Tucked away in a bucolic North Florida town, very close to the historic Suwanee River, lies Rooster’s Outfitters, which carries all manner of fishing, hunting and hiking supplies, and Angie’s Moonshine Acres Campground. A chance comment about a famous fly-tier led me down the path of County Road 25A in White Springs to a two-story dark brown building, guarded by a sleeping dog, with a bass boat under cover parked in front. A rooster ambled around, as a man on the front porch in a rocker surely wondered what the wind had blown in on this Tuesday morning.
Fresh from an eight-mile, two-hour kayaking trip down the Suwanee, I entered Rooster’s, and spied what had to be the famous Rooster behind the store’s desk. “Rooster” printed on his T-shirt was my first clue. I introduced myself, and hoped the surname, Borski — of trademarked fly pattern fame — would let the big, friendly-looking bald man know I was nearly kin. But, it didn’t mean much in these freshwater parts. No matter; that never stopped me from a good story.
I told him I heard about a half-hour ago that he was a famous fly-tier, and since our Florida Outdoor Writers Conference (#FOWA15) was set to begin Aug. 19 in his neck of the woods, Lake City, I was hoping I could interview him. He said, “That must’ve been why I didn’t go fishing today. Normally, we’re closed on Tuesdays.” I grinned. I was in.
Keith “Rooster” Knipp, 64, is recognized among the fishing faithful for his catalpa, worms and cricket fly patterns, all available at the shop. He also ties popper flies. He sells a Martin fly-tying kit for those who may like to get started in tying their own flies.
Born in Kentucky, Knipp followed in his father and grandfather’s footsteps when he began making bamboo fly rods at the age of 15. The bamboo comes from Japan or North Africa and the geography is related to the timing of the purchase because the earth’s axis has to be correct to get straight, not twisted, bamboo. The rods are comprised of six strips of bamboo glued together to form a hexagon. Rooster creates about 10 custom bamboo rods a year to the customer’s specs, beginning at about $800, and his clientele is international. The inserts are hand-carved, and a client can order different handles such as burled wood or Portuguese cork.
Rooster also designed his own fly reel, a Bull Master. “One day I got tired of the way a certain company was making reels,” he said.
The rods he uses, with the tackle and flies attached, hang overhead in the shop. Customers regularly check out what he is using and buy the same patterns. One of his fly rods sports a 1913 South Bend fly reel.
His favorite places to fish in the White Springs area are many: Eagle, Alligator, Lang and Peacock lakes and Ocean Pond, but his favorite is the Suwannee River. Rooster moved to White Springs a few years ago after running a successful trucking company for 38 years. He also is a Vietnam veteran and is a friend of a fellow veteran in the Florida Keys with whom he fishes for tarpon aboard the 4 Aces.
“This is good enough,” he said of his day-to-day life. “I’m content”
The campground surrounding his shop sports 138 campsites — and not only a river, but the Florida (hiking) Trail – runs through it.
For more information, visit www. roostersoutfitters.com. Or wander in daily (except Tuesdays) from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. to 10315 SE 141 Blvd., White Springs, Florida 32096, or call 386-397-2724 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.