The Waterworks-Lamson is not a typical fly fishing company. We are C1 Design Group, and our core expertise is in product design. We innovate, invent, design and engineer. Our roots trace back to the bicycle industry, where we designed one of the very first (and very best) clipless pedal systems. In the early 90’s, we tackled the hardest challenge in mountain bike design: creating suspension systems that would perform at the cutting edge in all conditions and on all terrains.
We helped reinvent the wheel, or at least front suspensions, for Cannondale bicycles. The idea was to eliminate the excess weight and variable flexing of the standard telescopic fork suspension, which was a hand-me-down from the motorcycle. The work done by C1 Design came to market on Cannondale bikes first under the name “Delta V”, and later as the “Headshok”. The Headshok was an innovative suspension system that resided in the head-tube of the bike, reducing weight and providing the steering precision and stability of a rigid fork.
We then helped Kestrel, a top quality manufacturer of carbon fiber road bikes, to introduce a dual-suspension mountain bike. We designed the Kestrel Rubicon mountain bike which received immediate high praise and enthusiasm despite its $3,800 price tag. The Rubicon Comp won the prestigious Mountain Bike Magazine “Best Downhill Bike” award in ’97. Our design contribution to the Kestrel Rubicon was total: the Rubicon utilized our patented dual-rate rear suspension system, and embodied our complete frame design.
We began to develop product ideas and explore the fly fishing market in 1995. After a long weekend with dead fish in the bathtub, designer Mark Farris emerged with a tool capable of reducing fish mortality by eliminating netting and handling. We called this the Ketchum Release, a play on the name of our home town of Ketchum, Idaho. It was an immediate success.
Following the Ketchum Release and several other accessory ideas, we quickly turned our attention to fly reels. We could see that fly reels were poorly designed. Reels were too complicated; they were using too many parts; drag systems and other running parts were exposed to the elements; reels were too heavy. We began with a blank sheet of paper, and undertook a total re-think of the fly reel.
To “quiet” the negative influence that the weight of a reel has on the rod, the ultimate solution would be to align the center of mass of the reel with the center axis of the rod. By aligning these two centers of mass along the same axis, the twisting or pronating force would be eliminated and the pendulum effect reduced. The rod would be in better balance, feel more responsive, and perform according to the rod designer’s vision.
And so we developed, designed and patented this concept.
One small problem: we weren’t a rod company. Sage Manufacturing helped on this one. They saw the merit in this design innovation and licensed our design which they brought to market as the Sage Center Axis. In order for Sage to also offer a truly lightweight and high-end reel for Center Axis and standard seat rods, Sage engaged the Waterworks to design a large arbor reel. Our design for Sage became known as the Sage 3000 series.
Late in 1998, we acquired Lamson from Sage Manufacturing. Lamson reels had established a well-deserved reputation in the 1980’s and 90’s for being the first fully machined quality reel at an affordable price. The “LP” design became the standard of it’s time and sold for a very reasonable price of $200.
With the acquisition of the Lamson trademark, and the design work for Sage under our belt, we were ready to bring our own line of reels to market. continue………