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November 1st, 2016 Update


The new 3-weight, 4-weight, 5-weight, 6-weight, and 7-weight 4-piece rods are designed and they are spectacular. I intend to design an 8-weight but for now have put it on the back burner. The 5-weight final prototypes were finished just in time to be evaluated for the popular Yellowstone Angler 5-weight 2016 shootout. They evaluate 30 of the most popular 4-piece 5-weight graphite rods available and our new rod is tied for first place for performance! A great testimony to the new rod designs. The new 4-piece rods have the well proven spigot ferrules providing very smooth casting rods the evaluators were very impressed with. Almost all of today's rods have the tip over ferrule design that is just not as smooth as the spigot design that feel like a one-piece rod.

Here is a link to the 2016 Yellowstone Angler Shootout

I decided to design these 4-piece graphite rods because so many anglers are now traveling, particularly by flying, to their fishing destinations the demand for multi-piece rods has grown substantially. The models are 8 1/2 foot 3-weight, 4-weight, 5-weight, and 6-weight along with 9 foot 4-weight, 5-weight, 6-weight, and 7-weight. The 9 foot trout rods are a small departure from my philosophy of the 8 1/2 foot rods being the most fun to fish because of their shorter length and lighter, livelier feel but the purpose of these is somewhat different. The new 8 1/2 foot 3-weight, 4-weight, 5-weight, and 6-weight will still have a very similar feel to our present rods only be 4-piece for easy transport. The 9 foot 4-piece rods in 4-weight through 7-weight will still work well for dry fly fishing and small nymphs but are specifically designed for those wanting a longer rod to fish weighted flies, or multiple flies, and sometimes weight along with a floating indicator either by wading or from a boat. They will provide the extra reach and length to keep line off the water and to help set the hook for flies fished under the surface. These rods are only very slightly stiffer than my traditional designs but nothing like so many of the very stiff rods most manufacturers are making today.

Kerry Burkheimer is making our graphite blanks using our mandrels and patterns. He also makes our fiberglass blanks using our patterns on his mandrels. We are extremely pleased with his great quality and our wonderful working relationship. He has been extraordinarily helpful in getting our prototypes and now our finished blanks. I also have to complement him on the quality of the blanks they are the straightest I have ever seen!

On the new 4-piece rods I have also worked hard to keep the same progressive action with the smoothness and the light, lively feeling so prized by anglers by using continuous taper blanks with spigot ferrules and keeping the weight down using light-weight guides. After casting numerous prototypes with different guides the best combination for the 9 foot rods was the REC Recoil nickel titanium flexible single foot guides with our traditional agate stripper. These guides are extremely hard for great durability and flexible for protection from damage. On the 8 1/2 foot I decided to keep our regular lightweight snake guides in order to keep a similar feel to our regular 2-piece rods. The rods still use the lines recommended for them and flex the way they should.

When I started thinking about the new designs I intended to use a slightly different material from what we use in our regular rods with a slightly higher modulus (stiffness factor) and a greater strain rate (resistance to breaking) than our traditional graphite. I started with our regular graphite which does have a new resin system increasing its strength and which has a very high strain rate. The designs using this material turned out to be terrific so I will use it. Using the same material as our regular rods also makes production smoother. This material has proven to be an excellent one since we have had very few rod repairs.

Fly fishing has been my greatest passion since my early teenage years, and, within that passion, fly rods and their action have always been my greatest love. It seems I have a special gift that allows me to visualize fishing conditions and to design rods that are well suited for anglers. My intention for these rods is to provide great casting rods that are fun to fish using dry flies, wet flies, and nymphs and to make rods fellow anglers love and enjoy fishing on their favorite waters.

My past experience in helping anglers select their favorite graphite trout rods for dry fly fishing or using small nymphs has shown me, given an opportunity to cast both 8 1/2 foot and 9 foot rods, they often would choose the shorter length because it felt better. That was the reason for choosing the 8 1/2 foot length as our longest rod for our traditional series. However, anglers who have fished the new 9 foot 4-piece rods have raved about their great feel and how well they work on a great variety of waters so I accept their opinions and have changed mine. All of these new rods have progressive action with the smoothness and the light, lively feeling so prized by anglers.

