Welcome to The Dickerson Site- UPDATED 1-23-2023 please see News & Updates section
Welcome to The Dickerson Site- UPDATED 1-23-2023 please see News & Updates section
What is considered the quintessential Dickerson model? While the 8013 seems to be the most well-known Dickerson rod in the U.S. and is also perhaps the single most duplicated taper by bamboo rod builders, I would like to put forth support for another model.
When I think of Michigan’s golden age of fly fishing, rivers like the Au Sable, Pere Marquette, and Manistee, first come to mind. Sports from bank-side lodges and clubs being steered downstream in an Au Sable boat designed specifically for, and named after, these rivers. Guides with names such as Stephan and Burch, poling their sports over level water moving at deceptive speeds while casting towards banks or structure. The angling history of Michigan can’t be told without drawing a direct link to the heritage of the Michigan guide, perhaps more so than any other U.S. angling region. Many of these guides and sports fished Dickerson rods. Some guides, like Norval Stephan, fished a Dickerson Guide model. Much like these legendary guides, the name Lyle Dickerson is solidly rooted in the heritage of Michigan's angling tradition and the Dickerson 8014 Guide was developed to fish its famed rivers. So, while the 8013 ought to be represented in any respectable Dickerson collection, the 8014 Guide should be considered the quintessential Dickerson.
Above- A pair of 8014 Guides from 1951 and 1956
Production of the 8014 Guide
Pictured above- Though not listed in Dickerson's ledger as a Guide, the first known 8014 Guide was made for Dick Snyder. Dick's wife, Margrette, also owned a Dickerson rod. Both were ordered through Borcher's Lodge in Grayling, MI, within one week of each other in July of 1949. Her's was also an 8014, though it is not known if it was finished as a Guide model like her husbands.
In the development and introduction of the Guide series, the 8014 Guide was one of the last models introduced to the line-up.
Guide series introduction dates:
8015 Guide, July 1947
8615 Guide, April 1948
8015 Guide Special, June 1949
8014 Guide, July 1949
The 8014 Guide was a relatively short-lived model, originating in 1949 when Dickerson’s post-war business had slowed considerably. It was a popular model considering the number of rods Lyle was producing at the time. It seems Dickerson was enthusiastic about the 8014 Guide model and promoted its production whenever possible. Quite often 8014s ordered by sports through lodges such as Borcher’s in Grayling were delivered as 8014 Guides. It seems that when Dickerson had the freedom to choose and knew the type of fishing being done, he very often chose to make the customer an 8014 Guide. In fact, the vast majority of 8014 Guides are entered in the order book as plain 8014s. I have confirmed this during research for rods that owners have asked me to look up in the records. It is hard to believe, but there are actually only three model 8014 Guides listed in the ledger; not a very accurate or reliable record of what Dickerson actually produced.
The majority of the rods Dickerson produced in the 1950s were made from 1950-55. By 1956-57, Dickerson was winding things down. Though Dickerson’s books officially closed in 1960, he only entered eight finished rods in the ledger in 1957 and fourteen finished rods after 1957, for a grand total of twenty-two rods made during the four years of 1957-1960. It would seem the majority of 8014 Guide models built were made within a five year period. It is my opinion that the 8014 Guide would have been one of, if not, the most popular Dickerson model had it been introduced prior to, or during, his peak production years.
Dickerson’s records contain fifty-nine model 8014s from 1950-1955, including the three recorded as 8014 Guides. It is my educated guesstimate that at least half of those rods were actually finished as 8014 Guide models. The figure I arrive at is based on both the research I have done for people owning rods marked as 8014 Guides that are entered as plain 8014s, and also the number of 8014 Guides I have seen in collections or offered for sale over the years. Putting an actual number on the production, it is my estimate that Dickerson made approximately twenty-five to thirty 8014 Guides
The 8014 Guide pictured above was ordered in December 1950 as a gift for Jack Ferentz from the Hotel & Restaurant Employees Union of Detroit. In the records it is listed as an 8014, but was actually made as an 8014 Guide. It has quite an impressive amount of script on the flats as can be seen in the photos. The script itself is an achievement to marvel at; beautiful writing on surfaces that are not conducive to artistic penmanship.
The Ferentz rod has been sold at auction a couple of times since the 1990s and always presented as unfished. When it ended up in my hands, it was in super condition with the claim it was still unfished. It is a fabulous casting rod for a six-weight line and best with a long belly WF (Rio Gold). If Dickerson had a standard taper for the 8014 Guide, this was it. I moved the Ferentz rod along a few years ago. I currently own an example made in 1956 with the same basic taper. After weighing various, it seems the “standard” 8014 Guide weighs 4.5 to 4.6 oz.
A classic combination, the Dickerson "Ferentz" 8014 Guide with a 3 3/8" Hardy St. George
Fishing the 8014 Guide
Truly great fly rods often become an extension of your arm and hand, in a sense disappearing after a varying period of use. For me, no rod has ever achieved this effect more so than my '56 8014 Guide. It is difficult for me to switch to any other rod during the season after using it. Like the 761510 previously profiled, the 8014 Guide makes the list of Dickerson’s most exceptional models. The 8014 Guide possesses what I consider to be the best traits of Dickerson rods. Traits that, in my opinion, make them the very best classic rods for fishing. The action is smooth, powerful, and makes for a rod instantly familiar and easy to cast. Some of the Guide series models are very stiff and flex mostly in the upper tip, making the 8014G standout as the most useful and user-friendly rod in the series. It generally takes a six weight line and is a truly great all-around rod. While especially fabulous as a dry fly rod, it's also at home with nymphs and streamers. If being used to fish larger flies or when encountering wind, the taper design can handle a seven-weight line as well.
I don’t believe Dickerson designed the Guide series rods to extract large Au Sable Browns from submerged cedar roots under the moonlight, which has become rod lore. However, I do believe the Guide series was designed for rapid casts, pick-ups, and recasts during float fishing, which they excel at.
1956 Dickerson 8014 Guide made for Hal Walker. This is the Dickerson rod of mine that sees the most use.
A nice Maine Brook Trout landed on the 1956 Dickerson 8014 Guide pictured above.
Another Maine Brook Trout landed on the same 1956 Dickerson 8014 Guide.
The above 8014 Guide is from my collection*. It’s a slightly more powerful version for a seven-weight line. This Guide, at 4 ¾ oz, weighs a full 1/4 oz. more than standard 8014 Guides. It is a very fine rod that can do everything that other 8014 Guides can, but with the added ability to handle larger flies and larger fish. The spiral wrap at the grip is a not often seen feature.
*collection can infer a group of rods that do not get used, which is not the case.
Above (bottom)- When I acquired the '56 8014 Guide, it had been fished quite a bit but was very straight and retained all of its backbone. However, the grip was badly worn, ridged, and would disintegrate a little more with each use. Per Brandin and I (Per working and me providing encouragement) replaced the grip using a method which leaves the rest of the rod undisturbed.
An iconic 8014 Guide: The cover art of Schaaf and Stein’s, Dickerson: The Man and His Rods, shows an Arthur Taylor watercolor collage featuring the iconic Dickerson 8014 Guide. The rod shown was Jerry Stein’s personal 1951 Dickerson 8014 Guide attached to a 3 3/8” pre-war Hardy St. George. This rod was sold within the last couple of years on Codella’s tackle site. Though it did have one tip slightly short, it sold for a very reasonable price considering the model and its particular history. I do not believe the listing mentioned any past history including who the rod belonged to.