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The Underground Picks The Dozen Best Fly Rods of All Time (Period)

Posted by Tom Chandler 2/10/2009 15 minutes

Nothing fires a discussion among fly fishing's faithful more than the subject of fly rods. They are, after all, the most significant tools of the trade, and what's more, fly fishermen love to argue. The right fly rod feels like an extension of your arm; flies appear precisely where you're looking (as if by magic), and landing trout is a pleasure. Naturally, one man's great fly rod is another's pool cue or noodle, and yes, it's just barely possible that my own personal bias has entered into the construction of this list, though just in case there are some questions about sanity choices, I wanted to lay out my criteria.

The Dozen best fly rods of all time? We pick, you argue.
The Dozen Best Fly Rods of All Time? We pick, you argue.

The Underground's Scientifically Derived Criteria

First, no current rods are included. History may decide the Orvis Helios or Winston Boron or Sage Z-Axis might be the most bizarrely named best fly rods ever, but I'm leaving those discussions to history. New rods are just that (new) - and they simply haven't been around long enough to make the list. Additionally, short production runs don't really count. I truly believe the very best bamboo fly rods ever made are being built right now (by names like Ream, Brandin, Thramer, Johnson, Karstetter, Wojnicki, Raine, etc), but let's face it - the combined lifetime output of those builders equals about one month's production of Helios fly rods, and while I love my built-by-still-living-guys bamboo fly rods, they'll never be cast by enough people to truly matter. Similarly, no boutique rods really made the list - even though I could make a very cogent argument for the inclusion of a Steffen Brothers or McFarland glass rod or the little-known-but-much-lamented East Branch "classic" graphite. There simply aren't enough floating around the fly fishing universe. Then there's the question of history; many will argue that today's rods - the result of all sorts of materials and taper improvements - are the defacto "best" rods. Instead, I'm picking history's best fly rods; the rods that set the pace in their era. And finally, there's the little issue of what "best" really means, and because I play with words for a living, I'm willing to suggest "best" is simply a reflection of criteria. One rod may be lightest, another may cast beautifully, and another may be cheap. Which is the best? Well, that's why you've got the Underground. (We Report, We Decide.) Of course, it's possible the assembled Undergrounders have different ideas, and if you can write a solid-but-snarky justification (see below), I may create a followup "Underground Reader's Choice" post (and who doesn't want to be famous)? Naturally, saltwater and spey (two-hander) fly rods are wholly underrepresented in this list (with one exception), and I want to say right now that I've managed to avoid the slightest twinge of guilt about that.

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The Dozen Best Fly Rods of All Time

Leonard Model 50(DF)
Sure, no two Leonards seem to cast anything alike and the craftsmanship varied widely over the decades (hell, it varied widely over the course of hours), but as Uber Rod Geek Rich Margiotta pointed out, the Leonard Model 50 set the early standard for light-tipped, Catskill-style dry fly rods - a remarkably enduring style of taper that's still happily consumed by the masses today. And hey - you gotta start somewhere.

The Paul Young Perfectionist (7.5' 4/5wt)
In truth, almost any of the Paul Young semi-parabolic rods could qualify for the Desirable Dozen; I picked the Perfectionist because I own the taper. The Para-15 is probably more famous and the better all-around rod, but the point here is that Paul Young created a more fishable version of the somewhat touchy full-parabolic tapers loved by Charles Ritz. A marketing whiz and astute businessman, Young also found a way to convert cosmetically challenged cane into a useful stuff via his "ring of fire" flaming process, and the Underground hates waste, so we find ourselves here. It's perfection on a stick.

The Payne 100 (7.5' 4wt)
It's widely accepted that Payne consistently produced the best, long-lasting, most-consistent bamboo fly rods, and that even in the era of supercomputers, nanotechnology and widely available pizza, the Payne 100 taper simply can't be improved. Over the course of decades, Payne bamboo fly rods have captured the hearts of fly fishermen for their castability, gorgeous finish, and elegant durability, and while the Payne 100 is a great example, it's only one in a long of great examples of Payne workmanship. This is one time Payne is gain.

The Fenwick 7.5' 5wt Feralite Fiberglass Fly Rod
In truth, the 8.5' 6/7wt Fenwick glass rods were more popular, but everyone who's been in fly fishing since the 70s has probably owned one of these chocolate brown beauties - wonderful fiberglass fly rods that brought a smooth-actioned, lightweight (for the time), glass-ferruled, great-fishing fly rod within reach of almost everyone. That the classic glass Fenwicks are experiencing something of a renaissance - along with an uptick in value - is hardly a surprise. Though heavy by the standards of today's weight geeks, they're still smooth fishing rods. What can brown do for you?

