TU Business Fishing

Reilly Rod Crafters: great people, great rods

I remember the day I knew I wanted to learn to fly fish. I don’t think I was 10 years old yet. My dad and I had just returned from a horseback day trip to the backcountry and were in the process of unsaddling our horses. That’s when I saw Carl Evers casting a dry fly on a small stream nearby. It is an image I will never, ever forget.

Carl was a big man, with broad shoulders and long, thick arms. His hands were like hams. But watching him cast a small fly with a bamboo rod was like watching Baryshnikov dance. It was elegant. It was mesmerizing. I knew I had to learn to do that.

I’ll never be the fly caster that Carl Evers was. I learned to cast, and I learned to fish. In time I even learned that it was more about my heart and my mind than it was about launching a 75-foot hero cast. And my gear evolved along with me. Now I know what a really good fly rod feels like in my hands. And the rods that Chris Reilly and his team make in Palmyra, Va., are really good fly rods.

It takes a mixture of skills to be a great rod maker. Some of it is about materials science and great engineering. Some of it is about being out of the lab and on the water. The team at Reilly Rod Crafters understands that. What’s more, they excel at it. They’ve organized their efforts around these four principles:

• We are responsible. We hold ourselves accountable to customers and the environment—to us, they are inseparable.
• We respect experience. We listen to the legends who guide us and customers who trust us.
• We research. We love the outdoors. It’s our laboratory—the best place to refine rods and ourselves.
• We do what’s right. We design and, when it makes the most sense, build in America.

I like that. And I like their rods — a lot. From the Kildare, a classic, eastern trout rod for small to medium streams to Joe Mahler’s Lily Pad and Cypress, best described as “everyday rods… comfortable, like your favorite pair of jeans” and the Chuck Kraft Signature Series, a versatile, strong but careful workhorse like the man, the legend, himself. These are rods made by anglers, people who know fishing.

Reilly Rod Crafters, TU Business member.

Reilly Rod Crafters, LLC

Chris Reilly

Palmyra, Va., 22963-4932

(434) 989-8746



By Walt Gasson.