Archive for the ‘March 2011’ Category

A Final Offer

Now that we’ve taken care of some older back issues, along with some of the more current ones, I’ll finish out March 2011 with a very special offer for those that have never seen a copy of RodMaker.

For just $10, I’ll send you 4 issues of RodMaker (my choice) mailed by 1st class USPS Priority Mail. That’s a $42 value for just 10 bucks.

The only hitch is that this is a mail-order only offer – don’t try to find this deal on the website. It’s not there.

Mail your check or MO to: RodMaker, PO Box 1322, High Point, NC 27261.

I’ll hold this offer open through April 5th, 2011.

Tom Kirkman

PS  Next we’ll discuss the expansion of RodMaker Magazine and what lies in store for the near future – you’re going to like what you hear!


Special Offer

Last week I offered a special deal on some of the earliest issues of RodMaker. Those are about gone now so this week I’ll make a similar offer on any of the later issues, from Volume 5 and up.

Here’s the deal – click on the link to the left that reads “Back Issues.”  I’ll send you any 7 issues for just $20, which includes 1st class priority mail at no additional charge. These issues are normally $7.95 each, plus another $5 for Priority mail, so you’re getting over $60 worth of magazines and shipping for just $20.

There is one minor catch, however. This is a mail order offer only. If you try to order from the website you’ll be charged the regular price. So, write down the 7 issues you want on a piece of paper, include a check or MO for $20 and mail to: RodMaker, PO Box 1322, High Point, NC 27261.

In the event that I run out of any particular issue, I will substitute. So list an 8th choice and if I have that one, I’ll send it. For now, all the issues listed on the back issue page show good stock. So those who order early will almost surely get every issue they want.

This offer is good only through April 2nd.

I’ll toss one of the International Custom Rod Building Symbol Decals in the box to boot.

Tom Kirkman


Living Color

The second RodMaker issue of each new year is always the most difficult one for me to put together.  The time period when I would normally hunker down and work against an approaching deadline is interrupted by the International Custom Rod Building Exposition. It takes a great deal of early mornings and late nights to beat that second issue deadline. But somehow I manage to always get it done, albeit with some regret that I wasn’t able to spend as much time on it as I might otherwise have.

This year was no different and while I wish I’d had a little more time to spend sprucing things up inside, I’m pretty sure that most subscribers will be more than a little pleased when they get it.  You see, this time out, there are no black and white photos in the magazine. Every photo is now rich, full color and printed on an even higher grade glossy stock than usual. As a local rod builder said today while examining the proof… “This thing really POPS!” He’s right – it’s brighter and better than any previous issue.

And this is only the beginning. The format change which I implemented only partially in the second issue, will be further refined and concluded in the third issue of the year. Looking at this thing, I can only wish that I’d made the switch sooner. Unfortunately, funds didn’t allow it. Now they do. What you’ll see towards the middle or end of April is the result. I think you’re going to like it, a lot.

One final mention about the Volume 14 #2 issue – this is the issue that contains the annual report and photographs from the recent Expo.  I get quite a few comments concerning the 6 to 8 pages of coverage I provide it. About half seem to love it, while the other half hates it. Either way, we only do this once per year so it’ll remain a once yearly feature. Beyond that, wait until you see what Lana Preston, Billy Vivona, Rich Forhan, Boyd Pfeiffer and a few others have been up to.  And this time, they’re all in full, living color!

Tom Kirkman


Older Issues

Hardly a day goes by when a RodMaker reader doesn’t email me to ask if I still have any of the oldest issues of RodMaker available for sale. The back issue list on the magazine website only offers issues back through Volume 5, but I do have small handfuls of some of the issues produced during our first 4 years. I can’t justify having them on the website for sale, but do offer them when specifically requested.

Here’s what I have left out of the first four year’s issues.

V2 #1 – Executing Feather Inlays, All About Cork, Letters, News and New Products, The Boltman, Photo Gallery, Techniques, Q&A, Reader Tips, Classifieds, Final Thoughts.

V2 #2 – The Wonderful World of Epoxies, RodMaker Shop Tour, Letters, News and New Products, The Boltman, Photo Gallery, Techniques, Q&A, Reader Tips, Classifieds, Final Thoughts.

V3 #2 – Wrap Shading, Solvent Safety, Making Wooden Rods, The Art of Splitting Cane, Letters, News and New Products, The Boltman, Photo Gallery, Techniques, Q&A, Reader Tips, Classifieds, Final Thoughts.