The 8.5' 5wt IM6 Winston Fly rod
A classic that's still available for sale (albeit at an amazingly inflated price), the IM6 Winston fly rods are testament to Tom Morgan's influence on their design; light tipped and very smooth, they are superb all-around trout rods, and what's more, they're just plain fun to cast. And you don't have to be a Winston partisan to believe the 8.5' 5wt might be the "troutiest" rod in existence. Taken as a whole, the Winston IM6 fly rods may have logged more water time than any other fly rod on the market, and rightly so. Summary? The IM6 is still IMpressive.

The Loomis IMX 9' 4wt
I'll just say it: I've never cast a Loomis fly rod I particularly liked, but in an astonishing display of editorial integrity, I'm going to list a Loomis IMX, which is the rod line that - for better or worse - helped fuel the fly rod industry's arms  race. I'm not at all sure the truth path to fly rod salvation lies in high tech, but I do know it's a marketable differentiator, and that "new" continues to be the mechanism by which fly rods are made "obsolete" in the market's eyes - and therefore ripe for replacement. As rods got faster, lighter line weights became commonplace, and with the rise of indicator nymphing, longer, lighter rods became popular. Hence the IMX 9' 4wt - a rod I wouldn't own, but a classic I must acknowledge.

Sage LL 389 (8'9" 3wt)
Edging out Sage's 490 LL, the 389 might have been one of the best spring creek/light fly fishing rods of all time, so naturally, Sage - marching to the tune of "more technology is better" - just had to discontinue it. Incredibly smooth, suggestively limber and an amazing fishing tool, the 389 remains one of the few rods that everyone from the bamboo fiends to the techno-rod-geeks can comfortably rave about. Inside dish from more than one industry source suggests Sage's new line of "progressive" fly rods were designed to cast and fish like the much-missed Lightline rods, a bit of circular manufacturing that should amuse you, assuming you're not paying today's higher prices for "yesterday's" action.

The Scott Heliply 8'8" 8wt Saltwater Fly Rod
Sure, I'm totally winging it here; I know saltwater fly rods like Nestle knows ethical business practices. Still, I have it on very good authority the Heliply was one of those rods that was oddly discontinued, then forcibly brought back through the efforts of masses of keening saltwater fly fishers. In an era when "saltwater fly rod" was fast becoming code for "enjoy your tennis elbow," the Heliply 8wt was a breath of surprisingly bendable fresh air - the reason the Heliply still enjoys a cult following.

Any Reasonably Tapered 8.5'-9' 6wt

Sure, I'm cheating with this one, but that's what writers do when they're trying to make a point. The 6wt rod used to occupy trout fishing's comfortable middle ground - the rod you'd toss in the truck when you weren't absolutely sure what you'd be doing all day. Today, a 6wt is a borderline saltwater stick, and if you're fishing a 6wt on the river and run into one of the "I fish a 2wt for everything" crowd, you'll be viewed as something of a terrorist. Funny thing is, the laws of physics have yet to be revoked by fly rod manufacturers (they seem to have successfully escaped the laws of economics), and a reasonably tapered 6wt will do everything from to throwing streamers and busy dries to fishing #22 midges with a reasonable amount of delicacy. I was tempted to award this slot to the "original" IM6 Winston 6wt or the Payne Canadian Canoe 6/7wt bamboo fly rod, but Ian Rutter pointed out the original G-series Scott was better than both, and I've learned not to disagree with people who let me stay at their house. Your choice.

The Eagle Claw Trailmaster 7.5' Pack Rod
Just when you think we're going to zig, we zag. The Trailmaster? A cheap pack rod that was also available as a spin/fly combo? That's the one. Yeah, I know it's clubby and awful, but it's been available for pretty much forever, it was very affordable, and it probably introduced more conventional tackle fishermen to fly fishing than any other fly rod (remember, "best" is in the eyes of the beholder). Today it's available in a 98% graphite fly rod only version that looks pretty conventional, but for most of its life, it was a cheerful, happy yellow that belied the suffering that lay ahead for those attempting to learn fly fishing on their own. A great fly rod? Maybe only the way we define it (so sue me).

The Diamondglass 8.5' 4wt Fiberglass rod
Sure, like a genius artist, the rod was largely underappreciated until it died (in the production sense), but we're already seeing a healthy aftermarket in used models, and yes, the Underground has standing orders from two fly rod aficionados should I decide to sell my spare blank. Unbelievably smooth - and perhaps the best "technical" small fly rod in existence - this beauty may have been pure Plain Jane in appearance and construction, but the heart and soul of a rod lies in its taper, and this one has a halo and wings.

