Welcome to The Dickerson Site- UPDATED 6-5-2023 please see News & Updates section
Welcome to The Dickerson Site- UPDATED 6-5-2023 please see News & Updates section
Dickerson only occasionally deviated from his standard finish and components. Outlined in the following section are Dickerson's standard rod features, early developmental period, and the subtle or occasional small variations in design and appearance throughout the remainder of his career.
Dickerson's experimented with various reel seat designs in the 1930s before settling on what became his standard reel seat, the 16 threads per inch screw down locking seat with Walnut spacer. The reel seat barrel and locking nut are aluminum and the butt cap is nickel silver.
During the 1930s , Dickerson's standard reel seat was the 8 threads per inch barrel, two piece pocketed butt cap with a walnut spacer. Less frequently seen but not totally uncommon, is the "Hardy" down locking seat with black resin spacer. This seat is found on some early to mid 1930s rods. It has a knurled flare on the end of the butt cap and two sets of decorative bands on the half knurled screw locking nut. Though commonly referred to as the "Hardy locking seat", it is actually believed to be made by South Bend.
In the 1936-37 time period, Dickerson developed a very attractive reel seat that features an open-ended pocketed sleeve or "half" sleeve. The Walnut spacer passes through the sleeve after which the wood transitions into a thin mushroom shape cap. This cap holds the open-ended pocketed sleeve in place. Other lesser variations and special purpose reel seats are discussed later.
Dickerson's standard reel seat was a screw down-locking seat with pocketed butt cap and Walnut wood spacer. As previously discussed, there were two varieties of threading on the reel seat barrel. The first version was used in the 1930s. It had wide threads, eight per inch, on the barrel.
Occasionally this barrel made an appearance on a 1940s rod. The second version, more commonly seen, became Dickerson's standard seat and was used from the late 1930s until the end of Dickerson's rod making activities. This seat has a more finely threaded sixteen threads per inch barrel.
The butt caps used on early Dickerson seats had a band underneath the pocket separating the pocket from the reel seat spacer. Dickerson switched to his open pocket butt cap after 1936.
Dickerson made a few versions of his reel seat for heavy trout and salmon/steelhead rods. The most often encountered version was simply a modification to his standard down locking seat. He created a hole with a raised lip in the butt cap containing an inside ferrule to accommodate the fighting butt. The less common version has an up-locking seat with removable end cap covering the hole to insert fighting butt. The fighting butt for these reel seats had a larger size ferrule than down locking version. Some of these seats have the reel foot cap buried under the cork grip, others have it exposed on the wood spacer prior to the start of the cork grip. There is also a full nickel silver down locking seat which Dickerson used on two-handed salmon rods.
Dickerson rods with slide band seats are very rare. He built a small number of shorter lightweight rods, however, the vast majority of them have the standard down locking reel seat. Most of the slide band reel seats were made with an aluminum band and non-pocketed round aluminum butt cap, however, one example found has a slightly wider slide band made of nickel silver. Spacers were mortised cork or wood, generally a lighter weight wood than the walnut typically used for his standard spacer.
While almost all rod makers use nickel silver pinning wire to help secure metal components, Dickerson used brass pinning wire to secure his reel seats and ferrules for a large portion of his career, especially post-1940. The yellow/bronze presence of brass pins on the reel seat barrel, butt cap, and ferrules are a good indication that those components have remained undisturbed. This can be one of several helpful indicators in determining originality of a Dickerson rod.
Right: various Dickerson reel seats, top to bottom:
left: Dickerson's 8 threads per inch reel seat with Walnut spacer, early 1930s-1940
left: Dickerson's standard 16 threads per inch reel seat with Walnut spacer, 1940 -1972
right: Down locking seat with 8 threads per inch and wood spacer extending through the foot pocket sleeve, 1936-1937
left: "Hardy" locking seat with black resin spacer, mid 1930s
right: standard heavy trout/light salmon seat with raised rim opening for fighting butt
left: Up locking with removable end cap for fighting butt and exposed reel foot seat on spacer
right: down locking full nickel silver seat used on two handed salmon rods
left: lightweight seat with aluminum slide band, butt cap, and mortised wood spacer
right: close-up of lightweight seat's aluminum slide band knurling pattern
left: baitcaster aluminum locking seat
Most of the rods built during the ledger period (1931-60) have brown wraps. Orange* was a popular secondary choice and appears intermittently on rods from 1946-49. While brown was also used during this period, Dickerson was building over 100 rods per year at this time and a fairly high number were finished with orange wraps. Not many Dickerson rods were finished with other primary thread colors until after 1965. Though black tipping was standard on all rods from the early 1930s through the mid 1960s, Dickerson did occasionally omit the tipping in his later years. Dickerson did not use color preserver and put very little varnish over his wraps. The texture of the thread can easily be seen and felt through the varnish. This is one of several useful hallmarks to look for in determining originality.
