Rod Building Contest Provides Veteran With a Great New Pastime

Volunteer Jim Kissane profiles PHWFF veteran participant Dan Kellogg and his experiences with our Annual Rod Building Program and Competition in this short article.  The annual PHWFF Fly Rod Building Program and Competition offers our participants another avenue to continue their deep dive into fly fishing.  Thanks to Jim and Dan for sharing their story with us! 

Dan Kellogg earned a third-place finish in the 2016 Project Healing Waters National Rod Building Contest, but he has a secret to share:  It’s not his favorite rod. No, his favorite is still the 9-foot, 5-weight rod that was his first entry in the contest in 2015, the first rod he ever built.

“My go-to rod is the 5-weight, the first one I made,” he says. “It’s the one I learned on so it’s the one that’s most comfortable for me, the one I spent the most time on. I’d say it’s also the one I’ve had the most success with.”

That success includes a 6-pound rainbow, caught on a Size 18 nymph.

“That fish was definitely a two-hander,” he smiles. “There’s no way I could hold it with just one hand. I wrestled that one for probably 15 minutes, holding my breath. I was afraid the leader would break. I was counting on my equipment to take up the slack for my inexperience.”

“That rod has never let me down. I fished it until I had to patch it – twice now – and it just keeps going.”

Kellogg, an Air Force Veteran, served four and a half years on active duty, followed by nearly 18 years in the Air Force Reserves. He participates in the Greater Kansas City Program of Project Healing Waters, and the 9-foot, 8-weight rod he built in 2016 comes in handy for larger species like bass and carp in and around Kansas City. It also earned him a third-place finish in the National Rod Building Competition and a trip to Montana’s Healing Waters Lodge.

He appreciates the support of sponsors like The Bob Woodruff Foundation and Disabled Veterans National Foundation, who sponsor the annual rod-building competition, and Healing Waters Lodge, which provides fishing trips to program participants. He wants them to know how grateful he is.

“That was the trip of a lifetime,” Kellogg said of his week at Healing Waters Lodge. “Every day we went out on a different river – the Big Hole, the Smith, the Beaverhead, the Madison. We must have fished 100 miles of water.”   Related: A memorable trip to Healing Waters Lodge

Hook & Hackle has not only earned his respect as a sponsor, it has built his loyalty as a customer.

“I upgraded the eyelets before I built my rod and they’ve lasted until today, very smooth,” he says. “And their Flex Coat Epoxy is the only one I use.

“I’m really grateful to the Bob Woodruff Foundation and DVNF,” he adds. “There’s no way I would have picked up this hobby without them. The rod builds, the programs, the camaraderie. They’ve been great.”

The purpose of the Rod Building program and Competition is to expand the therapeutic experience for PHWFF disabled veteran participants 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 rod building program also has a fun competition component which gives participants the chance to win prizes for their rod building abilities. 

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