…Wandering Monk’s Special edition Trout Bamboo fly rods…

… “RainMaker” is a series of 100 signed & numbered rods …

~currently No. 35 of 100 is on deck~as of 9/1/15~

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…here is a 3pc. “RainMaker” 4 wt. I used on my Indian Summer Road Trip,

this particular rod landed over a hundred fish,  a dozen 20″ or over …

…this was at the “Frying Pan”…

            Here is one of the series with  my version of a “Full Wells” style grip …I also “spot flame” the blank for this series, something that adds a beautiful contrast to the finishes I use…

…my rod’s love sunlight,

the materials I use come alive when they are outside in it…

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~my nicest fish last season, a 23″ brown caught

with my “RainMaker” 7 &1/2 ‘ 4wt. , what a freestone beauty!~

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~No. 28 with a buffalo horn butt cap, rugged beauty~

~this picture has been the most popular photograph of a custom made bamboo rod on google for a while, it features medium burnt cork rings with darker accents, this rod was made in 2011~

The “Special Edition Series” Bamboo rods I make are my special presentation line of rods…like my flies and all the other items I make in my shop, they reflect many years of making and crafting things…also an attempt here to combine natural materials from various aspects of the creation as added accents …lots of accents of Elk antler, sinew braids…contrasting cork in the grip…extra special attention to every single detail…something I do on all my rods…

 

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…a 2 pc.6wt “RainMaker”   used on my Indian Summer road trip…

~this was a hard rod to put down!, the First Sergeant got this one~

 

                Here is a 9′ 3pc. “RainMaker” , No.23/100… I made for a like minded soul that wanted a special fly rod for him to keep in his  family to have as a reminder & tribute of a “Very Special Mans life”  and  his love &  respect  for the Creation…I took this task very seriously, and was thoughtful in every step of  making this rod, matching net and case…knowing they are much,  much more than just nice piece’s of angling gear…

This rod for a” Nations Member” I was privileged to craft a rod for, I was asked to use only materials from one special Bull Elk for the adornments I carved…the bevel carved ring that also acts as the fore end locator on this modified full wells style grip shows some very special pores and colors under the epoxy coating…

 

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…at the flick of the wrist this osage orange takes on a life all its own…no.24 of 100…

rt_292~a nice 20″ brown caught with my 3pc. 4wt. “RainMaker”~

          This series is as much “Art” for me as they are angling tools...I like to think of them as potential heirlooms…every artist seeks avenues to express their view of life in a way that makes them different than others…something I feel like I have accomplished with my angling gear among other things…

 

osage…this piece of osage orange had a very long journey before it became a reel seat insert…

…every part of rods in this series are worthy of a good campfire story for sure!…

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…a few RainMakers and Native Anglers with Osage Orange inserts…

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… 3pc. 4 weight “RainMaker” I used on my Indian Summer Road Trip…

…I caught over 20 fish in the 20+” range with this rod, along with another  hundred or so  in the 12-18″ class,

…flawless , and quite fun! a superb and accurate caster!…

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Seeing some special artifacts from Native American culture gave me the inspiration to  do these…I learned from Native American & like minded friends throughout my life how to do many things in ways from times past…from tanning hides, making my own bows and arrows, knives and of course my own fishing tackle. If there is any one thing I can pass on or express in the things I make , is that “the Circle of Life”  is something very much worth following and being a part of …

 

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…this classic reel was a perfect compliment to this day astream…

 

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 …winding check details cont’d…

 

 

The “RainMaker” series are  all “one -off’ ” rods that pick up where my standard series rods leave off…above and shown in the pictures below is a spot flamed 4 wt. is  complimented with medium/dark cork and some shed Elk and Mule Deer tine rings, along with several antler accents and braided sinew wraps…no. 21/100… “RainMaker”

 

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One thing I have become known for with my customers is that I truly appreciate them, and enjoy keeping them abreast of their projects progress…I give little progress reports along the way so that they can be more apart of the process…just because the majority of my customers are internet based does not mean I cant have interaction with them…actually many of them are going to be stopping places for my road trip later this year…being a wandering monk has some cool perk’s…LOL…

