Faces of the Falls: Doug Lords

Creator of Willow Rods makes a splash

Published online: Jun 22, 2020 Articles I.F. Magazine Staff
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It all started with a common experience shared between Idahoans. In 2016, Doug Lords was fishing. See, nothing out of the ordinary. However, while on the mountain at Mountain Ash Creek in Yellowstone, Lords had an epiphany: he decided he wanted a new fly fishing rod. 

After this realization, came the search for said fly rod. Lords scoured multiple sources, but couldn’t find a rod that wasn’t horribly expensive. When lamenting to his friend about the costs, that same friend suggested he build one. This was the start of what would eventually become Willow Rods. 

Once Lords built his own fly rod, requests came tumbling in from friends and others, leading him to decide to establish his own brand. He still constructs each rod by hand, a process that when completed straight through takes about three and a half hours to complete.

“So far, I would say I’ve made maybe 80 rods,” Lords estimated. “I've shipped them all over. I did a lot last year for a bunch of people back east.  I just did a casting rod for a fishing charter company out of Seattle.”

Social media currently Lords’ most popular marketing tools, as well as his website www.willowflyrods.com. It’s here where he posts pictures of the wide variety of rods he offers, including his favorite -- the fiberglass line. Most importantly, this is where he sells his rods at the affordable price he wasn’t able to find when he was searching for his own fly fishing rod. 

“I want people to be able to go fishing with a custom fly rod that's quality for a price that they can afford, “Lords explained. “Rod prices for a standard rod start at about $200 for a fiberglass rod and up to $230 for a 9’graphite rod.”

Lords continues to do a lot of small creek and stream fishing himself. He isn’t a big “go-to-the-river kind of guy.” Willow Creek, which is just 10 minutes from his home, is where he continues to spend most of his time.

You might be wondering what keeps Lords returning to Willow Creek, both the literal creek and his work creating fishing rods. Doug has many hobbies, but he continues to build his skills fly fishing, in part because of the “thrill of the hunt.”

“You're constantly on the move, just looking for that perfect spot that you know there's fish in. My niche is really these smaller short creek rods in the 6-foot to 8-foot range. I like them in the 4-piece because you can break them down fairly small and they’re lightweight to pack. We will backpack into Palisades Creek or mountain bike into a local stream to go fishing. I have three daughters and a wife, and they'll go with me and they enjoy it.”

Click here to continue reading the June issue of Idaho Falls Magazine.

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