Walking Sticks, Fly Fishing and Trout

Self Portrait PictureMy name is Jack Althoff. I was asked to be a guest blogger for Brazos this summer due to my love of the outdoors. I grew up in the city of Chicago, but spent most of my life looking for the best fishing spots outside the city, primarily on the many lakes of Wisconsin. I’m naturally inclined towards building and fixing things and have a great respect for Mother Nature. I was in the Marines when I was younger and take great pride in our country.

I love fly fishing new streams with my clumsy waders, three boxes of flies and 10’ rod. Rushing water requires some pretty good balance. Even with good balance, you rarely know what your next step is going to be. Everything is active and moving in a creek or river. Water depth changes quickly and often you have to navigate rocks and holes. Sometimes, sand and mud even get thrown into the mix.

Fishing

What I generally bring along to make navigating and balance a little easier and safer is a long walking stick with a tether that can connect to my wader clip. I have a couple aluminum ones, but the wooden types seem to be more functional. They float downstream behind me while I cast, and I generally know where it will be because the current keeps it to my leeward side. And while they are floating, there is no extra weight.  The aluminum ones also tend to bump the rocks as they drag along and I think that spooks the trout, especially on a sunny day.

For fishing, I’d recommend the Brazos 58-inch Twisted Oak Trekker Walking Stick in the lightest color possible (Natural). That way, if you lay it down on the shore, it will be easy to see. Longer sticks have more leverage in general and are more comfortable to carry

Here are a few other ways a long stick comes in handy for fishing and camping:

  1. Propping up a rain tarp
  2. Hanging up wet socks (or other things if you fall in)
  3. Knocking down dead sticks for firewood that are still up in a tree
  4. Catching your hat in the river, as it blows off your head and heads downstream
  5. Lashing a knife to the end to make an impromptu spear or fishing gig

Just a little advice for your next fly fishing adventure!

Any questions? Leave a comment!

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7 Reasons People Love the Brazos Free Form Hickory Walking Stick

With all the walking sticks we offer, how do you tell which one is right for you? Our most popular stick by far is the Free Form Hickory. But why do people love it and is it the one for you? Check out its main benefits and find out if it would be a good fit for you!

  1. Helps you look younger
    Some reviewers (even those in their 90s) report loving this stick because it gives them a more youthful appearance than a cane.
  1. Keeps you balanced on rough trails and wilderness hikes
    Many people use the Free Form Hickory as a hiking stick or trekking pole. It helps you keep your balance on uneven surfaces — when walking uphill, on rocky ground or across slippery streams.
  1. Gets you noticed
    The beautiful, smooth, finely-finished wood makes this walking stick a functional work of art. When you use it, people will notice!
  1. Helps you fend off snakes or wild animals
    Hickory is strong, solid and very hard. It’s what they use to make baseball bats, so it would stand to reason it would be the right stick to carry for protection.
  1. Protects you from falls
    It’s a fairly heavy stick that will hold you up if you feel a bit light headed or weak.
  1. Improves your posture
    When you use a cane, you can tend to bend over more. With a walking stick, you will still stand up straighter.
  1. Built to last beyond this generation
    This hearty stick will be with you for years to come and you can even pass it down to your children. Like all our walking sticks, the Free Form Hickory has a lifetime guarantee.

Why do you love the Free Form Hickory stick? Tell us in the comments!

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My Favorite National Park Experiences

On a cool, crisp April afternoon my lovely family and I pulled up to Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colorado. We were staying in Estes Park for a family vacation, and we had heard that the national park was simply majestic, so we knew we had to pay a visit.

As we rolled through the beautiful Rocky Mountain scenery, on our way to the park, we were already getting glimpses of life near the august mountain range. The flora and fauna seemed to be on full display, wrapped in the grandiose arms of the towering peaks.

I had no idea how much an entrance fee into a national park typically was, but we were pleasantly surprised when the park ranger at the front gate told us that it was National Park Week and entrance was free! When we drove through the entrance, we were immediately greeted by nearly a dozen elk, casually strolling through an adjacent field, like something from a nature film. Yes, we instinctively realized we were in a special place.

