved in small, rhythmic movements. A full description of the technique is on our web site at: http://www.troutrods.com/morgantwitch.html
In order to fish this method properly, I needed a special rod with a tip with just the right stiffness to manipulate the fly without moving it too much. The rod also needs enough power in the butt to pick up the line and cast the fly right back without a false cast. When I owned Winston, I made up a special fiberglass 8'3" #6-weight rod just for myself because I thought fiberglass was the best material to create the perfect action for this unique fishing style. It's one of a kind and unquestionably a fabulous rod.
Now comes the interesting part. Per, and my wife, Gerri, want me to make duplicates of this rod and offer them for sale, so I am following their recommendation, even though the market may not be very big. Because it's such a great casting and fishing rod, they are convinced many anglers would enjoy using one not only for streamer fishing but also for dries and small poppers. (Note: Duplicating this rod turned out to be a greater challenge than I anticipated because even though I could determine the mandrel taper from the original I had no idea of the cloth pattern. I made three sets of prototype patterns and finally got the deflection to match perfectly with the original but the tip didn't weigh the same so it didn't feel the same when you were casting it. I made one more pattern change and the tip deflection and weight were virtually identical to the original. Casting both rods side by side the only way you could tell the difference was by seeing which rod you had in your hand! Mission accomplished!)
Because I'm duplicating my favorite streamer rod, I decided to duplicate another fiberglass rod that I have always loved that I have always called "The Unity with the Universe Rod" because it's so smooth and sweet. It, too, is one of the best rods I have ever cast. It's an 8 1/2' #7-weight and is great for big dries and streamers, so it should be excellent for warm water fishing too. (Note: Fortunately a friend had given me one of the original rods made by Winston so I was able to determine the mandrel taper and have an original to compare with my new design. I'm not sure why but I was able to duplicate this rod very quickly with only two trials. Even though I always thought the original rod was "perfect" everyone who has cast my new one likes it even better. Very gratifying!)
My first thought was to only duplicate these two rods in their original 2-piece configuration because I was designing them to a specific rod. On the Streamer Special that still holds true but I am now offering a 4-piece #6-weight 8 1/2í model and a 4-piece #7-weight 8 1/2í model.
Rod Tubes and Rod Bags.
Several customers have encouraged me to provide aluminum tubes and bags for the blanks so I'm offering them too. The rod tubes and caps are made by REC, a quality supplier to the fly fishing market. The tubes are a burgundy color that is similar to our blanks. The caps, collars, and bottoms are black anodized. Our logo is laser engraved on the top of the caps.
Fiberglass Rod Tube & Bag
I tried to find a great bag that was ready made in the U.S. but couldn't. I wanted a well made bag from a nice cotton/poly blend fabric with a flap so it won't fall down the rod when it's in the tube. The best solution was to have the woman who sews our regular bags sew these. They are beautiful with their burgundy fabric and black inside flap. They are more expensive than I hoped they would be but Gerri reminded me that we are known for providing the best quality which these certainly are.
Tube Price: $53.00 plus shipping and insurance
Bag Price: $27.00 plus shipping and insurance
The blanks are all 2-piece except for two 4-piece, a #6-weight 8 1/2í model and a 4-piece #7-weight 8 1/2í model with one tip, dark red color, and have a white fiberglass spigot ferrule. They come with a nickel silver tip check, if the butt is over 3/8" in diameter a graphite dowel that fits inside the butt to mount a wood reel, a guide size and spacing chart, and instructions. Price: 2-piece $295.00 and the 4-piece $345.00 plus shipping and insurance.
The rods are two-piece, a dark red color, one tip, with an agate stripping guide, hard chrome plated snake guides, nickel silver slide band or up-lock reel seat and a wood spacer of your choice. The handle is available as cigar, half-wells, or custom cork grip. The rods are provided with our special cloth bag, our distinctive aluminum case, and a protective tube bag. Price: $1345.00 plus shipping and insurance
Fiberglass Sales Goal.
Our intention is to sell primarily blanks with only an occasional finished rod. In addition to selling the blanks ourselves we encourage custom rodmakers to contact us to purchase blanks to make custom rods for their customers.
Click here to read the "History of Fiberglass Rods at Winston During Tom Morgan's Ownership"