“In this entertaining and informative book, Dr. Larson profiles fourteen American fishing rod makers that have, unfortunately, been largely forgotten or overlooked today. In this book you will read of the story of one of America's most pre-eminent early rodsmiths, Ben Welch, and the titanic 1840s contest he waged with fellow rodmaker JohnC. Conroy to see who could make the finest fly rod; discover the great numismatist-turned-rodmaker Morgan L. Marshall of Oswego, New York; learn the sad fate of rodsmith Clarence E. Huntley; read about "Uncle" Nathan Harrington, perhaps the nicest man to ever work a planing form; learn new details about the rodmaking career of the great Thaddeus Norn's discover why Alonzo Fowler may very well be the most important rodmaker most people have never heard about; learn about the life of Amasa Ward, famed Hell's Gate guide and rodmaker; uncover the past of Will H. Cruttenden—gunsmith, rodmaker, and an important man in the early history of baseball discover the sad life and fate of George Morgan, Syracuse's master rodmaker-turned-hermit; learn how George W. Miner and Roy F.B. Shaver revolutionized light-tackle saltwater fishing in California with their exceptionally light yet powerful fly rods; and finally, read of Andrew Kull, the Wisconsin rodsmith and king of the bamboo musky rod who interviewed his potential clients to make sure the\ were worthy of owning one of his rods. Includes an introduction by noted collector James K. Garret! Almost all of this material has never before appeared in print!” (From the book’s back cover).
Published by The Whitefish Press in 2009 & now available in paperback, if you haven’t read this book yet & you have even the slightest interest in angling history, you owe it to yourself to get to know this book.
Books written about the development & history of the fly rod in America seem to start their narrative with Hiram Leonard & the bamboo fly rod. For whatever reason, historians of past generations have mainly chosen to ignore the rod makers who came before Leonard, or those who worked in the shadow these historians have given Leonard to cast over them. That is a shame. Fortunately, Larson has not gone that route with this book. There were so many more rod makers in American history than we are generally aware of today.
“The truth is that there is a whole history waiting to be written about the American fishing rod. The story of rodmakers before Leonard is virtually a virgin forrest, but even after the advent of the six-strip cane rod, there are dozens, if not hundreds of individual stories to tell that, taken as a whole, contribute to a fuller understanding of the history and development of the fishing rod in America.” - from the preface.
Larson doesn’t pick favorites, or choose what should be told or left out of this history like others in the past might have done. This book goes a long way to tell the deeper story of the American fishing rod. Dr. Larson’s work is very well documented as well, brimming with pictures, vintage ads, news clippings, etc. The researcher will also value all the footnotes Larson cites.
This book spans geographically from New York City to Philadelphia; from Oswego & Syracuse New York to Wisconsin & California showing how unremembered rod makers built rods in different parts of the country. Forgotten Fly Rods is, in my opinion, very well written & fascinating to read. With this book Larson has done a service to both the rod makers covered in this book & to those who read it. I highly recommend this book.
Good News: Forgotten Fly Rods Vol. II is due out soon!! To reserve a copy, or to get Volume I, visit The whitefish Press.