Growing up in Royal Center, Indiana, Walton Rod’s co-founders Brad Smith and Mike Malchow, have fished together their entire lives. As a matter of fact, they were college roommates. However, that’s when their paths separated. Brad stayed in college and eventually went into law enforcement but Mike enlisted in the Army and joined the 75th Ranger Regiment. From there, he served over a decade with the Rangers while completing multiple tours of duty all over the Middle East. It wan’t until an injury eventually forced him out that he found his way to Colorado.
Through all this, Brad and Mike stayed close. A few years later, they were fly fishing together in Colorado when the idea of starting their own line of fly rods came up. It started as a passing comment over a bottle of bourbon, but quickly gained steam as they shared their idea’s for an original rod with others who fly fish. Through a lot of hard work, research, development, faith, and luck, a fledgling company was born.
Almost a year later, prototype rods were finally ready to fish. Mike, now being a full time trout guide in Colorado, put every one of them through a battery of tests. Eventually, one design stood out and it was decided upon to bring that rod to market. That’s when things started to ramp up. However, they still didn’t have a name for their company.
The name Walton actually comes from Brad’s son. Back when all this was just getting started, Walton was born a little early, just at 30 weeks to be exact. The entire time he was in the NICU, Brad and Mike were brainstorming names to call their company. It was suggested to name it all after Walt and it just stuck. Walton is now four years old and growing like a weed every day and couldn’t be better. Its obvious God has a plan for this kid. Hopefully he will like to fish.
Since that time, Walton Rods has also grown in a big way. After launching the C9 and N7, Mike went back to work on a new rod. He wanted a rod that was fast action, but not too fast like a lot of today’s imported rods. He also wanted it light but still have the ability to stand up to abuse and many years of catching fish. After completing this task, Mike named the rod after his then dog and best fly fishing friend, Sully. The Sully fly rod has now become our best selling rod to date.
The CS series of rods launched in 2020. This rod series is actually all custom built by Mike Malchow himself in our rod shop in Rifle, Colorado. Every single part of every single CS rod is sourced right here in America from American companies. These beautiful pieces of art are all original creations and designed to be unique. No two CS rods are alike and we plan to keep it that way.
From humble beginnings to a true budding rod business, one thing has remained the same; every rod Walton Rods makes will always be built right here in the USA and we will always put our ethics and integrity above all else. This is an honor and privilege and we do not take lightly.