Bob Colson has been a university professor, a college dean, a business executive, and a partner in a global accounting network. He retired from his partnership position in July 2010, which provided him with more time than he has ever had before for fishing and rod making. Time and rod making are not the only ingredients for fishing excursions, however, so he returned to the academy as a professor in January 2012. He has to meet classes and produce research again, but he will have a small amount of money left over to fund some fishing trips. Alas, the number of rods he produces will inevitably dwindle. As of December 31, 2020, he will be officially retired from his university position. Rod production is likely to expand.
He has also been associated with fly fishing since 1954, when he caught his first bluegill on a fly tied in a home-made vise at his grandfather's Minnesota fishing camp. His first trout was from a small meadow stream in Minnesota, Cat Creek, where the angling technique involved crickets and long bamboo poles while standing well back from the small creek to avoid spooking the brook trout. His first fly-caught (brown) trout came from the Straight River, near Park Rapids, Minnesota. His first Atlantic salmon was from the St. Mary's River (Michigan side) and his first steelhead (lake-run rainbow) was from the Pere Marquette River, both during an unexcused absence in the fall of 1966. He has fished for trout, Atlantic salmon, and steelhead throughout North America and Europe. He developed his light line Spey rods for floating lines fishing with waking flies and small flies high in the water column for Atlantic salmon and steelhead.
His first fly rod to call his own was a Nat Uslan pentagonal rod that required constant repair, which was his entry into cane rod making. His first experiences in planing cane rods came when he was in his early teens on a Herter's "shooting board" for one of his grandfather's friends. Bod did a lot of planing on that 5' bait casting rod but did not reap many benefits other than the experience and the gifts of a plane and micrometer, which still pay a role in his rod making.
He was the proprietor for 15 years of the Bob Colson Fly Fishing School. His schools were sponsored by the National Park Service, the Lake and Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Park Systems, and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History as well as numerous shops and clubs. He was a founder of The Anglers of the Au Sable and the North Coast Fly Fishers.
Bob has repaired and made bamboo rods for approximately 30 years. Since his semi-retirement in 2010, he has made 8 to 14 rods per year. He is available to talk to clubs about bamboo fly rods and fishing them.