The 8' 4wt Tom Morgan Favorite/8' 4wt Scott G-Series
Another dual winner, this is an homage to the 8' 4wt trout rod - perhaps the ideal rod for small to medium sized trout fishing. The Tom Morgan Favorite (that's still available today from Winston as the "TMF") is perhaps too soft for the current market, but it's still a fine rod - as is the 8' 4wt Scott original G-Series rod (since "updated" into a "crisper" fly rod with the G2 series [e.g. - even Scott rod enthusiasts are addicted to speed]).

The Almostas: The Rods That Didn't Quite Make It

The runners-up list that didn't quite qualify for the Dirty Dozen, but demanded a mention anyway. Most of these are simply historic rods; others were great, but didn't quite make the list.

The Phillipson 8.5' 5/6wt bamboo fly rods
I didn't want to overload the list with bamboo, but let's face it: Tommy likes the 8.5' Phillipsons. I've cast the other heavy-hitter 8.5' bamboo fly rod tapers, and none - not even the Payne 204 - measures up.

The Shakespeare Howald Process fiberglass fly rods
Pioneers in the hollow fly rod world, the Shakespeare Howalds were not pretty, not light, and not particularly durable (they had a tendency to saw themselves to pieces through extended use), but they were among the first good fiberglass rods to appear. We remember them thusly.

Phillipson Epoxite Registered Midge (6'6" 4wt)
OK, this really only made the list because I badly want one (I just can't afford to buy the few that are available). Still, it's a defensible choice from a development standpoint; Bill Phillipson worked closely with 3M on several innovations, and pioneered the technique whereby synthetic rods are formed (on the mandrel) under high pressures, eliminating weakening voids in the blank. Thus, the Epoxite midge - in addition to its twin tips, gorgeous appearance, and homage to the ultra-short "midge rod" craze - also represents a technological highpoint in glass rod manufacturing, and the (sadly) near-final chapter in the Phillipson Rod Company saga. (Gifts of Epoxite Midges accepted by the Underground, and I'll even let you name the replacement rod for the list.)

The San Francisco-era fiberglass Winstons
Just because, damnit.

Fenwick HMG Graphite fly rods
Those new to fly fishing are often surprised to hear that Fenwick was a leader before they faded into what amounts to cheap rod obscurity. Their classic glass rods made the "Dozen Best" list, and these HMG graphites were among the first affordable graphite fly rods. Frankly, I still find their willowy actions enchanting, but after their initial burst of popularity, they faded from the market (like the company). Too bad.

The Chico-era Powell Light Touch
Before the Powell family fragemented the name - and Charles Schwabb burned his fingers trying to resurrect it - the smooth-casting Powell Light Touch fly rods were wonderful fly rods that just missed the fashion tastes of the post-movie fly fishing generation. Too bad. I was tempted to erect a Hall of Shame for the wholly mediocre, wildly overhyped rods that bedevil us (and yes, I'm talking to you, Sage RPL+ parking lot rods), but perhaps I'll leave that to my readers. Have at it, Undergrounders. Make your case for the "Next Dozen Best Fly Rods Every Built" in the comments, and we'll see about a Part II. See you at the rod rack, Tom Chandler.
Destinations
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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
 (4)
If fly wranglers were gossips, the “Blue Ribbon” Madison River would likely be their primary object of attention. Arguably it’s the most talked over, written up and frequented river ... morein the entire state of Montana – and that’s saying something. What’s more, no one has anything bad to say about it and that’s for a good reason. There’s nothing bad to say. Its scenic journey begins in Yellowstone National Park at the convergence of the Gibbon and Firehole rivers and continues for 19 miles through parkland. Within the Park, fishing rules apply: no live bait and sorry to disappoint, but it’s catch and release only. Once outside the Park the river meanders past working ranches, stately conifer forests and cottonwood lined banks, interrupted by riffles and quiet runs that contain large rainbow and trophy brown trout. Flowing alongside Yellowstone’s West entrance road, the river enters the Hebgen Lake, created by Hebgen dam, until it reaches Quake Lake, a bit downstream from the dam. At this point the river is commonly called either the Upper Madison or the Lower Madison, although in fact, they are one and the same.