The Guel children at Rocky Mountain National Park.

The Guel children at Rocky Mountain National Park.

 

Thanks to National Park Week, we returned to Rocky Mountain National Park nearly every day. We trekked through trails, up the sides of mountains, and all around the beautiful, nearly-frozen lakes. It was an experience none of us have been able to forget – our first true experience in a national park.

Then came another mountain range, another sublime park experience, another adventure. Last November my wife, Brandi, and I had the opportunity to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. While not as imposingly majestic as the Rockies, the Smoky Mountains had an undeniable charm that was reflected all the more by the dazzling fall colors and dense, smoky fog around the mountain range.

At the Great Smoky Mountains.

At the Great Smoky Mountains.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park experience hit a little closer to home, bringing back feelings of woodworking and finely crafted walking sticks. While hiking through the many trails available in the park, we came across numerous saplings with familiar-sounding names like sassafras, ironwood, and sweet gum. The names were familiar because some of Brazos Walking Sticks’ top-selling walking sticks are crafted from sustainably harvested sassafras, ironwood, and sweet gum saplings. Seeing the saplings out in nature made me appreciative of what Brazos is about, bringing The Feel of Nature to so many people across the country.

My two favorite experiences at national parks – at the Rocky Mountain National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – revolved around nature and family. Those two things we hold dear at Brazos Walking Sticks.

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Improve Your Workout with a Walking Stick (or Two)!

Whether you like to walk your neighborhood streets, forest preserve trails or along the beach, a walking stick is not only a great way to keep your balance, but used in the right way, it can increase the value of your workout.

Virtually any walking stick will boost your walk’s energy-burning efficiency, since you’re using otherwise sedentary parts of your body (arm, forearm, and shoulder) to move a walking aid that weighs anywhere from one to two pounds. However, the health benefits of using walking sticks is amplified when two walking sticks are used, because at that point, the entire walking experience transforms into a full body workout.

oak fitness walker

The Brazos FitnessWalker

Walking with two walking sticks (also called Nordic walking and pole walking) involves using all-limb motion with each stride. As you walk, and your feet move in stride, your arms also swing with the weight of each walking stick, providing exercise for the upper part of your body that would normally not receive much benefit from walking. Pole walking burns more calories than regular walking, since several core upper body muscles get stimulated and worked out through two-pole walking.

Key benefits of two-stick walking include:

• Increased aerobic capacity
• Greater muscle strength
• Overall full-body fitness

Pole walking with two Brazos Walking Sticks.

Pole walking with two Brazos Walking Sticks.

In order to make walking for fitness a fun and enjoyable experience, Brazos walking sticks has developed our FitnessWalker Walking Stick. The stylish FitnessWalker empowers you to exercise confidently as you walk briskly through your neighborhood, favorite trail or walking track. This oak fitness pole is created by hand from a single piece of wood, making it superior to other fitness walkers that may have moving parts or breakable pieces. This strong and attractive walking stick gives you rock-solid stability and assurance, wherever your fitness walking may take you. While perfectly suitable as a single stick, the FitnessWalker was designed to be used in pairs, in order to offer the entire range of benefits available with pole walking. Like all of our walking sticks and canes, the FitnessWalker is American-made by our local artisans in Waco, TX.

Get healthy. Get fit. Get started with Brazos Walking Sticks and the Brazos FitnessWalker!

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Meet Eric Guel!

Hey y’all! If you’re new here, it’s nice to meet you! I’m the operations supervisor at Brazos and have been stickin’ around here for nearly 12 years. For those of you who have called Brazos, you’ve probably talked to me. I’m the guy who can help you figure out what kind of stick you want.

guel walking sticks

Before joining the Brazos family in 2004, I studied journalism at Baylor University and worked as a staff reporter and photojournalist for a handful of Texas-based news publications. Since coming on board with Brazos, I’ve served in a number of roles: artisan, copywriter, photographer, customer service specialist and salesperson — to name a few. Thanks to the wonderful people I work with, I thoroughly enjoy my work! But what I like best is helping people around the country to find the right handcrafted, American-made walking stick for them.