*Orange wraps- Dickerson's orange wraps are often referred to as gold or yellow gold. Since Dickerson occasionally made a rod with true yellow wraps, referring to the wraps as orange in order to avoid confusion, is the description that best fits their appearance.
Wrap exhibiting Dickerson's typical sparse use of varnish
8014 with standard brown wraps, 8013 with orange wraps
The most common grip Dickerson used is the reverse half wells, which appear on roughly 75% of his rods. Full wells grips are usually seen on heavier models, eight feet and up. The beefy 8015 is generally the starting point for models found with wells grips, however, occasionally a lighter rod will have a wells grip. Lastly, a fair number of Dickerson rods were made with cigar grips, especially in the mid to late 1930s. These three most common grips are shown in the header photo at the top of this page.
Dickerson used bronzed snake guides and perfection tip-tops until the early 1950s. Red agate stripping guides were used on most rods until WWII, after which the majority of rods have Perfection or Mildrum stripping guides. Opaque white agate stripping guides are occasionally seen on post-war rods and into the early 1950s. It appears these were reserved for use on special rods or rods for good customers and friends. In the early 1950s Dickerson began using chrome guides and tip-tops, though not exclusively. Rods throughout the 1950's can be found with bright or bronzed guides, the frequency of the bronzed guides diminishing as the decade progressed.
Node spacing on Dickerson rods began as what is called "random" in the early 1930s. Starting around 1937, the node spacing was changed to the 3 by 3 version Dickerson used predominately throughout the balance of his career. Rods that are 100% original are occasionally found with varying node spacing in the tips and butts. For example, the butt section might have 3 by 3 spacing and the tips 2/2/2, or the reverse. This generally occurs on two piece models made after 1950. I believe this was done purely for using his stock of bamboo in the most economic fashion possible with bamboo embargoes in effect.
The ferrules on Dickerson rods remained consistent throughout his career. Standard length step down ferrules of his own manufacture were always used . The only minor change was the discontinuation of a machined band near the ferrule shoulder which occurred in the late 1930s. An example is shown in the photo below.
Dickerson always blued his ferrules. While the blueing on his pre-war rods is deep black, the blueing on his post-war rods often oxidized to a greenish bronze or brown-bronze color. This could be attributed to several factors: slight change in alloy content of available nickel silver stock, change in the blueing formula recipe or available ingredients, or a change in how the blueing was over-coated and protected. The last scenario is the most likely, as spar varnish usually reacts with blueing in a similar manner over time.
Some Dickerson Steelhead and Salmon rods had reinforced ferrules. This was accomplished by soldering a larger diameter piece of nickel silver tubing over a portion of the female ferrule.
Dickerson reinforced ferrules used on some salmon and Steelhead rods
Dickerson ferrules, early version (top) with machined shoulder & later plain ferrule (bottom)
Example of a Dickerson ferrule in which the blueing has turned to a greenish bronze color, 1960s rod.
Dickerson probably built just as many rods without a hook keeper as he did with. The same goes for winding checks. In the 1930s Dickerson's first used a strap and ring hook keeper which was common on other makes of rods during the era. From the late 1930s on, if a Dickerson rod has a hook keeper, it will be a bent wire loop. This keeper is formed from one piece of stock looped then flattened on the ends to accept the wraps securing it.
L to R: no hook keeper, bent wire keeper, strap and ring keeper
It is close to a 50/50 split as to whether a Dickerson rod will have a winding check or not. The blued nicker silver winding check (right in photo below) with cork collar was used until approximately 1937-38. Next, the plain bright hex check (middle in photo) is the most common as it was used from the late 1930's to the mid 1950s when Dickerson essentially stopped using winding checks. The lengths of these checks can vary. The example shown below is about as short as they get.
L to R: no winding check, short hex nickel silver winding check, long hex blued nicker silver winding check with cork collar
Very few Dickerson rods were "hollow" but there are a few in the ledger designated as such. The extent of the hollowing or method is not known. My best guess would be a minor to moderate flat shaving to the strip's apex. This type of shaving would not have extended high into the tips and would not have as much of an effect on the action as modern hollow building. It would lighten the rod's weight slightly and perhaps alter the action subtly.