Although most of our rods are sold via our catalog or our Internet web site, we have a considerable number of customers including many from Japan, who stop by our shop to cast our rods. It's extremely gratifying to let them cast our rods and to hear their praise for the rod actions. The comments I hear the most are the rods feel great, they are amazingly smooth casting, and they are sized correctly for the lines they are rated to cast. Our rods are very carefully designed to use a double taper or a long belly weight forward line of the size I recommend. Some of the newer lines are more heavily weighted towards the front portion to accommodate the newer and stiffer graphite rods. Those lines will tend to overload our rods so make sure you are using lines with traditional design. They will not cast, under normal circumstances, a line one size heavier.

One aspect of my rod design that makes them different from most other rods currently on the market is the snake guide size. If you compare our rods to others the guides seem small, and you might think, too small to let the line pass through easily. The common misconception is the bigger the guides the better the line flows through them and the farther you can cast. I have wrapped and cast identical rods with small guides and large guides and found just the opposite to be true. Apparently, the larger guides allow the line to slap around the rod too much and actually reduce the shooting ability of the line. Another aspect often overlooked, particularly on rods like ours with delicate and supple tips, is the larger guides weight the tip of the rods excessively and entirely destroys their subtle action. Trust me; our guides are of adequate size so the smaller, lighter guides are one of the things that make our rods feel so great.

There is one other important aspect of my rod designs I think is overlooked by other designers. This is a subtle point, but one I believe strongly makes the rods perform better for anglers. When you strike a fish, the rod tip behaves in accordance with Newton's law of motion; the tip goes down first as the opposite reaction to the butt going up. Then, as it catches up to the butt moving upwards, there is a lot of momentum in the tip. If the tip is too stiff and the guides are too heavy, the tippet may break on the strike. This is an all too common experience with most rods. The supple tips of these rods, along with the smaller guides, have less inertia when you strike a fish resulting in far fewer fish being broken off on the strike. Another benefit of the supple tips is they let you play fish without breaking the tippet.

In addition to being great fishing rods, our rods are also extremely beautiful and the workmanship is impeccable. Gerri and I go to great length to make sure every detail of the rod is perfectly executed. I am confident you will enjoy fishing our rods. We continually hear from customers who order their rods by catalog or over the Internet web site how pleased they are with them. Many of our customers buy more than one rod because, once they fish with them, the rods become their favorites and they want other sizes for other streams or conditions.

Gerri and I still work together on building the rods but now our long time employee, Ingunn Vatnestrom, does the ferruling on the 4-piece spigot ferrule rods because of her long experience ferruling the fiberglass blanks. I check them for straightness in the beginning then Gerri does the rest of the physical work. She deflects the blanks to make sure they fit our standards, ferrules the 2-piece blanks, installs the cork rings, turns the grips on our wood lathe, wraps the rods, does the impeccable coating, and ships them. I help line up the guides with Gerri to make sure they are straight.

Please feel free to contact me concerning any question that you might have about a particular rod and its suitability for you. I have extensive knowledge about fishing conditions, line sizes, rods, and other aspects of fly fishing. I would be happy to assist you to make the correct decision for your fishing situations.



This rod is well-suited for the most delicate situations and presentations. The soft, supple tip provides an excellent and well-balanced rod for fishing small flies using 5X, 6X, and even 7X tippets. Even though it is delicate, it is also a very effective fishing rod. This rod is a supple, gentle rod for fishing short to medium distances, and it will protect your tippets on the strike and while playing fish.


This weight is very versatile for a light-line rod, and it is becoming our signature model because of its sweetness. These rods have supple, sensitive tips for fishing small flies and light tippets, but they have enough power in the butt for good casting range. They are great feeling rods and will cover your delicate fishing situations with ease. The 8 1/2' length is the rod for all-around fishing, whereas the 7' 9" model is best suited for smaller streams or free stone streams where a faster rod is desirable.


