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Old 03-15-2013, 07:55 PM
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Default Re: Diamondback Rod Company

Originally Posted by sweetandsalt View Post
You are undoubtedly correct, Moucheur, that Cortland has many fish to fry before they start baking a cake. I am not a business man and think more in terms of wanting to see more and better rods and reels. The first Diamondback product I ever saw was the original Leonard Golden Shadow rods...I mean, Leonard was still in business so this is way back when. Cortland had a big as Orvis fancy booth at Somerset this year and word is that new ownership is deep pocketed and ambitious. But it is true that starting a new rod factory, even if the old rolling tables and ovens are fine, is a big deal. Still, it would be very cool to see new US made Diamondbacks...
I think you mean Payne, not Leonard. After Jim Payne died, Bill Alley bought the defunct Payne bamboo shop and brand name from the last of a series of unsuccessful owners and moved it to Stowe, Vermont, where he had a fly shop and was making REC components. I believe he had been in the medical supplies business, and got the idea to use the diamond-woven material from medical stents or catheters in manufacturing graphite blanks, which was the inspiration for starting Diamondback. He had three series of rods: a budget, unsanded "Carbonite" series, a main line of "Diamondback" models, and a premium "Payne Golden Shadow" series. All three of them used the distinctive Payne cigar grip design, rather than the more ubiquitous reverse half-wells. I still have a Carbonite rod that Bill sold me out of the fly shop on a slow morning in 1991, and it is still a very sweet rod. (But even sweeter was standing next to Jim Payne's original workbench and looking at his shop gear, which was all set up and ready in the back of the fly shop.)

Anyway, Bill decided to retire and sold his businesses off in pieces. The Payne stuff went to Dave Holloman, a custom bamboo rodmaker in Oregon ( ); the fly shop went to Bob Shannon, a local guide in Vermont ( ); the Diamondback business went to Barton Merle-Smith, another local Vermont businessman who kept the operations going and really built up the brand; and the REC components business was bought by a group in Connecticut and moved there, where it has continued to prosper ( ). Cortland eventually bought the Diamondback business from Barton after he had expanded it significantly, but then shortly after buying it, shut it down and laid everyone off (which surprised just about everybody).

My guess is, if anybody were going to try to bring Diamondback back, Barton would be the guy who would know how (and know whether it were even feasible). He's still knocking around in the Burlington, Vermont area. If you're really serious about trying to make something happen, you can find him in a Google search easily enough and try to see what he knows and whether he would be interested in making another go of it, or putting together or advising a group to do it. I don't think a handful of sentimentalists writing to the new Cortland owners to say "we sure miss the old Diamondback" is going to have much of an effect on their plans, whatever they are, though.

Last edited by moucheur2003; 03-15-2013 at 08:12 PM.