But Oyster had always loved fly-fishing. During his downtime as a cyclist, he worked as a fishing guide and gave fly-fishing lessons to balance the mental intensity of bike racing. Oyster began researching bamboo rods in 1998 and was so attracted to the material that he decided to start crafting his own rods. A year later the Atlanta Journal and Constitution published an article about Oyster's products, spurring so many requests that he decided to jump in full-time.
Bamboo's suppleness allows anglers fishing in small creeks and rivers to make more accurate short casts. Today there is a two-year waiting list for an Oyster rod. Each one requires nearly 100 hours of labor: Oyster cuts six triangular bamboo strips, tapering the ends to less than the width of a toothpick. The pieces are glued together and then flame-tempered and dipped in varnish. The rods, used by President Jimmy Carter and other devoted anglers, run from $3,700 to $5,000. -Scott Bowen