I was the Director of Fenwick’s Montana Fly Fishing Schools back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and Paul Brown, Gary LaFontaine, and Dave Schultz were my Casting Instructors at the Fenwick Schools. I personally hired them. Anyway, please allow me to first discuss Paul Brown, and then make a few comments about the early days designing the 902, 903, and 904 rods.
Paul Brown was the greatest fly caster that I have ever seen, and I have had the honor and pleasure of seeing many great fly casters over the past 50 years. Paul accomplished fly casts on a stream that I have never seen duplicated. Moreover, Paul’s casting grace and beauty remain unequaled to this day.
Each summer, on a day the Schools were not in session, Jim Green would stop by and Jim and I would cast his rods for hours...yes far, far better than being a kid in a candy store. And during those casting days, once Jim Green met Paul Brown, saw him cast, and they discussed fly rod design, we started discussing a more delicate fly rod for light 2, 3, and 4 weight lines. These first discussions started in 1980, along with Jim Green regularly sending Paul numerous (think 10 to 12 each per line weight) test rod blanks that Jim kept track of with a numbering system. Paul would tape guides and push a grip on the test rods which we would both cast, and then we would each call Jim and discuss our thoughts. I kept 3 wonderful rods that Paul Brown built for me from these Jim Green brown blanks. Obviously, since I retired from the Fenwick Schools in the early to mid 1980s, I wasn’t around for Fenwick’s actual production of the World Class 902, 903, and 904 rods, and I can’t add any information about these rods.
Finally, and perhaps saving the best for last, I sincerely thank Dan (ffftroutbum) for providing his history of these rods. One thing I have learned over the past many years is that when either Dan or his brother are discussing the fishing and casting characteristics of a fly rod, I LISTEN! I haven’t run across anyone with more skill and ability in this area. Dan, thanks for the memories.