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Now in its 12th 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 Advanced Rod Builders who participated this year!

We are pleased to announce the Category 3 (Advanced) winners of the 12th Annual Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing National Fly Rod Building Competition! Following an exciting Public Judging Round, seven Category 3 finalists proceeded to the Finals Round to be judged by an expert panel who determined 1st, 2nd & 3rd place. The expert panelists used the following criteria to score the flies and determine the winners: Neatness, Functionality, and Creativity.


The focus of the Advanced category is to design, order, and build a functional fly rod while displaying advanced techniques. This category is for participants who are building their 4th fly rod or more

3rd Place

Richard Sagran | PHWFF Montrose, CO

Mostly I like going out and using this rod to catch fish. This is my fourth rod for competition and I’ve enjoyed the creative process. Being with like-minded people, building my own fly rod, and being able to go out and catch fish with my people is priceless. PHWFF has helped me find peace of mind. The people and the activities have allowed me to reconnect with my peers and society after many years of isolation.

On the butt end of the fly rod handle, I used a pin that was given to me to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. I also created a special design on the cork grip. The thread wrapping starts with a one-thread wrap then goes to a two-thread wrap to personalize the rod. There is a thread wrap marker twenty inches from the base to use for measuring fish. This is useful for my fishing buddies who need help knowing what 20 inches is.

Richard Sagran | PHWFF Montrose, CO

2nd Place

Marcos Rico | PHWFF Anchorage, AK

The fly rod I built is a Rainshadow Eternity2 9ft, 10w, 4 piece cobalt blue. The reel seat and guides are all gun metal titanium. On this build I decided to demonstrate a few techniques that I have learned during the rod building classes within the program. The handle is custom built by me using 3 different colors of cork. I have implemented the marbling, fade under wrap for the guides, a new way to do tiger wrap with monofilament, and the floating guide using silk to secure them. I put a lot of emphasis on the handle as it took many hours to put together as well as the fading under-wraps and the floating guide technique

Rod building has allowed me to challenge my creativity and also pushed me to venture in using different materials and techniques to decorate and customize the rods that i build. I have also had the pleasure of the Anchorage, AK program to allow me to teach rod building and custom decorative wraps and weaving. Rod building has helped me with my PTSD and allows me to concentrate on positive thoughts rather then the negative ones.

Marcos Rico | PHWFF Anchorage, AK

1st Place

Billy Dailey III | PHWFF Portland, OR Program

I used fine nickel silver wire in all the guide wraps NOT metallic thread. I also used non ferrous metal rings when I made the handle that will not corrode even in salt water. It also helped balance the rod when put together. I also put a sterling silver hook catch on it above the handle. I made the reel seat by taking local wood (Buckeye Burl) and then stabilize it (vacuum tank with resin then baked) making it totally waterproof then turning it on the lathe to shape. CA (super glue) glue on the outside and then wet sand till flat. Cut and polish with automotive wax. I also used Mike McCoy snake guides (made here locally).

What I like most about fly rod building is there are NO limits as to how you build it. Healing waters has helped me out in many ways mentally and physically. Have made many long term friends because of healing waters. Learned how to build a fly rod and then sharing my knowledge with others. Its one of the best ways to deal with PTSD for me.

Billy Dailey III | PHWFF Portland, OR Program

We are stronger together

As we enter the seasons of thanks, good will and renewal, we want to thank you for supporting Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. Thanks to you, we can cast a lifeline to many of our Nation’s disabled veterans by connecting them to our programs and volunteers in a long-term healing relationship. 

But our work continues: there remain more than one million veterans across the U.S. that continue to suffer with service-connected injuries. Our goal is to increase the number of disabled veterans served by our programs and to continue helping more disabled veterans recover from their physical and emotional wounds. 

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