Monday, May 19, 2008

Orvis Fly Rods: If we told you, we'd have to kill you...

When my Great Grandfather, Theodore Roosevelt Burleson handed me my first stone fly nymph and fly rod 3o+ years ago, I wonder if he would have ever thought that the rod I got for my 41st birthday would be made of the same military grade material used in Predator drones? I won't even go into what he would have thought about unmanned machines flying about on their own and shooting things. Techie tome Wired Magazine features a look at Orvis' Helios fly rod:
The "stuff" is unidirectional carbon fiber — not the ubiquitous carbon mesh found everywhere from dashboards to tennis racquets, but a new superlight variety that was, until recently, a highly classified concoction. I start to copy information from a label when Stone barks, "Don't write down the manufacturer's name," and slams the door shut.

It's not just trade secrets he's protecting — it's national security. The composite is used in Predator drones and spy satellites for the US military. Stone, along with colleagues at the outdoors supplier Orvis, use it to build a fly-fishing rod. Called Helios, its story began nearly three years ago when Stone, Jim Lepage, and another man — so entrenched in top-secret contracts that nobody would even tell me his name (we'll call him Deep Trout) — set out to build the ultimate rod: lighter than anything ever made but strong enough to land the big one.

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