History and value of South Bend Rods

History of the South Bend Rod Co. Feel free to discuss South Bend Rods here.

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fishnbanjo
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History and value of South Bend Rods

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Post by fishnbanjo »

Wesley D. Jordan deserves an honored place in history as one of the truly innovative bamboo rodmakers who had a major impact on the bamboo fly rod as we know it today. Jordan was involved with producing bamboo rods for more than 50 years, first with the Cross Rod Co. of Lynn, Massachusetts, then with South Bend in Indiana and finally with Orvis in Manchester, Vermont. His innovative genius and natural talent for craftsmanship turned all three companies into recognized leaders in the bamboo rod business.

Jordan began his rod making career quite by accident shortly after serving two years in World War I. While on a fishing trip to Maine with William Forsyth, Mr. Forsyth broke his fly rod and talked Wes into making him a new one. Jordan was an accomplished fisherman and was familiar with good bamboo rods, so he spent nearly a year studying the construction of bamboo rods and reading all the literature he could find. Through trial and error he finally produced several acceptable hand-planed rods of Calcutta cane. Mr. Forsyth was so enthusiastic about the results of Jordan's efforts that he proposed a rod making venture. In 1920 they formed the Cross Rod Co., named for Bill Cross, a friend of Forsyth's who bought stock in the new company and also joined in learning the rod making trade.

Within a year Jordan had designed a milling machine and built it with the help of his brother Bill, so rods could be produced faster and more economically to compete with companies such as F. E. Thomas and H. L. Leonard. The Cross Rod Co. built fly rods, tournament rods and saltwater rods for trolling and surf casting. Most of the larger rods were double-built models for power and strength. The company established a reputation for producing quality rods at reasonable prices. Cross also produced rods under other brand names, such as Abbey & Imbrie in New York.

Mr. Forsyth died suddenly in 1925 and his heirs sold the Cross Rod Co. to the South Bend Tackle Co. in South Bend, Indiana. As part of the agreement, Jordan moved to South Bend to set up the machinery, organize a rod production facility and train the employees. This temporary arrangement lasted almost 15 years. During this period Wes designed methods and equipment to facilitate making rods with very low production costs, to compete with Montague, Union Hardware, Horrocks-Ibbotson and Wright & McGill. One such device was a power-driven ram for splitting bamboo culms destined for mass-market rods. South Bend also made rods for other companies, such as Sears Roebuck for as little as 83 cents wholesale. Cane for the higher quality rods built by South Bend and all the South Bend-Cross rods were split by hand or sawed. Rods and blanks of this higher quality were also marketed to other companies, most notably to the Paul Young Co., for several years prior to 1930.

In 1939 Wes Jordan went to work for Charles F. Orvis Co. in Manchester, Vermont, shortly after the nearly defunct company was rescued from receivership by Bart Arkell and D. C. Corcoran. He worked for Orvis until his retirement in 1970, during which time he helped resurrect the company and take it to the forefront in rod production. During his tenure at Orvis he developed the process for making impregnated rods, and designed and patented the famous Orvis screw lock reel seat.

South Bend Fly Rods

Model 19 8½' Singlebuilt $250
Trout Model 9' Singlebuilt $225
9½' Singlebuilt $200

Model 20 8½' Singlebuilt $250
Bass Model 9' Singlebuilt $225
9½' Singlebuilt $200

Model 12/13/312 8½' Doublebuilt $300
Trout/Bass/Dry Fly 9' Doublebuilt $250
9½' Doublebuilt $225

Model 23/24/323 8' Singlebuilt $350
Trout/Bass/Dry Fly 8½' Singlebuilt $250
9' Singlebuilt $225
9½' Singlebuilt $200

Model 30/31/330 8½' Singlebuilt $250
Trout/Bass/Dry Fly 9' Singlebuilt $225
9 ½' Singlebuilt $200

Model 46/47/346 8½' Singlebuilt $250
Trout/Bass/Dry Fly 9' Singlebuilt $225
9½' Singlebuilt $200

Model 55/355 8½' Singlebuilt $250
Bass/Dry Fly 9' Singlebuilt $225
9½' Singlebuilt $200

Model 57/357 8½' Singlebuilt $250
Bass/Dry Fly 9' Singlebuilt $225
9½' Singlebuilt $200

Model 59/359 8½' Singlebuilt $250
Bass/Dry Fly 9' Singlebuilt $225
9½' Singlebuilt $200

Model 77/177/377 8½' Singlebuilt $250
Trout/Bass/Dry Fly 9' Singlebuilt $225
9½' Singlebuilt $200

Model 29/290 7½' Singlebuilt, 2-pc. $300
Bass/Dry Fly

Model 291 7½' Singlebuilt, 4-pc. $325
Single Tip

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