meet Mr. Omura and got to know him a little bit, he saw what we (the custom rod builders) were trying to do. Each year after the AFTMA show he would come to Allentown to visit for two or three days. He was keenly interested in what we as a group had discovered or uncovered in the past year. At that time Fuji was way ahead technological- ly in their industry, so it was a perfect meld. Mr. Omura even took part of my second book and had parts of that translated into Japanese, printed and sold in Japan.
DC: Oh yeah, that was a real ego trip for me! (Laughter). Custom rodbuilders were doing much more experiment- ing than the rod companies were. Most of the American companies sat back and did what they had always done. Mr. Omura always wanted to know what we wanted and what we needed in the way of components. He was not afraid to say no, and he was very candid. Whenever he felt there would be a production problem he’d say, “No, let’s not go down that avenue.” Otherwise he would bend over backwards. One of the people in his entourage was an artist. He would use this guy to sketch out ideas. For example, if we described what we wanted in a particular reel seat, he would draw it. Depending on the input from us or Mr. Omura, the artist would redraw it as many times as necessary until everyone was satisfied. Those were some pretty exciting years and he was a very very exciting
His son is the same way.
There are actually three gen-
erations in that family that have owned great deal for custom rod building.
Earlier I mentioned specialty manufacturers for our market. One of the first was Struble Reel Seats. The late Glenn Struble made the first seats for us that were not on commercial fishing rods. They were a higher quality for custom rods, and we put our own name on them. Glenn had a small machine shop with only three employees, but everything was automated and computerized, and he was simply miles ahead of anyone else. Just fantastic.
AD: So Clemens (the company) was just an outgrowth of you selling components on the side? DC: Well, I guess the book really made the difference. Although I had been helping friends who wanted to try building a rod, get components, I was just buying them from somebody else and I wasn’t making any money at it. When I wrote that first book a whole world opened up. I learned more after writing the book than I ever knew before. It was like floodgates opened. I was getting letters everyday in the mail. Guys telling me “Yeah, I’ve been building rods for two years or five years, but I do this a dif- ferent way,” or “You say do it this way, but have you ever tried this? I think it’s better.” I really learned a lot more after the book than I ever knew before!
You see, what it showed me was that there was an obvious need to share. You had a whole bunch of people
sitting around the country re-inventing the wheel. That’s what all of us were doing. We were operating in a vacu- um, all of us. Then the book showed us we weren’t alone. It became very obvious that we needed a method of shar- ing so we could learn more and learn faster. “The RodCrafters Journal” had its inception as a newsletter for sharing. My printer convinced me it should be a small for-
mat, simple magazine. We never had
any ambitions to be
“RodCrafters Journal” had It came at a different time building.
a different agenda at the time. in the whole evolution of rod
AD: What year did the first journal come out? DC: Well my book came out in early ‘74 and Rodcrafters got formed later the same year. I was still swamped with mail and people started saying, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could get together and share some of this.” So we had our first seminar in 1975. There were about 15 people there. It was a one-day deal on a Saturday. Two people came from as far away as Michigan, a fellow from Massachusetts, and some guys from down around Virginia. We couldn’t stop talking! We had some demos that we did, and some guys called home and said, “I’m staying another day!” We did- n’t have a seminar the next day, so we just went back into the hotel and continued in somebody’s hotel room! The following year we had about 60 attendees in Allentown, and we had seminars in a few other cities. Those were exciting times. They really were.
AD: I would venture to say that the formation of RodCrafters was certainly one of the most important influences on the craft of rodbuilding in the past 30 years. I don’t think that the craft would have advanced nearly as quickly as it did had you not come along and formed a catalyst for the sharing and dissemina- tion of all that information. DC: I think you’re right, and I certainly wouldn’t take credit myself for that. I mean I was part of it, that’s all. I was very lucky because we got into doing seminars around the country. When I say, “Lucky,” I mean because I became a conduit. I would go out to California and hold a seminar and then maybe I would hold a seminar in Michigan. Two different groups with everybody being very open and sharing. I was fortunate to be able to take this information from one place to another, learn it all, and then write it up in the journal. I always made a big big point of trying to give people credit. Because most of the ideas didn’t originate with me, I’d say “RodCrafter John Doe does this or that.” In fact with the second book some- body criticized me by saying, “Gosh, every time you pres- ent an idea you say RodCrafter so and so does this.” However, I felt it was very important to give credit to those who were sharing, because if you gave credit, then it would make other people want to share.