Bamboo Bonzai

Part 7 in our Historical Rodmakers Series

Doug Merrick - Winston

Our thanks to Cententenial Publications for use permission.

November 9th, 1998

"Doug Merrick is not one of the most recognizable rodmaker names, yet his rods are known and admired by nearly all who appreciate fine bamboo craftsmanship.

Merrick went to work for R. L. Winston in 1945, shortly after his discharge from the World War II Air Corps. By 1953 he had become a partner in the company with Lew Stoner, one of the original owners. Stoner was an outstanding machinist and inventor of the hollow-fluted construction process that helped make R. L. Winston rods famous. He was also an excellent teacher and passed his rod making knowledge to Merrick before he died suddenly in 1957, leaving Merrick as the sole owner of R. L. Winston Rod Company.

Merrick was a natural craftsman in his own right and his skills would have earned him an even stronger reputation had he not followed in the footsteps of a legend like Stoner.

Gradually the Winston rods of the "Merrick era" have come to be recognized as outstanding examples of the rodmaker's art. To his credit, also, is his recognition of the strengths and traditions behind Winston rods and his refusal to make changes in the rods simply for change sake, or to satisfy his own ego by building rods distinguishable from Stoner's.

One example was his continued use of the bakelite reel seat spacer. Merrick realized the reel seat Stoner developed was one of the most functional models ever designed and continued to use it on Winston rods in spite of criticism that it detracted from their appearance.

The changes Merrick did make were subtle and well thought out; they were made to modernize Winston rods to adapt to the changing styles and attitudes of modern anglers.

Merrick initiated slight modifications to the Winston rod tapers to create a more moderate and responsive fishing action, as compared to Stoner rods that were more designed for distance casting.

Merrick also pioneered in the development of NCP thread. The use of thread with No Color Preserver allows better saturation of the varnish and a tighter bond between the wraps and the rod, without changing the original color of the thread.

Doug Merrick's other major contribution at Winston was in development of fiberglass rods. He designed the tapers and produced the mandrils that made R. L. Winston a recognized leader in production of high quality glass rods.

In 1973 Doug sold R. L. Winston to Tom Morgan, who eventually moved the company from San Francisco to Twin Bridges, Montana."

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