V4 #2 – Understanding Color Preservers, The Revolver Rod, Mounting Butt Caps and Gimbals, The Bamboo Corner/Gluing the Strips, Letters, News and New Products, The Boltman, Photo Gallery, Techniques, Q&A, Reader Tips, Classifieds, Final Thoughts.

V4 #4 – Advantages of the Split Grip, Bamboo Rod Wrapping and Finishing, Balancing Fly Rods, Making Multi-Piece Rod Ferrules, Letters, News and New Products, The Boltman, Photo Gallery, Techniques, Q&A, Reader Tips, Classifieds, Final Thoughts.

V4 #3 – No-Foregrip Casting Rods, Mermaid Weave, Fly Rod Grips, Offering Repair, Guide Foot Prep, The Bamboo Corner/Ferrules-Reel Seat & Grip, Letters, News and New Products, The Boltman, Photo Gallery, Techniques, Q&A, Reader Tips, Classifieds, Final Thoughts.

V4 #5 – Choosing a Lathe, Determining Proper Number of Guides, Surface Preparation, Dip Finishing, Letters, News and New Products, The Boltman, Photo Gallery, Techniques, Q&A, Reader Tips, Classifieds, Final Thoughts.

I’ll offer them for $5 each, plus $2 postage. Now if you buy 3 or more, postage is on me. And if you want all 7 issues, I’ll let you have them, including priority postage, for just $20.

Check or M.O. only, please. Remit to RodMaker, PO Box 1322, High Point, NC 27261.

There’s some great information in these issues – stuff that never gets old. But you will notice how much the magazine’s appearance has changed over the past decade.  And just wait for Volume 14 #2 – it’s a whole new ballgame now!

Tom Kirkman



Each day, everyday, seven days per week, I receive anywhere from 15 to 25 new subscriptions and roughly  40 to 45 renewals. It takes a couple hours to process these along with getting new issues addressed and in the mail.

During the recent Expo week, I was unable to perform this normal daily task.  I’m just now getting to those several hundred orders placed while I was busy with the Expo, along with the same number that continue to come in each and every day. As you can imagine, it  takes awhile to get back ahead of the curve.

The good news is that by end of next week I’ll at least have the new subscription orders from Expo week up to date. So if you’ve been wondering what happened to that new issue you were looking forward to, be patient – it’s on the way!

Tom Kirkman


A Good Company Slogan?

Humorous things often happen at the ticket window during Expo weekend. I wish I could be up front more than I am so that I didn’t miss as much as I do. Some of the stuff is just downright hilarious.

I was there Sunday morning as one exhibitor arrived just prior to the opening bell.  I asked him how he’d done the previous day and his response got a hearty laugh from everyone at the front counter.

“Well,  you know, we’re not the biggest.  We’re not even the best.  In fact, we’re pretty darn mediocre.  But we’re okay with that.”

For whatever reason I found a good deal of humor in that response and wanted to share it. It would certainly make an interesting company slogan!

Tom Kirkman


A New Look…

It’s been an unusually busy week here at RodMaker Magazine. Getting wound down and caught up from the Expo will take many weeks yet. But there is another task that has taken even more time and burned even more midnight oil – a format change for the magazine.

RodMaker debuted in 1998 as an all black and white publication. By early 1999, some color was added. The format underwent an overhaul in 2001 and again in 2005. Slight changes were made again in 2006. In the last 5 years, however, the magazine’s appearance has remained pretty much the same. Now that’s about to change in a big way!

With the magazine moving to an all color publication, the door has opened for major changes in the overall format.  Some of those changes will appear in the Volume 14 #2 issue which mails in April, but they won’t be concluded until the Volume 14 #3 issue due out in June.

Readers are going to see a totally different magazine by the time the 2 summer issues arrive.  But they won’t see any change in subscription price. RodMaker will still provide 6 full issues for just $27.95, even with the anticipated April postage increase. Once again, it becomes an even better value.

Making these changes has been a lot of fun but also one heck of a lot of work these past few weeks. I’ll have the first batch of changes finished this week and you can expect to see a new issue, and a new look, sometime in mid-April. Enjoy.

Tom Kirkman



Each year’s Expo event brings several surprises in terms of who you see, and who you don’t. The 2011 Event was no different in this regard than past Expos.

