Angling legend and NASA scientist land technology world-first

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Scott Mackenzie
Scott Mackenzie

A Scottish angling legend and a NASA scientist have cast salmon fishing into the space age by developing the world’s first rod incorporating graphene, the recently-discovered Nobel Prizewinning super-material.

Inverness-based former World Spey Casting Champion Scott Mackenzie has designed and produced the revolutionary rod in partnership with a Space Shuttle scientist and Formula One carbon and composites expert.

Three-time champion Mr Mackenzie, and engineering professor Gary Savage, have harnessed the world’s thinnest, strongest and lightest material – whose microscopic sheets would need 50,000 layers to equal the thickness of a human hair – to help add precious yards to the casting abilities of salmon fishers.

Graphene was discovered at Manchester University, whose professors Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010 for pioneering the new material, which is 30 times stronger than Kevlar but can be woven into strands that can flex lengthways by up to 20 per cent.

“We had an incredibly exciting opportunity to take the art of salmon fishing to a whole new level by harnessing graphene in the right way before anyone else, and the results are proving spectacular,” said Mr Mackenzie, whose unique rod has just been launched commercially and has already been snapped up by buyers in the UK, North America, Japan and the European continent.

Orders have currently outstripped capacity of the UK-based producers even though the rods, selling at nearly £1,000 apiece, are at the top end of the angling market.

“The rod is a game-changer for expert and less experienced anglers. It not only flexes deeply at the beginning of a cast but it straightens again powerfully, which gives you distance, and critically it also retains the vital ‘feel’ that salmon fishers need to adjust their technique and accuracy.”

“I have fished my local River Ness, and gone on to fish hundreds of rivers in many countries around the world, since I was a young boy but never dreamed of producing the world’s most advanced rod using such a material.”

Graphene has already revolutionised the tennis world, after equipment makers Head produced a racquet using the new material for Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.

In constructing the 13, 14 and 15-feet Mackenzie FX1 rods, the one atom-thick honeycombed graphene sheets are rolled into minute tubes, which become threads that are woven and bonded with the unique FX1 resin system.

Mr Mackenzie’s graphene development partner, Oxfordshire-based Gary Savage, has worked on NASA’s Space Shuttle heat shields, and played leading roles in Honda and McLaren F1 teams that achieved three drivers’ and three constructors’ world championships. He said: “We have taken the best of everything we have learned in Formula One to create the best fly rod ever made.”

A professional ghillie (fishing guide) for 20 years on the Ness, Deveron and in parts of north-west Sutherland, Mr Mackenzie moved into full-time salmon rod development and manufacture in 2010 under the banner ‘Mackenzie DTX – Designed Through Experience’. Four years later, Mackenzie DTX’s six-piece ‘Atlas’ conventional carbon rod won the ‘Best Fly Rod, 2014’ award from the UK’s leading game angling magazine Trout and Salmon.

He is a triple individual World Spey Casting Champion and captained the world championship-winning Scotland team in Ireland 2006. He holds an Advanced Professional Game Angling Instructors Certificate, the UK’s highest casting instruction recognition.

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