I sat down with Matt Barber and Joel Doub with Tom Morgan Rodsmiths.  We hear about the Tom Morgan story and how after selling Winston, Tom started Tom Morgan Rodsmiths after being diagnosed with MS.

We also hear about how Matt and Joel gave up their day jobs to purchase Tom Morgan and move to Bozeman Montana.  Lot’s of good stuff in this one including some great rod building tips from the finest fly rod craftsman in the business.


Click below and listen to Matt Barber and Joel Doub from Tom Morgan Rodsmiths:

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Show Notes with Tom Morgan Rodsmiths

4:00 – George Daniel was on the podcast in episode 55 and talked about the benefit of Tenkara including why he thinks it’s the best rod for kids starting out.

05:35 – Patagonia had a line of Tenkara and we talked about it on the show with this guest.

06:02 – Here is the 7 wt rod from Tom Morgan and is the heaviest rod they have right now.  They did talk about adding a new rod to the line that might be in the trout spey realm.

10:30 – Tom purchased Winston in 1971 when Tom Morgan had no rod building background.  Here’s a little more history on the Winston story.

26:00 – Here’s the link to the ESPN article that told more of the Tom Morgan story.

28:00 – Matt and Joel put on rod building classes in Bozeman and you can stop by the shop anytime to see the guys.  You can find the schedule here.

41:15 – A great article on finding the spline by Thomas and Thomas and Here’s my video on finding the spline.

43:45 – Mike Mccoy at Snake Brand has a guide to finding the guide spacing on a rod.

1:08:15 – The Mountain and Prairie Podcast is one of Matt’s favorites podcasts.

1:08:52 – I note how Joel sounds just like Oliver White who was on the podcast in episode 69.


1:10:36 – Bozeman Rod Builders Guild or the fly rod forum.  Matt also notes to find a local builder who you can connect with.


You can find the Matt and Joel at Tom Morgan Rodsmiths.  You can find them here.  


Resources Noted in the Show

The ESPN Story on Tom Morgan

espn and tom morgan
photo via: http://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story?_slug_=fly-rod-makers-tom-morgan-gerri-carlson-create-unity-universe&page=fly-rods&redirected=true


Videos Noted in the Show

Here’s a video on rod building


Radiohead – Karma Police



Select Q and A from the Podcast Transcript

Click here do download the entire PDF Transcript:  Tom Morgan RodSmiths Transcript


Q: Do you have a perspective on Tenkara?

A: – Joel:   Yeah, it’s funny. I think I grew up fishing a 13 foot bamboo pole with just a length of string tied to the end of it for bluegills. It’s funny, we had some conversations with Tom about it. And I think Tom was maybe not the biggest fan of tenkara. You know, we’re such deep traditionalist because we learned from Tom and his wife Gerry. The people here that make rods, we kind of think of it as anathema.

But I think that’s right. I think from a beginning standpoint, the less you have to manage from the line reel set standpoint, the easier it is to kind of focus on fishing the fly and actually, you know, setting the hook and figuring out where trout live and focusing your efforts there. So I think it’s actually really useful in that regard.


Q: Is the 7 weight the heaviest fly rod you have now?

Answer – Joel:  Yeah, seven weight is new. And so I think, we get approached by people from from time to time about salt water and steelhead and spey fishing. And I think the one thing that we kind of learned from Tom is you pick what you do, and you just focus on really trying to do that as well as you possibly can.

And so, you know, for Tom and from his lineage, he was a fishing guide in Montana, you know, and so our rods really are based on his experience fishing with clients, what they had a hard time doing was putting flies on a dinner plate to visible rising fish.

And so our action really everything we do is based on trout fishing in Montana, and I think that it’s pretty easy if you’re a big company to try to make, a solution for everything that’s out there.  We stay within our own lines and and try to focus on making the very best trout rods we can and not keep our focus or let our focus broaden too much past that.


Q: What’s that 7 weight fly rod like?

Answer – Joel:  Yeah, it’s funny, you know, so Tom did a fair amount of steelhead fishing in Idaho as a younger man. And so he actually used some fiberglass rods and we make 8 weight single hand fiberglass rods. And so certainly, that was back kind of before the revolution hit, in the 1970s and 60s out there, but the seven Weight, we actually make in two different versions.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much. In the process of prototyping that rod, we found two different blanks that we really liked.  one that’s stiffer and we kind of consider to be more of a light salt water bonefish kind of rod and then one that’s a little softer, that’s more of a progressive action trout rod.

So the softer one we like a lot for streamer fishing for trout here in Montana. For sink tip lines, the stiffer rod would be more your full sink tip or even, for light steelhead, bonefish, and light salt water.


tom morgan


“Don’t hold on to a mistake just because it took you a long time to make it.”

-Tom Morgan


Tom Morgan Rodsmiths

Conclusion with Tom Morgan Rodsmiths

I had a great chat with Matt Barber and Joel Doub who own Tom Morgan Rodsmiths and describe how they do what they do.  We hear the story of how Tom Morgan created one of the highest quality fly rod companies in the country.