Upper Madison – Quake Lake to Ennis Lake
Directly below Quake Lake the river roars into 5 long miles of Class V whitewater with steep gradients and large boulders along the way. As the rapids decline, the magic begins. For the next 53 miles, often referred to as the 50 Mile Riffle, the cold river runs north and the fish jump high. Annual runs of spawning trout make their way from Hebgen Lake, rainbows in the spring and browns in the fall. Known the world over for its “hard fighting” trout, it’s not unusual to pull a 25” brown from these upper waters. In deference to the purists and fly-fishing enthusiasts, it’s wading only from Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge. Boats may be used to access the river, but if you’re going to fish, your feet must be on the riverbed. Fortunately, the Hegman releases water throughout the year, leveling its flows and relieving it of spring runoff issues and summer shrinkage.

//
Lower Madison – Ennis Lakes to Three Forks
A short section of the river between Ennis Dam and the power station maintain relatively low water levels and provide wonderful opportunities for wading. Past the power station the river regains its muscle and for 7 miles winds through Bear Trap Canyon. Hiking trails offer the only entry, great for those that like to walk and seek the solitude of a designated wilderness area. Floating is permitted but requires a lengthy shuttle and the ability to work through Class III-IV whitewater. Once out of the canyon the river flows in shallow riffles until it reaches Three Forks and joins the Missouri. From Warm Springs to Greycliff, the river is easily accessible for drifters and wading.
Trips
$
1,600
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
3 days
Variety is the spice of life, right? Well, that's where our 3 Rivers in 3 Days comes in because that's exactly what you'll be doing, fishing three different rivers in three days! With ... moreour choice of 4 world class rivers, our guides will know what rivers to fish on which days to maximize your chances for success. Don't blink, you might miss something!
$
1,625
-
$
1,925
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 3 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
5 days
 (1)
Experience the Madison River Like Never Before Learn the best spots on the Madison River with 5 great fishing days with Red Mountain Adventures. Eric Shores, with over 35 years of ... moreexperiencing guiding on the Madison River will take you down a journey of the best places to fish.

The journey starts on the Upper Madison River on a guided float trip covering about 8-11 miles of premier fly fishing water. The following day includes a recipe (location flies, and technique) on a do it yourself wade location near the fly fishing town of Ennis. The third day moves you on to where the Madison River dumps into Ennis Lake for a full float day stalking the giants. The following day provides instructions again for a do it yourself wade day. Location will depend on the hot locations during your visit. The final day is another full day float day on the lower Madison River. All together, you will experience the Madison River like never before by true expert.

Note: The order or location may change based on where the best spots are at the time.
$
300
-
$
495
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
5 hours - 1 day
Destination:
Join us for a fun day of fishing on one the Madison River, one of the top rated trout rivers in the US.
Outfitters
 (1)
Welcome to Southwest Montana's finest fly fishing adventures. Blue ribbon trout water is literally steps away when you visit us in the picturesque town of Ennis, Montana. You may spend ... morethe day on our home river, the world famous Madison or drive to one of our other local rivers such as the Big Hole, Beaverhead, Ruby or the Jefferson. Whether you are a new angler or an old pro we have the expertise and patience to make your time on the water chasing wild trout a success.

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.

