Before I started flyfishing back in the '70s, one of the things that drew me to the sport was the simple lines of the fly rod and reel. The long graceful rod with its almost invisible guides, the minimalist circular reel attached precariously at the very end, had a simple aesthetic to me that was not matched by any other type of tackle. A long thin line and a dot -that was it.
I have remained intrigued by that "line and dot." Often while out fishing (but not necessarily catching) I would play with the idea of the "line and dot" being even simpler and more refined -particularly the "dot". To me, the rod was pretty much already as simple as it could get, but the modern reel, I felt, could be much simpler.
My thoughts about mechanical design were strongly influenced by both my English aircraft engineer Grandfather -who had worked at Avro, Vickers and Supermarine, and by having grown up surrounded by artisans and craftspeople from the San Fransisco Bay Area arts and crafts movement of the 60s and 70s, in which my parents participated as jewelers when I was a kid. Techniques in silversmithing, leather working, batik, glass, pottery, woodwork, etc. -all those varied disiplines were all available for me to observe and learn directly from those who were doing them for a living. With this early exposure, I came to regard making things by hand -and striving to do it well- amongst the most natural and noble of all human endeavors.
Later, I was drawn to work more seriously in metal and wood and challenged myself with unusual ideas to build using the rudimentary tools I had. I learned basic blacksmithing from my good friend and metal artist Tim Simonian of Orcas Island and later in the Seattle area worked as a mechanical designer and CNC programmer at several companies, where I picked up the basics in manufacturing principles, as well as machining, welding and more modern material working methods like CNC laser and waterjet.
For a while I've been making fly reels strictly for myself in an effort to create the simple refined ideas I had developed over these many years observing, working and learning. After I received encouragement to post pictures of the reels I've been making, the momentum has grown and I have been happy to have the opportunity to share my work with those interested.