Friday, July 14, 2017

GRAYWOLF RODS - Build #600 Q&A

A week or so ago Shane Gray of Graywolf Rods hit a significant milestone.  He's now built over six hundred numbered fiberglass fly rod.  Now, that's likely over the last five years or so but still quite impressive and it's been very enjoyable to watch his rise as a premier fly rod builder over the years.

Along with showing off a few images of Build #600, which kinda makes sense that that he picked it to be an Epic 686, I asked Shane if he'd sit down and answer a few questions for a interview to include in this post.  Enjoy.

I know that you've already moved past Build #600 already but that number is certainly something special.  When did you start keeping a list of numbered builds and what does it feel like to reach this milestone?

"Thanks and yes I am building #610 at the moment. It is special and I think the rods get better with each one I finish.  I am not exactly sure but you and I gave away #100 on T.F.M. in 2012.  I don't think I was building quite the volume then as I am now."

You work at a pace that is unlike most other small shop builders and though you doing this on a full time basis now, what inspires you and keeps you motivated?

"I am blessed to have the work.  I'm not sure what inspires or motivates me, it's just really something that I love, and genuinely enjoy it doing.  I still get excited to start a rod and really look forward to the next one as well."

Over the years I've seen you build on quite a few different fiberglass blanks, including several of your own design, what are your favorites and why? 

"Wow, a great question.  There are some really good fiberglass blanks, of coarse I would not be able to answer this question without mentioning Mark Steffen's blanks, they are still great and many rods/blanks are compared to "The Steffen action".  McFarland always impresses with his tapers, the Japanese blanks (Kabuto and Ijuin) with their unique taper designs and are fun to fish, and of coarse the Swift Epic rods are great quality and a blank brand that I build on often. 

I think my favorites would be just about anything Epic, and not just casting and fishing, but the company and the quality of the blanks have been very consistent. 

I did love "my own design" blanks and would like to get back to that someday, but finding a manufacturer is a struggle.  Customers seem to ask for Epic more often then anything else, although I do get a lot of requests for Morgan and Steffen builds."

There are over 600 Graywolf Rods builds out in the "wild" now and they each have a level of uniqueness to them. How do you achieve this without building the same fly rod over and over again?

"I would say customer options and their "specs" keep things different.  I think if I were to build rods without getting the specifications from customers they would all look very similar to each other.  In many cases I put my own twist or offer my opinion when someone wants to order a rod from me.  I've built a few rods for you and you even have a unique taste that differs from the approach that I would have taken, but they all seem to work out."

What does a typical "Day in the Life of Shane Gray" look like?  How much time in spent in the shop, what makes you tick, and what keeps you busy besides building fly rods?

"A typical day for me is to be up around 5:30 or  6:00 a.m., drink a whole bunch of coffee and after breakfast I spend some time writing on rods and moving rods from the "hot" box and replacing with rods that have been varnished the day before.  I like to wrap rods in the morning, typically from around 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  Then I turn cork and varnish wraps later in the day.  I like to end everyday with gluing cork rings on blanks to be ready for turning the following day. 

As any rod builder might tell you, there is a lot of "checking on things" after you leave the shop.  I am lucky because I recently moved my shop to the house and everything I need is in it.  There is quite a bit of time also spent answering emails, taking calls, and of coarse trying to find what I can build next!

I do fish some!  I have been remodeling this old f*$% house for about five years, and I like to build bamboo rods."

There seems to be a lot of speculation from rod builders on which direction the fiberglass fly rod movement is going.  What is your take and what do you hope to see in the coming years?

"I would like to know what direction the movement is going in maybe you can fill me in?  What I would like to see is a steady stream of quality blanks as I spend a lot of time trying to source blanks, run down blanks, or wait for blanks to arrive.  I do think Chris Barclay has done a great job with his business and has been consistent in creating his own "brand" of fiberglass rods with great tapers and they are quality blanks.  I see that as a bright idea for the coming years."

Anything else that you want to talk about?

"Many have asked so I just want to reiterate that the serial numbers are included only on the blank brands I offer on my website and only on rods I've built from my own stock (blanks sent to me by customer do not receive a serial number) and this consecutive serial number is only for fiberglass rods, all other rods receive different numbers.

I do want to thank you for all that you have continually done for me and my business, I really feel you do more for us small guys than we deserve.  Thanks again and here's looking at another 100!"

Visit the Graywolf Rods website and Blog for more information and be sure to follow along on Facebook and Instagram for the latest shop news. 

1 comment:

Nick Vitale said...

Shane is an awesome guy. I have recently gotten into rod-building and he takes the time to answer my questions as well as brainstorm with me on concepts and ideas. His work is phenomenal and I aspire for my personal collection to look as nice as his daily creations. Keep up the great work brother!