Partner Vist: Thomas & Thomas Factory Tour
Posted by Mark Bollman on

We are very excited to have had the opportunity to visit our friends and collaborators at Thomas & Thomas based in Greenfield, MA. World renowned makers of handmade fly fishing rods and accessories, Thomas & Thomas also share in the Ball and Buck ethic of Made in USA products of the highest possible quality. With over forty years in the business, Thomas & Thomas have contributed greatly to the sport of fly fishing by being pioneers of graphite rod construction and bringing bamboo rod construction to the USA.

The founder, Thomas Dorsey, continues to play a major part of the company as he engineers all the tapers on the rods to guarantee the smoothest action of line release and delicate fly presentation. Tom and CEO Neville Orsmond lead us on a tour of the factory as we walk through the design and building of the Thomas & Thomas x Ball and Buck Bamboo Rod collaboration.

Recognition of Thomas & Thomas has come in many forms, pictures of the adventures and trophies of satisfied customers from around the world line the walls paying homage to their trusty rod.  Thomas & Thomas has been long regarded as one of the most prolific in the industry presenting rods to former presidents and royalty alike such as Prince Charles and Princess Diana. At the core of Thomas & Thomas' numerous achievements is the quality and strength of their construction which begins with using the highest quality materials. One material unique to Thomas & Thomas is their cache of Tonkin Bamboo, bought pre-embargo from a small region of China, which is the largest inventory in North America and known for its dense and fibrous quality enabling the production of super resilient rods. We naturally chose to use this high-end top quality bamboo in the making of our rods.

The construction process begins by hand selecting the bamboo from their collection. Each piece is then punctured at the membrane to allow for the steam to escape the bamboo during the next stage. A metal rod is then inserted through the bamboo and the whole piece is rotated over a massive burner. This process caramelizes the interior pulp to seal the rod and release any and all moisture from the bamboo. Once flamed, the piece is hand split by Troy Jacques, the master rods craftsman, into small strips which are mitered at an angle and alternated in pieced in sections of six between two rods of bamboo to ensure balance and equality through the rod. Next a special machine applies glue and twine to the sections while wrapping them all together. After an extensive drying process, the rod is ready for the finishing steps.

The bamboo rod is finished with a handmade and hand shaped cork grip. Fine gun grade mahogany forms the reel seat while a handmade medallion is individually set into the seat. Afterwards, at least six coats of lacquer are applied to cover and protect the reel seat. The nickeled silver gun glued hardware is then affixed as well as the agate to the rod. With thirty years of experience the builder then uses silk thread for the color bands and hand-wraps the rod. Finally, the information of the rod is written by hand without the use of a stencil onto the rod itself.

The exclusive Thomas & Thomas x Ball and Buck rod collaboration, comes with hand sewn sleeves for each piece in our Signature Plaid, two tips for the rod, and a Signature Canvas sleeve to cover the hard metal case for the rod. We couldn't be more excited for this incredibly special product and will be providing much more information soon. Stay tuned.

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