…here is another style reel seat I use , the American made, “Lemke” with one of my custom inserts from “Osage Orange”…this cork grip was natural rings w/ a dark burn accent…

                Sometimes simplicity adds a special elegance…here is a “recoil” style stripper I offer as an option that was selected for this special edition 9′ 3 piecer…a  rod that isn’t just going to be hanging on the wall for a friend in Colorado…this style guide is extremely durable, and also has a very “old school” look about it…

                 On all my rods I wrap all the guides, ferrules and winding checks with my hands…no machine, jigs or tools…a bit more time consuming, but making for a special product when all is said and done…I do use a “rod dryer”  to allow me to get the centrifugal effect with my epoxy coatings…I just try to minimize the use of “machinery” to as little as possible…

               After learning how to tie “in hand” flies from some angling & tying friends in Oregon, a practice done by anglers in Ireland and Scotland ( no vise or bobbins etc) before the turn of the last century and earlier. Back then it was standard procedure to take some feathers, hooks and assorted items and stuff them in your coat, and while along the river or stream “twist up” a few lures for that trout or salmon…

I found this all very appealing and  started to apply that practice to  my rod making too a few years back…the result is a finished product that is a few steps closer to a time when life was much simpler and  slower paced…

In the “RainMaker” series I have included all the accents and treatments I have offered or  included with my fly rods over the years.

…a ” RainMaker” combo in realtime…a “Hopper/Dropper” day on the Tomahawk…

            These bamboo rods are just as functional angling tools as any other rods I make, but do have special detail’s added to their finishes. Special attention is given to the accent finishes…all things hand made from  antler, wood, sinew, leather, birch bark and cork…taking a different approach in crafting a Bamboo fly rod…

…full wells style cont’d…

              The braiding on the series is patterned after the method used to “clamp” while gluing the 6 triangular wedge strips that constitute the bamboo blank…I really loved the way the blank looks at this point of construction  and I wanted to incorporate it into the rods…after close inspection of some artifacts that looked very similar at a “Pow-Wow”  I attended a while back, I thought of a way to do something with the sinew to on my rods…on this rod there are four sequences of braids like this. The first above the hook keeper, the second between the stripping guides, and the next two in succession between snakes on the tip section…

               The braided accents after finishing up a few reminded me of a picture I saw of a strand of DNA…maybe the Native Shaman’s knew something , the way they adorned their tools , weapons & ritual items…

“RainMaker series 22/100

           I lay a bead of epoxy on the tie off points for extra durability , also a nice prismatic effect of the sinew. The braid itself is coated with finish both below and above to still allow the “raw” look of the split sinew, yet still be waterproof and able to withstand use in or near water, and exposure to lots  of sunlight…

  the amber agate stripper’s on this rod compliments the colors that came about from the flaming and sinew combination…that little white stripe is the fly line reflecting on the gloss coated epoxy wraps…

I also use a stripper on some rods that is a chrome plated brass version with a black ceramic ring…this offers a nice contrast too, and is very durable as well…the finish matches that of the Lemke reel seat hardware perfect! This is what I fish myself…and recommend to an angler that anticipates a lot of use with their rod…a cracked agate ring can destroy a nice fly line in short order if not caught immediately!

  

            The pore sytem shown here gives a view into the way that Elk antler grows.  It’s really very similar to the natural design integral to Bamboo …aside from being members of different aspects of the creation, plants vs. animals, the life that creates the mass in both flows through the blood, in the case of  elk.

          In bamboo, photosynthesis making sunlight, water and the earth creating this very special grass.  They both have an incredible system of canals bringing the necessary life to make them grow…then in the case of both, they dry and harden making them very strong and special …for some tasks that man made materials can never  totally duplicate or replace…

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   To try and keep the look of the braids and yet make sure they can withstand hard use, I layered coats of finish under, between and on top of the sinew…allowing the natural beauty to be present, but also make me feel like it will endure lots of angling in years ahead.

