BREWER – Since 1896, one of the famous names in fly fishing has been the Thomas Rod Company bamboo rod.
“President Eisenhower, President Hoover had a Thomas rod, Ted Williams had a Thomas rod it’s a very well known company…”
In 1999 Steve Campbell got the opportunity to resurrect the iconic brand that was born in Brewer and Bangor.
“What I’ve tried to do is bring back that same rod that was available in 1958 and before that so it’s almost as if the door had never closed,” said Campbell.
Campbell has been turning Thomas rods out of his custom built shop Steps from the original location For twenty years this year.
There was one year in that span Campbell wasn’t building rods, however, as he served two tours in Iraq starting in 2004 and creating these rods helped make the transition home easier, “there’s definitely no stress involved doing this its a lot like fly fishing is to me, is kind of meditative almost.”
Five to six Thomas rods get turned out each year, as this is a weekend job for Campbell who drives for UPS during the week, “it’s something that takes a lot of time but doesn’t feel like work that’s for sure, I mean I can be up here all day and the day goes by without even thinking about i.t”
One of these rods doesn’t come cheap, but that’s because they aren’t made cheaply
The craftsman accepts some unique forms of payment for his work, “people do trade in fly rods on fly rods but I’m always open for a nice old guitar or amplifier to come through as well.”
Campbell will continue to be a weekend warrior until he retires in a decade; “kind of a labor of love to be up here and carry on a tradition, I love to fish, so it makes it easy that way. It’s not a job.”