Bamboo Tips - Contributors - Smithwick, Tom

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I am 66 years old, living in Shippensburg, PA. I have been a fly fisher since 1968, and started refinishing and repairing  cane rods in the 1970's. I got a copy of "The Bible" in 1980, and being a lifelong hobby woodworker, I knew I could do it. Of course, I did not have any of the required equipment, so I started to slowly collect every tool in "the book", since they must all be necessary, right?  That was a busy time in my life, I got divorced, moved, remarried, all the fun midlife stuff. About 1985 I met Bill Fink, and showed him some of my refinished rods. Bill told me it was time I stopped screwing around and built a rod, and he showed me there were simpler ways to do everything. So I built my first set of forms and got started. My first rod was a Garrison 202. It was not really close to being in tolerance, and there were some ragged nodes which showed up nicely with the resourcinol glue. I shredded a new pair of leather work gloves. The rod did not cast all that bad, it just was not a Garrison. The second rod was a Garrison 212, actually pretty good, and very nice looking. I later gave it to a friend as a retirement gift, and he loves it. #3 was a right on Garrison 193, which I still have, and fish each summer when the tricos show up. About that time, I attended the first Eastern gathering in Carlisle, met Wayne and Ron, and a few others, and was completely hooked. I remain a hobby builder, and have kept it interesting all these years by experimenting with various configurations of rods, and various building methods. I have built spiral twist rods, 5 strip and 4 strip, and one piece rods, among other things. I'm both a student of casting, and an instructor, and have become interested in tapers.

For me, the best thing about rodmaking is the people. From attending the gatherings, and from my internet activity, I feel like I have friends everywhere. It has been a rewarding journey.

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