I get it — you’ve never heard of Elliott Fishing Rod. And I know what you’re thinking: It’s not possible for a small rod company to compete on any level with the big manufacturers when it comes to research and development (R&D), innovation and top-notch components.

The fact is, you’d be wrong. Let me explain.

About 35 years ago, Gregg Thorne along with his brother, Paul, opened a custom fishing rod business and retail store in the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Over time, Thorne Bros. Custom Rod & Tackle became the go-to destination for many of the finest multi-species anglers in North America. Gregg ran the rod building shop, and his innovative designs changed the fishing rod landscape forever.

Gregg pioneered modern-day ice fishing by creating the first graphite ice fishing rods. (Little known fact: Winter fishing icon Dave Genz lived nearby the Thorne Bros. retail store, and he was one of the first to use Gregg’s high-quality ice rods.) Gregg and Paul also designed modern musky rod blanks and actions that are still at the core of musky rod design today.

In the years since those early days (Paul and Gregg sold the Thorne Bros. store in the early 1990s), Gregg developed rods for brands such as Sage, Loomis, Cortland and Diamondback. Today, Gregg Elliott Thorne is working from a new rod building shop in the Twin Cities, and his latest creations fall under the company name Elliott Fishing Rod.

Better Handles from Syncork

Always looking for improvements in rod components and design, Gregg developed a proprietary synthetic cork replacement called Syncork in 2005. Syncork is a far superior handle material over organic cork, and it’s used on all Elliott Fishing Rods.

To gain a better understanding of Syncork and Gregg’s new rod building company, I visited his new shop in Minnesota. It had been nearly 30 years since I’d seen Gregg in person; you see, Gregg taught me how to build custom rods in the late 1980s, and all of them are performing well to this day, except for the fact that the natural cork is deteriorating.