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Nevada native has integrated his passion for Northern Nevada fishing into his company.
Photo: Charlie Johnston (all)
It isn’t much of an exaggeration to say that Gary Kiernan Jr. is a natural-born fisherman. He picked up his first fishing pole when he was about four years old and built his first fly rod in Boy Scouts some seven years later.
Two years ago, he went into business building rods for everyone else. The founder, owner, and sole employee of Kiernan Custom Rods, Kiernan has the opportunity to combine his 15-year background as a machinist and his lifelong passion for fly-fishing.
He started the at-home business because he was dissatisfied with the quality of factory-produced rods and knew he could do better. The Nevada native was raised in Reno and has devotedly fished the Truckee River, Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake, and a slew of other Northern Nevada waterways his entire life, and he is perfectly in tune with the needs of his fellow fly-fishers.
No detail of a Kiernan Custom Rod is overlooked. Kiernan hand turns and sands the handles, which he makes using burl wood, cork, and antler to provide a combination of grip, balance, and strength. Kiernan also makes custom burl wood reel seats. He prides himself in the durability of his products. “These are built strong,” he says. “They last a lifetime and come with a lifetime warranty on craftsmanship.”
In addition to being tough as nails, Kiernan’s rods are unique works of art. About 20 hours goes into building a single rod, given the intricate design details. Kiernan is known for the distinctive spider design of his feather inlays, in which he uses the colorful plumage of local birds, such as quail, and feathers from more exotic fowl. He meticulously fans the feathers out, one by one, into impossibly detailed arrays, which, upon completion, resemble spiders.
Another unique artistic feature Kiernan offers is marbleizing, in which he uses special metallic paints at specific temperatures to create iridescent flame and star patterns. Arrowhead, insect, spider, dry fly, and crawdad epoxy inlays on the ends of the handles add originality to Kiernan’s rods.
He builds each rod to the specific needs and tastes of individual customers and can even incorporate custom decals, which he creates using digital pictures provided by his customers. “All the hours of work are worth it when a customer sees their custom rod for the first time,” Kiernan says. “This is something they can cherish, maybe even as a family heirloom.”
Kiernan Custom Rods range from about $200 to $700, plus the cost of the rod blank and shipping. Each rod also comes with a certified letter of authenticity.
NDOW SPONSORS PROGRESSIVE FLY-TYING CLASS
The Nevada Department of Wildlife is putting on a three-day progressive fly-tying class, February 23-25. The class will start with a basic fly and progressively work up to a more advanced fly by the third class. If you always wanted to learn how to make your own flies or learn how to match the hatch, this class will teach you the basics. The class is designed for beginning to Intermediate level fly-tiers and is free to all participants. Class is limited to the first 15 persons who register.
WHEN: February 23-25
The class will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. each night.
WHAT: We suggest timely attendance at all three classes as each class relies on the previous on due to increasing difficulty.
WHERE: In Verdi at the Verdi Community Library and Wildlife Education Center, 270 Bridge Street. (Building is adjacent to the Verdi Elementary School grounds)
SIGN-UPS: Pre-registration is required to receive the class outline. For more information call the Department of Wildlife at 775-688-1559. Registration opens February 9.
AGES: Minimum 10 years of age.