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Dublin man builds custom fishing rods

  • Rob Sullivan has been making custom fishing rods out of his house for almost a decade. Sullivan, who recently moved to Dublin with his wife Brooke and got a day job in Keene, hopes to expand his hobby more now that he no longer has a two hour commute to work every day. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Rob Sullivan has been making custom fishing rods out of his house for almost a decade. Sullivan, who recently moved to Dublin with his wife Brooke and got a day job in Keene, hopes to expand his hobby more now that he no longer has a two hour commute to work every day. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Rob Sullivan has been making custom fishing rods out of his house for almost a decade. Sullivan, who recently moved to Dublin with his wife Brooke and got a day job in Keene, hopes to expand his hobby more now that he no longer has a two hour commute to work every day. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Rob Sullivan has been making custom fishing rods out of his house for almost a decade. Sullivan, who recently moved to Dublin with his wife Brooke and got a day job in Keene, hopes to expand his hobby more now that he no longer has a two hour commute to work every day. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Rob Sullivan has been making custom fishing rods out of his house for almost a decade. Sullivan, who recently moved to Dublin with his wife Brooke and got a day job in Keene, hopes to expand his hobby more now that he no longer has a two hour commute to work every day. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Rob Sullivan has been making custom fishing rods out of his house for almost a decade. Sullivan, who recently moved to Dublin with his wife Brooke and got a day job in Keene, hopes to expand his hobby more now that he no longer has a two hour commute to work every day. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Rob Sullivan has been making custom fishing rods out of his house for almost a decade. Sullivan, who recently moved to Dublin with his wife Brooke and got a day job in Keene, hopes to expand his hobby more now that he no longer has a two hour commute to work every day. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Rob Sullivan has been making custom fishing rods out of his house for almost a decade. Sullivan, who recently moved to Dublin with his wife Brooke and got a day job in Keene, hopes to expand his hobby more now that he no longer has a two hour commute to work every day. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Rob Sullivan has been making custom fishing rods out of his house for almost a decade. Sullivan, who recently moved to Dublin with his wife Brooke and got a day job in Keene, hopes to expand his hobby more now that he no longer has a two hour commute to work every day. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Rob Sullivan has been making custom fishing rods out of his house for almost a decade. Sullivan, who recently moved to Dublin with his wife Brooke and got a day job in Keene, hopes to expand his hobby more now that he no longer has a two hour commute to work every day. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, January 22, 2018

Father’s Day 2009 was fast approaching. Twenty-one-year-old Rob Sullivan was sick of getting outspent by his father Paul every year. At the time, the father-son duo had been fly fishing together for over a decade and marked most special occasions by gifting fishing rods to each other.

With the annual Father’s Day fishing trip looming, Sullivan knew he had to get creative to give his father something truly special. It was then that Sullivan built his first custom fly fishing rod.

“I built it with some of the crudest tools,” said Sullivan who has been building custom fishing rods under the moniker Monadnock Fly Rod Company ever since. “I do a lot better work now, but he won’t let me build him a replacement for that one.”

Sullivan – a Peterborough native and current Dublin resident – estimates that he has built around 100 rods since over the past nine years, with each rod taking approximately five hours of work spread over about a week.

Customization typically boils down to poles of different sizes and thicknesses, different grips, wrap colors, and custom calligraphy. Sullivan said each pole typically takes on a life of its own, with many getting their own names (“Lord Stanley,” “The Professor,” and The Beaver,” to name a few.)

“It’s fun because fly rods are traditionally quite bland. Some people have requested such crazy colors, its really cool,” said Brooke Sullivan, Rob’s wife. Brooke, a research scientist working on a cure for Type 1 Diabetes, helps Rob in doing the calligraphy and some of the other more detailed tasks.

“The beauty of the rod comes from her,” admitted Sullivan.

A recent move to Dublin from Lynn, Massachusetts, coupled with Sullivan recently accepting a job in Keene (he was previously working as an IT systems administrator in Danvers, Massachusetts) is sure to provide Sullivan with ample opportunity to continue his craft.

“Working so much, its been tough to keep a good schedule but I’m hoping that I’ll have a couple hours a day where I will be here myself to really devote to rods,” said Sullivan, who said he previously commuted two hours each way to work every day and oftentimes didn’t have the time or desire to work on rods when he got home from work.

Sullivan’s new workspace – a sunroom with a view, compared to his previous shop in the dingy basement of his previous home – has already inspired him to devote more time to his craft. He is currently working on two rods for a veterans charity event.

“It’s nice to come home and work with your hands and create something non technical. it feels so different,” said Sullivan. “[With my day job,] I’m looking at a screen all day doing electronics and technical work. Everything is with computers and I’m always staring at a screen.”

In the coming year, Sullivan hopes to take “an honest shot” at trying to jump from hobby to more of a full fledged business, with a goal of making enough money to support his rod building and fishing hobby.

Sullivan would love to turn rod building into a full-time job, shifting his IT work to a part-time consulting job, but he admits to never wanting to get so big that he is builds hundreds of generic rods with his name on it. For Sullivan, custom rods have been and always will be gifts.

“We still like to view each rod as giving a gift. That’s why I did it first and that’s what is still important to me,” said Sullivan. “I still get that same rush or feeling when someone sees a rod for the first time and you can tell they are blown away. That’s my ultimate goal, to keep having those moments where people are so blown away with a fishing rod.”

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.