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Rodmakers At Grayrock
by Wayne Cattanach

March 23rd, 1998

It's human nature to want to be part of a group, to feel that you are accepted by others, and that you can add to a conversation. Additionally, an element of a good conve rsation is that the involved parties share a special interest in the topic. As one travels about the fly fishing world either at club meetings, stream outings, or casting on the web it becomes apparent that the second language of the sport is fly tyin g. Wherever fly fishers gather you will hear the familiar chat of fur and feather.

Looking back several years, at one point in time I carried a chest of tying materials and tools with me on every fishing trek. The group I fish with represent some of the finest tyers of Michigan. And yet, today, it has been some 7 years since I've tied a fly.

The explanation to this fact is simple, I now make rods, but the mental is complex. Even at 'The Clubhouse' where my friends and I gather on weekends and a good many flies are tie d, I will often drift from the group and take up a quite position at a workbench and plane bamboo. My conversation is with a hand plane as the 'swish' of the blade keeps me company.

The image of the rodmaker has always been that of the lone craftsman toiling away in his shop. That image is as true today as it ever was. I have withdrawn, but I am not anti-soc ial. For the past several years a group of rodmakers has gotten together in an official capacity. At first, the gatherings were in Pennsylvania, then they migrated to Grayling Michigan to 'The Clubhouse'. Officially there are two days of presentations, demonstrations, and casting of rods. Unofficially the gathering goes for a week and also encompasses several fishing treks and a few micro brews. The conversations are of tapers and techniques, by like minded individuals who share the same passion.

The Clubhouse is situated just across the road from the AuSable river. This is handy for those wanting to sample a rod's casting ability. Hardware wise, there may well be a hundred b amboo rods spread about representing thousands of hours of labor and an even bigger pile of cash in value. Along with the rods there is an arsenal of reels, the favorite being made by Bill Ballan, several having silk lines mounted on them.

I have never seen or heard of a similar gathering just for fly tyers. For the official agenda there will be some 60 or so in attendance. Yes, rodmakers are a little scarce. Some will have traveled from the far reaches of the country to pick up on old friendships and to make new ones. The atmosphere is electric because for once we have an opportunity to share with others who love the craft as well.

The time at the gathering seems to fly and too quickly the week comes to an end. It's then that we each return to our shops and the solitude it brings. There is one last hurrah before the close. That is TTBBBQ. WC

The family name Cattanach desends from the Scottish clan of Chattan, which may or may not explain how Wayne came to be the fifth generation living on the family farm outside of Casnovia, Michigan. Professionally a mechanical contractor, Wayne currently works for Forest Hills Schools.

Flyfishing and rod building (after losing the rod he was given) since 13, Wayne has stayed with the passion for 16 years, or for at least 100 rods. Whether writing, doing, demonstrating or teaching, Wayne is extremely involved in keeping the art and craft smanship of hand made bamboo rods alive ... though he handles his skill and reputation with great humility. When Wyoming rodmaker, Jon Parker noted there is a good chance of Wayne being the next Everett Garrison, Wayne replied, "I laugh - knowing that I w on't be around to know if that prediction comes true or not. Instead I think of myself as a modest and casual person somehow being allowed to hang around with a group of highly skilled craftspeople - having fun and watching the adventure unfold."

While with The Planing Form Wayne helped organize the first eastern rod makers get together which over the years migrated its way to Grayling, Mi and is now known as Rodmakers at Grayrock. The TTBBQ is the social ending. Last year Wayne came up with the idea for The Makers Rod.

The Makers Rod will be a 7 foot 6 inch, 4 weight, 3 piece, 2 tipped rod. What makes the rod special is that it will be made by 28 rodmakers from across the United States.
The special cause will be stream restoration on the AuSable and Manistee rivers of Michigan.
For the rodmakers it is a chance to show their love for the craft and their concern for our resources.
For some lucky individual it is a chance to own perhaps the most unique bamboo fly rod ever made.

To find out more on the Maker's Rod, including how to enter the raffle to win, click here.

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