Put your waders on—we're about to get deep into a great giveaway.
Many of you may recognize Brad Smith as an outdoor writer. He writes about food, fishing and hunting, and that's actually how we met him. As if that weren't enough, though, we find out that he actually founded and owns Walton Rods, a fly rod company based right here in the US.
We've partnered with Brad this week to bring you some good stories, but also a sweet gift. Someone is going to win a Walton Rod's N-7. This rod was created to go after fish where a typical 9-foot rod won’t always work. Using high modulus IM7 blanks and a built in taper, this medium action rod has been scaled down to get into places that are just hard to reach.
Check out our chat with Brad below, and be sure to find the Giveaway in the GoWild app!
GoWild: Brad, you’re a busy guy, so thanks for taking a minute to chat with us and for partnering with GoWild this week for the giveaway! We’ll get to the product in a minute, but tell us about your path as an angler and how you went from writer to creator of an American made fly rod.
Brad: Haha, it’s a good question. I’ve fished my entire life, it’s always been my passion. I’ve guided, did the tournament route, all that. It’s through my writing where I made some contacts in the outdoors industry that helped launch Walton Rods. I put to use my fishing knowledge with my writing background, got the help from a lot of friends, and it sort of all fell into place.
GoWild: I know you ended up founding Walton Rods due to some of your frustrations with the gear that was available. What particular frustrations were you having with your gear?
Brad: I was actually talking with my childhood buddy, and partner in Walton Rods, about fly fishing several years ago. We were both complaining about paying so much for rods made in China that we both knew well and good only cost a fraction of that price. We also both didn’t care for the corporate takeover of the fly fishing industry that has happened in recent years. So, we decided to do something about it. We specifically set out to make a fly rod totally handcrafted in the USA that actually reflects the true value of a fly rod vs. however much a corporate company can gouge out of a hard working fisherman.
GoWild: So if I recall correctly, you all did a Kickstarter to get this thing going. What’s it been like since then?
Brad: It’s been like drinking out of a fire hose, but in a good way. Our Kickstarter was 100% funded in about 15 minutes after going live. That was a rush. Since then, we’ve launched two other series of rods - the N7 and the Sully - on top of our original rod, the C9.
Starting in April of 2018, we are also going to launch a clothing line made out of USA made fabric created entirely out of plastic bottles that fishermen collect out of streams and rivers. We are also launching a gel floatant and shake powder. It’s been truly an incredible feeling seeing all the pictures people post of fish they catch with our rods. The reviews have been nothing but stellar. To say it simply, it’s been amazing.
GoWild: Alright, I’ve known you and followed you on social media for a bit now. You catch some pigs on the fly. What’s a good tip for beginner and veteran fly fishermen alike?
Brad: Well, I don’t know about that. I tend to purposefully target areas during times of the year when big fish run. It just put the odds in your favor. As far as tips for a beginner, fish with people that really know how to fly fish. Goodness, watching somebody fly fish cuts the learning curve in half. As far as for a veteran, there’s always more to learn! Don’t think you know everything! You can learn something from every fly fisherman you meet.
GoWild: Lastly, you decided to make your rods right here in America. And you’re making them by hand. That’s not the cheaper way. It’s not the easy way. But I imagine you got some benefits to doing it this way. Tell us about why you chose to stay in the USA with Walton Rods.
Brad: We are doing it this way because it’s our way. It’s just a matter of principle. I just ethically can’t behind having our rods made overseas like 95% of the fly industry, then turning around and charging 300% to 1000% more than the actual cost (literally).
In our opinion, that is the problem that has made fly fishing so expensive. None of us expect to make a fortune doing this. Instead, if we can keep what we do American, as well as provide a top quality rod that is truly affordable and reflects more of the actual value, then that’s a win. If we can continue to succeed in this process and Walton Rods can continue to grow at the clip it is growing, then all the better.
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