Character Profile: Meet the Oysters – Blue Ridge reels in a gem with this fly-fishing couple

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Graduates of the University of Georgia, Cast and Blast Inn owners Bill and Shannen Oyster provide everything needed for the ultimate fly-fishing experience. Once featured in “Garden and Gun” magazine, Bill is the only full-time bamboo fly rod maker in the world that hand engraves his own hardware, a rare and guarded art. His masterpiece rods sell at their Downtown Blue Ridge shop starting at $2,300 and range to upwards of $17,000. At one time, the couple outsourced the engraving. But upon being commissioned to build President Carter’s rod, Bill learned to engrave and started engraving the rods himself knowing how important this was to his pedigree as a bamboo fly rod builder. Each rod (not including the engraving) takes about 50 hours to build.

The dynamic couple sets the scene for memory-making excursion with classes (perfect for father/son) instructing guests on how to build a rod and then excursions to test the waters. Stay on-site at the Cast and Blast Inn. By teaching bamboo fly rod making, the Oysters are continuing the American tradition of high craftsmanship. Bill teaches more people to make bamboo fly rods than anyone in the world…anyone.

Says Shannen Oyster, “We teach more people in one year than the next guy teaches during his entire career. Students come from all over the world to learn from Bill himself.  We have had students from every state (including Hawaii and Alaska) except North Dakota!  HA!  We also have quite a few international clients each year. Bill actually got into bamboo fly rod building because he thought the only thing cooler than buying a bamboo fly rod would be building your own…this is how so many of our students feel.”

“People who come into our shop are fascinated with the family business (true family business) aspect of it all.  We stand in our shop and personally meet all of our clients, build our rods, teach our students and raise a family…right there.  This is so unusual now but a concept that most seem to relate to…even if you don’t fish or want a bamboo fly rod, most connect with the family aspect of it all’” adds Shannen. “Our original motivation for this business was to be together…so, regardless of our business related success…that is our true personal interpretation of accomplishment.”