AD: Were there a lot of products that you guys developed that never saw the retail market? DC: Oh sure. One was a color sealant that we developed called Tru-Brite that we could never get some of the glitch- es worked out of, so we had to take that one off the mar- ket. We sold it one year, but then we replaced it with Brilliance.
We also did a lot of work with the various foam grip materials. Hypalon was a DuPont product that was very rugged but very heavy. In an attempt to use it for fresh water rods, more air was blown in during the extrusion process. It still was too heavy. We were the only company that developed a lightweight grip material that rod builders could shape themselves. We called it Customgrip. Someone came out with a light material but it was softer and very subject to cutting. In fact, monofilament pulled tightly across it would slice it. I don’t know what all is out there now, because when I left Clemens, I took with me enough Customgrip to last me for a lifetime! (Laughter).
AD: When you were building back in the seventies and eighties, whowere some of the rodbuilders that you worked closely with? DC: Jack Justis and I became very good friends. He was extremely creative and very good with his hands in every aspect of building. When weaves first came on the scene, via the late Bill Heckman, Jack jumped on the idea and was exceptionally good. Gil Rowe in California and I became very close. In fact, for a few years the California rod builders were ahead of the rest of the country in thread work, but they shared so much and we all learned from them. B. D. Ehler wasn’t from California, but he definitely was ahead of the pack. So many rod builders contributed that it would be impossible to list all their names here.
AD: So do you still build rods at all? DC: Oh sure, you know, when I need a rod, or if I want something different, I build it. I don’t make any rods for sale. I don’t build a lot of rods. I’m age 70, now, and I’m sure that if you examined some of my wraps you might find a telltale gap. I need a lot of light and a lot of magni- fication! (Laughter) I have taught a few rod building classes that I have gotten a kick out of. It’s averaged out to about one every three years since I have left the business. I taught one this past year. Small, I won’t do more than 10 guys. Usually it’s the fly club that I belong to here and down in the keys. That has been fun, sort of an opportuni- ty for me to go back and revisit those earlier years.
AD: It sounds like the teaching and sharing part of the craft has been the most fulfilling part of it for you. DC: Oh sure, oh yes, definitely. That was the best part of a seminar for everybody! You could go one on one with another guy at seminars. I usually didn’t get much sleep
because I’d be up at night in somebody’s hotel room. A bunch of us would always be at it, sharing and talking. It was great, I always learned so much. It was impossible not to! I was more fortunate than most because I got to go around to different parts of the country and meet different custom rod builders. They were a wonderful group of people.
AD: Obviously you have left quite a footprint on the world of rodbuilding. DC: Oh you’re very flattering. This is good for my ego, can we do this every week? (Laughter)
AD: I would say that a lot of people have become interest- ed in this craft and associate you with it because of your books and the organization of RodCrafters. Out of all your accomplishments, what would you say that you are most proud of? DC: Of having done that! I have been blessed Andy, put it that simply, that I was able to do that. I don’t know how to say it without making it sound religious or corny. I am 70, and when I look back, I say my God, what a privilege! How lucky I was, I had my own company and it was suc- cessful. Here I am sitting in vacationland Florida right on the water with my flats boat out back on my canal. I mean how fortunate can you be and I got here by doing what I liked to do and having fun. And the fact that people looked up to me. WOW! I mean it still blows my mind!
AD: That was a great answer! (Laughter) DC: I had a thrill two weeks ago now. A guy contacted me on the telephone who lives in Arizona. He said “I have been building rods since you first got started and I have every one of your books.” I got to thinking the other night that I have these books and wouldn’t it be neat to have them signed. If I sent them in to you would sign them and send them back, I’ll pay the shipping?” I mean geez. I said that would be wonderful! He not only sent me the books and I signed them with a little note on each one, but he sent me some flies that he tied and some pictures of some rods that he built. So stuff like that you can’t put a price tag on it!
AD: Well Like I said, I really feel that you have certainly left a big footprint on the world of Rodbuilding and the community as a whole owes you a big thanks for all you have done. Without your development of all of the equipment and chemistry and componentry, I don’t know that the industry would be as far advanced as it is had guys like you not come along and helped shape it. DC: No, Andy, the thanks comes from my end, really. ✍