Part 6 in our Historical Rodmakers Series
Morris Kushner - The Rodmaker
Our thanks to Cententenial Publications for use permission.
November 2nd, 1998
Morris Kushner was one of several talented
Michigan rodmakers who each developed their
craft in relative isolation from the rest of
the rod making fraternity, and strangely enough,
in relative isolation from each other.
Paul Young and Lyle Dickerson
are the best known early rodmakers from
Michigan, but they seldom shared either
their craft or their fishing.
Morris Kushner followed
but never really worked with either Paul
or Jack Young or with Dickerson. Bob Summers
is the other notable craftsman from Michigan
and he is the one common thread who
weaves the Michigan crowd together,
since he worked at one time or another
with all of them.
Kushner was a Russian
immigrant who owned and operated Kushner
Engineering, a tool and die shop located
within a couple miles of the Young operation.
He had a brilliant engineering mind and
converted his understanding of machine
operations into a successful business.
He was an avid fly
fisherman and had been interested in
bamboo rod construction for many years.
He often visited the Young
Company shop and during the early 60's
became close friends with Summers, who worked
building rods for the Young Company for 18 years.
retirement from his tool shop
he converted the garage at his home in
Birmingham [Michigan] into a rod shop and
began designing and building a milling
machine and other specialized equipment
needed for producing bamboo rods.
He became obsessed
with building rods and spent every spare
minute, when he wasn't
fishing, working in his shop.
He was a meticulous
craftsman and experimented extensively
with rod tapers and heat treating
cane for optimum performance. As a result his
rods show considerable variation in taper
design and color of cane, He used mostly Super
Z ferrules but at times he did experiment
with making his own. He also crafted his own
reel seats. His rods exhibit a variety of grip
configurations, evidence of his willingness
to innovate to achieve his desired result.
It is estimated he made
approximately 200 rods during his brief career,
before his death in 1973, which accounts for
why few collectors are fortunate enough to
find one and why few fishermen are willing
to part with theirs.
Kushner's equipment was
purchased by Bob Summers and provided him
the opportunity to start his own rod making
The late Robert Traver,
the witty and insightful fishing author
from Michigan, devoted a delightful
chapter entitled "Morris the Rodmaker" to
reminiscences about Kushner and his rods in
his book Trout Magic.