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Crowdsourcing: Are The New Cortland Glass Fly Rods As Good As The Diamondglass Fly Rods?

Posted by Tom Chandler 7/31/2012 5 minutes

I've written extensively about my forbidden love of the old Diamondback-designed Diamondglass fiberglass fly rods, and because of that I receive a fair number of emails asking if the the new, Cortland-derived Diamondback Fiberglass rod series are as good as the originals, which Cortland reintroduced some time ago.

Which, never having cast the new rods, is a question I can't answer.

The "old" three-piece Diamondglass rods were wildly smooth and offered blood-pressure-raising levels of feedback to the caster, though they weren't all that much fun in high winds.

I own the 8' 5wt, 8.5' 4wt, and 7' 3wt, and if any one of them broke I'd probably say things you're not supposed to say in front of your innocent, impressionable children.

When Cortland relaunched the line -- which are now blue instead of black and (I believe) made overseas -- I assumed they were the same tapers. Which may have been a mistake. In fact, an admittedly secondhand flyshop rumor is that the rods aren't the same.

Potentially disappointing, especially since I had my eyes on the 8' 4wt 3-pc (which was a slightly-too-strong 2-pc rod in the former Diamondglass incarnation).

So instead of wondering, I'm crowdsourcing the question:

Are the new Cortland-derived fiberglass fly rods the same tapers as the original Diamondback series? If not, are they close? Are they as good?

I'm looking for someone who has experience with both rod lines. Here are the rules:

    • Reps and fly shop employees can post anonymously (just use "anonymous" for a name and make up an email address). I'll pull any post that looks like sabotage.

    • Idle speculation is OK, though again, any unguided torpedoes launched in Cortland's direction will be detonated and removed

    • If you're tempted to say the new rods are faster but "better" -- let us know your own rod preferences so we can take that into account.


See you powering the rumor mill, Tom Chandler.
Destinations
 (2)
This is a small town with a big heart, a veritable fisherman’s paradise. Located near the fish-filled Madison River, and surrounded by the waters of Ennis Lake, the Ruby River, Hebgen ... moreLake, Quake Lake, Henry’s Lake, the Big Hole River and scores of smaller streams, the town boasts what many consider the best trout fishing in the world. As well known for its wranglers as its anglers, Ennis has succeeded in maintaining the look and feel of its original, gold town roots. Warm and hospitable, the area offers a wide variety of accommodations ranging from simple campsites, rustic motels and gracious hotels, to full-service, luxury resorts. Fly shops are numerous, stocked by local experts ready to advise and assist, while guides can be booked for trips throughout the area.

Boredom is the only thing unavailable in Ennis. Throughout the summer season the city hosts a series of events, including its renowned 4th of July Celebration Parade and a genuine, old-fashioned rodeo. In August, fly-fishing luminaries from around the US, flock to Montana to compete in the Madison Fly Fishing Festival. Athletes also find their way to Ennis to compete in the city’s Madison Trifecta, two shorter races followed by a full Marathon at 9000 feet, the highest elevation run in America. For the true sportsman, October falls in with the annual Hunter’s Feed. What’s caught, typically elk, moose deer, pheasant and bobcat, gets cooked on the streets and served up to hungry spectators.

Flanked by three grand mountain ranges, The Tobacco Root, Gravelly and Madison, Ennis is scenic and entertaining – truly an authentic, fly fisher’s haven.
Fishing Waters
 (2)
Ruby is the perfect name for this river, for it is a largely hidden, sparkling gem. Its crystal clear waters begin in the pristine Beaverhead National Forest in southwest Madison County, ... morebetween the Snowcrest Mountains and the Gravelly range. While it starts as a rather thin trickle, it picks up more than a dozen mountain, freestone creeks, and gains velocity as it flows for 40 miles past Alder and into the Ruby Reservoir. Past Alder, the river runs north between the beautiful Tobacco Root Mountains to the northeast and the Ruby Range to the southwest. Nestled in the quaint Ruby Valley, the river is conveniently located a mere thirty minutes from Ennis and a lovely one-hour drive from Bozeman. Like many other rivers in this region, the Ruby is small at only 76 miles in length, but it is full of surprisingly large fish.

