Thomas Rod Company - Makers of fine bambo fishing rods since 1896
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The History of the Thomas Rod Company

The Thomas Rod Company mid 1930's
The F.E. Thomas Rod Company, c 1935

Our founder, Fred E. Thomas first crafted split bamboo fishing rods under the Thomas name in the late 1890's, after an association with some of the other great masters of his craft, Hiram Leonard, Eustis Edwards and Ed Payne.

"F.E." as he was known, got his start in the rod making business as an employee of Hiram Leonard, and the H.L. Leonard Rod Co., here in Bangor, Maine, and later in Central Valley, NY after Leonard moved his rod making facility there in the late 1880's.

The H.L. Leonard Rod Co. c1880's
The H.L. Leonard Rod Co. c1880's

In 1893, F.E., along with two other fellow Leonard craftsmen, Eustis Edwards and Ed Payne, formed the now historic partnership known as Thomas, Edwards and Payne, in Central Valley, New York. It was this partnership that crafted the rare and sought after "Kosmic Rod".

In 1898, the partnership disolved, and F.E. moved back home to Brewer, Maine, along with his partner E.W. Edwards, to form the short lived Thomas and Edwards Co.

After a short partnership crafting rods sold under names like Empire City Tackle, F.E. went on his own, and the F.E. Thomas Rod Co. was born.

Fred first opened the F.E. Thomas Rod Co. here in Brewer, at 52 Center Street, only a short distance from our current shop, and remained here until 1902.

In 1902 Fred moved the shop across the Penobscot River to Exchange Street in Bangor and remained at this location until 1923, when he finally moved the shop to his newly built rod shop on Park Street hill in Bangor.

Thomas workshopThe Thomas Rod Company's business had now grown to include a world wide following and the shop now employed as many as a dozen skilled craftsman, including the heir to the Thomas Rod Company, Leon Thomas.

After Fred's passing in 1938, Leon Thomas took over at the Thomas Rod Co. and continued the fine tradition of crafting bamboo rods that his father had started over 40 years before.

Thomas Rod Co

The company prospered for over 60 years in Brewer and Bangor making a variety of fishing rods for every type of angler until the company's sale in 1958 to legendary rodmaker Clarence "Sam" Carlson. For the following 40 years after the shop closed its doors, Thomas rods could only be appreciated by owning and casting a vintage example of these fine rods.

In 1999, the Thomas Rod Company was purchased from Sam, and has come full circle, returning to its roots in the twin cities of Brewer/Bangor, and we are once again making bamboo fly rods here in Maine, in the same tradition that Fred and Leon began over 100 years ago.

**Read more about the Thomas Rod Co. in the Atlantic Salmon Federation's Journal, by clicking here.

Steve Campbell and Sam Carlson
Steve Campbell and Sam Carlson after the historic sale of the Thomas Rod Co. in 1999

Thomas Rod Company

:: 19 Sargent Drive :: Brewer, ME 04412