Fishing Rods photo

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We’ve seen bamboo rods and glass rods in the ongoing vintage tackle contest, so I thought it was time to work in some heavy metal. This steel rod belongs to Matthew Steinman, who acquired it at yard sale and assumed it was only meant for fly casting. Though Matthew didn’t know much about the rod, he did say, “I have used it to catch trout on tiny streams in Snow Shoe, Pennsylvania.” So let’s find out what Dr. Todd Larson of the The Whitefish Press and “Fishing For History” blog knows about Matthew’s stick of steel.


Dr. Todd says:

“While there were lots of metal fly rods–noted 1930s outdoor writer Edmund Ware Smith was such a fan of them he felt they were as good as many equally priced bamboo rods–yours is a three-piece steel utility rod manufactured by the famed Bristol-Horton Company for a trade house (likely William Mills & Son). It’s called a utility rod because it can be used with a baitcasting reel or a fly reel; fly fishing at the time usually meant around 20-30 feet of fly line. This was made, by the way, for baitcasters without a level wind mechanism when casting 60 feet was a chore. It dates from the 1900-1920 period and because many millions were manufactured, are still readily available and worth $10-$20. They are fun to fish, though, if you’re looking for a different feel!”

Great find, Matthew. Next time you catch a fish on your metal rod, you can clean it with the new metal blade–a Rapala Classic Collector Fillet Knife— that’s headed your way. Special thanks to our friends at Rapala for providing these great prizes for the next few weeks.

If you’ve already sent me photos of your vintage tackle, keep checking every Thursday to see if I chose it for an appraisal by Dr. Todd. If you haven’t and want to enter the contest, email photos of your old tackle to, along with your name, mailing address, and story of how you acquired the gear. If I use it in a Thursday post, you get a Rapala Classic Collector Fillet Knife (below, $70).