Rod Photo Page
My Rodmaking Philosophy

The rods I build today vary in action from medium to what many describe as fast action rods. They're designed for power, speed and accuracy. As for the aesthetics, I am a firm believer that a rod can be both a great casting rod and a thing of beauty. I don't generally do things like engraving, with very few exceptions, but I still think a great fly rod can be both beautiful and fishable. As one good friend calls it, "Fishable Art".

Customer Rods

Michael D.

This 7'6" 3 piece 2 tipped 4 weight rod, featured a Thuya burl reel seat and Rattan handle with clear wraps and dark brown tipping. The same brown thread that was used for the tipping is wrapped into the grooves of the rattan handle.  Sporting an amber agate guide, this rod was a gem to see and an absolute pleasure to cast.  Medium to medium fast in action, with light tips, this rod would cast from leader only to long distance with great accuracy and still give a delicate fly presentation.


Michael S.

Another 7'6" 3 piece rod, this rod was made for a customer with very discriminating taste.  Mike is an artist and has been a friend of mine since my fishing days in Montana.  Built as a 3 weight with a medium slow action, this rod has red wraps with all blued hardware, cork grip and an Amboyna burl reel seat.  Shown below is the rod on it's maiden voyage to Silver Creek, along with a fat Idaho brown trout.  Sheer beauty!  Michael sent a note back simply saying "My joy is beside itself".  While the images below are very nice, they just can't do this rod justice.  The finish and wraps on this rod are absolutely flawless.

The pictures of this rod are from Michael.  I have more pictures of it if someone is interested in getting them, but these pictures were taken on Silver Creek at one of Michael's dear friends memorial.  In honor of his friend, with whom he fished those waters often, he kept the rod unfished for some time, so he could first use it on the waters on which his friends ashes were scattered.  These pictures are from that day, and as long as Michael wishes, they will stay here as a memorial to his friend.


Lonnie G.

A beautiful 7' 2 piece rod for a 5 weight, it's wrapped in red with black tipping and has an amboyna burl reel seat. Note the ferrules on this rod;  they are made with twin microgrooves and a waist like the early HL Leonard ferrules.  This was at the customers request.  After receiving the rod, Lonnie sent me an email saying that it would take it's place as "the number one rod in my collection". 


Bret R.

This rod, made in 2007 is an 8' 2 piece 2 tip rod.  It's a medium fast to fast action and will cast more line than you'll ever need to fish.  Wrapped in Chinese red with black tipping and a rattan handle with red thread in the grooves of the rattan, this rod is not only a power house, but is superb in fit and finish.  The cane has a medium flamed tone, very even in color.  The amboyna burl seat was perfect with the red wraps and Leonard style reel seat.

Daniel B.

This rod was a dream to cast.  Built for small streams and dry flies, this medium action 6' 6" 3 weight rod has dark honey wraps with cinnamon tipping and blued hardware.  The reel seat filler on this rod is Thuya burl, but not varnished.  It had 12 coats of linseed oil rubbed into it over a period of about a month, then it was waxed with butcher's wax.  The low matte' sheen on the Thuya was stunning on this little medium flamed rod.

Ralph S.

A 6' 3 piece rod, this little 4 weight is a workhorse.  It was broken in last year on Crooked Creek on sunfish and had no problem casting a size 12 hopper 40 to 50 feet.  With a fish on it, you would just almost giggle it was so much fun.  Now, when I'm talking about Sunfish, I don't mean 3 or 4 inch long bluegill.  We're talking about Bluegill, LongEar and Warmouth that were as long and longer than my hand and just as wide... I wear a size 15 ring, just to give you an idea of the size of these fish.  On his first outing alone with this rod, the next day, Ralph landed a HUGE brown trout.  If I remember right it was about a 5 pound fish... I'm sure Ralph will correct me if it was bigger than I remember!  The intermediates on this rod were placed on exact one inch increments on the butt section, giving the angler a quick and accurate way to measure a fish.

While they were very subtle, there are amber tipping on the ends of each wrap.  This picture was taken before the rod was delivered to the customer, and to be honest, I had forgotten to put the trim wraps at the base of the tips (the three Hunt style intermediates).  That was taken care of before the rod was delivered, but I never thought to take additional pictures of the rod.

SowBug Roundup Donation Rod

The rod below was donated to the 2008 Sowbug Roundup in Arkansas.  If you don't know about the "Roundup", it's one of the worlds largest gatherings of fly tiers held in Mountain Home, AR every spring.  This 7 foot 2 piece rod was donated to the Roundup and sold in their silent auction.
The honey colored wraps complement this very lightly flamed rod perfectly.


Silk Wrap Colors

I offer a variety of colors in rod wraps.  Though the picture below is not absolutely color true, it's very close to being representative of the silk winding colors I offer.  This variety of colors will fit most any customers desire to achieve the look they want.  From the subdued earthtone colors, to the bright reds, colors can be matched to the rod, appointments and reel seat wood.

The colors from left to right are Dark Honey, CP Tan, Cinnamon, CP Copper Brown, Dark Brown, CP Dark Brown, Amber Gold, CP Antique Gold, Chinese Red, CP Red, Salmon and Clear. The clear is tipped in black so that it will show up on the color sample stick. The colors designated as CP are Color Preserved. In other words, they have a finish on them that keeps the silk from becoming translucent on the rod. All other colors are finished with spar varnish, which makes them "clear out" so that the guide feet and the grain of the cane are visible through the wraps.

Clear wraps are possibly the most elegant of all the wraps. They are also the most difficult to do correctly. Most clear wraps will have what appears to be fine metallic glitter in them. This is actually air bubbles, or what many rodmakers call "shimmers". They are difficult to avoid, but if done correctly, clear wraps will be completely transparent, with no shimmers. These crystal clear wraps, actually a pure white silk, meticulously varnished to make them transparent, with a complimentary tipping color lend a quiet elegance to a cane rod.

My rattan handles are unique. I use a much wider rattan than most rodmakers. The traditional rattan was usually 2mm to 2.5mm wide. The rattan I prefer is 4mm wide. I "work it down" much more than the traditional rods. This leaves the rattan smoother and without the prevalent "humps" of the past and much more comfortable in the hand. The grooves on the rattan will have a thread wrapped in them that matches the tipping on the wraps, or complements the reel seat wood.

Nothing looks more at home on a fine rod like a beautiful piece of wood for the reel seat. My two most requested woods are picture below, Amboyna burl on the left and Thuya burl on the right. The Amboyna burl will varnish to a very deep, glasslike finish and looks wonderful with red wraps or clear wraps with red tipping. The Thuya burl is probably the most striking of all the burls I've used.  It's expensive, but well worth it to set off the beauty of a fine rod. 

The finish on an RL Nunley rod will be as close to flawless as you'll find.  I worked for the better part of two decades trying to find the best varnish and the best method of application. The end result, thanks to my good friend and teacher, Ron Kusse, is a combination of the varnish that Leonard used during the Maxwell era and an application method that's just a bit different from most other rodmakers. The overall method is somewhat similar, but I do a few things that are unique to my process. Nothing is "perfect", but my finishes are very close to that pinnacle.

My oldest son, Nick, with his 21.5" bow on an 8' 5 wt RL Nunley Cane.

The pictures on this page may change from
time to time, so keep an eye on the page and see what shows up.

Copyright © 2007-2014
R.L. Nunley, Rodmaker

Bob Nunley
PO Box 1842 
Mountain Home, Arkansas 72654