A native Houstonian, my roots run deep into the fertile Texas soil. I currently live in a small rural community north of Waco – along with my wife, seven children and roughly 40 chickens.

As you can imagine, after 12 years, I have a lot to share about our famous walking sticks:

• How do you choose the right one?
• Are you a hiker, walker or just want protection when walking your dog?
• What’s the difference between hickory and oak?
• What size should you get?
• Do you want a lightweight stick? Which wood is best?
• Who makes the sticks?
• How are they made?

I will answer these questions and many more! Be sure to leave a comment about what you’d like to see me talk about in future posts.

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Celebrate Columbus Day With Brazos Walking Sticks!

Celebrate Columbus Day with Brazos Walking Sticks and get a whopping $14.92 off of any Free Form Hickory walking stick or cane.

walking stick sale

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Top Sellers Starting Under $40

All of our faithful customers can get a top selling Brazos Walking Stick starting out under $40. (The price goes up as the size goes up.)

walking sticks hiking sticks

Pick up one for you and one for a friend!

This sale ends Oct. 1, so gets yours today.

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Brazos Walking Sticks: A Google Trusted Store

Brazos Walking Sticks is a Google Trusted Store.

brazos wakling sticks google trusted

What that means to you, our faithful customers, is you can buy with 100% confidence, knowing that we have your best interest in mind. As always, our products are handcrafted, one a time, by our skilled craftsmen.

chuck sanding.jp

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Some Ideas On Laser Engraving Walking Sticks

personalize walking stick

A laser engraved walking cane shaft.

Laser Engraving is, by far, our most popular accessory. We engrave on the wood itself, and thanks to the laser technology that we utilize, there’s virtually no limit to what can be done.

– Logos? No problem.
– Custom text? Absolutely.
– Dates and Names? Super easy.

So when you choose to laser engrave one of our sticks, choose creatively. We can typically handle most requests.

To choose laser engraving for your walking stick or walking cane, simply hit the “laser engraving” button on the stick’s product page.

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Scouts Love Brazos Sticks

One thing’s for certain, scouts love their Brazos Walking Sticks. Since our inception nearly 20 years ago, we’ve consistently served the scouting community by offering group discounts, custom laser engraving, and quick turnaround time.

scouts walking sticks

Scouts with their Brazos Sticks!

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Raw Wood, Up Close And Personal

At Brazos Walking Sticks we bring in all manner of raw wood: bamboo, oak, hickory, laminated wood, saplings, lumber, et cetera. Every single Brazos Walking Stick we sell ultimately goes through our wood warehouse in Waco, TX, to our stick makers, to our retailers, and then to you, our loyal customers. Thank you for letting us do what we love!

So, for our customers, we hope you enjoy this up close and personal look at some of the raw wood we work with here at Brazos Walking Sticks on a daily basis.

raw walking sticks

cedar for walking sticks

colorwood walking sticks raw

pine for walking sticks

raw sapling walking sticks

raw sassafras for walking sticks

walking cane raw shafts

walking stick saplings

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Personalized Walking Sticks

For the past 12 years Brazos Walking Sticks has been at the forefront of custom walking stick and walking cane personalization. Simply put, personalization is the process whereby we laser engrave your walking stick with your name, a logo, or anything that happens to catch your fancy.

personalize walking stick

Personalize your walking stick with laser engraving.

We find that customers tend to personalize their walking canes and walking sticks with, first and foremost, their names. Name personalization offers a personal flair to your purchase, while also serving as a handy way to ID the walking stick if it happens to get lost. (On that note, some customers even enjoy laser engraving their phone number on their walking stick.)

Businesses and organizations, on the other hand, tend to use our logo engraving as a way of expanding their overall branding strategy. After all, a handcrafted walking stick with laser engraving is something that will live virtually forever.

Engraving is easy! Simply choose “Laser Engrave This Item” from the product page on our website. If you would like a logo engraved, please call us at 1-800-581-4352. Most one-time logo engravings can be done for only $30, but for multiple stick purchases, deep discounts are available.

