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November 2nd 2022
A Batson Visit with Rod Building Industry Legend Garry Land
Garry pays a visit to Batson HQ and explores the Olympic Peninsula. Bill and Garry talk rod building history and swap a few good stories.
By Holly Bock
He is a storyteller by nature and a teacher to all. I like to compare hearing Garry Land speak to listening to one of my favorite songs "In Color" by Jamey Johnson. You’re compelled to keep listening because the story just keeps getting better. This military veteran and retired eye surgeon has experienced life to the fullest. He and his wife Sandy have traveled the world and gone fishing just about everywhere along the way. They’re always searching for the next adventure and opportunity to learn something new.
During his adventures earlier in life, Garry experienced fly fishing around the world using production rods, that is until he happened to discover a custom-built rod. After retiring he started building his own custom rods and developing his own special fly rod design features, particularly his unique method of placing guides on fly rods and custom handle designs.
I asked him " Why are factory rods not the same?" he replied "They are good for someone who doesn't know any better, they are often tip heavy, not built on the spine, and not spiral wrapped".
He has taken his custom Rainshadow fly builds on every adventure since learning about custom fishing rods.
When asked about the decorative side of rod building, he replied, "I don't do fades, I would rather go fishin'.” Garry builds rods that fish and look great but are first and foremost tools intended to enhance the angler’s experience. I myself am lucky enough to own one of Garry’s functional works of art, a custom fly rod built on a 9 foot 4 weight Rainshadow ETEF904-4CB. One of Gary’s signature build attributes is notating the rod’s line weight with the number of trim bands before the first guide. My G. Land fly rod also features one of Garry’s unorthodox 17-piece guide trains that you must cast to believe. During a conversation with Garry, he quoted James Thoreau in stating "Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not the fish they are after." Garry said that it hasn't been that long since he started embracing that quote. This writer disagrees. I think he has practiced it longer than he realizes.
The tales Garry tells are colorful, and humble. He is a true Rainshadow rod blank fan and gifts others with his knowledge and talent of rod building by volunteering at fishing expos and custom rod building events. He has an especially soft spot for teaching youth and wants to ensure that the art of rod building continues. I personally am honored to have a custom G. Land fly rod. While he was here on the Olympic Peninsula, I was lucky enough to use it while spending the day fishing with Garry, Sandy and Bill Batson. The day was as enlightening as it was pleasant, not for the fish caught or techniques mastered, but for the company kept. It’s what we as anglers should be after.
Holly Bock is the Marketing Director at Batson and aspiring fly caster.
[Want to experience a conversation with Garry Land? Watch his full interview with Bill Batson here.]