Fenwick graphite rod. Accession No. 2005.006.003. In 1973, Fenwick introduced HMG—the first high-modulus graphite rods—in spinning and casting models, ushering in a new era in rod construction; Fenwick's fly rod model debuted the following year.
Bristol rod. Accession No. 1989.015.001. At the start of the 20th century, the Bristol steel rod, built by Horton Manufacturing Co., offered anglers a durable and affordable alternative to bamboo. This rod, composed of three tapered steel tubes, started out as 3 thin strips of tempered steel. These were then bent around a mandrel, the edges in close apposition and not brazed, allowing the rod to not only bend but also twist just as a wooden rod would. Steel rods were popular into the…
Samson steel rod. Accession No. 1981.030.001. The Union Hardware Co. offered anglers varying rod length with this telescoping rod. The detachable fly/casting handle increased the rod's versatility even further.
Tenkara, which means "From Heaven or From the Skies," is an ancient form of fishing in Japan dating back to the 8th or 9th century B.C. This 5-piece raw bamboo Tenkara rod, made in Japan by an unknown rod maker, is 15 feet long—fairly typical for this rod type. The unique carved handle, part of which is seen here, also served as a case for the unassembled rod.
Apollo rods. Accession Nos. 1981.008.001 and 1981.008.002. These Apollo steel rods made in England are two fine examples of steel rods approaching the beauty of a bamboo rod. With its uniform tubular steel blanks made to resemble cane, and fitted with agate guides attached with tasteful silk wraps, they would have been a proud possession for anyone who owned one.
Steel rod. Accession No. 2013.006.001. This 8 1/2' 2-piece rod of unknown make features blanks constructed with a progression of short steel tubes. Each tube was drawn through a series of special dies to create their taper. These sections were then slid together and brazed, creating a one-piece step-tapered section.
Birmingham Fly Reel, Maker Unknown. Accession No. 1986.028.261. Diameter 2 1/2 inches, pillar length 1 inch, weight 6 ounces. This attractive reel, featuring bas relief angling scenes on the plates, was commercially produced in at least two sizes, both as a crank handle reel and as a revolving plate reel. It appears to be a Victorian era British product. The design was reproduced in Germany during the 1970s and it is now difficult to differentiate the original reels from the…
William Billinghurst Reel. Accession No. 1985.29.1. Diameter 3 inches, depth 3/4 inches, weight 3 1/4 ounces. William Billinghurst (1807-1880) was a well known gunsmith whose patent for a side-mount reel built of wire and castings is now considered to be the first American fly reel. The unique appearance of these reels has prompted some to refer to them as birdcage reels.
Side-mount Fly Reel, Maker Unknown. Accession No. 1973.070.007. Diameter 3 3/4 inches, depth 1/2 inch, weight 8 1/8 ounces. The popularity of the Billinghurst reel resulted in the manufacture of other side-mount styles. This 3 ¾” cast brass side-mount was rugged and functional, and is the product of an as yet unidentified maker believed to have made reels in Northern New York during Billinghurst’s time.
Edward Ringwood Hewitt (1866-1957) is one of the great figures of 20th century angling. He wrote voluminously on trout and salmon fishing, was an early exponent of dry fly fishing for salmon, and was also one of the first to help promote catch-and-release fishing. It is currently believed that Hewitt built 22 fly reels; at present, only seven Hewitt reels are known to exist, including this one once owned by Maxine Atherton, wife of artist and author John Atherton.