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The Poetry of Essential Humanness

Poetry is her passion, and walking sticks are her constant companion. But not just any walking stick will do, not for this native Texan. Truth is, poet Karla K. Morton loves all things Texan: boots, pickup trucks, dusty trails, lush vegetation, outdoor adventures, and, of course, Brazos Walking Sticks.

“I am an avid fan of Brazos Walking Sticks,” exclaimed Karla. “I always, always carry one with me during my travels, my favorite one having my initials, kk, carved into it!”

ironwood walking stick and karla

Karla K Morton with her beloved Freeform Ironwood Walking Stick.

In 2010 Karla was honored by the State of Texas as the 2010 Texas Poet Laureate, a distinction that recognizes her creative prose and cultural contribution to the Lone Star State. As an ambassador for poetic art, Karla has been featured extensively in news and media outlets including NPR, ABC News, and CBS News, to name a few. She has published nine books of her poetry, with the latest being Constant State of Leaping (Texas Review Press).

Not surprisingly, her passion for walking sticks shows up periodically in her poetry.

I will sit for a while, my forehead against my staff,
With a song of sadness only the frogs can understand

– Excerpt from “A Song of Leaving”

“Wooden walking sticks are a crucial part of man’s history – used for protection, security, depth finders in holes and streams, etc.,” Karla explained. “Wooden sticks are ancient and noble, almost becoming extensions of our human limbs.”

She would know about the many uses of a faithful walking stick, as she’s logged many miles with her staff (“To Texas and Beyond!”). Indeed, her Brazos Walking Stick has been by her side through many adventures, both serene and daring.

Occasionally, Karla’s drive to wander among the flora and the fauna — to push the boundaries, to follow her cat-like curiosity, to see what’s just around the next bend — has forced her to face the reality of nature, beautiful yet cold, and to muster courage in the face of natural adversity.

Terrified, I called out to God,
then waited . . .
but . . . Sun didn’t stop its plummet,
moccasins didn’t slither away,
spiders didn’t burst into flame . . .

Sometimes the nature that must be changed is ours.

And in the golden hour of my faith,
I charged forth, my walking stick, a rod
blessing each step;

– Excerpt from “Feral”

Karla’s poetic prowess spans various subjects and genres, but, ultimately, she writes about love, hope, and the natural beauty that is all around us.

And still I walk by, searching that green maze
for fresh signs of discovery, smiling
at the strangely intimate secret I

share with the earth, and the rain, and the snails;
bewildered at the treasures of childhood
so impulsively tossed aside — that great
gift of play that lies rusting in the dark.

– Excerpt from “Secrets of the Ivy”

“I tend to be a poet of moments,” she said. “Those tiny experiences that would be overlooked, but are so essential to our humanness.”

Perhaps something as simple as a sapling has a deeper, more profound resonance when examined through the eyes of our “essential humanness.”

Or maybe that’s a poem that is yet to be written, a path that is yet to be walked.

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Frosty Grip Loosening

It’s been ridiculously cold around Central Texas these days. Keep in mind this is the same region of the country that routinely gets highs up toward 105+ degrees in summer. Tonight the low is supposedly 23! It’s not supposed to be that cold in Texas, unless you’re somewhere in the panhandle.

Believe it or not, spring is on the way. Soon we’ll all be rescued by a warmer climate as Old Man Winter loosens his frosty grip. Imagine serene walks down beautiful, scenic paths; long strolls through your beautiful neighborhood; and heart-pounding hikes on your favorite trails. Yep, it’s on the way. Get ready.

brazos walking stick couple

A friendly walk with Brazos Walking Sticks in hand.

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Prediction

We’re not in the prediction business here at Brazos Walking Sticks. We’re in the stick making business. Still, it’s difficult to not conjecture as we ponder world events, market fluctuations, and numerous other variables that have a direct impact on American life and products that are Made In The USA.

Brazos Walking Sticks has been around for nearly 20 years. We started out selling a few custom, handcrafted canes at art shows and so forth, and over the years we’ve grown steadily. Currently we’re in more than 4,000 retail locations across the country, and we do quite a bit of business via our website: brazossticks.com.

made in usa walking sticks

With that said, we’ve seen a lot over the years. We’ve seen economic fluctuations, the Great Recession, and a plethora of fads simply come and go. One thing’s for sure: quality, American-made craftsmanship is not a fad.