              When Native Americans made decorative braiding on their implements and hunting gear, I wonder if they somehow new intuitively that their braids mimicked the strands of DNA that are a part of all nature?…

                The”bee hive” style winding check is something I  do with the sinew & epoxy coating…here is a detail of it on a “Western” style grip I turn…its a smooth transition from the cork to the bamboo  with a material that has a really cool texture and coloration…plus it was the material used by Native Americans to hold so many things together from knives and axes, to the heads they made for their arrows…the first time I worked with sinew was making obsidian bladed knives…I think the material is so strong…has an incredible natural beauty, and is similar in bamboo to its organic connection…

    Here is an example of another way I make the”Full Wells”, with some of my signature accents…the cork on this grip is highlighted with medium & dark burnt rings for contrast…

 

       I  include with every rod a piece of bees wax from some  hives I tended years ago to use on the ferrule connection’s…its a natural solution to keeping ferrules tight, and also make them easy to take apart…its been my favorite choice for bow strings and fly rods for 40+ years…

  The angler that ordered this rod preferred an extended butt on their rod and wanted darker rings used in the grip…I tried to keep the color scheme of the medium & dark burn rings along with the antler accents in sync with the rest of the rod…

…one of my accented reels on a RainMaker using a white ” Payne” WFF line…

        I accented one of my reels for the project, and put on a few different WFF line’s to test it a bit before shipping out…I make a point to test cast every rod/tip combination with several lines and weights to give a good recommendation to the angler as to what line I feel would be a good starting point with their new rod…in the case of this rod, as with many other bamboo rods it liked the heavier weight line…the blank could be easily fished with a 4 or 5, but after testing a few of my lines I have here in my shop I found the Payne WFF 5 best on the softer tip & my SA “Sharkskin” 5 best on the faster…

…an 8′ 5/6 wt. “RainMaker”

          The sound of the Sharkskin sliding through the guides bother some folks…but with two stripping guides this rod loved it, the hauls were effortless…it was throwing strikes out 16-18 yards consistently with an 8 foot leader…one of the factors  I consider a true test  in trying different lines and how they work with different rods.

…here is a machined reel with antler accents on a “RainMaker” series rod using a” Sharkskin” line…

            Bamboo IMHO is much more sensitive to line characteristics than  the graphite counterparts lines nowadays were designed for. So trying out various possibilities has become a really fun part of the rod completion process. I have several modern lines on various reels I try out finding what worked best for me…then make a recommendation  to the owner of two or three lines I like in the particular rod and tip combo.

    I can make butts with extensions, like shown above in 1-3″ in length…or just attach the antler butt piece directly to the reel seat base, for the basic dry fly set up…I have finished them in a smooth, sealed finish, even with some grit for grip…

  Bamboo is similar in that it also has those longitudinal pores that its nutrients flow through.,it grows very much in the same way…Cross sections like above really show those life giving pores, that bring all the calcium and minerals that create the antlers. Whereas in Bamboo, it funnels sunlight, water and nutrients of the soil by direction of its incredible DNA…

               The pores of antler are so similar to the way that Bamboo is made…the antler has similar cell walls as does bamboo (casparian )…the nutrients in the case of the antler (which is actually the fastest growing thing in the animal world) travel through ever growing canals, enriched with blood creating the incredible head gear found in ungulates.When the flow of blood stops(triggered by the amount of sunlight every day) the soft antler hardens…and the end result is what we are used to seeing the majestic critters carrying on their heads…they too are dropped off at the end of the winter to begin the cycle again…My Labrador Retriever and I hunt for those sheds every March before the squirrels and similar munch on them…

                Here is a 9′ 3pc. “RainMaker” ,  its a 6 weight rod meant for open water…I put a short extension on the butt for helping land some larger fish…each rod in this series are truly “one of a kinds”, all are made with specific goals and finishes…since the materials I use for a lot of the process are totally natural, reproducing certain aspects is not possible…making every unit extremely unique!

I chose the number 100 for the quantity of this series thinking I will probably be doing this another 10 years …and that’s enough rods to make my own small mark on this all…and the interesting by product is that I make new friends every time I start one of these projects…something unexpected, but very much enjoyed and appreciated!

