Barder Rod Co Chris Yates ‘The Merlin’ № 53 made in 1998.

An outstanding rod in 99% of new condition.


This Merlin is finished in the same style, albeit with refinements, as Chris Yates’s original number one rod. We liked the minimalist appearance of the varnish impregnated natural silk with its extra fine tan tippings. You can see the ring feet and bamboo. Nothing is hidden. There is a lovely harmony here. We still finish our fly rods the same way. Sadly, we can’t obtain suitable silk to finish larger coarse fishing rods this way now, or we still would.

Somehow, Merlin № 53, made in 1998, has remained in perfect condition for twenty five years. It really is that good. Absolutely straight, as lively and lissom as the day it was completed.

I made the split cane blank from some vintage Tonkin bamboo that I’d acquired from a man who’d bought the remaining stock and equipment from Foster’s of Ashbourne after they’d closed down. He didn’t use any of it in the end and he contacted me to ask if I’d like to buy it. Where are you, I asked. Newbury, he said. Funny, I thought warily. Funny. So am I. Half an hour later, Colin and I had it all back here. The Taylor’s of Birmingham milling machine was so heavy that our backs were never the same again after we’d manhandled it into the workshop. I sold it to a man in Belgium in the end but kept the bamboo.

The bamboo was superb. So well seasoned was it that it only required the gentlest of heat treatment to temper it, hence the rod’s lovely honey colour.

The handle fittings and ferrules, all of our own make, are nickel sliver. The rings are Amberfin butt and tip with hard chrome plated stainless steel stand-off intermediates.

The rod comes in its original tailor made bag. You can admire it and learn more from the accompanying pictures.

With reel lines of 3 – 6 lbs BS and casting weights up to an ounce, you and this Merlin will be the epitome of angling elegance and finesse.

We stopped numbering Merlins shortly after we made this one. It’s a very special rod.