In a world of mass produced products bombarding us from every side it’s great that there are still craftsman that still hold the art of building fly rods sacred. If you have spent any time at all on this site you know that I love handcrafted gear whether it be fly rods, leaders or even clothing.. I love products that are crafted by individuals that have a passion for what they are doing and putting out.
Today we are going to look at three of these individuals and show you their work.
- JP Ross Fly Rods
- Graywolf Products and Services
- Custom Fly Rods by Chris Lantzy
First we are starting out with JP Ross of JP Ross Fly Rods and also owner of Rising Trout Outfitter Fly Shop. After spending a good amount of time on JP’s website and reading about him, his history in the business and what he does, all you can say is he is amazing. Truly amazing with what he has done by the age of 41 from opening a fly shop, starting a rod building business and also calling on his understanding of material and fly rod design to come up with his own blanks. This is a rare thing as you know.
JP specializes in Fiberglass Fly Rods and also has a line of Carbon Silica Hybrid Fly Rods which is what I want to focus on. Never heard of Carbon Silica? Well, here is what JP has on his website about what Carbon Silica is and the history of how he developed it.
Carbon Silica Hybrid – Carbon Silica technology came about because JP wanted to release something to the market that was extraordinary for the user and technology advanced. What we have done is combined the feel of casting glass with the action and fiber of graphite. By creating a new lamina that combines these materials, we have made a real “hybrid” fly rod. A carbon-glass hybrid. We also have incorporated the use of silica into our component process to increase the bond strength of our adhesion. At first we thought this would just be for small stream rods, but later found that it was extremely effective in other rod as well. We believe this is the next step towards the new standard in fly rods, and this technology is proprietary to JP Ross & Co.
With the technology and design figured out it is now time to introduce you to the rod that gets to use that technology – The Black Jack Carbon Silica Fiberglass Hybrid 8’6″ 5/6 Weight 5 Piece Custom Built Fly Rod…
The Black Jack is a medium action 8’6″ 5/6 weight built with a fullwells grip, silver reel seat with Buckeye Burl wood insert and black jack fly engraving on the reel seat and on the cork. Guides are wrapped in a translucent gunmetal gray. All guides are single foot chrome and the strip guide is a large size 16 for shooting line with ease. The rod comes with a rod bag and black on black case. Custom inscription is available for free.
A custom made fly rod with cutting edge technology all for $499.00. If you look at the images above you can tell that JP puts a lot of passion into what he does and his attention to detail is truly fantastic. Very clean.
The Black Jack Carbon Silica Technology Explained – I won’t pretend to understand what JP has done but I can tell you he has done it perfectly. Below is an excerpt from his website explaining the technology behind his creation a little more.
When we designed the Black Jack Carbon Silica Hybrid fly rod, there were a few design attributes and factors we wanted to include in the design. One in particular was the butt section diameter. We wanted that diameter to not be too big, so that custom builders could use this blank with wood reel seats. In conclusion of design and manufacturing the butt section diameter turned out to be 0.40inches or 10 millimeters, a diameter very easily worked around as a builder.
Aesthetically, we wanted the rod to be unique, not flashy, and somewhat nostalgic. So we went with the clear matte finish and left the blank un-sanded, except for the ferrules which are sanded to insure proper fit.
The action however was something that needed technology in order to achieve what we wanted to achieve. The rod had to be 5 pieces, very durable, not clunky, and seem effortless to cast like a high end bamboo rod might feel, but with a little more tip flex to keep the rod from the typical glass wobble that you get as the line exits the tip section.
The reason that nice bamboo rods are fun to cast is because all you have to do is move the rod in its casting arc and the rod casts itself. This is true because of a few physics principals.
Momentum is actually a combination or product of mass and velocity. A fly rod that is light and thin does not have the natural momentum of a slightly heavier rod like glass or bamboo. You have to push a stiff light rod to flex and cast because it has less mass. We didn’t want this push or fast acceleration need. We wanted the caster to just move their arm and have the rod cast itself, so we knew we needed a little weight in the rod like a bamboo rod, but not much.
Inertia is the principal of an object in motion. A larger mass in motion has more inertia than a lighter mass. So our rod is balanced properly, and has the perfect combination of glass and carbon so that when that rod is in motion it stays in motion until you stop the tip at the end of the stroke. Little effort is needed to cast this rod, yet the tip does not wobble.
If we made this rod completely out of graphite, the rod would have to be very thick in order to gain mass, and when you go thick in graphite, you get stiff. We did not want stiff. We wanted a medium to medium fast action. Medium fast with a 5 weight, and medium with a 6.
If we made the rod out of just glass, the rod would be too slow, too heavy and too big in diameter to be a 5 piece. It also would have a terrible tip wobble. We know this because we made prototypes of this same Black Jack in glass, and it did not work.
