Let’s face it, 100 years is a long time to be around. Such is the case with the Cortland Line Company, which is celebrating a century in business with a very special fly rod. Cortland Line Company announced in late April that they commissioned world renowned rod designer Mike McFarland to design and build a very special, limited edition fly rod to celebrate Cortland’s 100th anniversary. Only 100 of these presentation quality rods will be produced, with each one hand signed and numbered 1 through 100.
The design of this rod is world-class and in line with the brand image that Cortland Line, an innovator in fly line design, has represented to so many anglers over the years. For one, each of the 9 foot, 5 weight graphite rods were hand built in the USA right down to the rod blanks which are rolled using a unique composite of varying carbon fibers. Secondly, these 4 piece rods feature a special ferrule design that not only adds strength but also provides a seamless transition of power from butt to tip. According to McFarland, “the design of these rods combines a refined progressive taper with updated materials and resin system. The result is an extremely smooth casting rod with a classic action, great line feel, and perfect performance with just a few feet of line out as well as at longer distances.”
The features and components of this rod match its world-class design. These rods feature top-shelf components, including engraved nickel silver reel seats with highly figured buckeye burl inserts and handles turned from the finest quality cork. The guides are hand-wrapped with classic antique gold thread and the rod is expertly finished, hand signed, and serialized by McFarland. Retail price for these rods is $1,200.
While there is much to celebrate as a company, Cortland Line Company is celebrating its 100th anniversary at a major turning point in its history. The company has gone through some trials in the recent past, including downsizing and the announcement of the closure of the Cortland Line Factory Store. The business seemed to have lost its way long after the days when Leon Chandler was a leader and fly fishing visionary. Perhaps, as many companies have done, it tried to be all things to all customers. For many years, Cortland marketed its own line of rods, reels, fly fishing gear and accessories. Some of these products were certainly good, but were they competitive?
Cortland Line Company has been under new management since 2012. Rumors had been circulating in the fly fishing community for some time about the company closing and possibly moving its operations to China. But according to Cortland Line president Randy Brown, that is not happening. In fact, the company has a new business strategy in place to focus on its core business of fly lines with a goal to once again become the top fly line manufacturer in the world. The company got a financial shot in the arm recently when it was told it will receive $200,000 in state and local grants. And it has hired John Wilson, a former silver medalist at the World Fly Fishing Championships and coach of the U.S. Junior Fly Fishing Team, to run the plant’s day-to-day operations.
A gift from the gods? Cortland Line donated this beautiful rod to the BC Flyfishers. The BC Flyfishers intend on raffling the rod and will use the proceeds to further its mission. A fundamental part of that mission is to get people out fly fishing – youth, women, older adults – everyone. And with more people taking on the sport, the Cortland Line Company is sure to be around for the making of its 200 year anniversary rod.