     Living in the west there is always a mixed set of feelings when a summer thunderhead shows up on the horizon…some only have the thunder and lightning, and are the cause of many fires…some are also accompanied with some much needed rain…always very welcome!

          Within days after a good rain during the warm months wildflowers start sprouting up everywhere…and the Alpine Deserts show a tinge of green in response. One year when several of these storms happened within a few days flowers that had not been seen in decades appeared magically…something “Old Timers” are still talking about…a “Rainmaker” was something Native Americans prayed for, as did and still do the ranchers & residents that live in the Rocky Mountain Alpine Desert climes…fire fighters during the fire season also have a great joy when they occur as well…and  a welcome occurrence for all the wildlife that inhabits that region too.

                  all my special edition rods come with silver frame hand soldered stripping guides with  agate rings unless otherwise requested…these strips are a really nice accent to the natural colors of bamboo.I also offer the “recoil” style titanium strips as well for those that prefer them…I also use  a chrome plated brass guide with black ceramic rings which has also been popular…a bit more durable…

… kit ( numbered rod & case) cost start at 1,650 dollars for two piece rods  …

…rod only and not as a kit, 2 piece rods start at around $1450.00…

…I also make rods with some select “RainMaker” series finishes, that are not numbered in this series…

…here is a list of the special appointments found in the “Rainmaker” series

…6-8 foot two piece rods, 8-9 foot three piece rods…

…spot flamed bamboo 6-wedge blank…

…natural cork ring grip custom turned with color accents in either western or full wells style…

…antler accents at winding check, grip to reel seat, reel seat to extended butt or butt cap if no extension…

…plated skelton & custom turned reel seat insert in Ultra Select Osage Orange, Burmese Teak or Zebrawood…

…two, either matching tips or one soft and one fast…

…nickel silver precision machined connecting ferrules…

…hand wrapped w/sinew, snake and stripping guides, w/ braided sinew “cross hatching” accents on base & tip section’s…

…8 coats of “french polish” finish, hand rubbed, w/waterproof poly & tung oil combination…

…one or two “amber”agate ring, silver soldered stripping guides…

…or…

… titanium alloy “recoil” style strippers & snake guides…

…custom made heavy khaki rod sleeve …

…numbered and signed in a series of 1-100…

…options& extra features…

…  birch bark ring grip …

…  antler ring cresting on base section…

…antler ring accents on ferrule sections…

… matched machined reel with antler accents…

…custom made aluminum storage tubes…

…all special edition rod kits come in one of my  custom “hex” cases with a spot flamed finish to match rods or a matched grade 1 presentation case …

 

..Chinook clouds over our cabin…

“Good Medicine” collector series… 3 pc.spey & 2pc.trout…$2500.00…

this is a new series of matched & cased , consecutively numbered special edition rods…1-100…

after the popularity of the “RainMaker” series was apparent, a collector series matched pair of rod’s was in order

…fore grip detail on spey “Good Medicine” collector series…styled same as full wells rainmakers…

 this “kit”consists of a “RainMaker” series trout rod & matching ” Chinook” series spey rod…  both havespot flamed blank’s with  “RainMaker” finishes…spey grip on 3 pc 12″/6″ w/Pac Bay channel lock seat, on 2pc. a “western” cork & Lemke reel seat w/ custom turned Osage Orange insert…grips have medium and dark burned cork ring accents…this is a spey/trout combination kit w/ four tip sections, it is two complete matching rods w/extra tips for both…this kit also includes a 50″ hex case 3/4 rod size and two separate sleeves & decorative finish on case…this kit is a matched pair in every way …the spey is a great bigger water rod’s or casting from a drift boat…while the 8 footer is a good all around bamboo rod for multiple applications…this pair is priced with case as bonus…for the launch of the series…

…winding check detail on “RainMaker” 8 footer…

…scroll down for more  rod detail pictures of this series…

…here is the special edition rod no.21 getting the reel seat and antler accent rings ready for the cork glue up…

            Probably one  of the diversions from the traditional that I love the most, along with the use of sinew,  are the antler accent rings I make …this is all strictly hand work that can have a toll on the fingertips and hands once in a while…but I would have it no other way!

