Bamboo Bonzai


Our thanks to Centennial Publications for use permission.

November 25th, 1998

"Glenn Brackett is another one of the outstanding craftsmen who have received little personal recognition for their talents because they devoted their careers to building the respected bamboo fly rods of R. L. Winston Rod Co.

Glenn's involvement with rod building came from a family fishing heritage nurtured by his father and grandfather. His grandfather spurred him into refinishing and redesigning old rods and building both fiberglass and bamboo rods from components. To Glenn, all rods were merely a means to an end.

Then he lucked into acquiring his first "name" bamboo rod, a seven-foot Edwards Quadrate from Woody Sexton, and soon became enchanted with the functional beauty of cane rods.

The colorful and talented personalities associated with the Golden Gate Casting and Angling Club and with R. L. Winston Rod Co. were also part of his experiences as a youth since his father worked in San Francisco and he grew up in the Bay area. He still has fond recollections of his first visit to the original Winston rod shop on Harrison Street, within walking distance of his father's office, in 1952.

Lew Stoner, Doug Merrick and Jon Tarantino were there, among the overwhelming mixture of bamboo, glue and varnish to walk him through the shop in a unique kind of "rites of passage" experience.

His obsession with fishing and a desire to be within wading and casting distance of water led him to pursue a degree in fisheries biology at Humboldt State University. He spent 15 years in fisheries with the California Fish and Game Department and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service throughout the Northwest. During this period he also tied flies commercially for Orvis, and became acquainted with Tom Morgan through their shared interest in fishing and guiding.

Tom Morgan bought the R. L. Winston Rod Co. in 1973. Glenn went to work for Winston in 1974, helped with the move from San Francisco to Twin Bridges, Montana, in 1975 and became part owner of the company in 1976.

Morgan, Merrick, Gary Howells and Al Talbott provided Glenn with a sound technical background in rod building, and his years of freshwater and saltwater fishing experience around the world helped provide valuable insights and appreciation for designing and crafting quality rods.

Brackett has maintained a one-rod-at-a-time attitude in his approach to building bamboo rods for Winston, confirmed by the fact that only 750 bamboo rods have been produced by the company since 1973. [As of 1995.]

Like other craftsmen before him at Winston, Glenn has made subtle changes to the tapers and actions of the Winston rods. He has also modernized the company's bamboo rods.

During the same period, Glenn has been involved in expansion of the company through fiberglass and into the graphite era, and expansion from three people into a 25-person work orce and from a 1000 square foot facility to 3500 square feet of production area.

He has a keen sense of the history and lore of the classic bamboo rodmakers and feels he has had the opportunity of a lifetime to carry on the traditions of rod building and the reputable name of the R. L. Winston Rod Co."

Publishers note: Glenn is alive and well in Twin Bridges, Montana. He is a delight on the phone and has agreed to do a couple of articles for us. You might also look for him as a "Special Guest" in the Chat Room. ~DB

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