Monday, June 10, 2024

TROUT SMITHS - New Ownership, New Website & New Offerings

When the news started to get out that Struble was in the process of taking ownership of Trout Smiths from Graywolf Rods, I was at first surprised but then excited that this fast growing component company would now have a fly rod blank company within its fold. 

Over the weekend the Trout Smiths website went live and Steve Van Winkle sent along a series of responses to questions that I had sent him awhile back.  With the announcement of new ownership and the website relaunch, this short Q&A with Steve is timed right to give some background on what they have been up to over the past several months and some hints on what's coming in their future, too.

Trout Smiths can now be found on the T.F.M. Fly Rod Builders page.  This is a great resource for those who are looking for more information on fiberglass fly rods and blanks.  As always, I'm happy to field emails with questions if you need another opinion.

Steve, you've had Trout Smiths for several months now and what drew you to these rods?  What are your future plans?

Chiefly, knowing Shane’s creativity and expertise, I was confident these would be finely tuned, fun-to-fish rods. The glass line we directly received from Shane is E-Glass and I also figured they’d not only be fun for all sizes of fish but also forgiving for even the newest of fishers.  Once I cast them, I was enthusiastic. These aren’t technical rods and they’re not all-round rods, but for what they're designed to do, they do it with ease.  Classic E-Glass feel with medium-fast tapers and good recovery can pitch small, weighted nymphs without “knocking” and drop dries gently on top of trout with barely a ripple while protecting the tiniest of tippets sold me instantly.

Because of Shane’s persistence and reputation, Trout Smiths is also a recognized name with a foothold in the cottage rod community.  When my partners and I were considering plans to expand on the advantages Struble can leverage as a component company, we had discussed offering rods and blanks so when Shane told us he was considering selling Trout Smiths, we felt building on an established brand made good sense.

Over the years we've seen the Trout Smith offerings range from "trout weight" fly rods, heavier line weight fly rods, and spinning rods.  Do you see that changing in time?

Right now, we’re focusing on the trout fly rods, both on the blanks established by Shane and adding a few new offerings of our own.  The Brute Series will likely be archived for a little while, but the blanks will make a reappearance fairly soon; we won’t be pursuing the spinning rods.  All of us involved with Trout Smiths and Struble have other occupations that keep us busy so we need to focus on a few, manageable key things, especially at the outset.

We have augmented the Trout Smiths roster, however, beginning with a new 7’6 4-weight three-piece S-Glass blank which we partnered with Dusty Smith of Livingston Rod Company to design.  We’ve dubbed it “Rocky Creek” after one of my favorite haunts back in Montana that I’ve fished for nearly forty years. It’s a crisp little wand especially suited for the situations and fish of smaller creeks.  Additionally, our new five-piece “Beehive” S-2 Glass travel blank is something we’re excited to offer.  Its configuration breaks down to perfect backpack size and is a delight to fish; so much so, people might reach for it who have no plans to pack anywhere.  We really wanted to offer a glass pack option to builders and fishers alike and couldn’t be happier with this blank.  If things go well, we’ll be looking to expand the S-2 Glass lineup with four-piece blanks.

One other project we’re hopeful about is resurrecting some of Shane’s original series of Trout Smiths classic yellow glass blanks.  These tapers were a collaboration between Mike McFarland of McFarland Rod Company and Shane with Mike rolling the spigot-ferruled blanks.  After talking with both of them, we should be getting samples from Mike soon.  Once we do, we’ll probably have to limit our selection to one or two at first but plan on reintroducing these in the near future.

Dusty is also helping us with a couple more four-piece IM Carbon blanks.  We call these our “Broadwater Series” and includes a 9’ 5-weight and 8’6" 4-weight blank.  People can read more about these on our website

Where are the Trout Smith rods built and on what blanks?

For now, rods will be made by me in Colorado; the other partners in Trout Smiths and Struble live in Montana (as I did for 30 years).  At some point, we plan to all be in at least the same state, but for now, I’ll be the builder and offer a standard build on an as-ordered basis from Canon City.  Hopefully we'll be able to stock a few rods eventually.  We also talked Shane into continuing to build rods for us from time to time, so we’ll also offer a “Graywolf-Built” series.  These will be rods Shane builds according to his own dictates and be available on the Trout Smiths website.

The Trout Smiths lineup of fly rods and blanks includes the following series in glass and carbon:

8’ 2/3 Weight - 3-Piece - Available in Olive Bark & Lemonade
8’ 3/4 Weight - 3-Piece - Available in Olive Bark & Verdant

7’ 3-Weight - 5-Piece - Available in Olive Bark & Big Sky Blue

7’6" 4-Weight - 3-Piece - Available in White & Black (soon)

8’ 1-Weight - 3-Piece - Available in Unsanded/Natural
8' 2-Weight - 3-Piece - Available in Unsanded/Natural
8' 3-Weight - 3-Piece - Available in Unsanded/Natural

8'6" 4-Weight - 4-Piece - Available in Unsanded/Natural
9' 5-Weight - 4-Piece - Available in Unsanded/Natural

One of the advantages of a component company with Struble while also owning a fly rod/blank company with Trout Smiths is we’re able to offer great savings on components to everyone who buys one of our blanks or rods.  So, while each blank and rod comes with a locally-sewn flannel bag, we’re also offering a Struble Component Kit with any blanks purchased.  Essentially choose your reel seat, insert and agate guide from the Struble site and we’re throwing in an appropriate set of unground, hard chrome snake guides, choice of grip, appropriately sized nickel silver winding check, tip-top, and hook-keeper for no extra charge.  This is a savings of over $35 if someone purchased the items separately.  If people don’t need an entire kit, Struble is also taking 10% off any components purchased the day anyone buys a blank from our website.

What it means for the rods is we’re able to offer as standard components that for which many builders would charge extra.  Trout Smiths rods come standard with either bright or dark nickel plated aluminum or titanium Struble seats with laser-etched end caps, premium, stabilized Struble Select wood inserts from the Pacific Northwest, Struble agate stripping guides, and our new Struble “Turtle Check” (integrated winding check and hook-keeper).  Trout Smith rods offer an incredible value we’re anxious for people to experience.

What excites you about Trout Smiths going forward?

We’ve made a lot of great friends through Struble and we’re anxious to meet even more as we go forward with Trout Smiths.

Visit the Trout Smiths website and follow along with the latest shop news on Instagram.

No comments: