Giving Credit

In February of 1999 I published a Russ Gooding article outlining his technique for inlaying feathers on fishing rods. Russ didn’t take credit as the originator of the idea – neither he nor I had any idea who was the first person to do such a thing. Within a month of the article’s publication, I had no less than 12 letters and phone calls from individuals, each one advising that they had originated the concept and demanding that I credit them with the idea. Some were adamant. My quandary was how to determine which of these dozen folks, if any, actually was the originator. With no documentation to go on, I left the matter alone.

Using colored epoxy to “marble” a rod blank is another concept where the originator is unknown. RodMaker published an article on the technique by Mike Barkley in 2004. Mike didn’t claim to be the originator. The earliest instance of this short lived craze that most anybody can remember is from a photograph posted on a web album by someone known only as “Jason.” And if you have ever seen the work of “Rods by Dru” you could make the case that his work may have been the foundation for the later marbling idea.

Sometimes the originator of a technique can be determined. Back in 2001 Rich Forhan called and said he was going to submit an article on a single foot guide locking wrap he’d developed. With no real prospect of making any money from it, he simply asked that I give him credit and name the technique after him, provided of course, that no one else came forward with proof that they had done anything similar previously. They never did and today we know that technique as the “Forhan Locking Wrap.”

Sometimes there are cases of parallel development but the earliest originator can still be determined. In 2006 a 3-article decorative wrap series by Bill Colby arrived on my desk. One of his techniques was extremely similar to something a west coast rod builder named Scott Throop had been doing for some time. A bit later, Scott called and offered me an article on his method. I turned him down because I already had Bill’s article on virtually the same thing. After a discussion between the three of us, however, I decided to run both men’s articles so that no one would feel slighted. Because Bill readily agreed that Scott had been doing the wrap far longer than himself, Bill added a notation to his article stating that Scott had been first to do it.

Scott called his wrap the “3D Tiger Wrap” and it quickly became a hit. But it bothered me that so many builders were failing to credit Scott for what he had given them. I mentioned this on the RBO forum ( back in 2007 with this message:

Posted by: Tom Kirkman (moderator)

Date: June 13, 2007 10:28PM

“… I hope when builders use this technique they’ll tell people it’s a “Throop 3D Tiger Wrap” and not just a “3D Tiger Wrap.” It’s not money and it’s not much prestige, but it’s the fair and decent thing to do.”

And it’s still the decent thing to do. We don’t always know where a specific idea first originated. But sometimes we do. If you use a method or technique and know for a fact who the originator was, you’re obliged by good ethical behavior to give credit where credit is due.

Tom Kirkman



  1. LJ on October 26, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    I have seen you make requests for users to put the inventor’s name in front of the technique many times.

  2. Frank Morris Jr on November 4, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Your rod building glossary on RBO shows Forhan as the inventor of that lock wrap and Throop as the inventor of the 3D Tiger Wrap. Don’t forget about your own glossary where credit is concerned. It does a nice job of reminding builders who created many of these techniques.