Hiram Lewis Leonard
H.L. Leonard whose name became legendary to fly fishers of the late 19th century was a wonderfully complex person: tool maker, gunsmith, musician who made his own flutes, hunter, fly fisher, fur trader , inventor, engineer, teacher, businessman . Born in Sebec, Maine and soon his family moved to Pennsylvania, his formal education ended at age 15. He then engaged in the self-study of engineering and designed coal mining machinery for the Pennsylvania Coal Company. Coal dust brought an illness which improved when Leonard moved back to Bangor, Maine. At mid-life, at forty, with this variety of experiences , working with hands and engineering skills, he launched into the craft of rodmaking. In the next few years Leonard revolutionized the fundamental implement of our fly fishing experience, the fly rod: Leonard developed the six-sided cane fishing rod. Leonard perfected tapers, the serrated waterproof ferrule, and fashioned elegant nickel silver hardware, standards of the industry. Leonard was married to Elizabeth S. Head , a gifted woman of four languages, a musical background, and a published poet. Anna Cora , their only child, became the first woman tournament competitor with a record cast of 73 feet in Central Park in 1898. In 1881 Leonard and Wm. Mills built the most modern rodbuilding facility in the nation in nearby Central Valley, New York. Leonard died there in 1907.