319 comments
Sitting in Scotland much amused by the comments .....I've owned a few of the named rods ...I don't much care for sage ...like my Thomas and Thomas ....have a few Hardy the ultra lite was one of the best....my father worked in air craft development and brought me a carbon blank ...built it and destroyed it in the first casting session ...ten piece lol . One of my all time favourite rods is the loomis ... more 10ft 5wt Glx...probably one of the best tracking rods in the world.....it dosnt matter who thinks which is the best for in the world ...it's what you are happy fishing with that counts .
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I have one of the Scott Bamboo 8 wt salt water fly rods. very powerful rod. I can pick up 20 feet of fly line like nothing and recast it and all the line coiled in my hands.
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i have three j. kennedy fisher, two piece, graphite rod blanks to sell. anyone?
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Nice read and inspiration to expand my horizons. My experiences are not as broad as most who posted here . I have nervously handled and cast a number of the rods mentioned ;most of which I would consider way beyond my budget. That said I do have the Fenwick 7.5 5 weight and a Diamondback 9' 5 weight I still have & absolutely love . Being a spin fisherman who prefers my old Fenwick 953 and a Mitchell ... more 308 for everything . My start in to fly fishing began on small waters with a St. Croix 61/2 ' 3 wt with cork handle and slide rings & Orvis BBS I . Was incredibly stiff didn't cast or load well and weighed a ton for what it was. Long gone don't recall model number .Bought and sold a hundred or more since as my knowledge and casting improved. Fell in to a few traps... talked in to buying status gear that once on the water fell short and sold for a loss. My list of keepers follows .....and like Russell posted one favorite is an old Cortland 6 1/2' 3 weight marvel with that same old BBS reel. So very light it's like fishing with an empty hand but will gently roll cast a line or shoot an amazing distance ....WF3 Rio line easily 50 + ft . I have a vintage GRF 1000 Cortland 7' 3/4 weight that I use with 2 weight line equally amazing . Both have plenty of backbone and have rapidly brought in large rainbows and huge browns ...smallies and largemouths to 7+ lbs . The feather light construction and unsanded blanks remind me of my vintage Orvis 1 3/8 oz 7 1/2" ! wt I also love to fish with . In addition to above have a collection of old fiberglass Fenwicks a couple old HMG 's and one vintage World Class ...a few Orvis ,,,,Far &Fine ....Trout ...Herrys Fork ...Tippet ....Western .....a couple others I can't remember ...old St Croix 9' 6" 8 wt blue blank that's a useful "pool cue " I use in saltwater....one Loomis GLX ....and two Sage XP's .....a few other old Cortland's ....That's just what I would call vintage ....damn I have a lot of stuff . Haven't bought anything in a quite a long while but did just drive up to PA. and for an Echo Carbon 2 weight and another BBS reel off Craigslist a week or two ago !!! $80 for the pair Perhaps it's time for an intervention..... In closing..... being a blue collar enthusiast who has seen more than my share of snooty fishermen ...even float guides telling me to leave all my gear behind in the car !!! In my own reality check here .... I've always tried to learn from others ....get the most out of what I have before looking elsewhere or upgrading .....not worry what new equipment the other guys are using unless it is functionally much better than anything I already have. Perhaps time to dust off and use some of this other stuff again or thin the herd . Collection ......hmmm
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Right on!!! Was watching this thread for specifically this rod...! Bought the 865 LPS Thomas and Thomas 18 years ago...!!! my favorite Penna. Trout rod.....awesome fishing tool....definitely belongs on this list...
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I have 2 rods on this list, the Sage LL 389 (8’9? 3wt) and the The Scott Heliply 8’8?. The LL that I have is a 4 piece, they only made 500 and I lucked out and bought one. it is my favorite rod. The ZXL that Sage brought out was similar, I have the 8'5" 4wt and its smooth. The best trout rods I have cast are the rods Tom Morgan Builds, the price point is up there, but they are special.
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[…] Old rod/New rod This drew a few comments: The Dozen Best Fly Rods of All Time I have a few that will be passed on. One just not part with a classic... […]
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Hi there, fun blog! I tried reading all the comments, and didn't see my favorite glass bass rod mentioned: Browning Silaflex 322985 (8.5', 6/7 wt). The mid 70's 322 series blanks were the best Silaflex ever made. Very light and responsive. Store bought had some funky wraps, but after breaking it I bought some blanks to build myself. Another vote for Fischer also-my SF Winston glass 8-1/2 5 wt is a ... more Fischer blank, very nice trout rod. I have some excellent graphite rods (from blanks) of theirs as well. All have the "plug" style ferrule.
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You don't say what length and line weight the rod is, but yes, the original Fenwicks have some value. I don't keep up with rod prices, but I remember that Fenwick glass rods in a desirable length were in the $100-$200 range (outraged corrections welcomed).
