Winston Fly Rods Serial Number Location
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Tom, on the other hand, was a cutthroat trout fisherman, where the rod is as important as the tackle and fishing. He had heard of Ted Ayers, and knew he was a master rod builder. He was an extremely competitive fly angler, using a succession of fly rods for the duration of his career. His reputation for fabricating the best rods in the world was already established by the time he took over R.L. Winston.
In the 1970s, fly fishermen were still casting to caddis, which are small mayfly larvae. The idea of casting a weighted nymph was still a novel idea, and Tom wanted to incorporate that new concept into his rods.
He studied the taper data, the development techniques and the materials used by Ayers. He also looked at the way Ayers tapers his rods, and how the taper evolved through his career. The goal was to apply what he learned at R.L. Winston to the fishing, using what the company knew best.
When you witness a rod in Tom's hand, you can see him learn, step by step, how to make a rod, how to taper a rod, how to balance a rod, how to put spring into a rod. He could tell you the exact moment in the taper when the rod is exactly right. When Tom builds a rod, he travels past the point where most just throw the rod up on the rack. He has his own methodology. At Tom's shop, you might see a customer try to drive it home as if he'd used a jackhammer. He'll break a rod trying to get it to do what he wants. Tom's process is about feedback, not intimidation. He starts with an idea and builds it until he's satisfied. Half the time he doesn't like it. When he does, he takes it home and keeps refining it until it's perfect.
Even while his condition was improving, Tom was rebuilding his collection. He built his first hand-taper rods in the mid-1970s, to replace his first Bass Pro Shop rentals, but couldn't sell them. In the 1980s he built rods to sell for $200 each to help out a friend, but they didn't sell. He sold his first expert-level rod for $250 in 1987. By the early 1990s he had built three rods that sold for $2,000 or more.
Tom's history of the company is far more insightful than what you might see in the Internet news and gossip pages of fly fishing products. Tom shares his insight in a rare interview with the Outdoor Life.
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