Anchored Ep. 190: Tom Morgan Rodsmiths, Matt Barber and Joel Doub

Joel Doug and Matt Barber on Anchored Outdoors
Table of Contents

Anchored Podcast:

Tom Morgan Rodsmiths evolved from a dream of Tom’s while owning the R. L. Winston Rod Company from 1973 to 1991. He always wanted to build a limited number of superior graphite rods for appreciative anglers—rods not limited by cost or materials, fine-tuned until their actions were perfect.

Sadly, Tom passed away in 2017 of pneumonia. While he is no longer with us, his legacy in rod design will continue to touch anglers for generations to come thanks to Matt Barber and Joel Doub, who bought the company before Tom’s passing. In this episode of Anchored, we discuss Tom, his passion for quality rods, bamboo rod building and more.

Have you ever wanted to build or own a quality bamboo rod? If you’ve taken our Bamboo Rod Building Masterclass with Bob Clay, you won’t want to miss this episode. If you haven’t taken the Masterclass yet, you might want to after listening to this conversation.  

Outline of This Episode

  • [4:15] Tom Morgan became a guide as a teen
  • [12:55] How much are the rods?
  • [16:53] How the Morgan Hand Mill changed the way their bamboo rods were made
  • [29:35] Are bamboo rods prone to breaking in the tip?
  • [36:08] Do Matt and Joel have FOMO?
  • [39:05] Do they see problems in other rod companies?
  • [43:32] They don’t use a commercial oven
  • [52:35] Why using alcohol helps between sanding
  • [54:15] What is the hardest part about rod building?

Tom Morgan may have passed, but his quality craftsmanship lives on

Tom Morgan was a visionary who enjoyed sharing his knowledge. Many people didn’t realize this, but Tom never actually built any of his rods. All of his designs were in his head and were carried out by his wife Gerri and other craftsmen. This was due to Tom’s crippling battle with MS. The life changing illness left him quadriplegic, but that didn’t stop him from creating the best rods possible. 

When Matt and Joel bought Tom Morgan Rodsmiths, they did so with the promise to keep the quality and the soul of the company intact. They have continued Tom’s legacy by following his recipe for rod building and keeping the business small. Each of their rods is hand crafted locally in Bozeman, Montana and tailored to the customer’s wishes.  

Keeping the business small means keeping maintaining high quality standards

Matt and Joel jokingly remark that their business is not scalable. They only make a few hundred rods each year. Since each rod is built by hand with domestic products, their production can take 12-18 months. 90% of their products are graphite rods and they make about 2 dozen bamboo rods each year. Their process is time consuming since they create such quality products.

Having such a small business allows them to directly connect with each customer. None of their rods have names, in fact, each rod that they manufacture is referred to by the owner’s name. With such a small production, they get to know each rod and its unique characteristics and personality. 

How Tom Morgan Rodsmiths is different from the large rod manufacturers

As makers of such fine quality products, Matt and Joel lament the planned obsolescence that is built into the design of so many products these days. They note that even the big fly rod companies are continually trying to come up with the next big thing. This often means that their rods aren’t designed to last and that anglers end up having to purchase new products periodically. Tom Morgan Rods are designed to be passed down through generations.

Check out Anchored Outdoors’ Bamboo Rod Building Masterclass with Bob Clay

If bamboo rod building has piqued your interest, check out our Masterclass with Bob Clay. This professionally taught masterclass will teach you the intricacies of building a single or double hand bamboo rod from start to finish. Anyone can learn to create a quality bamboo rod, whether you are an experienced craftsperson or a novice. This class is exactly what the aspiring rod builder needs. 

Resources mentioned on this episode 

Connect with Matt Barber and Joel Doub

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Anchored Outdoors is an ever-growing network of fly fishing experts who’ve been brought together by podcaster and fellow outdoorswoman, April Vokey.

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