Leaving Alder, the Ruby exits the reservoir as a tailwater and supports abundant midge, caddis, and Pale Morning Dun (PMD) hatches. For a short time the river passes through a scenic, arid canyon before abruptly transitioning into a meandering open agricultural valley. At this point the Ruby runs over vast swaths of private land, sometimes making access difficult. The 40 mile descent from Alder to Twin Bridges also crosses over high-end ranch properties, where again, access can be challenging although public access points do exist and can be easily located.

The river is open year round to fishing and conditions are good through all seasons. Springtime on the Ruby brings hatches of baetis and early season caddis. When the water warms in summer, the river will explode with Yellow Sallies and Pale Morning Duns (PMDs), along with hoppers and other terrestrials. Late summer and early fall is considered by many to be the best time to fish, as clouds settle in the high mountain valley providing fast paced action for the streamer enthusiast. Running a nymph rig subsurface, or using a dry/dropper combo is the best technique on the Ruby throughout the year.

Fish will jump for hoppers during the late summer months, while streamer-fishing can very satisfying throughout the summer and early fall. A predominantly brown trout fishery, the Ruby is full of trophies that often reach 18 – 20 inches. The greatest numbers of rainbow trout are found in the first few miles of the river just below the dam. If you seek a unique opportunity, the upper portions of the Ruby rumored to hold rare cutthroat trout and arctic grayling.
 (4)
The Beaverhead is a nearly 70 mile long tributary of the Jefferson River. Its original course has changed due to the construction of the Clark Canyon Dam, as have its headwaters, once ... moreformed by the confluence of the Red Rock River and Horse Prairie Creek. These rivers, along with the first 6 miles of the Beaverhead, are now flooded as a result of the reservoir project. Today, the Beaverhead flows through a wide valley where it meets the Big Hole River and forms the Jefferson River. The river is well known for its clear, blue-green color, narrow, winding turns, willow-lined, undercut banks and thriving insect life that attracts fish.

The origin of its colorful name can be traced back to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, when their indigenous guide, Sacajawea, recognized a large rock formation in the middle of the river known to her as the Beaver’s Head. According to Lewis, this indicated to her that they were close to the summer retreat of her Indian nation. On August 15, 1805 the party reached her tribe, where one of her remaining brothers, Cameahwait, Chief of the Shoshone, provided crude maps, food and horses, making it possible to continue the Expedition through the mountains. On their return trip Lewis gave the river, once full of beavers, the name it now holds.

Fortunately, floating the Beaverhead in today’s world is much easier, more fun and amply rewarding. It is widely considered one of Montana's premier Brown trout fishing rivers, producing more large trout, particularly Brown trout, than any other river in the state. Due to its abundance of large trout, fly fishing the stretch near Dillon, from Clark Canyon Dam to Barrett’s Dam and through to Twin Bridges, tends to be very popular and get can crowded, even although the fish can also be hard to catch. While large fish can be caught with dry flies, it is primarily a nymph fishing river along with a swiftly moving current, so expect to be constantly mending your line.
 (3)
The Big Hole River starts in the Beaverhead Mountains south of Jackson, Montana and flows on for about 156 miles. Beginning as a slight stream, it picks up muscle as it joins with ... morethe North Fork, and draws more volume as it passes through the Wise River basin. At the Continental Divide it changes its northeasterly direction and heads southeast until it joins the Beaverhead and forms the Jefferson River close to the town of Twin Bridges, Montana. It hosts one of the last known habitat for the native fluvial artic grayling but is best known to fly fishers for its trout.

Like so many Montana rivers, the Big Hole is as full of history as it is of water. When Lewis and Clark stumbled upon it, the river was providing a buffer zone between rival Indian tribes vying for land as they sagely anticipated the westward push of European miners, furriers and settlers. Fifty years later, a significant number of the Nez Percé, a tribe that had initially befriended the Expedition, refused to accept life on a reservation and were nearly wiped out by U.S. troops in the Battle of the Big Hole. Today’s battles consist of quarrels between ranchers who desire water for irrigation and recreational users who wish to see the water preserved.

