Why I love the Tom Morgan Rodsmith O’Dell fly rod

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Tom Morgan is a legend. The famous rod builder bought RL Winston Rod Co. in 1973, moved it to Twin Bridges, Montana, the heart of some of the best trout fishing in the country, and over the next 20 years, he has produces some of the finest bamboo, fiberglass, and ultimately graphite fly rods ever made. Shortly after selling the business in 1991, Tom was diagnosed with MS and launched Tom Morgan Rodsmiths to help pay the bills.

Tom was confined to a wheelchair for years before he passed away last summer, so his wife, Gerri Carlson, built all of the rods based on his designs. The rods they made together are something of a legend among dry fly aficionados. They were always expensive – TMR rods crossed the $ 1,000 mark long before the G. Loomis Asquith – but they were valuable. Those who had them often had two, three, or even four. Such was their appearance. Why? Tom Morgan rods are said to have a special feel. While today’s rodmakers focus on building a rod that can pull a line at 150 feet, Tom has built rods designed to present flies to trout that are, say, 30 feet away. from a distance – you know, the way people actually fish.

The O’Dell ($ 1,850) is such a dry fly rod. Designed by Tom and refined by new TMR owners Joel Doub and Matt Barber, it’s named after a springtime Montana creek where Tom used to guide. Only 50 of these were made and each comes with a footprint of Tom fishing. If you’re feeling lucky, you can try to earn one through the nonprofit Casting for Recovery.

Full Disclosure: I didn’t actually cast this rod. But I suspect it sounds exactly like the way I imagine a cane feeling whenever I’m stuck in a meeting or in a long line at the grocery store and wish I was on a river – smooth, firm and able to fit a size 20 Adams. the water spreads out without even a ripple. I suspect that’s exactly how Tom imagined it too.

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