Sunday, March 24, 2019

On Losing a Friend and a Winston 11 Weight Reborn

One of the neat things about writing The Fiberglass Manifesto is matching up anglers who are interested in fiberglass fly rods with the right fly rod and often times, the right small shop custom fly rod builder to build the fly rod of their dreams.

When Clay Bryant first emailed, he provided limited details but said he was looking for a builder who would be willing to rebuild a San Fransisco era Winston 11 weight that a friend has passed along to him before he had died.  Chris Barclay of C. Barclay Fly Rod Co. immediately came to mind as he recently done another rebuild project and I also favor his work anyways.  I sent an introduction email between the two of them and kind of forgot about the project until I recently an email from Chris with a stack of images of the rebuild.  I asked Clay if he would mind giving some background on this fly rod and was really touched by the story that he sent along.

Please take a few minutes to read Clay's story and enjoy the images that show Chris's handiwork in rebuilding this very special R.L. Winston fiberglass fly rod.  His work does not disappoint.

Clay wrote...  "In 2002, my wife and I moved into one of the old Montrose-area neighborhoods near downtown Houston.  This part of town is eclectic and known for interesting characters.  One afternoon, soon after we had moved into the neighborhood, my wife was in the front yard working in the flower beds when an older fellow with a salty dachshund by his side, a beer in hand, and an infectious smile walked by and remarked to her, "I've been married to redheads.  You can get into a lot of trouble with redheads".  And, at that moment, Stephen entered our life.  

Fortunately, my wife was unfazed and that first contact grew into a great friendship between us and Stephen and his wife.  Stephen and I soon discovered that we both loved the outdoors, skeet shooting, and hunting and fishing.  From that point forward, we frequently slipped off to the skeet range and  followed those fun afternoons with home cooked suppers for the girls and by sipping good scotch to wrap up good days.  Despite our age difference, Stephen and I truly became best of friends.

After a few years, my wife and I decided to move closer to extended family as our nuclear family was growing. We settled in coastal Alabama and it was there that I was introduced to salt water fly fishing.  Pursuing specks and reds on the fly quickly became a favorite pastime and I'm now introducing my son to the joys.  

Though we were in different states Stephen and I talked every week.  In late 2011 during one of those calls he told me he was sick.  Real sick.  He was diagnosed with throat and lung cancer.  Being in Houston with its amazing medical community, he decided to give the cancer his best fight.  Following surgery and chemotherapy, he was able to capture over another year of living, though the living was arduous.  

In early summer 2012 Stephen said he wanted to do a special trip and decided to take his wife to New Orleans for a week.  His wife loved antiques and the thought of staying in the French Quarter and walking slowly along Royal Street enjoying the antique shops was something he felt he could do.  He also wanted to make a trip into the Biloxi Marsh to see if he could catch redfish on the fly.  I told him my wife and I would come over for a night and we could arrange a day on the water and then an evening of good friends and food.

We booked a guide for early September and before the trip Stephen mailed me some gear to use.  The gear he sent was comprised of two R.L. Winston fiberglass roads, a 12 weight and an 11 weight, and a Fin-Nor No. 3 wedding cake reel.  Wow.  This gear was wasn't just "gear", this was history.  This was the foundations of salt water big game fly fishing.  When we spoke after I received the gear, Stephen said those rods and that reel were now mine, and I was to use them and I was to take my kids fishing and let my kids use them and I was to promise him that this would happen.  I promised.

With our September fishing trip just around the corner, we constantly watched the weather news as Hurricane Issac came into the Gulf in late August.  We kept in touch with the guide.  Normally, a trip just after a hurricane would be scrapped and rescheduled but in our case we knew this trip needed to go forward.  The guide accommodated us and we launched from Hopedale into a blue-sky day with the 11 weight Winston paired with the Fin-Nor No. 3 on the boat.  The marsh was alive and beautiful and the wind just put a slight ruffle on the water.   But the storm had done its mischief and the water was dirty with almost no visibility.  Stephen said I was to have the first shot, and though we did see one push of about three redfish that was all we saw that day.  At mid-day, Stephen had mustered all the boat time he could take and it was time to head in and get some rest.  He never did take a turn on the casting platform.  But he smiled a lot that morning, cracked jokes, took photos, and was in his element.

The next spring Stephen moved on the great skeet range in the sky.  I'm sure he's running 25's and chasing his "Bayou Bonefish" (he would fish for mullet in the Houston bayous) with light tackle.  It stinks to lose a great friend.

Because the 11 weight rod had seen so much use, the cork was in poor condition and the guides were corroded.  I decided that to keep my promise to Stephen and assure my kids would be using that rod well into the future, it needed a refresh.  I reached out to Cameron who put me in touch with Chris and the photographs of this re-build tell the rest of the story."

To see more of Chris Barclay's work, please visit the C. Barclay Fly Rod Co. website and be sure to follow along on Facebook and Instagram for the latest shop news.