So the Black Jack is a Carbon Silica Hybrid. A mixture of glass and graphite. 2.2 ounces of it to be specific. Just enough to give the right weight and feel so that the rod feels like it casts itself when in its zone or sweet spot. This rod is made for floating line, weight forward, and non-weighted flies. Dry flies, small streamers, and light nymph rigs is where this rod works best. And when you do catch a fish on it, the feel is amazing. Better than glass or graphite, and because the rod is a tad bit heavier than normal, more like conventional glass but a tad lighter; when a fish bends the rod and changes the balance point, the angler must counter act to fight the fish and the feel is remarkable even on small fish.
As you can see JP is a pretty smart guy with his design and development of a truly unique fly rod material. How many people can say they have designed a fly rod material? Right.. not very many..
Check out JP Ross Fly Rods at their website of https://www.jprossflyrods.com/ or Instagram @jprossflyrods
Truly Fantastic Work!
Our next custom rods builder comes to us from Michigan – Shane Gray of Graywolf Products and Services. Shane is a full time rod builder focusing his time on truly awesome fiberglass and graphite fly rods. As I said he lives in Michigan and is obviously an avid fly fisherman focusing on Trout, Bass, Steelhead and Salmon. Shane is an incredibly personable guy and I would guarantee if you got him on the phone and asked about fly rods the guy could give you more information that you can image.
When looking over Shane’s website it doesn’t take long to see the kind of passion he has for what he does. He builds some amazing fly rods and like JP, Shane’s attention to detail is magnificent. Incredible to say the least.
Looking at the first few images above you can tell what Shane is all about. It doesn’t take much to be able to look at a picture of a Graywolf fly rod and see the amazing work Shane is putting out. They are just different and different in a good way.
Shane offers builds on multiple different fiberglass blanks. McFarland Yellow Glass, Swift Epic, Ijuin, Steffen Brothers, Kabuto, Tom Morgan and Trout Smiths. We will take a quick look at a couple of the blanks he builds on but for a full list please visit his website to see everything he can do.
McFarland Yellow Glass – These blanks are known as AMERIGLASS Classic and made in Pennsylvania of honey yellow E Glass. The tapers are smooth, deep flexing with a perfect balance of power from the tip to the butt.
- Models Available
- 6’8″ & 7’0″ 3wt 3 Piece
- 7’6″, 7’9″ & 8’0″ 4wt 3 Piece
- 8’0″ & 8’6″ 5wt 3 Piece
- 8’0″ & 8’6″ 6wt 3 Piece
- 8’6″ 5wt & 6wt 4 Piece
- As you can see there are a lot of configurations so give Shane a call and he can make just about anything you want.
- Signature Line – $625
- Stream Line – $645
- Perfection – $675
Ijuin Fiberglass – These blanks are soft, full flex, fun rods as Shane puts it. Tomo Ijuin’s tapers are made in Japan out of uni-directional E-Glass. The blanks are painted a wonderful bright green color with white spigot ferrules.
- Models Available
- 5’11” 3wt
- 6’6″ 3wt
- 7’0″ 3wt
- 7’0″ 4wt
- 7’3″ 4wt
- 7’6″ 4wt
- 7’11” 5wt
- Signature Line $635
- Stream Line $655
- Perfection $675
As you can see that’s only a couple of the fiberglass options Shane offer so head over to his website and see the other lines of fiberglass fly rods he can build for you.
In addition Shane has a line of Fiberglass Ultra Light Spin Rods. The rod is made from a yellow E Glass and they were designed by Mike McFarland. The rod is a full flex action which makes this rod the perfect choice for your next light line, panfish or trout trip. All the hardware is hand made from nickle silver and all rods are 2 piece models.
Ultra Light Spin Rod Models
- 5’6″ 2-6 lb
- 5’9″ 2-6 lb
- 6’0″ 2-6 lb
- 6’6″ 2-6 lb
- Stream Grade Pricing – $395 (For A Custom Spin Rod… Amazing)
And.. Shane also build custom graphite fly rods built on blanks from SAGE, Winston, Thomas and Thomas and Swift Epic. If interested in Graphite give Shane a call or drop him an email.
To wrap it up on Shane and Graywolf Fly Rods.. All you need to do is two things… (1) Pull up Shane’s website and look at the pictures.. Just pull up the pictures and really take a close look at your screen and I can guarantee you will see the incredible craftsmanship that goes into a Graywolf Fly or Spin rod. They are truly a work or art.. And (2) Call Shane.. Yep.. Just call him..
Shane and Graywolf Products and Services can be found at his website of https://www.graywolfrods.com/ or his Instagram page @graywolf_rods
And Last But Not Least!
