Benjamin Woodard / Courtesy
In a state known for its natural wonders, there is no shortage of great places to enjoy the outdoors in Arkansas.
There are acres upon acres of forests and parks to explore. There are hiking and biking trails, places for camping, rock climbing, boating, and bird watching. The forests are teeming with wildlife and the waterways offer some of the best fishing you can find.
Fly Fish Arkansas Film Night
Or: Fayettechill base camp
Dated: Thursday February 1
Time: 6.30 p.m.
More information: Facebook event
All this considered, it is no wonder that there are so many people here who are excited to experience the outdoors in its natural state.
It’s also no wonder that some people here in Arkansas have found a way to turn their passions into careers, and among the last Arkansan to do so is Hot Springs resident Benjamin Woodard, founder of Woodard Rod Company and creator of ‘a new film titled Arkansas flyfish debuts in Fayetteville this week.
Woodard’s passion for fishing began long before he arrived in Arkansas. He grew up in Waco, Texas and started fly fishing at the age of 12. He moved to Arkansas for college, where he fell more deeply in love with the sport and eventually opened his own fly shop, WRC, Southern Fly. Outfitters in Hot Springs.
This allowed him to launch his own line of fishing rods specifically designed for use in Arkansas in 2016. Woodard began making his own rods at the age of 19.
âI created Woodard Rod Company to provide high quality, low cost fly rods specifically designed for the Ozark fly fisherman,â he said. âThey meet the needs of other fishermen, but excel in the downstream waters of this region. “
The company operates an online store, with a handful of rods named for Arkansas waterways for sale at around $ 200 each. The rods themselves are currently made out of state, although Woodard is working on building a new factory near Cotter, Arkansas that would allow him to manufacture the rods here in Arkansas.
“We are considering moving to Cotter, AR on the banks of the White River to open a production facility, retail store, guide service, education center and accredited guide school,” he said. he declares.
Woodard said the design of his rods is what sets them apart.
âI went through dozens of different blank models before I came across the type of graphite we use today,â he said. âIt’s high density and fast. We throw a lot of big bugs and big nymph rigs so it was crucial to have a fast acting rod to draw as many lines as possible with each throw.
The connection with Arkansas is also important to Woodard. âOur fly rods are named after the rivers of Arkansas and namesakes because they are specially designed for those rivers,â he said.
The company is still in its early stages, but Woodard said he was extremely encouraged by its growth so far.
âThis is our second year at Woodard Rod Company and we are growing rapidly,â he said. âWe are in the process of getting more inventory and focusing on setting up the store. In 2016, we sold 32 fly rods. From 2017 to today, we have sold 198 of them.
In addition to serving as a guide and running the shop, Woodard also began to engage in film creation.
He was the producer of a new movie called Fly Fish Arkansas, which will screen in Fayetteville tonight (Thursday March 1) at Fayettechill.
âFly Fish Arkansas was a dream I had to unite the front here in the state and show the rest of the world what it’s like to really fish here,â he said. âIt’s more than big pictures of big fish, it’s the cities, guides and habitat that surround us. It is a really special place.
The film was directed by Andrew McNeece, Jeff Rose and Andrew Winn, and will be released online in the next few months.
âWe’re planning a few more screenings that haven’t been scheduled yet, then a big release and a social media push on YouTube and Vimeo,â he said.
Woodard is also working on two other films, chronicling the fishing opportunities in Beaver Lake and Cotter, Arkansas.
To stay up to date with future screenings and the film’s online release, bookmark Woodard’s blog.
Fly Fish Arkansas Trailer