John Voelker and Morris Kushner

Trout Magic, first edition, signed.

John Voelker (1903-1991), a Michigan Supreme Court justice, is probably best known as the author of Anatomy of a Murder (1958).  Otto Preminger made the best-selling book into a movie, starring Jimmy Stewart, Lee Remick, and Ben Gazara.  The movie also featured Duke Ellington and some amazing, original music that the musician composed for the film.

After the success of the book and its film adaptation, Voelker retired to spend the rest of his days fly fishing and writing.  Eventually, he wrote several books dealing with fly fishing, which have become part of the canon of fishing literature.  The books were initially published under the name of Robert Traver.  He adopted this pen name early in his writing career to protect his professional identity as an attorney and judge.  Most fly fishers, I am confident in saying, envy Voelker his success and his ability to retire early and fish.

Following is a trailer for Anatomy of a Murder, in which you can see Voelker himself.

In his book 1974 book, Trout Magic, Voelker writes about one of his favorite bamboo fly rod makers, Morris Kushner.  Kushner’s rods are well-respected to this day, even though he never made them professionally.  Indeed, Voelker quotes Kushner as saying, “I only make ’em because I love to make nice things for myself and my friends”  (Trout Magic, 143).

My own friend, also a rodmaker, recently alerted me to the fact that there is documentary about Kushner.  It is titled, simply, The Rodmaker.  You can purchase a copy of it here.  Note that the DVD includes an interview with Voelker.  Following is the trailer for the movie.  The trailer, too, features some fine footage of Voelker.  Enjoy.

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