F.D. Kretchman Rod Co.


The F. D. Kretchman Rod Co. crafts the finest Split Bamboo Fly Rods made today.  Each one is carefully hand-made, one-at-a-time, to meet the desires of the most discriminating fly fishers.  We also perform the highest quality repairs & restorations on fine antique rods.  Professional appraisals of your rod collection are available too.  In addition, we write all the rod descriptions for Lang’s Antique Tackle Auctions.

           Making Memories

     “I shall now confess to you that none of those three trout had to be beheaded, or folded double, to fit their casket.  What was big was not the trout, but the chance.  What was full was not my creel, but my memory.” - Aldo Leopold;  Sand County Almanac.

This quote by Aldo Leopold helps explain why I make my exquisite bamboo fly rods: they are to be used to create memories of time spent on the water... enjoying the feel of a perfectly balanced rod, fishing with family and friends, soaking up the sights and sounds of running water or lapping waves...  When your time on the water is limited, you want it to be quality time.  So why not fish a custom bamboo rod?

I started handcrafting bamboo fly rods in 1993. What began as an interest in fishing bamboo fly rods in 1990 has developed into the F. D. Kretchman Rod Co. - maker of classic split bamboo fly rods.

My first exposure to bamboo rods was as a boy, fishing with my dad for bass and bluegills. He would gracefully cast small poppers or rubber spiders with a Heddon “President” cane rod which was a college graduation gift from his family. It was exciting to see the fish take his flies on the surface: often with an aggressive splash. In the 4th grade, I received my first fly rod: a fiberglass Shakespeare Wonderod. As the years progressed, I continued to enjoy fly fishing…it was the “gentle sport”, filled with memories of fishing with my dad, casting over misty waters at dawn, or teasing bedding bluegills with those unsinkable rubber spiders.
I was introduced to trout fishing in the mid-sixties by a friend who took my dad and I to Grayling, Michigan, and the famous Big Manistee River.  We fished the big drake hatches in the evening and after dark- seeking predatory brown trout.  During the day, I’d probe the mucky backwaters for brookies- the prettiest fish I’d ever seen.  Years later, while living in Oregon, I fished for trout, salmon, and steelhead with a fly.  Those were magical years for me, filled with memories of trout ponds in the Cascades, coastal rivers teaming with fall salmon, frigid winter days angling for finicky steelhead while trying to keep the guides from freezing up...
Then in 1990, while salmon fishing in the Fall with a friend in New Hampshire, I watched him cast an old bamboo fly rod with such grace that I asked if I could cast it myself. Within minutes, I was sold on the superior qualities of bamboo and decided to find a cane rod for myself. At a country auction, I bought a Heddon bamboo rod for $72.  It was a joy to cast compared to graphite and helped to convince me of the magical qualities of bamboo.   After fishing bamboo rods for several years, I came to the realization that each rod was uniquely suited to it’s own niche. Some cast well in close, but not farther out. Others were too long or heavy to enjoy casting all day. This led me to the realization that I would have to make my own rods to satisfy the yearning to have the “perfect” rod for the many varied conditions and types of fishing.

                             Smithsonian Connection
I was chosen by a committee comprised of New Hampshire Arts Council members and Smithsonian representatives to demonstrate my craftsmanship at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. for 2 weeks in 1999. Over 1.5 million visitors attended that Folklife Festival (which features only one state each year).  That once-in-a-lifetime opportunity ranks as one of the highlights in my rod making career.  
The following year, I was demonstrating my craftsmanship for the State of New Hampshire for 5 days in a re-creation of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Over 75,000 attended that show.

       Fred on Maine TV Station in 2014
On April 24th, I was featured on WCSH-6 in a program called “207”.  Please follow the link to see the entire segment (it may have a commercial embedded by the station). 