Family tragedies kept some perennial Expo attendees away – most notably Italo Busi and David Spence. I greatly missed seeing them both. Joy Dunlap had hoped to make it this year, but health concerns kept him away. There was a hint that Joe Emig might show this year, but no such luck. I was worried when Larry Tysinger didn’t show – he’s always there. Fortunately he’s fine – just out of the Country for a wedding. He say’s he’ll be back next year.

Of course, for every face you’re disappointed not to see, others turn up that you hadn’t expected. It was a very pleasant surprise to see long time rod builder Don Morton come through the doors on Saturday morning. And of course, Pat Vinzant was back again. It’s always a pleasure to see these fine gentlemen in attendance.  Having Roger Seiders and his lovely wife attend again was an added bonus. The names go on and on – far too many to list here.

Ralph O’Quinn seems almost ageless. There was some difficulty with the weather out his way (Seattle) on Thursday and he was afraid that for the first time since it began, he’d miss an Expo. But all worked out and he was on hand. Ralph always stays over a day after the Expo so we can tackle some rod building products and techniques… and argue in person.

For me, it’s the people I get to see in person each year that make the work of putting on the Expo so worthwhile. The hope that those who didn’t make it one year, will make it the next year,  keeps it going.

Tom Kirkman


By The Numbers…

I stayed up late last night tallying Expo ticket sales and transcribing the information on the door prize registration forms. The numbers are in – Removing any duplicates, there were 3086 individual attendees at the 2011 International Custom Rod Building Exposition. I will assume that most, although not all, were custom rod builders. Against the 2010 event, Saturday saw a marked increase in attendance, while Sunday saw a slight decrease.

The door prize registration forms were more than a little interesting. In addition to providing us with information on where folks stayed and for how many nights, they provide insight into where folks travel in from. The idea that the Expo is an “east coast show” is true only insofar as its geographic location is concerned.  Over 100 builders joined us from California. Another hundred joined us from Oregon and Washington. Even greater numbers poured in from the New England, Upper Midwest and Deep South regions. We had folks from Portugal, China, South America, Canada, Australia and more. The Expo is truly international in scope.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention – just over 800 hotel room nights were sold here in High Point. A hundred more in outlying areas. The city convention bureau is very pleased.

Tom Kirkman

Other cities are lining up to pitch for hosting the Expo, while several High Point restaurants and clubs, normally open only during the International Home Furnishings Market, have inquired about opening for any future Expo held here. Interesting stuff.  More on this, later.

Now the Work Begins…

Putting on the International Custom Rod Building Exposition is a lot of work! But, that work is spread out over several months, beginning way back in June of the preceding year. The real work – the stuff that keeps me burning the midnight oil for several months, doesn’t start until the day after the Expo ends.

During the 4 days that I’m setting up and running the Expo, it’s business as usual at RodMaker Magazine. Just over 200 new subscriptions and renewals came in during that time. I wasn’t there to take care of them so they piled up on the old work plate.

The city convention and visitors bureau needs me to fill out some forms, which require counting and recording information from each door prize registration form. Looking at this stack, I’m guessing there’s about 3500 forms I’ll have to sort through individually. So put that on the plate, too.

On Monday morning I opened my email box to find 887 emails which came in since Thursday of last week. There’s another 49 phone messages that went unanswered. And more than a few of them are folks wanting to know why I haven’t responded to them and explained how to spine their rod or tell them where they should put their guides. They’re not happy. Add that to the plate.

I’ve got a bunch of checks to write – audio/visual gear, reception hall rental, advertising, etc.  And these folks really want their money!  Pile that on the plate as well.

Did I mention I have a magazine deadline in 6 days? The plate is really getting crowded.

No less than 5 magazines asked me for a final press release detailing the show results. Stuff is spilling off the plate now.

I would be terribly remiss if I didn’t write each exhibitor a thank you note. That’s more stuff spilling off the plate. But you can bet I’ll get that done. It’s very important in my book.

The kicker is that each day carries 8 to 10 hours in work of its own, so everything that got piled on the plate these past few days has to be done in fits and starts in-between the normal daily work load.

At this point I’m effectively 3 months behind. I know it’ll be June before I’m even remotely caught up. So, if it takes a little bit longer to process your new subscription, or I don’t answer your email right away, please be patient. I will get caught up and attend to whatever you need me to attend to – just not right away. Be patient. Thanks.

Tom Kirkman