Custom Fly Rods by Chris Lantzy – If you have followed this page for any time at all you have seen Chris’s name come up multiple times. That’s because Chris puts out amazing work and not only fly rods but truly fantastic leather items as well. I have gone over all the cool things Chris produces so check out some of the previous posts to see what he offers or head over to his website to see the full line. Yes.. I own 3 different pieces that Chris produces.. A fly waller, leader wallet and a small pack. All incredibly built. But.. that isn’t why we are here today. Today we are talking about Chris and the custom fly rods he puts out.
Chris is a jack of all trades when it comes to fly rods with a line of Split-Bamboo Fly Rods as well as Graphite and Fiberglass Fly Rods. We will touch on his fiberglass and graphite in a few minutes but it’s Chris’s bamboo fly rods that we are here today to talk about. WOW!! Now these are works or art and the amount of time spent making a bamboo fly rod is mind numbing. It’s a totally different process and Chris has it down to an art form. Below is a quick look at what Chris lists on his page about the process of crafting a custom bamboo fly rod.
Split-Bamboo Fly Rods – I hand craft each fly rod taking the time to split & plane the bamboo by hand. Often, I gently flame treat my bamboo so that the rod will be darker than a “blond” rod, but not as dark as a brown-toned rod. Only the best components available go on these rods. Let’s work together to make your custom fly rod.
I specialize in fly rods designed for trout & bass fishing of all different rod actions. I make the bamboo blanks from start to finish, taking the time to hand split & hand plane the bamboo. My split-bamboo rods are never built from mass produced factory made blanks. As an option I can hand make all the “snake”-style line guides from stainless steel wire that is extremely light, strong, & will not corrode (see below). I use Ferrules made from Nickle-Silver by Classic Sporting Enterprises. These are the finest ferrules available. The reel seats are all made in the USA & are the best in the world for appearance & function. All rod bags are made in house & to exacting standards of quality as well. All rods are traditional, six-sided rods. For every rod you purchase I offer a five day inspection period in which you can return the rod to me for a full refund -in unused condition- if you decide the rod is not for you. Purchase a custom fly rod from me without risk or worry.
Let’s be clear.. Like I said. I own multiple items that Chris has produced (not a bamboo fly rod—-yet).. and I can tell you that 5 day inspection period really isn’t needed. I guarantee you won’t want to return it once you get it in the mail, open it and see the type of work Chris does. If you are the person that looks at the rod and returns it.. I would say you can’t be pleased. Plain and simple.
There are three different series of bamboo that he puts out so let’s take a look at them.
Prudential Series -For those of you who want a great casting split-bamboo fly rod, but at an economical price, a Prudential rod is just the rod for you. All rods in this line are 2 piece with 1 tip (2/1). They all feature snake style line guides, chrome stripping guides, & down locking reel seats with walnut spacers with high grade aluminum hardware. You can have any color of silk thread wraps you want. The rod shafts receive several coats of a hand rubbed oil-based finish. They are marked with a personal inscription of your choosing & the maker’s (my) name, rod length, line weight, & serial number. Each rod comes in a cotton flannel rod bag & a custom duck-cloth covered pvc rod tube. These rods are the perfect introduction to the world of bamboo for those of you who have been curious but don’t want to spend thousands of dollars. I warn you though, you may never go back to synthetic rods!!!
Prudential rods are available in any 2 piece length & line weight. The most popular are:
Price: $600 + $25 shipping & insurance
-All rod blanks are made from the same culm of bamboo. The tips are mirror-matched in node placement & nodes are spaced in the “3×3” method.
-Your choice of standard silk wrap colors of red, green, brown, or orange tipped in black. Other colors available at no extra charge.
-Hard chrome snake style line guides, chrome stripping guides & plain nickel-silver winding checks.
-Top quality cork grip hand shaped in my shop from premium cork rings. All grips are standard cigar shape.
– Nickel-Silver “Super-Z” style ferrules made by Classic Sporting Enterprises. These are, in my opinion, the best quality ferrules available.
– All standard reel seats are down locking & available in a slide-band or screw-locking style. The standard wood spacer is walnut. The hardware is made from high grade aluminum.
– All rods come in a cotton flannel rod bag & a custom duck-cloth covered pvc rod tube. As an upgrade option,your rod can also come in a traditional aluminum tube with brass end caps for a small additional cost.
– Every rod comes with a personal inscription. Each rod will have the maker’s (my) name, line weight & rod length, & a serial number on one side of the the rod. The other side will have your name or any personal inscription you choose.
All rods 5ft to 8ft in length are available in 2/2 (2 piece/ 2 tip) configuration. Rods 8”6″ to 9′ length are available in 3/2 (3 piece/ 2 tip) configurations.
