Tell me about grandpa’s Orvis

AndrewFromBoston

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Here are two Orvis graphite Trout rods. The one on the left was my dad’s and it’s what I fished for a few years. It’s the design Orvis used forever, with the date on the butt. It’s an inch short because the tip has been repaired.

On the right is my grandfather’s. It’s older, No marks on the butt, different wrap color and technique, different reel seat ring and the markings on the tube say line HDG(6). But it feels like the same rod otherwise.

Can anybody give me some history on this? When did Orvis make these? Any interesting bits of information? Anybody fish one of these back in the day?
 

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Ard

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First generation graphite from Orvis. Great rods, likely better than what one can buy today. I have a 78 and a 79 but they are different models. I've used the 79 every year now for 42 years straight. Use them with care because if you break one there are no replacement sections. They were running out of 1st generation sections by late 1994 and today there is none. The one without the date stamp may be a 1976 or 77 because they didn't all have the date of production back then. The one bearing the 5/80 was produced in May 1980 the unmarked must be an earlier rod because back then they didn't sell blanks. Graphite was new and compitition between the big players in the early 70's was stiff.
 

AndrewFromBoston

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First generation graphite from Orvis. Great rods, likely better than what one can buy today. I have a 78 and a 79 but they are different models. I've used the 79 every year now for 42 years straight. Use them with care because if you break one there are no replacement sections. They were running out of 1st generation sections by late 1994 and today there is none. The one without the date stamp may be a 1976 or 77 because they didn't all have the date of production back then. The one bearing the 5/80 was produced in May 1980 the unmarked must be an earlier rod because back then they didn't sell blanks. Graphite was new and compitition between the big players in the early 70's was stiff.
So that rod is a bit older than me!
 

Lewis Chessman

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Ard's spot on, but I can add that we established here a couple of years ago that the very first Orvis 'Graphite' blanks were supplied by Shakespeare, I think in 1975, before they got their own rolling plant set up.
It's possible that your undated rod is one of those very first models, or a very early Orvis factory model which might also account for the (I think) unusual thread colour used.

If there are any decals on the rod, especially one reading 'Orvis Graphite' I'd be interested to see them, thanks.
 

AndrewFromBoston

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Ard's spot on, but I can add that we established here a couple of years ago that the very first Orvis 'Graphite' blanks were supplied by Shakespeare, I think in 1975, before they got their own rolling plant set up.
It's possible that your undated rod is one of those very first models, or a very early Orvis factory model which might also account for the (I think) unusual thread colour used.

If there are any decals on the rod, especially one reading 'Orvis Graphite' I'd be interested to see them, thanks.
I’ll check when I get home.
 

Lewis Chessman

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There's a couple of possibilities, trev, - at least.
One is that Shakespeare not only rolled the blank but built the rods and delivered them ready to sell. Or perhaps Orvis received just the blank and then built the rods themselves.
I suspect the latter as they already had skilled rod builders on the payroll and initial orders probably weren't massive.
Also, although the thread differs in these two rods the ferule whipping placements appear identical, suggesting to me that they were both whipped in the same place.
Of course, if the undated rod is Orvis-rolled, of whatever date, that wouldn't be so surprising.

Here's the thread where S&S contacted Orvis about the Shakey blanks.
 

Ard

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It may be a owner thing but there is something Pavlovian about seeing a early Orvis rod tubes.
Yeah, if they aren't the raw aluminum with the red / purple label I hardly give a second look. The 78 Limestone I have is one I bought used but I always wanted the 8 1/2 foot #6 so I snatched that years ago. The 79 is a Far & Fine and I'm reluctant to believe there is any other rod better than those.
 

AndrewFromBoston

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Ard's spot on, but I can add that we established here a couple of years ago that the very first Orvis 'Graphite' blanks were supplied by Shakespeare, I think in 1975, before they got their own rolling plant set up.
It's possible that your undated rod is one of those very first models, or a very early Orvis factory model which might also account for the (I think) unusual thread colour used.