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I also have one of the top ten fly rods , the Fenwick glass rod my father bought for me over 40 yrs ago. I never had the opertunity to use it. It has been in its metal tube and flannel sleave for 40 yrs. I just found it in my basement and as much as I would love to use it I can't because of health reasons. I don't want to sell it but I was wondering what it might be worth if anything . Thanks Ted
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Years ago I met Polly Rosborough on the Williamson and he insisted I fish one of his 58 model Battenkills and I tend to use it as a benchmark for assessing an all around rod. A rod that is met with less enthusiasm than merited in my opinion were the SB/Cross double built. I own an 8wt. bass taper that almost always results in a grimaced face expletive when hefted by a subject matter expert in fine ... more cane. It virtually casts itself whereas my wispy Fairy Std Trout 8 wears me out. Fenwick Streamer owners are an adamant bunch with good reason, along w/an old IM6 Mitchell a 5wt Streamer is a go to of mine.
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I have a Fenwick GFF806 that someone gave me awhile back, anyone know anything about this rod. It's looks like a vintage rod. I'm thinking about starting fly fishing, should I use it or just get a new one.
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I wanted to add to my message turns out the two metal fly rods did in fact belong to my grandmother and her dad but the two bamboo rods were hers and her husband my grandfather the bamboo rods would have been years later. After looking at the other metal rod it's marked LUCKIE THE HORTON MFG CO BRISTOL CONN. THANKS AGAIN TOM/rubicu
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I have been sitting on 2 fly rods now for the past 40 years. Thought I would put this out there to see if anyone knows anything about them. Theses were my grandmothers and her father when she was a kid. I know know this because they wrote their names on each of their rods along with the date the dates are 2/12/22. The rods are metal it looks like there a conservative wrap about an inch apart in different ... more colors of gold,brown,green and red. On the reel seat it's marked MIZZOO. I guess like any person who loves their sport one rod was not enough so they also had the split bamboo and they are marked Union Hardware Company Torrington CONN. USA These are awesome rods, I know what they mean to me without my grandmother I would not be half the fisherman that I am today. I would think that rods like these close to 100 years old would hold some value, if not it's a sad day, knowing what some of the bass lures of the same age sell for today. It looks like my grandmother took better care of her equipment then her dad did, however they are are still usable rods to bad they did leave the reels on the poles I would have liked to see what they had oh well. So if anyone out there has any info on these I would love to hear about good or bad. Thanks Tom
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I agree with Mr. Russell's musings.
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Was fishing with a friend who had just purchased a new Sage top-line 8.5' 4 wt. He was crowing about what a great rod it was and enjoying his day. Late in the day, I handed him my TMF in a 'try this' exchange for his rod. His new rod is gone. The hunt is on for a TMF. That's karma Baby!!
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What? No Heddon's? #50 President, #1000 Rod of Rods? #60 Heddon with the walnut handle? What about a Leonard Fly rod? Wow!!! I think this list is a bit debatable wouldnt you think?
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the Winston WT series graphite (non IM6) is a smooth lot, favorite is 8' #5 i've had since 1985. Dry fly to roll casting, it performs exceptionally well. Another stick, opposite end of the spectrum, Cortland GRF-1000 8-1/2' #5. It can be coaxed into a decent dry fly cast, seems impervious to branches & wayward hooks, has no collector value, all of which makes for a good beater rod. Shed no tears ... more when fishing for Bass with poppers.
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[…] Re: Classic dry fly rods More about "classic" fly rods: The Dozen Best Fly Rods of All Time […]
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I decided I am going to keep and fish the rods. That's what they were made for. Looking for a nice pflueger medalist, for the 5 wt. ( a nostalgia thing) , and I am thinking a larger Okuma, for the 8 wt. Those reels, for the price, are real workhorses. The 8 wt., I'll try on the Missouri, (I'm from Helena, Mt), and the 5 wt., ought to be perfect for the Madison, and Gallatin.
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Joe, Seems like you've already determined that you have acquired some neat old glass. I had a bunch of those early fiberglass Scotts and still own a few including a 8'4" 5-weight like yours. I doubt that ANYBODY is scanning E-Bay for an old glass 8-weight but there are some strange yearnings out there. Some glass rod afficinado would probably like to get the 5-weight but they don't fetch exorbitant, ... more classic cane money. My suggestion is that you fish the rods- just be prepared to slow down your casting stroke.
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Im new to this site. I recently picked up 2 Scott fiberglass rods, one a 8'5" 8 weight, And a 8" 4" 5 weight. I called Scott, and they said those things were probably made in H.D Howards basement in San Fransisco. Does any one have any knowledge of these rods? I want to fish them so bad, but I know they are probably highly collectible. The guy I spoke to at Scott, said the serial numbers on those ... more rods, were very early Scott serial numbers. Thanks for any help offered
