Stumbled on an interesting essay (interview?) with Tom Dorsey on the Thomas & Thomas blog, which has quickly become one of the more interesting manufacturer’s blogs.

Tom Dorsey

Tom Dorsey on fly rod design


I met Dorsey at one of the Fly Fishing Retailer shows, and his obvious enthusiasm for rod designs — and reasonable rod tapers — shines through.

You’ll want to read the whole thing, but this is one of the more interesting excerpts:

So we begin with function. In this case, rod tapers and rod dynamics. Each time that customers come tour the T&T shop and see what we do, I’m always surprised about how little they know or realize about the complexity of rod building, and moreover of the tasks and complexity of rod designing. A regular misunderstanding is that a rod taper, action and so on are calculated with a computer and some engineering software, which then spits out a formula. Not even close to the reality. Rod design is a tedious, but rewarding task, which I view as an empirical process, more akin to the culinary arts than to science.

Try and then tweak, change, try again and change some more; add some material, remove some and sometimes discard the intended direction entirely, then after a good night’s sleep, start anew. It is really no different than the constant taste-driven give-and-take, exploration and experimentation that a chef goes through in creating a new recipe. Of course, in the case of fly rods, we substitute taste with cast. And of course, just as the tasting ability of the chef is paramount in creating great cuisine, the casting ability of the designer is key in crafting great rods. This not only requires good casting skills and technique, but diagnostic insight and an ability to evaluate results – what to change, where to change, to what degree and what those changes should accomplish.

I mentioned before that it was nice to see T&T on the road back from dissolution; they’ve made remarkable progress, due in some part to their willingness to do interesting things online.

See you online, Tom Chandler.