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PHWFF Veteran participants from across the country submitted hundreds entries to the 2017 National Rod Building Competition.  Thanks to a generous grant from the Bob Woodruff Foundation we were able to provide this great program to a record-setting number of PHWFF participants in 2017:  98 PHWFF Programs throughout the United States took part with over 800 veteran participants involved and the largest number ever to take part in this annual program.  Our congrats to them all!

Competition host Ron Weiss of The Hook & Hackle Company, was astounded with the high quality of rods submitted for the 2017 competition: “What truly amazed me this year was the high number of outstanding rods which placed very close to the top and were only a point or two from placing among the top 3.” says Ron Weiss of Hook & Hackle, “I could see from the quality of rods submitted, that not only did the veterans show better skills, but the quality of the instructors must have improved as well. In particular with this years competition, we saw a lot of skilled weaving that was simply outstanding. One rod, Rick Warrington’s from Fort Belvoir, showed some painting skills, which was a first for the contest. Over all, the rods showed amazing talent, workmanship and patience. Congratulations to all winners and participants!”

The annual PHWFF Rod Building Program wouldn’t be possible without the tremendous support of Ron Weiss, The Hook & Hackle Company, The Bob Woodruff Foundation, our great programs and volunteer instructors, and all those who contributed their time, talents, and expertise to judging the high volume of entries. Due to the tremendous skills of those veterans participating, the judges spent many hours methodically reviewing all the submissions.

The judges of the contest vary from year-to-year but typically include: Professional Rod Builder, Lay Person, Hook & Hackle employees, PHWFF participant, and a PHWFF volunteer. These judges use a 10 point scale for the 3 Categories that include: “Neatness” (evenness of the thread wraps, no excess glues or finishes on blank/grip/seat, etc); “Functionality” (guide spacing, components in line, etc.); “Creativity” (open to interpretation of the judges) and so on. The totals are then tallied for each participant and the winners in each category with the highest overall scores are the winners.

The top three winners in each category are eligible for the National Rod Building Contest prizes including: 3 seats in the 2018 Bamboo Bend Project in Grayling, Michigan or a 2017 PHWFF National Destination trip to the Little Red River near Heber Springs, Arkansas. Congratulations to each of the winners and all the volunteers who helped to teach them their rod building skills and techniques. It was very difficult for the judges to select the contest winners due to the high caliber of this years submissions.

And the winners are:


UPDATE: “Due to our error, the following rods, all from the Tidewater Virginia Program were overlooked for the original judging of this year’s contest. Judges were called in separately for this judging and overall, as a group from the Tidewater Virginia program, these rods were judged as the “Best Overall Program Rods” that we have ever seen! Our hats go off to Bill Campbell, Program Lead, and Jim Vogel, Instructor for the program. The photos speak for themselves, but we must add that we were ‘blown away’ by the group as a whole.” – Ron Weiss, The Hook & Hackle Company

The “Best Overall Program Rod” winners are:


Join us in congratulating all those who took part in this fun, annual program and competition! It is always remarkable to see the incredible creativity and craftsmanship of our amazing participants. Their awesome talents were truly on display with the fine fly rods submitted by those participating. Our thanks, again, goes out to Ron Weiss and the employees of Hook & Hackle for their support of this yearly endeavor! They put tremendous effort into making this annual contest possible for PHWFF.