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Thomas & Thomas 763-2 LPS So sweet.
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Le mie favorite vecchie canne in grafite SONO le Sage Sp ma ora le nuove sono le circa . Ho tutta la serie è sono tutte buone dipende dalla situazione di pesca .My Old favorite graphite rod are sp and ll , but Now are new sage circa .I have the all circa series , are all good depends of the situation to fishing,
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My favorite rod Sage 389LL, I have 2 ,one I keep just in case something happens to the one I use all the time. Also have 279LL , 890-3SP+ , Z-Axis 490-2 and 690-2 , SP490 , GFL 596-2 . All good Sage rods. Also have Winston 8 1/2 5wt IM6 , great rod as is a Loomis GLX 8 ft 3wt. Down to 1 bamboo a Leonard Duracane 7FT 4wt that I plan to keep. No rod I have ever had could stand up to the Sage 389LL , ... more there is just something about that rod that is magical .
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Sage has manufactured several of my all time favorites- the 590-4 RPL, The 896-4 RPL ( a great steelhead rod, but also a fantastic bonefish rod on the flats), and the 379-2, 389, and 4711 LL. There has been little mentioned about the original and venerable RPLX series which I believe really revolutionized the purpose made saltwater rod market. After three later incarnations (Xi, Xi2, and Xi3) my money ... more is still being spent on the originals. The 6, 9, 10, 11, and 12 wts are still awesome by today's standards, and more than a few well known fishermen, authors, and experts still reach for theirs over the later generations. Another favorite rod that has been completely overlooked and certainly deserves a top ten placement in my book is the original Fenwick World Class fly rods. Don't confuse these with the later Asian imports- I'm talking about the 1980's Jimmy Green era, serial numbered, made in Westminster CA, in the good old U S of A rods. This was my first fly rod purchase, and I pick up minty ones whenever I can. I believe I am not alone in my line of thinking, as Gary Lafontaine, and if my memory serves me correctly, Craig Matthews, also have a place in their heart (and quivers) for these rods. I now own 3 or 4 of these rods, and they have much more soul (for lack of a better word) than the HMGs, and unlike so many other rods, actually like lines one size lighter than their designation if you chose to speed up the action.
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By chance any relation to Philip M. C. Armstrong of Detroit, Michigan? Just learned of him today through his grand-daughter who lives nearby. Thanks.
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Bamboo = Payne 100 Graphite = Sage SP 389/5...SLT 690/4...ZAxis 690/4...RPLXi 790/3 Fiberglass = JGreen E773/3...Steffen S836/3...Scott F754/3...LKenny 7105/2...Fenwick FF806/2
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A 690LL 3 piece was the second rod I ever built. it will do anything reasonably well but seems to excel at casting smaller dry flies and streamers. It delivers bass bugs okay if you don't try to muscle them too far. It doesn't like anything with weight. At least with my casting technique (or lack thereof). I thought it would be the rod to cast a sink tip on a recent Arkansas trip but I had a really ... more hard time. My Z-Axis 5 wt did much better and it seemed like you could throw as much line as you were willing to strip out. A guide at the Orvis shop saw me taking my rods out of the boat and saw the LL rod. He said that is the rod I should guard closely. Who knew ? Nice article and a super long thread.
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really enjoyed the article Tom, I have an old Tom Morgan favorite four weight that ive fished so muchover the years that the ferrels are becoming pretty close together spacing right now is at a 16th of an inch.do any of you guys think there is a point when the rod must be sent back to be fixed or should I just wait for the tip to fly off when casting?
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Very interesting, reliving the past. I've owned a few of these gems.... 389-3 Sage LL, the 490-3LL, which I fished more than the 3, kind of windy where I fished most of the time, the 4 weight helped out on those non calm wind days. I could kick myself in the butt selling all my Sage LL's for mad money to buy a very expensive mountain bike back in 2008... what was I thinking? Mountain biking got me ... more more injured than any other outdoors sport I've ever engaged in. Had a G Loomis GLX 9 foot 6 weight. It was a rod that cast great, but I sold it shortly after buying it, I never learned to love it. Had a Sage 690 SP... another strange rod... fished it on the Trinity River in CA for steelhead, cast well, mended well, but it was a bugger with not enough backbone to get fish to the net. Sold it. I don't know why, but I've never owned a 6 weight fly rod that I actually fell in love with or kept... kind of a mystery to me... it's the bastard weight rod for me, just can't seem to find one that I like, yet. Had three Sage SP 590-3s two of them broke the blank right at the butt, casting midges from a float tube on Crowley Lake. The last rod Sage replaced it with was one that was green, and interestingly enough had a silver winding check at the cork/blank juncture. I promptly put that one up on Ebay for sale as brand new... a prominent attorney in NY NY owns it now, one of his partners bought it for him for Christmas. Fast forward to today... I have a couple of Hardy Zeniths 10 ft 4 weight and 9 foot 4 weight. Just lovely, how well they fish, near and far. I believe, at least in my hands, that this Zenith, at least the early ones, before Hardy was bought out in the summer of 2013, will one day, 20 or 30 years from now, possibly be another benchmark fly rod, with the way it fishes and casts. I am by no means a great caster or a pro, but, at least in my hands, the Hardy Zenith is and was an eye opener as a tool for the fly fisher. Much love for my 4 weights. Do I miss the Sage LL's? You bet I do... but better they are in the hands of someone fishing them and using them than sitting lonely in a dark closet.
