A bit of our history and how we came to create Custom Fly Rod Crafters.
Let me introduce myself, I’m Bob Widgren originally from the Great Lakes area. Back in 1980, my partner/wife/boss, Lee and I started our small little rod company that eventually grew into building approximately 600 rods a year and also during this time we managed to open a retail fly shop in Albuquerque, NM. The fly shop & rod building kept us quite busy over the years and now we are managing our internet-based business, Custom Fly Rod Crafters, where we offer top quality fly rod building components and supplies with the help of our other partner, Robert Spalliero. Lee is the driving force behind our success and keeps us in line, otherwise we would be a couple of fishing bums. She is known for her unparalleled rod finishing techniques and no one inscribes rods as nicely as Lee.
What caught my eye about fly fishing at first was not so much the art of casting a fly or catching wild trout, although today those things are quite important, but the tackle. There is something magical about fly tackle, especially the older fly rods, the silk lines and the gut leaders. My first experience with fly rods was to refinish an old bamboo rod that I found in my father-in-law’s garage. I was fascinated by the delicate little fly rod. I’m a tinkerer. I was quickly buried in fly rod bits and pieces making my own rods because the commercial fly rod companies didn’t give me choices on what kinds of components I could get on my rods. I started building rods back in the early 1970s and finally ‘went commercial’ in 1980 forming “Los Pinos Custom Rods” located in northern New Mexico near the best little trout stream in the territory named of course, the Rio de Los Pinos, the River of the Pines.
Our philosophy in rod building is something that we call ‘simple elegance’. A rod can be quite beautiful without a lot of bells and whistles if the custom rod builder pays attention to the many little details. The attention to detail is what sets the ‘custom rod’ apart from the ‘run-of-the-mill’ massed produced fly rods. The attention to detail is also what sets a ‘great’ rod company apart from a mediocre one.
Rod building is something that gets into your skin like fly tying or shooting and is an addiction of sorts that can wield both pain & pleasure. Over the years we have had the opportunity to teach hundreds of rod building students and have showed them the pleasure side while helping them avoid the painful side. I can pick out the ones who are rod junkies for they have a certain gleam in their eyes. And they keep coming back for more.