15 MinutesRod building is ‘a people business’ ... with artistry

By Edie Grossfield

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Mel Dickie, of Rochester, is a longtime, well-respected craftsman of custom fishing rods.

The retired insurance agent and World War II veteran spends his weekdays at Wild Goose Sports on North Broadway making bait-casting, fly-fishing, walleye and muskie rods. He’s been working at the small fishing/hunting shop for 17 years.

How long have you been making fishing rods?


For some 20 years on an active basis, although I’ve made them on and off since 1950 when I first got out of the service. I remember the first one I made was for my dad.

How did you get into doing it?

It just kind of happened. I started doing it many years ago. But in the last 20 years, I bought some books and videos and went to rod-builders meetings to learn how to do some of the sophisticated work.

How many rods have you built?

I’m not sure. I imagine I’ve done about 100 a year for 20 years; maybe more.

Why do you work here instead of in your home?

I started at home, but then I had so many people stopping at my house, my wife said "you gotta get out of here."

How much are your fishing rods?


They start at $90 and go up to $400 for bamboo. But most are $100 to $125. I’ve tried to keep it so more people can buy them and enjoy them.

Are you busy year-round?

Unfortunately, yes. I’d like to slow down, but I don’t want to turn people down.

Why do you like building fishing rods?

I’m working with people who are interested in fishing or are buying it for a gift, and I get to know who’s fishing where. It’s a people business, same as my insurance business. And I enjoy the artistry of it, and trying new patterns.

When did you start fishing?

My first memory is from when I was 4 or 5 years old, fishing with my dad. And we drove all the way up North in a Model T Ford. See, I was born in 1920. My dad tied a line on each corner of the row boat and my brother and I held the lines. And we were catching northerns, just trolling, with my dad rowing the boat.

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