//

Fishing the river can be basically divided into three sections. From the headwaters at Skinner Lake to Fish Trap, the river meanders slowly through high meadowlands. This is where the few remaining artic grayling can be found, although browns and rainbows are in abundance here. In the second section, Fish Trap to Melrose, you will find boulders and pocket water rushing through a narrow canyon; here rainbows outnumber the browns with an estimated 3000 fish per mile. The final section, Melrose to Twin Bridges, is lined with cottonwood bottoms, braided channels and long, slow pools. In contrast to the second link, browns outnumber rainbows 2 to 1 with approximately 3000 fish per mile.
Trips
$
550
/ Boat
Capacity:
2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
Destination:
We specialize in guiding on the Beaverhead river. We cater to anglers of all skill levels, from beginner fly fishermen looking to catch that first trout on a fly, to the seasoned angler ... moreseeking a veteran Montana fishing guide who knows these waters like the back of their hand. Our experienced guides will work hard to help you have a first-rate Montana fly fishing experience.
$
365
-
$
495
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
4 hours - 1 day
Destination:
Spend the day fishing for huge rainbows and big browns on the famous Madison River, a Blue Ribbon Trout Stream. With more than 2000 fish per mile, the Madison River offers challenging ... moreand fun fishing for novice to seasoned angler.
$
450
-
$
550
/ Angler
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
Fishing Waters:
Destination:
The Ruby offers some very big secrets wrapped up in a small technical, river package. From its headwaters to the confluence with the Beaverhead the Ruby is mostly a smaller meadow ... morestyle stream. It is fished primarily on foot from any one of the numerous bridges or access points. This little river has been ground zero for the fight against privatization of Montana's water ways. This is a great river for the small stream enthusiast as well as the angler looking for big surprises in little waters. Ultralight tackle fisherman will also enjoy the possibilities of this "gem" of a river.
Outfitters
 (3)
Ennis Montana Premier Fly Fishing Outfitter and Fly Shop on the Madison River Trout Stalkers is a fly fishing outfitter that specializes in Montana and Madison River Fly Fishing Trips. ... moreWe are located in Downtown Ennis and just three blocks from some of the best fly fishing in Montana, on the Upper Madison River. Our fly shop is staffed with experienced and welcoming fly fishermen who enjoy sharing their knowledge.

Trout Stalkers fly shop and online store features a diverse collection of the finest fly fishing gear, clothing, fly fishing gifts, fly rods, reels, flies, rental gear, boats and accessories. Our carefully curated fly selection is focused on proven fly patterns for the Madison River and other major southwest Montana rivers.

We have a variety of watercrafts and rafts for rent and for sale, including inflatable rafts equipped with fishing frames, drift boats, kayaks and SUPs. We also have an ever-changing fleet of new and used rafts and drift boats for sale. Need a Madison River shuttle service? We can help with that too.

Our extensive knowledge of fly fishing the Madison River stems from many years and countless days spent “driftin’ and dreamin'" on this great river from top to bottom. We strive to make every visitor to Ennis, Montana feel comfortable and welcome in our fly shop. We want you to have a great Montana fly fishing experience and our top-notch, seasoned guide staff will work hard to make sure of it! Our motto at Trout Stalkers is simple: The first time you fish with us you're a client. The second time you're a friend!

AuthorPicture

Tom Chandler

As the author of the decade leading fly fishing blog Trout Underground, Tom believes that fishing is not about measuring the experience but instead of about having fun. As a staunch environmentalist, he brings to the Yobi Community thought leadership on environmental and access issues facing us today.

