Tom Morgan: A Tribute

Tom Morgan died on Monday, June 12th 2017, at the age of 76.

As a life-long fly fisherman and later a rod designer, he had owned both the R. L. Winston fly rod company from 1973 to 1991, and Tom Morgan Rodsmiths from 1996 to early 2017.

Tom was widely admired for his extreme commitment to craftsmanship as well as his focus on casting rods designed more for fishing than casting long distance; he rejected the industry trend of rods that overperformed for the line weight for which they’re rated. Tom said those rods robbed fly fishers of the joy of casting a properly flexing rod.

And there’s one other thing you should know about him – he hadn’t gripped a fly rod in the last 20 years of his life. For you see, Tom had suffered from Multiple Sclerosis (MS) since the early 1990’s. He took his last fishing trip (to New Zealand) in 1994; a year later he could no longer walk.

He loved fly fishing so much that even when he was unable to fly fish himself he committed himself to designing and building what many consider the worlds finest rods. They are known for reel seats made of exotic woods, cork handles crafted to fit an angler’s hand, burgundy graphite rod blanks that shimmer in the sunlight, ultrasuede-lined rod bags and rod tubes topped with a minted coin of his logo.

Unable to do the hands-on work himself his wife Geri Carlson became his apprentice. He provided the ideas and she became his hands as they grew his company.

What is truly remarkable is that the disease that robbed of him of his physical health and ability did not rob him of his joy for life. As he said in an interview on CBS, he could be brought to tears by realizing his efforts brought so much joy to others.

Few of us know how we would face a similar debilitating illness that shattered the life we had and the thing we treasured most. The best we can hope for is to have a passion for something so strong that it can overcome even the worst life can hurl at us.

Rest in peace Tom.

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