Tom Morgan Rodsmiths Company evolved from a dream of mine while owning the R. L. Winston Rod Company from 1973 to 1981 to build a limited number of superior graphite rods for appreciative anglers. Rods not limited by cost or materials. Rods I would fine-tune until their actions were perfect. I chose graphite as the material for these rods because it has all the characteristics necessary to make a wonderful fishing rod. It is strong, lightweight, durable, sensitive, and efficient.
Originally, I planned on making these rods myself, but something better happened. Gerri Carlson and I became partners in life and in the Tom Morgan Rodsmiths Company. Previously, Gerri had spent twenty years as a teacher, the last two of those years in the Czech Republic where she was a Peace Corps volunteer. She has always been interested in developing a craft where she could utilize her mechanical skills and her eye for detail and design. At one point, she wanted to apprentice with a renowned Czech violinmaker, but it wasn't possible. The opportunity to join with me in our new company to create beautiful fly rods is equally inspiring for her.
After we decided to add our bamboo rods they have been well received by our customers for their action, beauty, and workmanship. It has been particularly satisfying for me to build them because I have a long history of fishing bamboo rods in addition to many years of making them. It was exciting for us to go through the process of designing great bamboo fishing rods showing our unique fittings and careful workmanship. It's also very fulfilling to be making rods with such a strong connection to our fly-fishing heritage.
The Morgan Hand Mill I invented is a revolutionary method of hand-milling bamboo strips making the cutting easier, more accurate, and faster than the traditional hand-planing method. The Hand Mill's unique design allows the user to easily cut 8-strip, 6-strip, 5-strip or 4-strip rods just by changing the cutter head. It's also a very versatile machine that will let you cut swelled butt strips, flat strips for gluing cedar strips or other material to the inside, traditional hollow fluted rods, special hollow rods using the new Magic Star cutter head, and one-piece up to 7 1/2' long. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in bamboo rod-making and my Hand Mill has allowed many more people to enjoy this wonderful craft. We use the Morgan Hand Mill to cut all of the strips for our bamboo rods.
Somewhat surprisingly my rod designing has come full circle. Soon after buying Winston my first designs were the Winston Stalker fiberglass rods with actions similar to light line bamboo rods I had fished for many years. I have always been a fan of fiberglass rods and with the renewed interest in them I decided to design a new series of rods to complement our great graphite and bamboo rods. Fiberglass provides a feel very much like bamboo and makes great rods for fishing in the short to medium distances where so much trout fishing is done. We will make a few finished rods but most of our fiberglass will be sold as blanks to customers or custom rodmakers.
I am happy to report I have found a source that provides us with exceptional quality cork rings for our rods. They have the capabilities of providing some extra rings so we are importing them for our customers. There seems to be a wide variety of names for the different grades but the conventional name for the best grade is Flor. My supplier handles a large volume of Flor grade every month and from these hand-pick my special cork which are the best of the best. I have seen tens of thousands of rings over the years and this is the best quality as it comes I have ever seen. As you would expect the quantity available is limited but that is acceptable to me as my goal is to provide some very high quality rings to builders, such as myself, who appreciate excellent quality and not to provide rings to everyone.
Gerri has had a life-long passion for paper and printing. She started her Book and Paper Arts Company, Slow Poke Press, in 1989 to give herself a creative outlet to pursue this art form. As a book artist, Gerri designs and creates books about a variety of topics--when she's not building fly rods, that is. The skill most needed in building a fine fishing rod certainly applies to making a finely crafted book--attention to detail. Whereas the work in building a fly rod is often repetitive, creating a new book is very stimulating. Gerri prints some of her books on a Challenge Proof Letterpress, while others are printed using an Epson Printer and computer. Most of her books are small editions. Gerri has recently taken her books in a new direction creating a book using ten of Sylvester Neme's flies.
Gerri's latest book is entitled "Tom Morgan's Favorite Flies Favorite Waters". She collaborated with me and I chose my 12 favorite flies for trout and steelhead writing a short story about each. The highlights of the presentation are Gerri's extraordinary book, an elegant custom made 8 inch square walnut box, the 12 favorite flies tied by famous master fly tyers, and a minted medallion showing me fishing. Included within the book are the stories, stream photos, fly histories, and short biographies. Take a look at this marvelous book along with some others she has created. Email her or me with any questions or comments you might have.
Gerri and I have a 10 acre lot with beautiful views for sale adjacent to our house and you can see photos and a description under the Morgan-Carlson View lot.
We added a web page for the Coastal Conservation Association to help promote steelhead and salmon conservation. Steelhead fishing was one of my great passions in life and they are in trouble over their entire range. I'm trying to promote interest in our customers joining this organization to help preserve and enhance our anadromous fisheries.
I was awarded the Bellinger Award for my contributions to bamboo rodmaking which you can see and read about on its web page.
Gerri and I are presenting fiberglass, graphite, and bamboo rods of unmatched beauty. With my rod action design capabilities, our creative rod fitting designs, and our attention to detail, we've made some of the sweetest rods ever for you. These rods are the results of my extensive experience, and they are simply the best I have ever designed and built.
Our house and shop are located in southwestern Montana, about fifteen miles west of Bozeman in the heart of great fishing country. We invite you to stop by our shop when you're in our area. We'll have fiberglass, graphite, and bamboo rods available for you to cast, reels to exam, and a Hand Mill set up for you to examine and cut some bamboo strips with if you would like. Please call for an appointment to ensure we'll be here for your visit.