Still Exciting…

Folks that have been building rods a long time often fall into ruts. I often feel the same way when working on various articles for the magazine. After 30 years in this business, there’s not much I haven’t seen or done. Like most anyone, there are days when my job isn’t very exciting.

But then you stumble on something that gets you excited all over again. Many of the subjects covered in RodMaker have done just that for me.  For instance, a few years ago while kayak fishing a local reservoir with Rodney Powell and Sammy Mickel, I watched as Sammy tossed one of his own custom rods, complete with reel, line and lure, into the drink. Anyone that has ever had a rod go overboard knows how hard it is to locate such a thing even in fairly shallow water.  Add in the cold water of winter, which tends to preclude diving for it, and more often than not you’re out of luck.

Moments after Sammy gave up any rights to his rod, I declared “salvage rights” to anything my Buck Perry Spoonplug might snag. Within just a cast or two, I had retrieved his outfit (mine now) and returned it to him.  At that moment in time I began confronting one of the few disadvantages of kayak fishing.

In a kayak, you don’t have much room. If you drop an unleashed rod it’s going to fall in your lap, or the drink. Those are the only outcomes possible when fishing from such small vessels. The thought occurred to me that one of the most valuable assets to be found on any kayak rod would be some sort of signaling device that would steer you to an overboard rod and which would allow you to easily retrieve it. Talk about a selling point for a custom kayak rod!

Some discussion on the forum ensued, but it centered mostly around flotation devices. In most cases, floating anything other than a very light outfit would require large foam pieces. In my opinion, this was far too cumbersome an option. Thus my quest returned to what I felt would be an unobtrusive yet highly dependable alternative. The next month was spent amid a tremendous amount of enthusiasm in the development of an internal float/signal device. A unit that would deploy only upon a rod ending up on the lake floor or sea bed.  Total success was eventually achieved. You can read more about it in the Volume 11 #6 issue of RodMaker.

About two months ago I began research on a different yet equally interesting project. I won’t spill the beans on it here, however. You’ll have to wait for the Volume 13 #5 issue to learn all about it. It’ll mail the first of October. The thing is, as mundane as some days around here can be, there are other days when this is still a lot of fun. I still find projects such as this recent one very exciting.

Tom Kirkman



  1. Rob Puskas on September 25, 2010 at 1:33 am

    Great story but what really caught my attention was the Buck Perry spoonplug, most people have never heard of such a thing let alone fish one. I have fished them for years and own many, one of the greatest lures of all time, especially if you have ever read Buck’s “green” book you will surely understand much more, very difficult to adhere to the practice for sure. I fish weekly with a guy that was best friends of Buck’s and was even a palbearer at his funeral, this guy can teach a lot on the art of “spoonplugging”

  2. Ian Scott on September 27, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    Hey Tom, I’m looking forward to this article! One of the reasons I don’t fish from a kayak is the fear of losing my fly rod. Just seems far more secure (although not guaranteed) in a canoe or drift boat.