F.D. Kretchman Rod Co.


The F. D. Kretchman Rod Company is a purveyor of new and used classic cane rods. My hand-planed fly rods are fitted in both performance and appointments to the exacting requirements of the discriminating angler.


     “I shall now confess to you that none of those three trout had to be beheaded, or folded double, to fit their casket.  What was big was not the trout, but the chance.  What was full was not my creel, but my memory.”-Aldo Leopold

This quote by Aldo Leopold helps explain why I make my exquisite bamboo fly rods: they are to be used to create memories of time spent on the water... enjoying the feel of a perfectly balanced rod, fishing with family and friends, soaking up the sights and sounds of running water or lapping waves...  When your time on the water is limited, you want it to be quality time.  So why not fish a custom bamboo rod?

I started handcrafting bamboo fly rods in 1993. What began as an interest in fishing bamboo fly rods in 1990 has developed into the F. D. Kretchman Rod Co. - maker of classic split bamboo fly rods.

My first exposure to bamboo rods was as a boy, fishing with my dad for bass and bluegills. He would gracefully cast small poppers or rubber spiders with a Heddon “President” cane rod which was a college graduation gift from his family. It was exciting to see the fish take his flies on the surface: often with an aggressive splash. In the 4th grade, I received my first fly rod: a fiberglass Shakespeare Wonderod. As the years progressed, I continued to enjoy fly fishing…it was the “gentle sport”, filled with memories of fishing with my dad, casting over misty waters at dawn, or teasing bedding bluegills with those unsinkable rubber spiders.

I was introduced to trout fishing in the mid-sixties by a friend who took my dad and I to Grayling, Michigan, and the famous Big Manistee River.  We fished the big drake hatches in the evening and after dark- seeking predatory brown trout.  During the day, I’d probe the mucky backwaters for brookies- the prettiest fish I’d ever seen.  Years later, while living in Oregon, I fished for trout, salmon, and steelhead with a fly.  Those were magical years for me, filled with memories of trout ponds in the Cascades, coastal rivers teaming with fall salmon, frigid winter days angling for finicky steelhead while trying to keep the guides from freezing up...

Then in 1990, while salmon fishing in the Fall with a friend, I watched him cast an old bamboo fly rod with such grace that I asked if I could cast it myself. Within minutes, I was sold on the superior qualities of bamboo and decided to find a cane rod for myself. At a country auction, I bought a Heddon bamboo rod for $72.  It was a joy to cast compared to graphite and helped to convince me of the magical qualities of bamboo.   After fishing bamboo rods for several years, I came to the realization that each rod was uniquely suited to it’s own niche. Some cast well in close, but not farther out. Others were too long or heavy to enjoy casting all day. This led me to the realization that I would have to make my own rods to satisfy the yearning to have the “perfect” rod for the many varied conditions and types of fishing.

                                      Smithsonian Connection

I was chosen by a committee comprised of New Hampshire Arts Council members and Smithsonian representatives to demonstrate my craftsmanship at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. for 2 weeks in 1999. Over 1.5 million visitors attended that Folklife Festival (which features only one state each year).  That once-in-a-lifetime opportunity ranks as one of the highlights in my rod making career. 

The following year, I was demonstrating my craftsmanship for the State of New Hampshire for 5 days in a re-creation of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Over 75,000 attended that show.

                       Museums... Museums... Museums...

In the Summer of 1998, my fly rods were featured in the Fuller Art Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts. The exhibit was titled: “Crafted for Sport” and featured artisans from around the country.

Since 1996, I’ve had the privilege of demonstrating cane rod making nearly every year at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont, during their annual ‘Festival Weekend’ each summer.  On most of these trips there, I spend time studying the classic bamboo rods in their collection.  This education in historical tackle has helped me gain a deeper appreciation for the craftsmanship of the old master rod makers.

In the Spring of 2004, my rods were chosen by the University of New Hampshire to be featured in their exhibit along with other contemporary angling items.  My 6’ 6” rod was centered on the professional poster made and sold by the university as part of this celebration. 


                               The Governor’s Award

In 2004, I received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Governor of New Hampshire, Jean Shaheen, and the Executive Council.  That day, I shared the stage with two of my dear friends, Stan Bogdan and “Sam” Carlson.  In fact, it was my privilege to introduce them both to the  Governor.  Stan is the world’s most renown reel maker.  “Sam” had worked for the Edwards rod company in Connecticut as a kid and later bought the F.E. Thomas Rod Co. and produced four-sided rods under his own name.  Little did we know, that 6 weeks after receiving our awards from the State, Sam would pass away.  I’ve always considered it a special privilege to have been Sam’s friend and to have spent hours talking about bamboo rods with him.


                         Lang's Antique Tackle Auctions

My interest in the history of old rod makers and their cane rods has opened the door for me to become the sole rod appraiser for Lang’s auctions.  This is the largest antique fishing tackle auction house in the United States.  Each year, I am privileged to closely inspect hundreds of antique bamboo rods and describe them for the cataloged auctions held in April and November.  I take advantage of this opportunity to study rods by the most respected masters of the past.  One look at my rods and you’ll see that I’ve incorporated what I’ve learned from the masters into my rods. 

Best regards,

Fred Kretchman, Rod maker

                      Rod Customer Praise

Perhaps the best reward for me as a rod-maker is when my customers create memories by taking their rods fishing on a favorite stream and then sharing their stories with me.


Dear Fred,

Just a note to let you know how pleased I am with both of my “Kretchman’s”. Wonderfully smooth action and a gorgeous finish. What a piece of functional art!

Best of Luck,

Pete Lunsford

When you order a rod from Fred, he makes sure he knows what you want, and that you know what you want too. That’s the beauty of working with Fred. He will ask you lots of questions about where you fish, what you like in a rod action, etc. because he wants you to be a happy, satisfied customer. Fred’s goal is to provide you with a rod that is not only a thing of beauty, but also a fine fishing instrument you will cherish.

  1. -T.C.

Dear Fred:

Just thought I’d take a few moments to say thank you for the expert repair work you’ve done, and for sharing your world of bamboo with me. It’s a real pleasure to spend time in your shop trying rods and discussing options…I’m always learning something new.

In this world of “If it don’t fit…force it…just hit it with a big hammer!” it is very reassuring to find someone like yourself who does not rush a job, and handles every rod with gentleness and caring, leaving no attention to detail overlooked; whether it’s a small repair, a complete restoration of a classic, or the crafting of one of your new creations.

Your rods are a blend of classic taper and design, using modern materials and methods, resulting in rods of beauty, which will stand the test of the waters, and can still be displayed with pride. The Legacy of the Masters is secure in your stewardship, and I eagerly await mine.

Thanks again for sharing your passion…it’s contagious.


Charles L. Murphy, Jr.


The Maker



Email: kretchmanflyrods@gmail.com



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