             Museums... Museums... Museums...
In the Summer of 1998, my fly rods were featured in the Fuller Art Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts. The exhibit was titled: “Crafted for Sport” and featured artisans from around the country.
Since 1996, I’ve had the privilege of demonstrating cane rod making nearly every year at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont, during their annual ‘Festival Weekend’ each summer.  On most of these trips there, I spend time studying the classic bamboo rods in their collection.  This education in historical tackle has helped me gain a deeper appreciation for the craftsmanship of the old master rod makers. 
In the Spring of 2004, my rods were chosen by the University of New Hampshire to be featured in their exhibit along with other contemporary angling items.  My 6’ 6” rod was centered on the professional poster made and sold by the university as part of this celebration.  
                        The Governor’s Award
In 2004, I received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Governor of New Hampshire, Jean Shaheen, and the Executive Council.  That day, I shared the stage with two of my dear friends, Stan Bogdan and “Sam” Carlson.  In fact, it was my privilege to introduce them both to the  Governor.  Stan is the world’s most renown reel maker.  “Sam” had worked for the Edwards rod company in Connecticut as a kid and later bought the F.E. Thomas Rod Co. and produced four-sided rods under his own name.  Little did we know, that 6 weeks after receiving our awards from the State, Sam would pass away.  I’ve always considered it a special privilege to have been Sam’s friend and to have spent many hours talking about bamboo rods with him.
               Lang's Antique Tackle Auctions
My interest in the history of old rod makers and their cane rods has opened the door for me to become the sole rod appraiser for Lang’s auctions [starting in 2004].  This is the largest antique fishing tackle auction house in the United States.  Each year, I am privileged to closely inspect hundreds of antique bamboo rods and describe them for the cataloged auctions held in April and November.  I take advantage of this opportunity to study rods by the most respected masters of the past.  
Look closely at my rods and you’ll see that I’ve incorporated much of what I’ve learned from the masters into my own rods.  

                      Rod Customer Praise
Perhaps the best reward for me as a rod-maker is when my customers create memories by taking their rods fishing on a favorite stream and then sharing their stories with me:

I think I have been babying the rod up to now.  I got back last night from a trip to Pittsburg and I was fishing in some fast water just below Murphy Dam.  I hooked on to a large feisty brown right in the middle of the white water.  I thought he might be trouble with such a light rod but I was able to lead him out of the fast water and then net him.  After a summer of use the rod still amazes me. 
Walt R.

Fred, rod is back home safe and sound. You really exceeded my expectations, Fred. Just gorgeous work! Thank you very much.
Tom T.

Dear Fred,
Just a note to let you know how pleased I am with both of my “Kretchman’s”. Wonderfully smooth action and a gorgeous finish. What a piece of functional art!
Best of Luck,
Pete Lunsford

When you order a rod from Fred, he makes sure he knows what you want, and that you know what you want too. That’s the beauty of working with Fred. He will ask you lots of questions about where you fish, what you like in a rod action, etc. because he wants you to be a happy, satisfied customer. Fred’s goal is to provide you with a rod that is not only a thing of beauty, but also a fine fishing instrument you will cherish.

Dear Fred:
Just thought I’d take a few moments to say thank you for the expert repair work you’ve done, and for sharing your world of bamboo with me. It’s a real pleasure to spend time in your shop trying rods and discussing options…I’m always learning something new.
In this world of “If it don’t fit…force it…just hit it with a big hammer!” it is very reassuring to find someone like yourself who does not rush a job, and handles every rod with gentleness and caring, leaving no attention to detail overlooked; whether it’s a small repair, a complete restoration of a classic, or the crafting of one of your new creations.
Your rods are a blend of classic taper and design, using modern materials and methods, resulting in rods of beauty, which will stand the test of the waters, and can still be displayed with pride. The Legacy of the Masters is secure in your stewardship, and I eagerly await mine.
Thanks again for sharing your passion…it’s contagious.
Charles L. Murphy, Jr.
Thanks for everything.  Can’t wait to try out the rod.  Glad to hear that Bob also bought a “Kretchman”.  Keep up the great work.
Jack Hanley

Good Morning Fred:  Its a Master Piece , My Leonard Rod.   I can’t tell which tip is Original.  I’ll be sending you another rod  for Part restoration , Thank you Again.
Donald E. 


Email: kretchmanflyrods@gmail.com


46 Crockett Neck Rd.

Kittery Point,  ME 03905



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