[caption id="attachment_16743" align="aligncenter" width="600"]<img src="https:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2017\/07\/Cherry_Cran_WVDSC_0345_4.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="399" class="size-full wp-image-16743" \/> Photos courtesy of Matt Holtsclaw<br \/>8 Rivers Fly Rods Company in Georgia is a series of fly rods inspired by the rivers of Pocahontas County. Above are samples of the Cranberry and Cherry series rods. At right, a fisherman shows an impressive catch made with one of the rods. [\/caption]\r\n\r\n<img src="https:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2017\/07\/Cran5wt_LargeboSunlight.jpg" alt="" width="400" height="533" class="alignleft size-full wp-image-16744" \/>\r\n\r\nSuzanne Stewart\r\nStaff Writer\r\n\r\nWhen 8 Rivers Fly Rod Company president Matt Holtsclaw was a young boy growing up in Charleston, his family vacationed in Pocahontas County, where he made some of his best memories fishing with his father.\r\n\r\n\u201cMy dad was a Metho-dist pastor and he retired from Union Carbide,\u201d Holtsclaw said. \u201cHe was a World War II veteran and he was an avid outdoorsman. He was the greatest outdoorsman I\u2019ve known. He was known for taking people hunting and fishing.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe Holtsclaw family bought land near Green Bank where they built a cabin and made annual trips to enjoy the outdoors and relax in the beauty of the county.\r\n\r\nWhen Holtsclaw became an adult, he started his own land surveying business, but his love of the outdoors and fishing never left him.\r\nIn one of his last conversations with this father, Holtsclaw revealed he wanted to start his own fly rod company.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe were around the kitchen table \u2013 it was me and my dad and my mom \u2013 and I said, \u2018I would like to start a fly rod company,\u2019\u201d Holtsclaw recalled. \u201cIt came out of that and our love for Pocahontas County. Being one of the last conversations I had with them, it never left me. I continue to love to fly fish and when I had the opportunity, I just made the decision to pull the trigger.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn 2016, the dream became a reality, and 8 Rivers Fly Rod Company was launched to the public.\r\n\r\nInspired by Holtsclaws formative years as a fisherman on the rivers of Pocahontas County, the fly rods are 100 percent made in America and are inspired by the eight rivers which begin in Pocahontas County.\r\n\r\n\u201cI guess it goes back to the passion of growing up there \u2013 it never left me,\u201d Holtsclaw said, explaining why he chose 8 Rivers for the company\u2019s name. \u201cIt has never, ever left me. I fished out west. I lived out west. I lived in Arizona. I went up into the canyon country and fished up there. I\u2019ve been to Colorado numerous times, great times up there. It just never left me and I return to Pocahontas County when I can to fish.\u201d\r\n\r\nWhile the company and Holtsclaw are based in Georgia, the fly rods carry the names of Pocahontas County\u2019s rivers and are distinct in their design based on the character and size of the rivers.\r\n\r\n\u201cOur flagship right now is the Cranberry series and that\u2019s a nine-foot, five weight and we have a matching spinning rod to go with that \u2013 it\u2019s a six-foot two-piece ultra light,\u201d Holtsclaw said. \u201cHonest to goodness, it\u2019s just awesome. It\u2019s what we call the sweetest trout rod built in America today.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe Cherry series is a little bit smaller because Cherry River is smaller,\u201d he continued. \u201cWe have an eight-foot, four weight for the cherry and a five-foot ultralight one-piece, both being smaller rods.\u201d\r\n\r\nOf the eight rivers, there are currently three series \u2013 Cranberry, Cherry and Gauley \u2013 but Holtsclaw is already working on designs for the other five rivers.\r\n\r\n\u201cFuture models will reflect fishing techniques and types for those rivers come out of Pocahontas County,\u201d he said. \u201cFor example, the Tygart River goes out through Elkins and up into Grafton, you\u2019ve got the impoundment up in there and that area is known for small mouth bass and walleye, so we have a rod planned for the Tygart series which is going to be a small mouth bass specific rod.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe have Shaver\u2019s Fork,\u201d he continued. \u201cWe have a lot of requests for a shorter fly rod that can navigate the small streams and the laurel bushes, so instead of being eight or nine feet, we\u2019re working on something that\u2019s going to six-and-a-half feet.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe looks of the rods will be series specific, too. The Cranberry series has cranberry thread with titanium gun smoke accent lines and the Cherry series is jet black with cherry red accent thread.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe like to make each of our series aesthetically different,\u201d Holtsclaw said.\r\n\r\n[caption id="attachment_16764" align="alignleft" width="400"]<img src="https:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2017\/07\/RoughCountryCombo.jpg" alt="" width="400" height="533" class="size-full wp-image-16764" \/> 8 Rivers Fly Rods are available exclusively online at 8riversflyrods.com[\/caption]\r\n\r\nIn manufacturing the rods, Holtsclaw was dead set on one thing \u2013 every component had to be made in America. He worked with Northfolk Composites owner Gary Loomis and created a graphite matrix which is specific to the 8 Rivers Fly Rod Company.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe were able to come up with our own proprietary graphite matrix that can be found nowhere else,\u201d Holtsclaw said. \u201cWe have XG1, XG2, XG3. If someone else would want to come in to Northfork Composites up in Washington state and say \u2018we want to build a rod like 8 Rivers Cranberry fly rod, can we have that graphite?\u2019 No they can\u2019t. That\u2019s a proprietary graphite to us.\u201d\r\n\r\nWhile Holtsclaw grew up learning to fish with a spin caster, he said he was drawn to fly fishing and the art of it, so that is why he chose to focus on fly rods.\r\n\r\n\u201cFly fishing was a natural progression for me, meaning I started out as a kid with a worm and bobber like most people,\u201d he said. \u201cWhen I got on up there \u2013 eight, nine, ten, into my teenage years \u2013 it was spin cast, the spinning rods, open faced reel spinning rods with my dad on the streams. Then it was a natural progression to, once you get that down and get really good at it, it\u2019s sort of challenging yourself. It\u2019s like the next step up \u2013 the pinnacle, if you, will is fly fishing.\r\n\r\n\u201cFly fishing has so many positive attributes to it and it allows you to go as deep into it as you would like to do \u2013 from tying flies to building rods to learning about hatches and bugs and stream and aquatic life \u2013 so you really get into a well-rounded environmental learning process with fly fishing,\u201d he continued. \u201cThat aspect of it along with the actual process of fly fishing attracted me, so I fell in love with it.\u201d\r\n\r\nHoltsclaw said he hopes to change the way fly fishing is perceived in the outdoor world. While there are 50 million traditional spinning and casting fishermen and women in the US, there are only five million fly fishermen and women. That is a number he wants to see increase.\r\n\u201cWe are dead set on opening the window and kicking out the snobbiness and the intimidation factor of fly fishing,\u201d he said. \u201cAlthough we are definitely a fly rod company first \u2013 it\u2019s in our name \u2013 we want all fishermen and women to feel welcome at 8 Rivers. We\u2019re an inclusive company, not an exclusive company. We feel like fly fishing should be a progression of your skill set. There should be no intimidation factor to it.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe 8 Rivers Fly Rod series\u2019 can be found exclusively online at 8riversflyrods.com\r\n\r\nThe company is the only veteran owned and operated rod manufacturing company in the country and is certified by the Center for Verification and Evaluation in Washington, D.C. by the Veterans Administration.