Bamboo Tips - Contributors - Vagell, Tom

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My name is Tom Vagell. I was born and raised in northern N.J. but moved to CO when I was 20 years old to fish and ski and go to school, in that order. Somehow I ended up a plumbing apprentice during the day while going to night school. I have been in the commercial mechanical contracting business for 34 years, now living in western CO for the last 19 years with my wife Lilly, who I've been married to (and hiding behind at CRR) for 30 years. We have a 24 year old son Brian, who is currently in Haiti onboard the USS Carl Vinson.

I grew up spin/bait fishing in a non fishing family, attributed to an uncle and a friend's dad. When I moved to CO in 1976, I got into flyfishing thanks to the old Jim Poor's Anglers All shop in Denver where I started to hang out and taking casting and fly tying lessons (no VHS educational tapes back then!). I can still smell the Paynes and Leonards they had on the rack in those days.  Although I fell in love with these rods, graphite was just coming out and I fell for all the hype. I didn't self correct until the late 1980's. Even so, the bamboo rods I acquired back then were cheap buggy whips but I do credit them for getting me on the road to bamboo fly rod salvation.

I didn't get into finer casting tools until about 10 years ago, and when Jeff Hatton made me a rod about 8 years ago, I got to thinking maybe I could do this since I had a background in hobby woodworking.  Along with Jeff's support, and that of Harry, Jeff Fultz and John Channer, who all patiently answered my endless questions - as well as many others on the list I am deeply grateful to - I finished my first rod in 2003. I am now on #15, all personal rods except for five that  I've donated to charities for silent auctions, and one for a friend.

The bamboo fly rod community has been the best group of people I've had the pleasure to know. Although I've been on the list for about 8 years, I haven't contributed much in the last couple or so. I feel obligated to improve on that, since I've taken much more than I've given in what I've learned from this list and what I've learned through my own trial and error.

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