Meet the Craftsman

Raven Fork Rods are made and designed by Jim Mills, a fly fishing rod maker in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina who is described in a recent magazine article as "The Rod Wizard of Raven Fork." His vision of the perfect fly rod has been sharpened by a lifetime of fishing fJim and Bamboo Fly Rod rom salt water to clear mountain trout streams from the Madison river in Montana to the Chesapeake Bay. Because he is an avid fisherman, Jim understands better than anyone the demands of wide rivers and narrow creeks and the nuances of both dry flies and nymphs.

He made his first rod in 1964 when he was stationed with the United States Public Health Service on a remote Native American reservation. Since then he has made hundreds of rods in all mediums--bamboo, fiberglass, and graphite. He has also painstakingly restored rods of all kinds including broken beloved poles and family heirlooms. More recently he has come to specialize in bamboo, which he believes is the Cadillac of the industry. Along the way, he was fortunate to study and be mentored by a veteran bamboo rodmaker who challenged him and helped him master this difficult medium as is evidenced by the outstanding quality of his rods.

What makes Jim's rods unique is his commitment to the fisherman. He likes to interview his customers to get an understanding of their specific needs: What kind of waters do they fish? or do they plan to travel with their rod? Rod length, weight, flexibility, and cost all come into play, as do design elements like nickel silver ferrules, artisan-sourced custom reel seats and classic tapers. Jim completely immerses himself in understanding the individual fisherman. The result: a fly rod as unique as the individual. "A fly rod should be an extension of one's arm, balanced perfectly and easy to cast," said Jim. A Native American fishing guide here in the Smokies where Jim makes his home sums it up perfectly: "One can feel Jim's heart in his rods."

Over the years, Jim has honed these skills and makes rods for discriminating clients. In addition to building rods, Jim also restores bamboo rods taking an old dilapidated rod that may have been hidden away in an attic and turning it into a rod that is both beautiful and fishable.

For additional information, read about Mills in the following magazines:

Southern Trout MagazineL North Carolina Sportsman Smoky Mountain News Fishing Article