Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Christian's Dr. Howald Purist

It's been awhile since Christian Hörgren has shared new additions to his ever growing collection and recently he sent along information on maybe one of his most valuable fly rods which is one part history and one part simple beauty with this vintage Shakespeare Dr. Howald Purist. 

Pure and simple this is fiberglass fly rod history. 

Christian wrote...  "I don't think I've ever felt like this before about a piece of gear.  The feeling of owning a part of fly fishing history.  Owning one rod that barely exists.  A rod that was forty-five years ahead of its time.

Dr. Arthur Howald was the man who invented the fiberglass rod.  The man who revolutionized the fly fishing market and made Shakespeare "The Great Pioneer" in the industry.  In 1947 Shakespeare launched the Wonderod, the very first rod that was built from composite materials.  The first fiberglass rod.  They say Dr. Howald was obsessed with fiberglass.  He even had a stick of fiberglass rod as a door closer in his office.  But he wasn't completely satisfied with the standard rods the company manufactured.  He wanted something special.  Something for himself.

In the mid 60's, Arthur Howald made the first sketches for the "Dr. Howald Purist", with model number FY-955.  In 1967, Shakespeare launched the rod in a very limited run.  I was told that only two rods were exported to Europe.  The remaining few stayed in the US. The rod was built with translucent fiberglass and natural, un-tinted resin.  The handle and reel seat was all cork to keep the weight at a minimum.  The slide rings were made ​​of fiberglass, and the invisible wrappings were made with no tipping or decorative elements.  At first glance the wrappings look quite poor.  But when you look closer, you can see that they where not made with nylon or silk, but with fiberglass thread.  The female ferrule was turned from bar stock titan, and the male ferrule was made of the fiberglass blank itself, reinforced on the inside.  The rod was 7'6'' tall, and made for a 6wt line, and the weight was only 2.3 ounces or 63 grams.

A few months back I was contacted by an American gentleman.  He was familiar with me and my rods through a mutual friend.  He told me he had a Purist that he wanted to sell to me.  In his last email he wrote:

"That piece of flyfishing history is your responsibility now."

I feel obliged to share this rod with anyone who is interested.  It actually belongs in a museum, but since there is no museum for fiberglass rods, this rod will stay in my home.  The third of it's kind in Europe.  My very own, fabulous "Dr.. Howald Purist"..."

I can't think of a more deserving person than Christian to have possession of this very special fly rod.  What a beautiful piece of fiberglass fly rod history.



Amazing rod and even more amazing story!! Thanks for sharing this with us, Chris! Fantastic!!

ratfacedmcdougal said...

Amazing rod and good story. The Morner reel looks right at home on it