Abraham Lincoln said "Character is like a tree and reputation is like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing"
Take the case of Mike Clark , a noted Colorado rodmaker. I am not picking on Mike, I don't know him and I don't know much about his rods but I do know that one of his best friends is John Gierach. John writes about his fishing life and Mike is his good friend and he uses his rods. As such, Mike's reputation grows from the writings of John, I wish I had a famous fishing buddy writer. So Mike is the tree and the writings of JG is the shadow. How about all the former Leonard and Payne employees that are building rods, their reputation is enhanced from their association with noted makers of yesteryear. They are the tree..........well you get the point.
As builders and cane rod enthusiasts it is so important that we educate ourselves on what makes a great rod and more importantly how to recognize it. Castability, construction, aesthetics and quality would be benchmarks but you owe it to yourself to understand all the aspects required to make a good final product. I have seen rods by noted makers that were not great, they were just average rods like many of us make (did I just say I make average rods?). The shadow, considerably bigger than the tree. Like music, each era has great artists and I am know there are some modern builders making exceptional rods. As caretakers and denizens of the Lovely Reed lets make sure we are pumping up the correct tires, we wouldn't want over inflated builders running around out there, after all, it's a safety thing.