Truth be told, we see a resurgence in demand for all things Made In USA, and the future is bright for American craftsmen and American-made products. People who doggedly purchase Made In USA products are those who like to “vote with their pocketbooks,” while supporting local families and local jobs. We see those types of conscientious purchasers increasing in numbers, not decreasing.

It’s morning in America, so brew a cup of coffee, hop online, and buy something that was Made In America.

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Walking Stick For Photographers

Photographers looking for a handy monopod that also doubles as a durable walking stick need look no further than our Photographer’s Walking Stick, available in hickory, sassafras, and sweet gum.

photographer walking stick

The Photographer’s Walking Stick In Action

This walking staff features all the beauty and durability you would expect from a Brazos Walking Stick, while also serving as an incognito monopod (the top unscrews to reveal the thread-mount). This handy monopod-walking-stick universally mounts to all standard cameras. What’s more, compared to the pricey, single-use monopod, this walking stick is a steal. 😉

Check out photographer Kent Weakley expound the virtues of our unique walking stick:

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Statement On Sustainability

handcrafted walking sticks

As the national leader in the area of Made In USA, handcrafted walking sticks and canes, Brazos Walking Sticks recognizes its responsibility to conduct its operations in a way that cares for, nurtures, protects, and improves the environment for current and future generations.

Brazos Walking Sticks understands that, as stewards of our Providence-given resources, we must conduct business in a way that is ethical, prudent, and forward-thinking. Since our inception nearly 20 years ago, we have worked with those goals in mind — all within a context of complete sustainability.

To those ends we promote production methods that focus on conservation of materials, efficient energy use, waste reduction, and environmental replenishment.

With regard to the harvesting of domestic woods, Brazos Walking Sticks practices renewable collection practices which focus on targeting dense areas of private forestry with an over-abundance of competitive saplings. Competitive saplings are young trees that spring up on an annual basis, taking resources from established flora within their ecosystems. The harvesting of competitive saplings is a boon to the natural environment in which they exist.

Exotic wood is procured through fair trade practices from reputable companies whose environmental ethic is similar to our own. Brazos Walking Sticks will not work with companies who engage in questionable business practices or suspect sustainability measures.

In summary, Brazos Walking Sticks seeks to produce premium handcrafted walking sticks and canes using the most sustainable options available. Our commitment to sustainability parallels our unwavering commitment to craftsmanship.

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Anatomy Of A Spike Tip

For serious hikers — or those aspiring to be serious hikers — we offer a versatile, strong, and robust spike tip option called the Lee Valley Spike. This spike tip has been a popular choice on all of our walking sticks, and even a few walking cane users have found the Lee Valley Spike to be beneficial.

Lee Valley Exploded View

Several years ago our friends at Lee Valley Tools collaborated with us to develop this spike tip, and it’s been one of our best selling spike options ever since.

This tip features a virtually indestructible brass design that is screwed in to the bottom of your shaft, for a strong, secure fit. The rubber tip and steel spike unscrew and are interchangeable.

At $26, this spike option is great for those wanting a long term solution with replaceable parts and a pristine design.

Lee Valley Tip

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About Brazos Walking Sticks

Brazos Walking Sticks facility

An aerial view of the Brazos Walking Sticks facility.

Brazos Walking Sticks is a family operated business offering handcrafted walking sticks and canes all over the United States. We are located in the beautiful Brazos River Valley area of central Texas, where we have been producing high-quality, hand-made walking sticks, hiking staffs, and walking canes for nearly 20 years. Most of our products are made in small, “cottage industry” workshops located within a few miles of our facilities by local craftsmen who are also our neighbors, family, and friends. We appreciate your business and wish you continued success with our handcrafted items.

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How We Craft Our Walking Sticks

This short video clip is for anyone who may be curious about how we craft our walking sticks. From cutting saplings to putting the finishing touches on our sticks, this video is essentially a short, entertaining, and informative walk through of our process. Hope you all enjoy!

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