The following is an excerpt from:
A Part of Fly-Fishing History is Gone
By Ross Purnell, Editor / May 8th, 2017 / Fly Fisherman
The building that housed the original R.L. Winston Rod Company in Twin Bridges burned down early Sunday morning May 7, 2017.
“Winston fly rods suffered a great loss in history, tradition and the best bamboo rods on the market Sunday morning when the Winston Bamboo shop caught fire,” said Winston General Manager Jeff Wagner.
More than the money, for Winston, the fire feels like the passing of a family member. Countless hours through many hands have shaped the fine bamboo rods that have passed through the now charred doors. It is not surprising the emotion Winston rods is feeling, and the healing process will take time. But, as we grieve we also look to the future.
Robert Winther and Lew Stoner started what is known today as the R.L. Winston Rod Company in 1929 in San Francisco, combining their names into the new brand. The company’s bamboo rods soon became famous for their design and workmanship. In 1975, owner Tom Morgan and partner Glenn Brackett moved the business from California to Twin Bridges to take advantage of the local trout fishing on the Beaverhead, Big Hole, Ruby, and Jefferson rivers. Twin Bridges has been the home of Winston rods ever since.
Tom Morgan sold Winston in 1991 and in 1992 was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). In 1995 he married Gerri Carson, and in 1996 he started Tom Morgan Rodsmiths, a company which he and Gerri have operated in Manhattan, Montana, until the recent sale in 2017 to Joel Doub and Matt Barber.
Glenn Brackett also famously left Winston Rods and with former Winston employee Jerry Kustich started Sweetgrass Rods, located at 501 N Main Street in Twin Bridges. Sweetgrass recently moved to Butte, Montana, and none of their bamboo or assets were affected by the fire in Twin Bridges.
All of these important icons in Montana’s bamboo rod tradition got started in this one little shop on Main Street, Twin Bridges. And now it’s gone.
NOTE: Featured Image of the burned out Winston bamboo shop. Twin Bridges, Montana. MTN photo.