Hardcover with Smyth Sewn Binding and Dust Jacket. LIMITED TO 600 HARDCOVERS
Jordan the Rodmaker chronicles the life of Wesley D. Jordan from the age of five, when the ponds, streams and waters of Lynn, Massachusetts called him to the sport of fishing. Foremost a fisherman, the art of rodmaking fell into place when by happenstance the opportunity arose in 1919 with the startup of the Cross Rod Company. Owner and boss W.R. Forsyth engaged him to learn the craft of rodmaking, and he soon found himself crafting bamboo fly rods that were as good as almost any sold. Thus began a lifelong romance with bamboo and his start in life as a self-taught rodmaker.
His career derailed by the death of Forsyth in 1925, the Forsyth heirs sold the company and its machinery to the South Bend Bait Company. As a condition of the sale, South Bend purchased the services of Jordan along with his patent pending reel seat. Wes journeyed to Indiana and a six-month agreement of employment became a stay of almost 13 years. As rod factory superintendent, the company produced as many as 5000 rods a week during the heart of the Great Depression.
In 1938, a dispirited Jordan left South Bend, but he soon received a call in 1939 to join the legendary C.F. Orvis Co. in Manchester, Vermont as their superintendent-rodmaker. Although the firm had fallen on hard times, through dedication to excellence and his patented waterproof impregnation of bamboo, the company survived and prospered through the difficult periods of war, bamboo shortages and the challenge of fiberglass rods. Over his 33 years Orvis grew from a company in receivership with two employees to one in a leading position of prominence in the industry.
After he left Orvis in 1971, he gave freely of his time to teach youngsters the art and joy of fishing. He hunted the mountains of Vermont and, until the very day of his demise in 1975, Wes fished the lakes and streams that were in his blood from the day he caught his first brook trout.
This is the story of Wesley D. Jordan the Rodmaker.
A PERSONAL NOTE:
To Know my Father…
I knew him best in the Orvis years, when I was a youngster and later as a teenager before I left home to make my own way. As a father he showed me the ropes of trout fishing and taught me the workings of nature. My early recollections are about how hard he worked, especially during the late evenings that I shared with him in the shop when he experimented with the Bakelite impregnating process—or the times when he spent lonely hours on adjusting the milling machine, or helping out a neighbor by fixing his broken tip.
In later years, during the all too infrequent and short visits, it was a joy to steal a few precious hours fishing together. I learned about and appreciated his desire for excellence and that it is not easily garnered, indeed, that perfection is a journey never a destination—one that is more often marked by sacrifice than success.
Some thirty-five years now since his passing, I felt a need and sense of urgency to write about not only his legacy as a rodmaker, but his personage so that the forces shaping his life were better understood. Even today much is known about Wes Jordan, and his name is held in admiration by his peers, sportsmen, and authorities in the field. Still, I found my own knowledge and perspective of his life insufficient to tell the whole story of him as a fisherman first, then his fifty-five years as a rodmaker.
Through the efforts of Dr. Todd Larson, who was able to bring to the fore a wealth of historical information and contributions from spirited authorities, I was able to connect with my father’s past. As a result of writing this book, I have had the ironic benefit of coming to know my father from a number of different perspectives that enrich my life today. To know my father as others knew him—is perhaps the most rewarding experience I’ve had in writing his biography.
You’ll come to know him, too.
-- Bill Jordan