Who We Are



Waterworks-Lamson is not a typical fly fishing company. We are C1 Design Group, and our core expertise is in product design. We innovate, invent, design and engineer.


In 1988, C1’s design team was ready to revolutionize a sport. It’s hard now to picture performance cyclists reaching down and tightening leather straps around their feet to stay fast to their pedals, but that was the state of the art at the time. Our first patented product, the Avant Sport Talon clipless pedal was about to make the practice obsolete.


C1 Design went on to sharpen another cutting edge in sport, pioneering bike suspension for companies like Cannondale, Kestrel and Scott USA. In a move that would become typical of C1 Design, the DeltaV/Headshok program ignored the impulse to simply scale down motorcycle technology, instead creating a telescoping assembly small enough to fit in the bike’s head tube. The approach, using rolling bearing elements instead of sliding surfaces, transmitted torque, saved weight, improved steering precision and enhanced suspension sensitivity.  The Headshok patented technology lives on today in Cannondale’s Lefty system, still unique in the world of cycle sport.


C1 Design continued innovating, developing component, tire and suspension concepts and licensing designs to Vetta Sports, Scott USA and  Kestrel Composites. The Kestrel Rubicon Comp, an embodiment of our dual rate suspension frame won the prestigious Mountain Bike Magazine “Best Downhill Bike” award in ’97.


C1 Design Group enters fly fishing as the Waterworks


Mark Farris, a lifelong practitioner of fly fishing, identified a problem endured by most fly fishermen, and the fish as well. He proposed that removing a delicately tied fly from a hooked fish by hoisting both out of the water, clamping the fly and wrenching on it with a surgical instrument, could be improved upon. As a result, C1 Design created a tool capable of reducing fish mortality by eliminating netting and handling. We called it the Ketchum Release, a play on the name of our home town of Ketchum, Idaho, and called our new business the Waterworks. The Ketchum Release was an immediate success.

Following the Ketchum Release and several other accessory products, we turned our attention to fly reels. The weight-obsessed, high performance world of cycling was a good training ground for minds poised to re-think the stale, outmoded status quo of mid ‘90’s reels. Many of the parameters were the same: critical strength-to-weight ratios, harsh operating environments, need for mechanical simplicity and requirements for high levels of precision.

We could see that fly reels were poorly designed. Reels were too complicated; they were using too many parts; drag systems and other running parts were exposed to the elements; reels were too heavy.

We knew our challenge was to start at the heart of the standard reel: the drag system. Traditional disc drag systems had a heavy (pun intended) influence on form development. The geometry of a disc implies a certain structure to support it, a constraint the design team refused to accept.  But take friction surfaces and configure them as a pair of matched cones, and you have much greater freedom to design.  Hence the inception of the Waterworks Conical Drag, which was first introduced in 1996 on the Waterworks Force reel.  After twenty years in production, the conical drag is still a paragon of simplicity and efficacy.


The Waterworks becomes Waterworks-Lamson


Late in 1998, C1 Design acquired Lamson from Sage Manufacturing. Lamson reels had established a well-deserved reputation in the 1980’s and 90’s for being the first fully machined quality reel at an affordable price. The “LP” design became the standard of its time and sold for a very reasonable price of $200. With the acquisition of the Lamson trademark, we were ready to bring our own line of Lamson reels to market, beginning with the first Litespeed, a reel that has continued to evolve and dominate.


Design and invention are spurred by passion, curiosity and faithlessness; as soon as a work is finished, instead of doting on it you set about trying to make it obsolete.  This can be an uncomfortable impulse, but it pushes our work to new levels of excellence and into new niches, which includes Waterworks -Lamson reels for two handed fishing, salt water, blue water, and rugged environments. Our latest efforts have yielded high performance/low cost reels that honor our customer’s strong preference for U.S. based manufacturing, as well as hyper-light, high-retrieve presentation reels. We continue on and ever onward, in a constant press to make our products more durable, reliable, higher- performing, more beautiful.


The dictum Evolve or Perish is our condition. The work challenges us every day to choose between grazing and prowling, between ambling and charging. It’s a unique opportunity, to select one’s position in the food chain. Guiding and shaping change is what we undertook, and it is our passion.  Passion is a fuel, the force that propels an idea from mentality into metal alloy. It’s what draws you onto the water, looking for a fish. Passion is a claim rendered by deeds into accomplishment, to new experiences, toward the next great day.


The revolution never stops. Waterworks-Lamson continues to evolve their innovative products, introducing mutations and adaptations that ensure more than survival; they dominate.


A rumor has flourished over the years that Farris spent time with rubber fish in a bathtub developing what would become the Ketchum Release. In truth, he had acquired the permission of Idaho Fish and Game Officer (name withheld) to test prototypes at the (name redacted) Creek Hatchery brood pond. Since one of the goals of the product was to reduce fish mortality, it was considered by all to be a noble and justifiable use of the very, very large, well-fed rainbow trout in residence.  A particular fish, known by the hatchery crew as Big Red, was particularly instructive, and had quite a large classroom at his disposal in the natural spring fed pond.  Mark Farris would like to offer a posthumous salute: “To Big Red; your courage, strength and sacrifice has greatly benefited your trout progeny, and left a lingering tendonitis in my wrist”. And once again, many thanks to Officer (name withheld). You know who you are.