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Fly Right

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FORT WAYNE, IND. (WPTA21)-They’re a hallowed part of the American Scene like baseball and apple pie. And though bamboo fishing rods have served anglers young and old since the 19th Century they’re even more coveted in the 21st.

My dad was a fisherman his brother was a fisherman, great uncles were fishermen,” says fishing rod maker Jerry Drake.

In the basement of his Fort Wayne home Jerry Drake is crafting another bamboo masterpiece.

My rods have fished Patagonia my rods have been fished in New Zealand,” he says. “I have rods on both coasts here in the United States plus a lot of them in between.”

Jerry made his first rod forty years ago and has it down to an artform, from splitting raw bamboo into strips, gluing them up and all the other steps it takes for the finished product. And every rod Jerry Drake makes is sold before its even done. Like the guy he met fishing in Colorado who cast one of his rods just once.

He reached into his wallet and pulled out eleven one hundred dollar bills,” he says, “and handed me his business card and said ‘call me when it’s done!’”

Jerry eventually sold the guy thirteen rods. They sell for fourteen hundred dollars each but Jerry says he’ll spend a hundred hours crafting one. And he hand makes everything even all the metal parts out of sterling silver he engraves himself. The finished product is truly a work of art, an instrument that can reel in a sixty pound salmon but looks like fine sculpture.

Takes a certain amount of pride in doing something that most people don’t,” he says ‘What is it about making ’em that you really love?’ we ask. “I have no idea. Keeps me off the street!”

Eric Olson

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