Jack’s Journal: Making a Fly Rod

This is where works of art are created. Ask any fly-fisherman and they know the name Bob Summers. These aren’t just rods — these are hand crafted pieces of perfection.

And Bob has been making them for almost 60 years — since his apprentice days at the Paul Young Rod Company in Detroit in the mid 50’s — eventually going out on his own. Each rod has a piece of the maker in it — it’s personal.

"Oh yeah. There’s probably 50 to 60 hours in this thing with making all the parts," said Bob. "And I use them so what else I got in there is I developed from use."

He has six models — all designed and tweeked by Bob. Each rod is hand made. He takes bamboo cane and finds just the right section looking at the fibers.

"Then I’m gonna miter it into 60 degree triangles. Because each section is six pieces. Then they are glued together and each piece is a 60 degree triangle. So six of them become 360."

And tapered to 1000th of an inch. Bob has a following, his rod’s even second hand are in high demand. I asked what’s the turn around time on an order and Bob in his 70’s chuckled and said " I tell ’em they may never get it!"

And if a fan finds their way to his work shop they might be surprised that the master is not to worried about tidying up!

"There’s a lot of people who make things and the shop is immaculate. And I just finally, I just gave up and said I ain’t a janitor and can’t afford one."

Fly fishing is picturesque. Bob is an old hand and he know that after every winter, there is a spring — he’ll have the rods ready. 

Categories: Jack’s Journal