…here is a a glue up prep for a “RainMaker”

                      Its for a 9 foot 3pc. 6 weight w/ a 2″ extended butt…it will be a “Full Wells” style grip, with a gradual bulge in the center for a solid grip…the Elk antler is from a brow tine of a Big Colorado Bull… this will be cut  into cross sections and which I will carve for accents…

           The blending of something that shares the mountains, towering over my favorite waterways …the wildlife that inhabits those places is as much a part of my angling experience as feeling and seeing the crystal clear waters running past my boots and turning loose a nice brown trout for another day…

        …my version of  the “Fellowship of the Ring” …this piece of Elk tine has waded creeks, climbed mountains & seen things I can only imagine…in the case of this antler I found it as a shed…so its possible this Bull is still cruisin’ the Colorado Rockies…

   I glue all my cork grips directly onto the bamboo blanks…then I turn the glued rings into one of the patterns I use…mostly “Western” or “Full Wells” styles…a waterproof polyurethane base glue is used to prevent any voids at all…something that really adds life to the cork grip. I use natural, medium & dark rings in various combinations for special appearance…of course I use some of the antler rings I carve for the finishing touch. I also can carve wooden rings for similar effect.

               Personally I don’t care for the grips available out there that are already turned…for those that don’t have a lathe or don’t know the process that’s fine…its just there is too much involved in the bamboo blanks to use them IMHO, the bamboo deserves better…I really don’t like the variety of cork used many times either…reminds me of the fake looking “wine bottle stuff”…no character…cork, like all the other materials used are from nature, and I like to let the organic qualities they offer show as much as possible.

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… ancestors of the Buffalo used to eat the fruit from Osage on the Great Plains and spread the seed pods throughout those mid western states…being partly responsible for the “migration” of this species of trees…the real seat here is the older style I used before switching over to the “Lemke” series  this year … the Osage Orange inserts are also a real highlight…very similar to teak wood in base color, but with the magical iridescence that this wood has…

This is the Lemke reel seat  hardware I use with my Osage Orange inserts… “Maclura Pomifera”…a super magic native wood…a pretty nice combination! the woods grain has a natural iridescence that changes color with just a “flick of the wrist”…I have been waiting 25 years to do something special with this wood! and the use of it in seats in these bamboo rods is perfect!

              “Osage” is a native tree of the areas near the Red River Valley basin of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas originally…it was noted by Lewis & Clark in their exploration of the Louisiana Purchase for Thomas Jefferson in the very early 1800’s…It was well known to Native Americans for its incredibly strong wood…and used it in constructing the bows for hunting plains game. It truly comes from the land “Where The Deer and the Antelope  play”…

         It spread throughout the United States by natural and also man’s propagation. The ingested seeds are transmitted by birds an large mammals like Bison, who ate the fruit…and of course when its great anti-decaying properties were discovered it was utilized to fence off the new areas of the Country back then…in many cases it was planted as “living fences” throughout the mid west to serve as not only shelter belts, but also as a foundation for fencing to keep in cattle and other livestock.

       Aside from its exceptional appearance, and notable history from Native  American Lore, Osage Orange is a pretty impressive tree…when we were  kids we used to throw the round fruit at one another…”monkey brains”, was maybe one of its less admirable names…”horse apples”, ” hedge apples” etc were common due to its softball sized fruit…Later in life I fashioned long bows and recurves with this wood, following in the footsteps of  Native hunters from long ago.”Bois de Arc” is a name given it by French explorers or “wood of the bow”, since it was commonly used by Native Americans to make their bows for hunting…somehow that morphed into “board-ark” among farmers and ranchers back in the day, a name still used by many.