If there are any decals on the rod, especially one reading 'Orvis Graphite' I'd be interested to see them, thanks.
No Orvis Graphite stamp or anything else on the butt section. But I did realize something else interesting. I stopped at the fly shop when I needed to kill 15 minutes and he had a used Orvis glass rod, early 70s maybe. It has the same color wrap thread and non beveled edge. I don’t know who made the blank but I’d guess the rods were finished in the same shop.
 
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AndrewFromBoston

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I remember seeing a thread a while back where a guy was trying to make a collection of old Orvis catalog scans, but I didn’t see that anything came of it. Is there a collection of old Orvis catalog scans I can look at?
 

markmark444

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I have the 1978 Otter in a 7' 5wt and though it isn't always the best choice for certain waters and conditions there is nothing I enjoy casting more now or "in the day" though a few come pretty close. Enjoy them and the memories they carry; you are fortunate.
 

GManBart

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I remember seeing a thread a while back where a guy was trying to make a collection of old Orvis catalog scans, but I didn’t see that anything came of it. Is there a collection of old Orvis catalog scans I can look at?
I'm not sure who was working on the scans, but I do know Greg Reynolds has been doing that for the Orvis Bamboo rods. I have slowly been adding vintage Orvis catalogs and have the ones that cover your rods, so I think I can help a bit.

Orvis first cataloged graphite rods in 1975. I have read that was the first year they started rolling their own blanks. It also coincided with the introduction of the Orvis Fullflex A fiberglass rods. The previous Fullflex line (non-A) were blanks made by Phillipson and when they started making their own graphite blanks they decided to also make fiberglass as well.

In the 1975 and 1976 catalogs the rods are only listed by length, weight, etc, with no model names like "Trout" "Limestone" etc. In the 1977 catalog the first names appear. That probably means your grandfather's rod was made sometime between 1975 and 1977. I'm sure there would have been some lag between the catalog announcing names and rods with them on the butt cap being shipped, but it's still a pretty small range.

As far as the color of the wraps goes, I have an Orvis Superfine rod with factory wraps that have taken that almost amber hue as well. I don't know if it's a different silk or different coating, or just fading due to UV exposure, but I've seen it more than once, so I don't think it means much. I'd bet a paycheck your grandfather's rod is a 100% factory rod.
 

Ard

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No Orvis Graphite stamp or anything else on the butt section. But I did realize something else interesting. I stopped at the fly shop when I needed to kill 15 minutes and he had a used Orvis glass rod, early 70s maybe. It has the same color wrap thread and non beveled edge. I don’t know who made the blank but I’d guess the rods were finished in the same shop.
The fiberglass was what color, was it a yellow rod? Most of the old glass I've had were Phillipson blanks with the brown wraps.

I just went and had a look at the yellow windings on the unmarked rod and would bet that was not finished by Orvis. I'm not any sort of authority regarding old Orvis rods but I have seen a lot of them and never yellow windings. I said that I didn't think they sold blanks early on but since the marked rod is a 1980 the other may be that new and could have been a DIY from blanks.
 

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Those are lovely rods, I hope you get to fish them often for many years to come- it's great you already have that familiarity with them. Like the idiot I am, I had two of the early Far & Fine and sold them. Live and learn.
 

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Andrew, so the rods are older than you, be happy, they're first class stuff; lately its getting harder for me to find rods older than me.
The early Orvis rods have become a sort of cult following thing. Twelve or thirteen years ago I was posting about them probably once a week telling Far & Fine stories, pictures of big trout and salmon that I caught on mine. Salmon were accidental while trout fishing but the rod hauled in some giants. I went on about distance and accuracy and on and on. Slowly but surely they started going up in price on the auction sites. Used to be you could scoop up the old sticks for $225 or under but those days are gone, now a mint early rod can go for $495 or more.
 

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