This is the standard light line rod for many anglers. It works well under a wide range of fishing conditions and will handle light summer zephyrs. They permit very delicate presentations, yet they will cast small wet flies and medium sized dries. These are light, lively rods that are fun to fish. The 8', 4-weight, 3-piece rod is a softer rod for fishing close to medium distances with great delicacy. The 8 1/2' and.9' 4-weights have the stiffness to be a general-purpose rod for a wide variety of situations.


This is a versatile line size for fishing a variety of flies in small to medium sized waters. This rod has become a standard Eastern United States line weight. It also covers most dry fly and nymph situations for trout. It has a good fishing range and will do well under blustery conditions. A great rod that is fun and easy to fish.


This is the standard trout rod all over the world. It will handle big dries, streamers, and medium weighted nymphs. It is a good rod for windy conditions and for covering bigger streams. This rod is smooth and easy to cast for all around fishing.


A very good choice for fishing heavier flies with heavier lines, both floating and sink tip, and will work well for saltwater fishing for bonefish, permit, snook, and other smaller fish and for trout, small salmon, and some steelhead. A 7-weight rod was my choice for fishing small wet flies or dry flies for steelhead using the traditional greased line method allowing me to make easy and consistent casts in the 70-80 foot range and catching fish over 20 pounds. Often an 8-weight for trout is too much rod for the size of fish being caught and is too heavy for all day fishing whereas the 7-weight is just right.

Rod Specifications

Original 2-piece Rods

Line Size
Typical Fishing
2 8 foot 2 1/8 medium-light up to 40'
3 7 foot, 9 in 2 1/4 medium-fast up to 45'
3 8 1/2 foot 2 5/8 medium up to 50'
4 8 foot 3pc 2 3/8 medium-light up to 45'
4 8 1/2 foot 2 3/4 medium up to 50'
5 8 1/2 foot 2 7/8 medium up to 60'
6 8 1/2 foot 3 medium up to 65'

Original 3-piece Rods

Line Size
Typical Fishing
4 8 1/2 foot 2.75 medium-light up to 40'

4-Piece Rods

Line Size
Typical Fishing
3 8 1/2 foot 2.75 medium-light up to 40'
4 8 1/2 foot 2.85 medium-fast up to 45'
5 8 1/2 foot 2.95 medium-fast up to 50'
6 8 1/2 foot 3.10 medium-fast up to 60'
4 9 foot 2.95 medium up to 55'
5 9 foot 3.05 medium up to 55'
6 9 foot 3.25 medium up to 65'
7 9 foot 3.35 medium up to 75'

2 Piece $1425.00 plus shipping and insurance.
3 Piece $1475.00 plus shipping and insurance.
4 Piece $1495.00 plus shipping and insurance.

The original 2-piece and 3-piece and the new 8 1/2 foot 4-piece rods have one tip, an agate stripping guide, Snake Brand hard chrome plated snake guides and tip tops, nickel silver slide band, up-lock, or down-lock reel seat with a wood spacer of your choice and a cigar, half wells, or custom cork grip using our carefully selected flor grade cork. The new 9 foot 4-piece have one tip, an agate stripping guide, REC Recoil nickel titanium flexible single foot guides, Snake Brand hard chrome plated tip tops, nickel silver slide band, up-lock, or down-lock reel seat with a wood spacer of your choice and a cigar, half wells, or custom cork grip using our carefully selected flor grade cork. If you want a custom grip you can send us a sketch or if you want a special length or diameter we are happy to accommodate you. Our wood species choices are extensive and since both the species and individual pieces are unique if you would either give us a specific species or color we will select several choices and email you a photo of them so you can choose a special one. Of course we are also happy to choose a beautiful one for you if you suggest a color or hue. All the rods are provided with our special cloth bag, our distinctive aluminum case with a minted nickel coin of our logo embedded in the cap and an outer protective tube bag.

Questions? Contact us:
300 Raw Sienna Sky Road
Manhattan, MT 59741


Phone: 406.282.7110
Fax: 406.282.7167

(Note: is no longer a working address)

Toms Design Philosophy
The Cork
  the Bozeman Reels
Forbes Life Magazine Article
Slow Poke Press
Morgan-Carlson view lot
Coastal Conservation Association
Bellinger Award

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