Part 7 in our Historical Rodmakers Series
Doug Merrick - Winston
Our thanks to Cententenial Publications for use permission.
November 9th, 1998
"Doug Merrick is not one of the most recognizable
rodmaker names, yet his rods are known and admired by
nearly all who appreciate fine bamboo craftsmanship.
Merrick went to work for R. L.
Winston in 1945, shortly after his discharge from
the World War II Air Corps. By 1953 he had become
a partner in the company with Lew Stoner, one of
the original owners. Stoner was an outstanding
machinist and inventor of the hollow-fluted
construction process that helped make R. L. Winston
rods famous. He was also an excellent teacher and
passed his rod making knowledge to Merrick before
he died suddenly in 1957, leaving Merrick as the sole
owner of R. L. Winston Rod Company.
Merrick was a natural craftsman
in his own right and his skills would have earned
him an even stronger reputation had he not followed
in the footsteps of a legend like Stoner.
Gradually the Winston rods
of the "Merrick era" have come to be recognized
as outstanding examples of the rodmaker's art. To
his credit, also, is his recognition of the
strengths and traditions behind Winston rods
and his refusal to make changes in the rods
simply for change sake, or to satisfy his own
ego by building rods distinguishable from Stoner's.
One example was his continued
use of the bakelite reel seat spacer. Merrick
realized the reel seat Stoner developed was one
of the most functional models ever designed and
continued to use it on Winston rods in spite of
criticism that it detracted from their appearance.
The changes Merrick did
make were subtle and well thought out; they were
made to modernize Winston rods to adapt to the
changing styles and attitudes of modern anglers.
Merrick initiated slight
modifications to the Winston rod tapers to
create a more moderate and responsive fishing
action, as compared to Stoner rods that were
more designed for distance casting.
Merrick also pioneered in
the development of NCP thread. The use of
thread with No Color Preserver allows better
saturation of the varnish and a tighter bond
between the wraps and the rod, without changing
the original color of the thread.
Doug Merrick's other major
contribution at Winston was in development of
fiberglass rods. He designed the tapers and
produced the mandrils that made R. L. Winston
a recognized leader in production of high
quality glass rods.
In 1973 Doug sold R. L.
Winston to Tom Morgan, who eventually moved
the company from San Francisco to
Twin Bridges, Montana."