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shotguns. I learned the engraving art from gun engravers and admire much of the great work they are producing. I’ve been asked to do some pretty interesting things. I’ve engraved everything from kissing trout to memorialise an engagement, to portraits of a favourite dog, to dragon flies with diamonds set in the eyes.” Following much praise in the media and from

happy clients, it was not long before Oyster was contacted by Te Carter Centre – the human rights organisation founded by former president Jimmy Carter. Each year the centre has a charity auction, and one of the main supporters decided to purchase and donate one of the prestigious rods. Te idea was for the president to autograph the rod, then fish it for a year, after which it would go to auction with the pedigree of having been his personal rod. Remembering the grand unveiling to the former president, Oyster states, “When the rod was unveiled during one of his fishing outings, it was the first time he [President Carter] got to actually see the final product. He immediately looked my way, and said ‘come with me, I’m going to fish this rod right now’. I was a bit surprised as there were some very high profile guests in the lodge that day and we left them all standing in the dining hall as the two of us put on our waders and headed to the river.” He continues, “After a while the

hardware right down to the presidential seal on the bottom of the butt cap. By creating such a piece, the move into teaching others seemed like a natural progression. With the belief that enthusiastic rod-makers will in turn lead to the survival of the craft, Bill now gives in depth tutoring in

crafting bamboo rods from start to finish. He states, “Every student leaves with a complete rod that will become a family heirloom for generations – not just because it will become Grand daddy’s fly rod, but because it will become the rod Grand daddy made with his own two hands.” With such a refreshing interest in using something exciting and new to carry on the tradition of rod making, it really is no surprise that Oyster plans to continue his trade by constructing a new Georgia based facility, allowing a larger workshop and on-site accommodation for students. Reflecting his ‘only way is up’ sentiments in

rod making, Bill Oyster’s business ideal looks set to carry on creating artistic greatness with an eye always looking at ways to improve.

other guests realised he wasn’t coming back and joined us down on the stream bank to watch him land his second or third fish with the rod. At that point he looked up to the organisers of the event and said ‘well, you’re going to have to make another rod for the auction’. Everyone laughed, to which he replied, ‘No – seriously – I’m keeping this one.’ He certainly did, although he has since been kind enough to continue the tradition of the auction rods which have done very well for the Carter Centre’s fundraising efforts.” For this bespoke piece, there was no set budget, which gave Bill complete artistic freedom. Tis enabled him to craft a 7’9” 5wt trout rod with all of the embellishments. It came in a gold embossed leather case which Oyster hand engraved all of the nickel silver

For more information on Oyster Bamboo Rods, visit Telephone (706)374-4239 or e-mail

President Carter and Bill Oyster 51

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