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                      The Osage I am using for accents and reel seat inserts comes from some logs I timbered 25 years ago( this particular tree was 76 years old when knocked over by  a storm about 25 years ago)…I sawed the logs into planks and dried them … I used it back then for limbs and risers of the traditional bows I made then in my old archery shop I had. Long Bows and Recurves that use Native Hardwoods… My oldest Son killed his first deer with a bow we made from some of this batch wood … I also used it for the finish on some knives I made back then  to match up with the custom bows…so its part now of my bamboo fly rods as sort of a continuation of the love for that wood…its natural color is a perfect compliment for the shades and hues of bamboo too. This makes the use of this wood a “Full Circle” for me having initially used this tree for other outdoor pursuits in the past…it has been sitting in my shop for 25 years just waiting for this special usage, and I definitely found one!  Plus there is no more durable a wood that grows in America, not even requiring any finish…I use a hand rubbed oil to bring out its natural beauty even more…

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     the antler I use for the accents comes from harvests of Mule Deer & Elk hunts…there is a lot of “hand wook” required to get the rings suitable for either the accents on the crest or grip areas…

          The Cork Grips are also specially accented…I am also interlacing blocks 1/8″ birch bark strips in a subtle pattern to give the cork a more custom effect too…Turning my own grips allows for an extra amount of creativity. I like to look at each cork ring closely before locating them in the grip section, getting a nice contrast to magnify the natural beauty of cork. Some of the cork grips made nowadays are so clear and perfect , they appear as if they were a synthetic material…like the corks used in many wine bottles… Not something that is of interest to me at all…

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     I make up all my birch bark “rings” from select pieces of harvested bark…a lot of very tedious hand work, but well worth it for me. I use a waterproof glue and clamp them under considerable pressure to insure integrity in the rings beauty and also to prevent from any potential failure of the joint.I mix them with natural cork rings and also medium burn rings for an artistic highlight. I place them at the front and rear or the grip, with a boundary of the medium burn rings that are 1/4″ thick. Not to take any attention away from any other aspect of the rod…but compliment all…Birch Bark rings when completed have a distinct texture and hardness not found in cork, but still very comfortable in the hand…able to take some real abuse unlike many cork grips I have repaired on other bamboo rods over the years.

         It definitely requires some extra attention when turning on the lathe, especially the cork boundary areas…no matter, its worth it for the effect it gives…The Birch Bark I use is like the Osage, it is harvested from Native sources here in America…The Birch Bark  comes from the Catskill region of New York State, from trees that have already lived their lives . The material I am using now is actually the resuly of a lightning strike, and the fortuitous find of a friend…That area rich in not only Native Lore, but also a home of Bamboo angling for a very long time…and some excellent trout waters too., a lot of them have the word”kill” at the tail end of their name…(Beaverkill,Battenkill etc) Making these truly custom turned grips that have their own special story too!…

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  The antler ring accents on this style  ferrules is applied to the lower sections of each connection…I use this style on three piece and spey and switch versions… on two piece models I use the solid machined style…

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           ~Autumn Solitude…The North Fork of the South Platte River, Park County~

                The sounds of a Bull Elk bugling on those precious September & October mornings while pursuing critters with my rod is something akin church for me…my Native friends tell me that including adornments from these denziens of the forest gives a special blessing …and also shows a sign of respect to the “circle of life”…I find that absolutely wonderful…I love the connection that the adornments  I carve reflect the spiritual component being outdoors and angling has been for me in my life…its no “gimmick “, but a pure way to show respect and love for those places and things…

note: my bamboo rods are listed for typical use rather than actions as are graphite rods…ie. medium , fast etc… email me and I can give better descriptions as to what style of angling I would pursue with any given rod or blank I make…dry fly, streamer rod etc..

                           WM does not , and will not copy proprietary tapers or rod models of other or companies, current or past…or will I will not  make “knock off’s” of classic or existing rods…

all photos and text are property of Wandering Monk Fly Rod Co.tm
and can be only used with permission
DreamCatcher series,
 RainMaker , Native Angler
& Indian Summer special edition series
Golden Eagle,Chinook & Silvertip
GoodMedicine collector series
Crazy Horse & WindWalker  series
are all trademarks of wmflyrodco.com 2015