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I started building rods as a highschool kid, using blanks from Lamiglas and Herters. Back in the 80's, when I decided I might be able to make a little money from my rod building skills, I went with St. Croix and J. Kennedy Fisher. Since then I have worked with so many different blank manufacturers that I have gotten a pretty good grasp of just what the right folks can do with the right materials. Lots of what I've worked with has come from small time manufacturers like myself and together we have produced pretty much state of the art fly rods. My offerings reflect that wealth of experience. Along with a lot of special builders, and a couple small fairly unknown blank manufacturers, I have continued my special relationships with the major manufacturers and have lumped all these offerings together under the general name of "Signature Blanks." Therefore the blanks that I use might be made by any of a dozen major rod manufacturers or small blank makers. The advantage of dealing with practically everybody in the industry is that I can select the best from the best and have a line of rods second to none. I will be glad to tell you the maker of any particular model on request.


It was not hard for me to decide, back in the 80's, that Sage Manufacturing was destined to be the leader of the industry. Since then, they have remained at the top, and I have remained faithful to them as the cutting edge rod blank producer. I consider myself very lucky to have retained a Custom Builder account with Sage. They have offered very few of those accounts over the years. That account is a compliment to my work and my rods are a compliment to their blanks. Maintaining a Custom Builder account gives me complete access to their blank stock, immediate delivery on blanks, and very quick turn around on repair sections. My first Sage rods were built on their RP series. Soon I worked with their RPL blanks and LL blanks. I still regard their LL blank rods as some of the best trout rods ever built. RPLX came along as did RPLXi. Saltwater has been dominated by those strong, durable blanks for years. SP was their production leader for a long time and covered everything from light trout to salmon and light saltwater. SPL brought an emphasis on really light action rods with a reserve of power for medium casting distances. A need to compete and provide continuous upgrading brought the XP series and, more recently the SLT series. Sage has remained at the cutting edge and continues to push the competition to new heights.

New this year are the TCR and Xi2 Sage Blank Rods
Last year Sage introduced the super fast action line of rods they called the Technical Casting Rod series. Those rods were the fastest action, most powerful rods Sage has ever built. This year those blanks are available for me to build and I have included three models in my inventory. They are gorgeous blanks in a fine metalic burgundy color that complements my fine wraps and Bob Venneri's wonderful reel seats. The RPLX and RPLXi saltwater rods have become the most dated rods in the Sage lineup. This year they have come with what is bound to be regarded as the most revolutionary line of saltwater rods ever built. The light weight, crisp action, and ultimate power of these rods is astounding. An 8 wt. has the heft and overall feel of a 6 wt. but with tremendous power and quickness. I will include a good sampling of these rods from the 6 wt. to the 10 wt. The brawny and beautifully finished pewter anodized reel seat Struble manufactures especially for me to use on these rods is a state of the art combination. Note that these rods are all four piece rods rather than the previous three piece models in the RPLXi series, which were never really very portable. Four piece rods have become the industry standard now, largely replacing two and three piece models. See my TCR and Saltwater pages for several pictures of these new models.

Last year was a turning point for me.
Beginning with the 2003 model year I began a primary emphasis on Sage blank rods. My craftsmanship is at the absolute top of the industry and should best be complemented by the best there is in rod blank technology and manufacturing quality. Sage is at that level. They are at the cutting edge. My craft is refined to a point of perfection. My fit and finish along with Sage blanks and Bob Venneri and Struble reel seats, Mary Lu's wonderfully sewn rod bags, and Landmark's precision rod cases will provide the quality conscious fly fisher with the best there is.

To help me to be competitive with the lifetime warranties, my Sage blank rods are $100 under factory price.
It is not practical for me to try and offer the, now typical, unlimited lifetime warranty. That puts me at a disadvantage with the rest of the industry. Therefore, I am selling my rods with a better price up front to cover future repairs. You will be getting a wonderfully crafted Performance Graphite Sage blank rod and at a price $100 less than what Sage suggests they sell for. It might cost you a little more for future repairs, but that $100 up front will surely help to cover them.

My warranty is hopefully the equal of Sage's, and perhaps even better.
I am continuously asked about my rod warranty. I offer a 100% no cost warranty on rods that break because of defective components. No service or shipping charge. If you buy a rod from me and it breaks because of a defective blank, I fix it free. Sage charges $30. If you step on it or shut the door on it or your neighbor's dog chews it up, I'll need you to help me with the cost. That is the way it always used to be. My casualty break repairs usually run less than $50. When you factor in the $100 less you paid for my rod to begin with, you are surely ahead.

Will I still have my other rod models?
Absolutely. I have a good inventory of the many Signature Blanks I've used for my other lines of rods and will maintain my relationships with my suppliers as always. You will always be able to get what you want on special order, like you always have. I will still continue an inventory of my best selling standard rods, especially including my short rods, glass rods, and six piece rods.

St. Croix Legend Elite five piece rods.
In my mind there remains one hole in the extensive Sage rod line, namely five piece rods. With the coming of the Xi2 series of saltwater rods, Sage discontinued their truly aggressive five piece rods, only retaining the moderate action ones in the SLT lineup which I include in my inventory. Looking for a true high performance five piece rod, I tried the new Legend Elite models from St. Croix. They are state of the art, fast action blanks done up with extremely high modulus materials making for extremely light high performance fly rods. I am including three models in my rod line this year. They are priced $100 below the St. Croix factory price just like my Sage blank rods and are built with the same components. If you are looking for the industry's highest performance five piece rods, look to these Legend Elite rods from me.


The mountains of the East have a wonderful selection of beautiful little trout streams tumbling down through mossy, cool hollows. Under the branches of overhanging hemlock and rhododendron are deep silent pools, the home of the jewels of the Appalachians, the native brook trout. Such small streams with such tight cover make traditional long fly rods a clumsy combination. Tiny fly rods, seven foot and under, make such situations much more manageable. Over the years my small rods in sizes from 5' through 7'9" have provided small stream lovers with wonderful tools to make otherwise impossible situations into real fly fishing experiences. A complete series of Performance S Glass rods in three piece and six piece in lengths from 6' to 7', and numerous models of graphite rods from the 5' 3-4 wt. rod through the wonderful 7' six piece 3 wt. rods that packs down to 15 inches, make my small rod offerings the most extensive in the industry. My small rods have short small diameter cigar grips and short sliding ring reel seats, much like small cane rods, not in any way like the industry standard long grips and big reel seats acceptable on standard long trout rods. I know what small rods are supposed to look like and how they are best done to provide the best in balance and performance.They are truly fly fishing in miniature.

For complete specifications and prices of all my rod models, go to the prices page.

For an extreme close-up shot of my rods, click the picture below:

Dave Lewis
Performance Fly Rods
5798 Singers Glen Rd.
Harrisonburg, VA 22802
540/867-0856 Phone
E-mail: MaryLuRods@gmail.com

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Write to, Dave Lewis