Meet the Category 2 Winners: Intermediate Fly Rods

The Public Voting Round of our 13th Annual Fly Rod Building Competition is now open for Category 3: Advanced Fly Rods! We invite you celebrate the tremendous fly rod building talents of our participants by casting your votes today.

We are pleased to announce the winners of Category 2 (Intermediate) of the 13th Annual PHWFF Fly Rod Building Competition! Following an exciting Public Judging Round (during which over 900 votes were cast!), seven finalists proceeded to the Finals Round to be judged by an expert panel who determined 1st, 2nd & 3rd place.

Now in its 13th year, the National Fly Rod Building Competition is focused on expanding the therapeutic experience for disabled veterans participating in PHWFF programs by giving them the experience of building their own fly rods to further their physical and mental rehabilitation through the sport of fly fishing.  The program also has a fun competition component which gives participants the chance to win prizes for their rod building abilities, skills and creativity in a fun contest.

Join us in celebrating all the Intermediate Fly Rod Builders who participated this year!

MEET THE CATEGORY 2 WINNERS

Category 2: Intermediate

This category is for participants who are building their 2nd or 3rd fly rod.

3rd Place

Joseph Ashley | PHWFF Winston-Salem, NC

I am an Air Force veteran of 11 years. I have always loved to fish but had never picked up a fly rod until I joined PHW. I’ve been an active member for three years now and thanks to the mentors and volunteers I think I have the basics of fly fishing down but have more to learn.


I built a 10ft 6 in. 4wt cobalt blue euro nymphing rod. It has a custom wrap rattan cigar wrapped handle, single foot guides , with feather inlay designs. With light blue and dark blue rod building thread. Also I added a metallic gold thread wrap at the 24 in fish marker from the butt end. Also added a magnet to the end cap to use as a hook holder. I also add a blue rattan weave line into the rattan wrap.


I enjoy the company of other veterans and volunteer members of PHWFF and learning there more than one way to build a rod, tie a fly or catch a fish. I also enjoy the Tall Tales of the ones that got away.


I think for the 1st time building a rattan wrap handle was special I even weaved a blue line into the rattan and figuring out how to do the feather design inlays to quickly line the rod on fishing outings and add a little design on rod for flare


I love getting out on the water with other veterans and volunteers, something my body and mind want let me do this. It’s good to know I’m safe and if something happens I have back up on the water.

Joseph Ashley, PHWFF Winston-Salem, NC


2nd Place

Zachary Griffin | PHWFF Conroe, TX

This is a 12 weight, 9 foot fly rod I built for 1 specific purpose. To keep it small I kept it to 9 foot so I could easily travel because my wife is from the Pacific side of Mexico on the beach and I enjoy fishing there when we visit. I needed something to handle the larger than 50 pound fish I sometimes catch there (one of which in a bad situation broke an 8wt rod) so the 12wt I believe was the answer. Along with the removable fighting butt I also put a fore grip on it to help with the fish fighting.


To help out with the salt water I sun-stained the cork sealed it. All the spiral wraps on the rod were done with a single strand of the spiral color and the wraps over the guide feet were done with nylon embroidery thread for extra strength. All the metal parts are titanium also, to help with the salt water fishing.
Building fly rods demands so much attention, and I am so invested in doing the best job I can, that it is truly an escape. The world melts away when I’m focused on getting each strand of thread as tight as I can, not getting epoxy everywhere, and keeping the guides straight. Also, putting meaning into the project adds a level of purpose to it. To say the least, it is a moment of peace in my chaotic world.


This is a rod to honor the generations of my family who were combat Veterans. The butt section is for WWII service. The red and blue for Army (artillery), the gold and blue for the Navy for my great-grandads. The orange and blue small wrap for the Army Air Corp WWII service for my Grandad along with the first section. The black and yellow is section is for my service in the Army in Iraq. The tip section is blue and yellow of the Air Force for my brother’s Iraq service and sister’s in Afghanistan.


I joined PHWFF just try fly fishing. What I found was a place that actually helps Veterans heal. I have many disabled Veteran friends, with brain damage or missing limbs, who I take to the hospital when needed, on fishing trips, or just to hang out. I brought them into the program and seeing them succeed in making flies and building rods does something good for the heart that I have a hard time putting in words. Add in the amazing friends I have made here makes PHWFF an organization in a league of it’s own

Zachary Griffin, PHWFF Conroe, TX


1st Place

Jack Gershkowitz | PHWFF Cape Coral, FL

I served in the US Airforce from 1966-1970. Upon discharge I returned home & began the next chapter of my life. I spent many years unaware that I was suffering from PTSD. In 2017 I was diagnosed with PTSD due to an injury I sustained while stationed at the Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon Vietnam. During my 1st year of treatment in Charleston, SC it was suggested I attend one of the PHWFF meeting. This program has improved my quality of life & I am so grateful for this opportunity this program has provided.

My rod is from Hook and Hackle Company it is a XIseries, 9 foot, 10 weight, 4piece, Olive Green in color This was my first attempt at a cross wrap and also working with metallic thread. My under wrap was done with two threads at a time one metallic purple and the other metallic silver. I also used Micro guides.

I enjoy the entire process of of rod building but if I were to chose one aspect I would have to say the sharing and interaction with other vets is very special. I feel that rod building has provided me an outlet that is positive & rewarding. The creativity of the design & watching it evolve into the tool that will enable me to catch that fish is very satisfying. The process has also given me purpose & has a calming effect that has enriched my quality of life.

Jack Gershkowitz, PHWFF Cape Coral, FL

Join us in celebrating the tremendous fly rod building talents of all our PHWFF participants!

CONGRATS!

The Public Voting Round of our 13th Annual Fly Rod Building Competition is now open for Category 3: Advanced Fly Rods! We invite you celebrate the tremendous fly rod building talents of our participants by casting your votes today.

Now in its 13th year, the National Fly Rod Building Competition is focused on expanding the therapeutic experience for disabled veterans participating in PHWFF programs by giving them the experience of building their own fly rods to further their physical and mental rehabilitation through the sport of fly fishing.  The program also has a fun competition component which gives participants the chance to win prizes for their rod building abilities, skills and creativity in a fun contest.

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