Colin Whitehouse Floats.

An interesting assortment of 38 floats made c1993-1995 by Colin Whitehouse.


First, a bit of history.

A contemporary book on the subject of handmade and collectible floats barely gives Colin Whitehouse a mention. At the time of publication, his floats were already commanding higher prices than any others. Colin stopped making floats for sale in 2001-2002. He’d started making floats for sale in 1993. More on this in a moment.

He made floats in his spare time in a wooden shed he’d built in his garden. His float making was entirely separate from his work here as a rod maker. Since 1993, he has worked here full time as a salaried employee. He did sell floats ex-stock here as well as the ones he made to order. The proceeds of these float sales were entirely Colin’s. To be absolutely clear, his float making, at times very prolific, was a paying hobby and nothing to do with his full time employment as a rod maker, with which there was no connection other than the sale of some floats at this workshop.

I mention this because it has recently been stated in the press that Colin stopped making floats in order to devote himself fully to rod making. This is utter poppycock. He stopped making floats for two reasons. Firstly, after a nearly a decade of devoting a lot of his spare time to making floats, he’d had enough. Secondly, the shed he made them in started to collapse and let in water.

When I started the Barder Rod Co in 1990, I offered a small range of Avon and fluted Avon floats in my catalogue (see page 19 reproduced here). Most of these had stems made from very fine split cane fly rod tip off-cuts. A few had pheasant quill stems. Bodies were cork and balsa. I made quite a few dozens of them. Due to the intense demand for rods, I had to give up float making in 1992 and suggested to my friend Colin Whitehouse that he might like to take over, as it were. I gave him the materials I had in stock and a book, Floatmaker’s Manual by Bill Watson, published by Ernest Benn in 1978. With this book, a growing stock of suitable materials, his home workshop and his innate talent, Colin Whitehouse floats soon became very popular indeed! For several years, there were very few if any viable alternatives, and certainly none that were as varied, effective, available and well made as Colin’s. He was THE pioneer.

The collection we have for sale consists of 38 floats made from 1993 – 1995.
The owner was the late Mark Williams. At the time, he was agent/manager for
Bernard Venables.

Some of the floats represent Colin’s earliest work and are of interest for
that reason.

There are 16 assorted Avons, some with hand planed bamboo stems, others with
goose quill stems. Some have cork bodies, others are balsa.

The is one balsa chubber.

There are three Reg Rhygini grayling floats. BV, a close friend of RR’s,
asked Colin to copy one of his original RR trotting floats, so the
provenance of these is impeccable.

There are 10 assorted Goose quills.

There are 3 Norfolk reed wagglers.

There are two Norfolk reel insert wagglers with copper whipped stem ends so
they are loaded.

There is one Norfolk reed slider.

There are two drift beaters. The one balsa bodied drift
beater has one or two dents in the balsa so it’s not mint but is perfectly
sound otherwise.

The floats are available only as a whole collection, not individually or in sets.