Legendary Rodmaker Tom Morgan Passes Away

Tom Morgan changed the way that anglers thought about fly-rod action.
Photo via Youtube

Tom Morgan, a revered fly-rod builder known for favoring softer-action fly rods and rejecting the sport’s fascination with distance casting, passed away in Montana yesterday. In a message posted on the Tom Morgan Rodsmiths website, current company owners Joel Doub and Matt Barber made the announcement:

It is with great sadness that we share the news of Tom’s passing with our community. Tom died peacefully on Monday, 6/12 surrounded by friends and family. Our thoughts are with Tom’s wife Gerri, his children and grandchildren.

This would be a good week to go fishing with someone you love, tie on a Royal Wulff and think of Tom.

From his beginnings as a guide in Montana to his final rod-building years, Morgan was dedicated to his craft.
Photos via troutrods.com

Morgan, who owned and ran the R. L. Winston Rod Company from 1973 to 1991, had suffered from multiple sclerosis since the early 90s. In 1996, he relaunched his rod-building career with a boutique company called Tom Morgan Rodsmiths. He and his wife, Gerri Carlson, made the rods together, with Gerri often acting as Tom’s hands. Earlier this year, Tom and Gerri sold the company to Doub and Barber. Click here for a wonderful, moving ESPN feature on Tom from 2013 and watch the CBS Sunday Morning profile below.

Our condolences go out to Tom’s family and his many friends and partners in the fly-fishing world.

10 thoughts on “Legendary Rodmaker Tom Morgan Passes Away”

  1. A visit to Tom 15 years ago with my son and brother remains one of the highlights of seventy five years of flyfishing ! RIP Tom.

    Steve Denkers

  2. Thanks for the nice tribute Orvis family. We will all miss Tom and his quest for very fishable soft action rods. Condolences to Gerri.

  3. Thanks, Orvis! Classy post about one of your competitors. Tom was a true legend, and dedicated to his craft to the end.

  4. Thank you Orvis for the tribute on Tom. Very classy, it was just in the winter issue of International Federation of Fly Fishers they had a very nice article about Tom by Jerry Kustich . Condolences to his wife Gerri.

  5. Tom, . . .may you join all the others in the heavens who have enjoyed all the fruits of your fly rod designs and your wonderful personality. You & I enjoyed so much our conversations of my fly fishing experiences with 3 of your rods here in the ‘gator frequented bayous of southern Louisiana. Geri, our conversations together are too so memorable with your wonderful friendliness, and we all wish you the best, . . .George.

  6. At a sportsman show many, many years ago I was looking at the Winston Rod display. Tom Morgan came up to me and asked me if I would like to cast one. I was an absolute novice at casting but he took me out to the middle casting pool and guided my hand while I attempted to cast….in fact I did pretty well thanks to his guidance. I think he knew I’d wouldn’t buy a rod but Tom will never know how much that impressed me and eventually made me a lifelong fly fisherman.

    That is just the kind of guy Tom was.

  7. Lovely tribute to a remarkable man. It is my good fortune to have known him even tho i do not fly fish.

    Sending love to gerri

  8. Tom will be sorely missed but never forgotten. He built spectacular rods and become a legend for doing so. And Orvis deserves great kudo’s for giving a well deserved nod to a top notch competitor. Many thanks!!!

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