A Part of Fly-Fishing History is Gone

A Part of Fly-Fishing History is Gone

The building that housed the original R.L. Winston Rod Company in Twin Bridges burned down early Sunday morning May 7, 2017. The fire department was called at 3:30 a.m., and the building was totally engulfed when emergency crews arrived. Firefighters were still cleaning up the scene at 8 a.m.

" Winston fly rods suffered a great loss in history, tradition and the best bamboo rods on the market Sunday morning when the Winston Bamboo shop caught fire," said Winston General Manager Jeff Wagner.  "It is suspected the fire resulted in a total loss of property and equipment, valued at over $1 million. Fortunately no one was harmed and no damage to surrounding property occurred. More than the money, for Winston, the fire feels like the passing of a family member. Countless hours through many hands have shaped the fine bamboo rods that have passed through the now charred doors. It is not surprising the emotion Winston rods is feeling, and the healing process will take time. But, as we grieve we also look to the future.

"The Winston rod company has been in business for almost 90 years. A fire will not impede that history and growth forward. Every situation has two sides. We will choose to look at the opportunity this creates and drive toward the future. Winston will be rebuilding over the coming months, we hope to be back in operation by the end of the year. It wont be easy but it is a great opportunity to reinforce this storied tradition and reinforce who we are. Getting back to our roots, and learning from even this.


"To our customers we apologize for any inconvenience. But know that by 2018 we will be back up and running. Don't hesitate to place your orders now, knowing that the same quality with a heightened sense of place will be available again soon. We hope that you will follow us through this journey as we build the next chapter of the company's history!"



There is a  newer R.L. Winston Rod Co. facility located several blocks away at 500 South Main St. in Twin Bridges. The new building produces all of Winston's graphite rods and house the corporate offices. The building that burned May 7 was used exclusively to store bamboo and to manufacture Winston's cherished and valuable bamboo rods.


History Lesson

Robert Winther and Lew Stoner started what is known today as the R.L. Winston Rod Company in 1929 in San Francisco, combining their names into the new brand. The company's bamboo rods soon became famous for their design and workmanship. In 1975, owner Tom Morgan and partner Glenn Brackett moved the business from California to Twin Bridges to take advantage of the local trout fishing on the Beaverhead, Big Hole, Ruby, and Jefferson rivers. Twin Bridges has been the home of Winston rods ever since.


Tom Morgan sold Winston in 1991 and in in 1992 was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). In 1995 he married Gerri Carson, and in 1996 he started Tom Morgan Rodsmiths, a company which he and Gerri have operated in Manhattan, Montana, until the recent sale in 2017 to  Joel Doub and Matt Barber.

Glenn Brackett also famously left Winston Rods and with former Winston employee Jerry Kustich started Sweetgrass Rods, located at 501 N Main Street in Twin Bridges. Sweetgrass recently moved to Butte, Montana, and none of their bamboo or assets were affected by the fire in Twin Bridges.

All of these important icons in Montana's bamboo rod tradition got started in this one little shop on Main Street, Twin Bridges. And now it's gone.

A fire at the original R.L. Winston bamboo rod shop destroyed an important part of fly-fishing history. Verta Anne Dorseth photo

Recommended for You

These dense, indestructible nymphs will improve your subsurface game. Fly Tying

Perdigon Nymph

Charlie Craven - January 15, 2019

These dense, indestructible nymphs will improve your subsurface game.

Chip's Monster Magic. Designed in Saskatchewan's pike paradise - works anywhere. Fly Tying

Fly Tying Chip's Monster Magic Fly

Dwayne 'Chip' Cromarty - January 15, 2016

Chip's Monster Magic. Designed in Saskatchewan's pike paradise - works anywhere.

How an Atlanta craft brewery is helping to save Georgia's most important trout stream. United States

Saving the Chattahoochee River

Ross Purnell - April 23, 2019

How an Atlanta craft brewery is helping to save Georgia's most important trout stream.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Breaking the Surface

Breaking the Surface

Attack of the Bass continues as Breaking the Surface attacks bass with fly and lure 12:30pm ET Sunday, April 17th.

Bahamas - Bonefish

Bahamas - Bonefish

Conway casts for his personal best bonefish while fishing the Grand Bahama islands.

Fly Fishing for Taimen in Mongolia

Fly Fishing for Taimen in Mongolia

Finding giant Mongolia taimen and a state of enlightenment.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Read about Colorado's backcountry fly fishing in United States

Indian Peaks Wilderness Area Colorado

Steven B. Schweitzer - May 03, 2016

Read about Colorado's backcountry fly fishing in " Indian Peaks Wilderness Area Colorado."

Best Panfish Flies Fly Tying

Best Panfish Flies

Skip Morris - October 17, 2016

Best Panfish Flies

Golden riches in Wyoming's high-country heaven of the Wind River Range. United States

Wind River Range Wyoming

Greg Thomas - July 27, 2015

Golden riches in Wyoming's high-country heaven of the Wind River Range.

See More Stories

More News

Cast your nominations for the 2020 Conservationist of the Year. Conservation

2020 Conservationist of the Year

Fly Fisherman

Cast your nominations for the 2020 Conservationist of the Year.

The 2018 Jackson Hole One Fly not only raises funds for conservation projects and organizations in the greater Jackson Hole region, but this year's event was a literally a 'win-win' for all. Industry

Conservation organizations win big at Jackson Hole One Fly

Brian la Rue - October 26, 2018

The 2018 Jackson Hole One Fly not only raises funds for conservation projects and...

The fly-fishing community has come together to help bonefish guide Harley Sands. Conservation

Helping Harley

Ross Purnell - September 13, 2019

The fly-fishing community has come together to help bonefish guide Harley Sands.

See More News

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.