One of the smallest pieces of fishing equipment is what Fred Malcarne, owner of Winthrop Tool LLC, in Deep River, Connecticut, earns his biggest acclaim in the sports fishing world. For four years, he's custom-manufactured rod guides of superb quality and workmanship.
Fishing has been in Malcarne's blood from an early age. "I fished from the get go, both on lakes and in the ocean. As a kid, my goal was always to catch the biggest fish I could find. I guess that hasn't changed much. Now, I really enjoy heading offshore and catching giant tuna."
He adds, "I enjoy traveling to see different fisheries and techniques. I've been billfishing off North Carolina, Florida, Venezuela and Mexico. Some day I'd like to go to Australia."
Malcarne started Winthrop Tool in 1987. He's been manufacturing precision products that serves for the aerospace, defense, medical & commercial industries ever since. His foray into roller guide making came serendipitously.
"I was at the local tackle shop one day and the owner said he couldn't get the Fin-Nor rod guides anymore. So, he asked if I could make something like them. I did and now have a pretty good niche market," he says.
The niche aspect of Malcarne's business comes in the way the rod guides are manufactured. "They have more workmanship than production guides. I only make about 1000 a year, so they are more hand crafted, custom, quality. The knot clearance with wind-on leaders is excellent, the largest out there."
Over the last four years, Malcarne's fishing repertoire has expanded from one product to three. "The first is my original rod guide. Then this year I've introduced a new rod guide, the Excel.
As with the original, the Excel has a CNC machine-manufactured frame made of solid aluminum with the titanium rollers themselves recessed into the frame and run on dual sealed and shielded stainless steel ball bearings. However, the design boasts an entirely new shape invented with the assistance of well-known Australian rod designer, Ian Miller. The new frame shape, which comes in six different sizes and is meant to be mixed and matched to cover tackle from 50 to 130 pounds, is designed with several features that are both technical and aesthetic.
"Some boats over in Australia are already equipped with the Excel guides and are giving them a great workout on the Great Barrier Reef," says Malcarne.
His third new product isn't a roller guide, but a new - perhaps world's largest -
roller guide tip-top fitting for heavy tackle users. It's called the 'Aussie Top'. In line with Malcarne's current tip-top range, the entire fitting is machined from solid titanium to ensure ruggedness, lightness and strength, and incorporates the same sealed bearing system and massive knot clearance.
"The 'Aussie Top' was created in answer to requests from the Cairns sports fishing captains who were looking for a roller top that combines all the best features", says Malcarne. "There is a strong line of thought that suggests the tip roller can become a pressure point on lines - including Dacron - when fighting big fish with very heavy drag in a 'straight-up-and-down' situation. This design addresses the issue as the very large radius roller is kinder to line in such situations."
Malcarne says the Aussie Tops are available in pipe sizes #26 to #36 and are available in standard frame colors of black or gold.
Ideas for the manufacture of the Excel rod guide and big tip-top came via the Big Game Room at last year's Miami Boat Show, Malcarne says. "I listened to what all the fishermen had to say. Then I started sketching different designs that incorporated these ideas once I got home."
Does Malcarne have more products in the pipeline? Maybe. But, he doesn't plan to take over the AFTCO's of the world. "If I could get a piece of the pie, I'd be happy," he says.
For more information on Winthrop Tool products you can contact Fred Malcarne at 860-526-9079. Vist the Winthrop Tool booth in the Big Game Room at the Miami International Boat Show.