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Bamboo

History of Bamboo Rod Makers, Part 3
E. C. Powell Rod Co.
Our thanks to Cententenial Publications for use permission.

May 11th, 1998

Tony Maslan built rods in virtual obscurity for nearly 40 years. Everyone has heard of his rods but few collectors or fishermen have ever heard of him, because all of the rods he produced were built under the name of E. C. Powell Rod company. Maslan purchased the entire E. C. Powell rod operation in 1954, including all the original rod making equipment designed by E. C. and the rights to the E. C. Powell name.

The Powell family name has been associated with rod making for a very long time and has been involved with several different operations and companies, which has led to considerable confusion for fisherman, collectors and authors. E. C. Powell started it all when he began producing bamboo rods for sale about 1920. He had been making rods part time for several years prior to that time. In 1921 he moved his operation into a shop on C Street in Marysville, California, that was to become almost as famous as the Eastern rod making shops in Central Valley and Highland Mills, New York. E. C. was a talented craftsman and an excellent angler, but his real contribution to the sport of fly fishing was his innovations in rod design. Few craftsmen, before or since, have had such a unique ability to develop exceptional bamboo rods. In 1933 he was awarded a patent for his revolutionary semi-hollow method of rod construction.

Walton Powell is E. C.'s son and apprenticed with his father in the rod shop from his early childhood until 1947, when he left to start his operation called Walton Powell Co. He built rods for several years using equipment of his own design, until he started teaching recreation courses at Chico State College. He produced very few rods during this period. Then in the mid-70s he got back into rod building under the name Powell Rod Corp., operating from a new facility in Chico with his two sons, Pres and Eugene. Tony Maslan became involved with Powell in 1941 when he married E. C.'s daughter, Mildred. But he did not become involved in rod making until 1953 when he lost his job in San Francisco and went to work helping E. C. in Marysville. A year later he purchased the E. C. Powell rod operation and E. C. worked with him for another year until he retired and moved to Florida. E. C. returned to California several years later and died in 1966.

Since 1954, all rods marked E. C. Powell have been produced by Tony Maslan, working at E. C.'s original shop in Marysville and using E. C.'s original equipment. There have been few changes in Powell rods through the years, as Maslan continued to build rods with the same concepts, and use the same taper pattems and construction techniques. All semi-hollow rods carry the patent number # 1,932,986 just as they did when E. C. was building them. The excellent nickel silver ferrules, the comfortable cork grips, the attractive silk wraps and traditional varnish finish have also remained virtually unchanged. In the mid-60's Maslan did make a minor change to improve the functional design of the traditional Powell reel seat. He also began marking E. C. Powell in black on the shaft of the rod, instead of stamping it in the aluminum butt piece of the reel seat. Tony Maslan continued making quality bamboo rods up until his death several years ago.


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