Top of the Line Models

These models are all designed and built in the traditional Catskill fashion.  With the exception of the Steeves and Holy Grail models, all have compound progressive tapers with a standard .006”-010” drop across the ferrules.  These taper models tend to produce powerful rods with rather delicate tips.  All tapers include a swelled butt so central to the rods of traditional Catskill builders.  The swell eliminates the anathema of motion under the grip and puts the rod control forward of the hand.  This has long been believed to foster control and accuracy without the distraction of an annoying grip wiggle.

All of the tapers were designed by Rick Robbins over his more than 44 years of bamboo rod building.  While greatly influenced by Rick’s mentor and best friend Tom Maxwell, all tapers are original and proprietary.  The tapers are designed and built at three-inch increments.  This adopts the traditional format of classic, professional Catskill builders and results in more rod precision than those built at 5” measurements.

The bamboo used is of the finest available and the cull for best of the best is extensive.  All nodes are pressed to retain the maximum amount of power fibers and placed in 3x3 node staggering.  All of the cane is precisely heat treated so as to harden and strengthen the strips.  This also affects a slight color change to a honey tan.  Each rod comes with twin sister tips built from the same cane with the nodes identically placed.  This assures each tip will perform identically.

The tapers are formed using a milling machine that was built in 1925 for a well-known old production shop.  It weighs about a ton; is also bolted to the cement floor and holds amazing tolerances.

The ferrules and reel seat hardware are crafted from scratch in our Lexington shop.  All are made from 18% nickel silver.  This tubing is precisely drawn in America by an American company that has served Catskill makers for many decades.  The reel seat spacers are crafted from a variety of hardwoods with an extensive use of burls.  They feature a mortice for the reel tang and a nickel silver inlay on the opposing side.  This inlay, while decorative, also tends to keep the sliding ring band from digging into the reel seat wood over time. The rods are wrapped and tipped in silk thread and finished in high-end true spar varnish. 

The Steeves and Holy Grail models differ from the others in the Top of the Line section primarily with respect to taper design.  A good friend of mine, who was extremely knowledgeable about and experienced with bamboo fly rods, described this taper as a “compound, semi-parabolic, dry fly rod”.  While some may find this an inconsistent description, it’s not far off.  They feature much larger drops across ferrules than those of the Catskill tradition.   With the exception of the Maxwell/Marinaro ferrule required to accommodate the ferrule drop, most other construction details remain the same.

All rods come with a custom rod sleeve within an aluminum tube with heavy brass ends. The tube is .065” thick.  This is no backpacking tube .

The Main Stem Series

These rods are powerful fast rods designed to form the backbone of a bamboo rod collection.  Reminiscent of the Wes Jordon eight-footer, the Leonard 50DF and Payne’s famous model 202, selection of a rod from this series would be the place to start for an all around rod.
8’ 3-pc for VI;   8’ 3-pc for V;   7.5 2-pc for V;   7’9” 3-pc for VI

The Little Rivers Series

Spawned in the headwaters streams of Virginia and the small limestone creeks of Pennsylvania, these are powerful rods designed primarily for IV weight lines.  Heat treated to a honey blond tone, they are built to deliver the tight loop precision demanded of accurate dry fly presentation on small waters.  The eight-footer in this series is in a class all by itself.  Perhaps the most difficult taper to design this three-piece rods remains powerful yet delicate.  A rarity amongst 8’ 3-pc for IV models.  All too often similar rods are noodles or actually carry a V weight.
7’ 3-pc for IV   6.5’ 2-pc for IV   7’ 2-pc for IV   7.5 2-pc for IV   8’ 3-pc for IV

The Headwaters Series

With their roots grounded inn the native brook trout streams of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the Headwaters Series rods are specialty pieces designed for the tight spaces and wee trout found in the upper reaches of trout environments.  These short rods can weave under the canopy of hemlock and rhodendron to present a fly to native fish in small pools.  They have tight loop capability and are designed to handle a variety of fly sizes.
6’ 3-pc for IV   6.5’ 3-pc for V   

The Salmon Rivers Series

Tempered on the rivers of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the Salmon Rivers Series of Rick Robbins Bamboo Fly Rods provide the verve, backbone and ease required to hunt the Atlantic salmon of these waters.  These rods have a large swelled butt and a powerful lower section.  This provides not only the muscle needed for longer casts, but also the leverage to bring large fish to hand.
8’ 3-pc for VIII   8’ 3-pc for VII  

The Steeves Series

Well known reprobate and talented fly designer, Harrison R. Steeves III, commissioned Rick to design a rod for punching into western winds with larger sized terrestrials.  He asked for a seven-foot two-piece rod for VI weight lines.  Rick had a lot of reservations, but ended up putting together a powerful little rod bearing a Maxwell/Marinaro ferrule coupled with sturdy tips and a flatter butt section.  It resulted in a dynamite casting machine.  It is offered in VI weight (model 726) and in V weight (model 725)

The Holy Grail

This is a most remarkable rod.  There is nothing else out there like it.  Designed as an 8’ 3-pc for IV, Rick incorporated his well known compound progressive taper design for the lower portion and the design concept featured in the Steeves Series anchored by a Maxwell/Marinaro ferrule between the mid and the top section.  The resulting rod far exceeded expectations.  Not only is it a powerful eight-footer for IV, it also handles III, V, and VI weight lines.  It is delightfully versatile and precise.  It must be cast to be believed.

Custom Models

In addition to the standard models we offer, we also do an extensive amount of custom work.  We will work with you to design and build custom rods within the framework of five-foot to eight and a half-foot rods in two-piece and three-piece.

Prices & Availability


I stand by my rods.  Any defects of materials or workmanship will be corrected or the rod replaced without charge.  If you, or your, or your car door, etc., cause the damage, I will mutter about you under my breath and fix it for a reasonable charge.  I recommend you send your rod back every other year or so for a tune up.  For a modest fee, I will polish the rod, repair varnish nicks, straighten it and tune up the ferrules.

Prices & Availability

The price of a two-piece rod is $2500.  A three-piece rod is $2750.  The price is all inclusive and includes twin tips, morticed cap and ring reelseat with a nickel silver inlay, swelled butt,  compound taper design, Mildrum stripping guide, Snakebrand snake guides and tip tops, silk wraps with tipping, cloth multi-compartment bag,, and heavy duty aluminum tube with brass ends.  Intermediate wraps are an additional $500.
Prices may change without notice.  Price includes shipping and federal excise tax.  A deposit of $350 is require to place an order and lock in a price.

Not all of our models are available in any one year.  Please call for availability.