Your options for rod length & line weight are many. I make rods from one piece 4′-4″ long to 3 piece 9′ in length & everything in between including all rod actions.
Base Pricing Without Upgrades
- All 2/2 Rods – $865
- All 3/2 Rods – $995
These are truly custom rods. Here, anything goes. You & I work together to make a rod that is truly unique to you. Every aspect of the rod is exactly what you want it to be. Each rod comes standard with everything listed for the Classical Series, with the following exceptions:
-Your choice of snake style line guides of hard chrome with standard twist or special hand twisted, stainless steel in a reverse “British” twist. (see below)
-Wraps in any color of silk thread you want.
-All reel seat hardware is made from Nickel-Silver & are the finest reel seats available. You choose from many different wood spacers & styles of reel seats.
-The winding check is made from Nickel-Silver with finely detailed knurling around the edges.
-Agate stripping guides are standard on all Custom series rods & you can choose between many different colors of stone.
-All Custom series rods come in a traditional aluminum rod tube with brass end caps.
-You can upgrade these rods with anything you want including custom engraving on the rod metal, custom reel seats, feather inlays, silk wrap colors, etc. With these rods we are limited only by our imagination. Contact me for other options.
Base Price Without Upgrades
- All 2/2 Rods – $1,155
- All 3/2 Rods – $1,270
As I said earlier Chris also produces a beautiful line of graphite fly rods as well. We aren’t going to go into a lot of detail so you can look over his website but the one thing that he says on his website that I think hits the nail on the head.
What’s The Difference?
So, what’s the difference between a graphite or fiberglass fly rod I make as apposed to one you can buy from a large store or catalog? Almost everything. First & foremost, every one of my rods are made in the U.S.A. With so many tackle manufactures moving their productions around the world for cheaper labor, I make all the rods myself, by hand, & with one thing in mind: quality.
Appearance – The first difference you’ll notice between my rods & the mass – produced ones are the look of my rods. I like to mix traditional elements with modern functionality. The many small differences of my rods add up to become a fly rod unlike any other you’ll use. For instance, many mass – produced rod’s guides are wrapped with nylon thread & coated very thick with epoxy that make for large, over-sized wraps that look out of place on a delicate fly rod. My guides are wrapped with a very fine silk thread & given a low-build spar varnish finish that results in smooth, elegant looking guide wraps. Also, many large tackle makers today are choosing guide wrap colors that are the same color as the rod shaft, & with no tipping wraps. That’s fine if that’s what you like, but when you purchase a rod from me you have many different choices when it comes to wrap colors, which can give your rod a very classy look. In addition, written on the rod shaft will be whatever inscription you want.
Components – The choice of components are another big difference in my rods. Most mass – market rods today sport long, skinny cork grips. I make my standard grips in a traditional cigar shape & the proper diameter for a comfortable rod you can fish all day long. Most mass – produced rods (especially the cheaper ones) don’t put enough line guides on their rods, or they use the wrong size guides in an effort to save production costs. All my rods come with quality line guides that are sized & spaced correctly for optimum rod performance. On many of the cheaper mass – produced rods you’ll also find rubber winding checks just above the grip. Not on my rods. I use quality checks of nickle-silver. Rubber will dry & break down in time. I build my rods to last for generations.
Performance – The biggest & most important difference you’ll notice between my rods & many of the mass – produced ones is the performance of the rod. Just the feel in hand tells you it’s a quality rod. The ease of the line shooting through the guides & the comfort of using it will be luxurious. A well made custom fly rod will be so much smoother in casting line than many mass – produced rods that you’ll never fall for those slick ads in the back of magazines again! All this mixed with classic, good looks that never go out of style & at a cheaper price than some of the large tackle maker’s prices. Contact me & tell me what you want in a rod, or let me help you decide. Together we’ll make you a rod we can both be proud of.
To put it simply.. Chris Lantzy puts out some beautiful fly rods. If you are looking for a true piece of usable art give him a call and talk to him about making you a true handcrafted bamboo fly rod and I can guarantee you that when you step on the stream, creek, river, lake or wherever you are your fly rod will stand out.
Custom Fly Fishing Rods by Chris Lantzy can be found on his website of https://flyrods.weebly.com/ or his Instagram page @customflyrods
That’s was a lot of information and if you made it this far you deserve a pat on the back. Trust me when I say there is a night and day difference between a big box retailer fly rod and a custom built fly rod by one of the three individuals I just introduced you to. Check our all three websites and one of them will be able to build you exactly what you need.
JP Ross Fly Rods – https://www.jprossflyrods.com/
Graywolf Products and Services – https://www.graywolfrods.com/
Custom Fly Rods by Chris Lantzy – https://flyrods.weebly.com/