Want to know more about Rocky Bob Knowles, and how he came to be a master fly rod designer, fly rod builder, and custom knife maker? Bob Knowles, the founder of Rocky Bob’s Fly Fishing Rods & Custom Knives, has impressive credentials in fly fishing, fly rod designing & building, and knife building, based on a lifetime of experience as a woodsman and outdoorsman. Here’s a quick look at his credentials and how he acquired his expert knowledge in fly rod building, fly fishing & knife making.
A Boston-area native, Rocky Bob’s first introduction to fly fishing came when he got a Tonkin Cane Fly Rod Kit for Christmas when he was 12. After learning to cast from a neighborhood friend who just happened to be from Colorado, Bob went to a local pond to try the rod. The scene that day was chaotic as he tried casting, hooking, and then bringing fish to shore. “Even today, catching and landing a fish of any size still makes my heart race,” he says.
After catching trout in New England with both spinning and fly fishing tackle, Bob and his dad decided to build a spinning rod from Herter’s during one cold New England winter. They built the rod in a month, and when Massachusetts’ fishing season opened the next spring, Bob cast the newly made rod only to have it break on the first cast. Chagrined, he sent the broken rod back to Herter’s and it was promptly replaced with another kit. This time, he and his dad carefully read the instructions, built the rod, and Rocky Bob still has that rod today.
Growing up, Bob and his father tramped through fields and forests in New England, and he learned orienteering, fishing, hunting, weather assessment, how to “read” a river, and more. He has stories of getting lost in the woods and facing the prospect of putting his survival skills to the test, encountering wildlife, and more.
He moved to Colorado in 1979, and had a chance to try out Colorado’s famed “Gold Medal” waters in more ways than one. Bob has fished virtually every river in Colorado and many others throughout the Rocky Mountain West. He also took up gold panning, and when he’s not working to catch elusive trout, he’s panning for gold in Colorado streams.
In 1989, Rocky Bob went to a Fly Rod Building School in Colorado. This particular rod building school featured a strong, hands-on approach to designing and crafting fishing rods for all sorts of situations. They studied how different materials flexed and performed under a load. He was especially fascinated with the action of fly rods. He learned tips and techniques that don’t come from books and built a great variety of rods during this training. Once he graduated, Rocky Bob kept in touch with his teacher, who continued to mentor him. Then, Bob crafted a variety of fly rods for himself, for friends and colleagues, while pursuing a corporate career as a successful technology salesman. Still…his heart was always on the river.
During those years, he was also crafting his skills in custom knife making. He experimented with various types of blades, and handle materials – finding out which ones performed the best and lasted the longest. He built up a stash of enviable tools, and crafted knives for himself, his family, and friends.
After 25+ years in sales, he decided it was time to make custom knives and build fly rods full time. He spent more time researching the performance of various fly rod blanks, and crafted a product line of custom fly rods and custom knives for men & women. He balances his time between designing and making fly fishing rods and custom knives with actual time on the river, tromping through Colorado’s wild places with his Labrador Retreiver, and meeting folks who love to fish, or want to learn to fish, or hunt.
He has caught trophy trout, salmon, warm water fish, and pan fish in course of his fishing career, along with hunting various types of birds and other wildlife.
Bob is passionate about fishing, and getting people outdoors. He has a genuine enjoyment of sharing knowledge and introducing people to fishing, as well as helping existing anglers expand their skills and knowledge.
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