At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, with travel restrictions in place worldwide, we launched a new series — The World Through a Lens — in which photojournalists help transport you, virtually, to some of our planet’s most beautiful and intriguing places. This week, Janie Osborne shares a collection of images from Montana.
I live only a few miles away from Tom Morgan Rodsmiths, a custom fly rod shop in Bozeman, Mont. But entering the workshop feels a little like stepping off a plane in a foreign country.
I walk in and take a good look around. It’s a place with lots of moving parts, where craftsmen make reel seats from rosewood, inscribe calligraphy with gold ink, and wrap shiny agate guides on bamboo, using garnet thread and extra fine brass wire.
The language that circulates around the shop catches my attention. When read aloud, custom orders rival espresso-shop vernacular in their breadth, speed and rhythmic efficiency: “I’ll have a nine-foot, five-weight, four-piece graphite rod in clear blank with a Western grip.”
The shop’s owners, Matt Barber and Joel Doub, lifetime fishermen who purchased the company in 2017, translate the shorthand for me.
Nine feet, Mr. Barber says, is the length of the rod — which, among other things, affects line control and casting performance. “Five-weight” refers to a system of measurement specific to the line weight of fly rods. (Weights between four and six, for example, are ideal for trout fishing.)
A “four-piece” rod breaks down into four pieces, which is great for travel. “Graphite”is the lightest material from which T.M.R. rods are built. “Clear” refers to the rod’s coating, an aesthetic choice. And “Western grip” is short for “Western cigar handle,” which has a tapered shape similar to a cigar.