12 comments
Thanks for passing that along. I pretty much ties up all the rumors into a relatively believable ball. I find myself wondering what the new 8' 4wt casts like (as if I didn't already have enough 8' fly rods).
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This is a copy of the email I received from Mike McFarland. Mike McFarland mike@mcfarlandrods.com Aug 13 to me Hi Tom, Sorry for the slow reply. When I purchased the equipment, I got about 1,500 mandrels including the ones that the original D-glass rods were rolled on. The new D-Glass blanks are rolled in China, shipped to the US, and assembled by either myself or a rod wrapper up at Cortland. The ... more way I understand it is that Cortland sent over some original rods and had them copied by the factory in China. To my knowledge, none of the mandrels were shipped over. The factory in China probably had new mandrels ground for these rods. So I guess your rep is somewhat correct that Cortland does have mandrels over there, but they are not the ones that the original rods were rolled on. I think if you measured the new rods vs. the old rods there would be differences in dimension. The new rods do cast very well though. Hope this helps. Mike
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Interesting. That jibes with what I've been hearing -- the rods aren't quite the same as the originals. Let us know if it'll cast a "normal" DT4 when you get a chance...
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I'm in the early stages of building out the 8'6" blue Diamondglass blank. The guides are all taped on, and I couldn't resist taking it out into the backyard today. I didn't have time to try a lot of lines yet, but I happened to have a DT5 Supra line on a nearby reel, so I used that. The 5wt definitely didn't overline it, and the combination felt nice to me. Not that I bought this blank for this purpose, ... more but it can shoot a DT5 like you wouldn't believe. I'll try to remember to post again once I have some time to try some other lines. It might like a GPX 4wt, but from what I have heard about the earlier version of this rod, I would guess that the current version is faster. Tom
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Once you get it built get back to us. The wiggle test isn't exactly compelling, but I did hear about one person who lined his 8.5' 4wt Dglass with a 5wt, which none of us could understand. It didn't need it...
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I just received a new 8'6" 4 wt blank. The blank looks nice, but the wiggle test in the office left me thinking more 5wt than 4wt. Seems a little fast for glass, but I think it will end up being ok. I never had an opportunity to cast one of the old ones.
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I didn't want to out right perpetuate teh story of McFarland being the buyer, as I didn't have concrete proof. You did. So that's that. What I didn't hear was the rest of the story, which puts alot more into place, basically everything but the actual tapers went to him, and that makes alot more sense (how much could Cortland really stand to gain by selling the tapers off, versus lose by having counterfit ... more Dglass rods). I do, however, believe he purchased the remaining stock of the actual fiberglass stock based on the limited special run rods he did at the beginning of the year, which are coincidently black like the old Dglass rods. That would put that into place. New fiberglass and resin stock would certainly explain a different animal, as well. I'd like to try a new Diamondback (and an old one), but I think for the money everyone's too busy trying to find the old ones, anyway, the cost for the new ones isn't really any less. I'll just wait for them to go n closeout like the last generation.
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I believe Mike McFarland bought the Diamondback rodmaking gear from Cortland, who then sent production of the Diamondglass rods overseas. What i don't know is where the mandrels (tapers) went. In an email, Mike told me he didn't have the rights to the tapers or the name -- he just the gear so he could roll his own blanks. I guess the question boils down to -- did Cortland retain the mandrels and send ... more them overseas, or did they take the opportunity (or were forced to) re-engineer the tapers a bit (which sounds like the case). A slight stiffer 7' 3wt would not be the end of the world; I'd just love to know how different the new rods are. Doesn't look like many folks have cast them, but then, I doubt they're available in too many places.
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there were alot of rumours that someone bought the remainder of their stock and the mandrels to roll his own, and that he might be a part of the new process, and subsequent blanket denials of ever being a part of the new process from the supposed buyer. if that's the case, perhaps its true that the raw materials and designs were sold off, and thus new, "similar-but-different" designs had to be done. ... more I'm also willing to believe the vast majority of the differences are attributed to the fact that they're new, and thus clearly inferior to the old because that's how it must always be (ie, the humble Pflueger Medalist from Asia being junk compared to the exact same thing in America). YMMV, though. This is entirely conjecture as I don't own a new or an old one, and have never had either. If you're dropping blanks in the mail, lemme shoot you my address. ;)
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I own one of the originals and cast the new when it came in at the local flyshop nice rod didn't feel exactly the same a bit less full flexing....(I would call my 7' parablolic ish and in a pinch I'd say the new one had a more progressive feel ) but it was still a very nice casting rod differences could be less taper than materials.... don't know but to my hand the new rod felt really really nice ... more and it seemed a superb value for the money it had a few cosmetic issues but at the price fairly minor ....for reference I'm pretty soldily a cane head but I love casting lots of rods just to see..... (a plus to being a shop rat at the local fly shop) very subjective non scientific but I give the new rods 2 thumbs up
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Yep. And rest assured, should I feel myself slipping away, I'll make sure to get my backup 8.5' 4wt blank in the mail to you before I go...
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Fished the 8 1/2' 4 wgt. yesterday. Sure hope that they didn't mess with the taper on that one.
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