TIGHT LOOPS - Notes From The Road: Entry No. 3

Maybe you're having a lazy Sunday and if you are, press PLAY and enjoy the latest Notes from the Road dispatch from the friends at Tight Loops.

 Visit the Tight Loops website for more and be sure to follow along on Instagram and Vimeo as well.

Saturday, March 23, 2019


I follow a lot of artists (online and on Instagram), doing a lot of different kinds of art, and this "LEGOTROUT" piece is a good reason why.  Artists see things different than you and I.  I'm glad that they do. 

In this case, Matthew Burke of MCB Woodworks saw a painting of a brook trout that another artist had posted on Facebook and then immediately dove into his daughter's Lego bin to create this wonderful creation.  Fishy Cubism?

I'll be sharing a project that Matthew worked on soon but thought that this was a good introduction to what makes him tick.  Check out the MCB Woodworks website and consider following him on Facebook, Instagram and on YouTube.

THE BUFFET SERIES - 10 Fly Fishing Adventure Films

In the coming weeks Gilbert Rowley of Capture Adventure Media will be rolling out ten fly fishing adventure shortie films that if this trailer is any indicator, are going to be well worth your time. 

Click PLAY and enjoy...

Like what you see?  Follow along on YouTube and Instagram.

Monday, March 18, 2019

FLY FUSION - Cast Like A Pro: #1 The Basic Cast

Fly Fusion, in collaboration with Scientific Anglers, has launched a ten part fly casting video series with field editor Jeff Wagner and fly-fishing icon Bruce Richards.  

Click PLAY on episode one which covers the basics of fly casting and look for future episodes to be shared here in the coming days and weeks.

Need a need fly line or three?  Visit the Scientific Anglers website and of course be sure to follow along on Facebook, Instagram and their YouTube channel.


Calling all Montana guides and outfitters who are interested in taking their knowledge and services to a new level with the completion of the Guiding for the Future course which begins it's first session next month. 

Guiding for the Future has been created by the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana with a focus on the core values of knowledge, professionalism, ethics and stewardship.

From the Guiding for the Future presser...

Montana’s rivers are undergoing increased demands for water, recreation, and environmental services. These demands, in the face of increased periods of drought and other stressors, impact the rivers’ resilience and fisheries, while also translating into increased potential for conflict among users. The August 2016 closure of 183 miles of the Upper Yellowstone River and its tributaries to all water-based recreation was a wake-up call to the fishing industry and other river users that: 1) business as usual will not suffice, and 2) there is the need to step up as advocates for – and stewards of – the river. 
The Program
Guiding for the Future (G4F) is a program that provides advanced levels of knowledge and skill development for professional fishing outfitters and guides. The program’s goal is to inspire dedicated stewardship of aquatic ecosystems while increasing knowledge, professionalism, and ethics of fishing outfitters and guides as well as the fly fishing industry throughout Montana.

Led by the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana (FOAM), this program is part of a new continuing education program for fishing outfitters and guides in the state of Montana. G4F is a voluntary course of study and testing. Participating outfitters and guides will undergo a curriculum that strengthens competence, increases knowledge and skills, and establishes their commitment to helping steward the rivers on which their livelihoods depend.

Participants in the course will be required to complete both an online portion consisting of eight modules as well as a three-day hands-on practicum. Students will be required to successfully complete all eight online modules consisting of selected reading and an exam at the end of each module prior to attending the three-day practicum. The practicum will build on the knowledge gained during the online portion of the course and will consist of both classroom as well as hands on instruction. At the end of the three-day practicum there will also be a series of exams that will test the student’s understanding of the material covered during the course.

Successful completion of this course will provide participating outfitters, guides and fly shops with a set of credentials that distinguish them to outfitters, clients, other river users, and agencies.

Key Dates
  • The deadline for applications is March 25, 2019.
  • Students will have access to the online portion of the course starting April 1, 2019. Each module is estimated to require two hours to complete, including testing.
  • The three-day in-person practicum will take place at the B-Bar Ranch in Tom Miner Basin on May 6-8.

For More Information & To Apply
Visit the G4F website:

Saturday, March 16, 2019

GRAYWOLF RODS - McFarland Rods Yellow Glass 7'6" Spinning Rod

After a couple of decades really being a "Fly Only" kind of guy, lately I've seen where a spinning rod would be helpful to have around and asked Shane Gray of Graywolf Rods if he could talk Mike McFarland of McFarland Rods into rolling a medium heavy spinning rod blank.  It took some work to get right but Mike made up a beauty in yellow glass, four pieces for ease of travel and of course Shane's done a great job on the build that should arrive on my doorstep early next week.

I can't wait to mess around with this spinning rod over spring and into the summer.  I already have a Shimano Socorro reel lined up and ready to go and the local stripers running up the river or out on the lake might be a great way to break it in.

Need one of your own?  Contact Shane at Graywolf Rods to discuss a possible build.  I'm already thinking that a medium light spinning rod would be a good little brother to this one.