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I continue using on brushy creeks in the central Sierra, west slope, a Pflueger Medalist, No.1495 1/2, on an Eagle Claw Trailmaster 7'6 Spin/Fly Rod ("the yellow rod"), circa 1976, with dry flies. Both were a high school graduation gift from my folks in 1976. It deserves its ranking. At times, my 9' 5wt Sage just isn't right.
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I own 2 of your top 12; Sage LL, 8'9" 3 wt and Wright McGill Trailmaster pack rod, and 2 on the Almost list, both Phillipson Fiberglass rods. Have been stream and river fishing in Colorado for 35 years and think that the Sage XP 5 wt rod should be on the list somewhere also. Between the two Sage Rods, LL and XP one can fish any river or stream in the State and cover all conditions, from the Caddis ... more hatch to spring nymphing or any tailwater in the State. I also agree with the Post on Cortland equipment; whenever I can find a Cortland DT fly line in 3 or 5 wt I snap them up; they are as good as many of the more expensive fly lines and due to their reasonable cost ($29) when the start to fray out just flip them over or throw them away and put on a new one. Finally, a great web site........thanks
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By the way, the dback VSR is no slow-action fly rod!
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Wow, this is a great thread, still going on. I haven't read all the posts from others but I like the list and it's historical context is relevant. I am now almost 49 and have been fly fishing for well over 30 years. Seek to simplify and do not trouble yourself with fame or gain. In my mind, it's all about the memories one has with each rod. My very first rod was my dad's a good ole shakespeare Howald. ... more It did the trick and got me "hooked", no pun intended. I then moved to an early gen. Shakespeare graphite fly rod - I believe it was a sigma. Then to one of the original Sage glf's - 9' 5 wt. Today, I own over 25 different rods and I prefer many different rods for many different situations. Still, to this day my favorite rod is a meager 6.6' Cortland GRF 1000 3 wt. with cork reel seat. I own a late 1960s glass fly rod, another 6.6' 4/5 wt with a cork reel seat. I prefer short, slow-moderate graphite rods for many different reasons. I also prefer 3 wts and 5 wts. Yes, the Powell light touches are impressive indeed. I really like diamondback rods from Vermont, the originals before Cortland bought them out. Ever use a 10' 3 wt VSR on a windy day, wading chest high? The Diamonglass is currently on my wish list. To this day, even with a bucket load of money in the bank, I still fail to justify spending 100s of dollars on tools of the trade that are merely status symbols. Give me a Diamondback VSR or older model, or perhaps even the grossly underrated basterized american rods such as Cortland's Precision 1s and 11s and they do the trick. I have no use for an 800 dollar Sage rods or any other maker for that matter, including $3000 bamboo fly rods that are relics of my great grandfather's time. And I mean no offense to that at all. I just grew up when early generation graphite was the norm. In the end, it's all about the memories!
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Yup!- it's fun to read all the comments about different rods. I've many bamboo rods which always confuses my choices when deciding what to take fishing. When it comes to graphite I'm going to mention a Redington Nti 9' #5 - so satisfying for use when fishing for searun cutthroat I have a spare. The other 2 graphite #5's that are hard to ignore are the Winston IM6 (WT) 8.5' and a Winston LT5 8'9" #5 ... more that have provided so much pleasure they'll never leave the rod closet. An LT5 8'3" #4 travels a lot too. The #5 that gets the most river use now is a Bob Clay spliced joint 8'3" hollowed penta - a friend preferred it to his 8' Howell.
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Tom, The only 50DF I've ever cast was a Thramer which I thought was quite nice. I agree with you that the long history of Leonard produced quite a bit of variance in tapers and quality. I'm sure Beasley means well but I have yet to meet a contemporary maker who doesn't think his rods are better than the masters (including Payne). Modesty and humility seem to be scarce these days.
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greg hall: I have actually heard and read more comments that Leonard rods are over rated than I have vice versa. But I have also spoken with a number of highly reputable makers who think highly of the tapers. Leonard was in business a long time and produced a lot of different tapers. Law of averages said that some of them had to bite. I know my Beasley-built 50DF Tournament is a wonder, but Beasley ... more also copped to the fact he'd cast a couple other Leonard 50DF rods which didn't inspire him to steal the taper. Did the 50DF taper change, or did the rods vary that much, or...? Who knows. I suspect the Leonard rods changed a fair amount over the decades (unlike the Phillipsons, which didn't seem to vary at all).
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Well I just caught up on how this subject continued. Lots of great comments. I always enjoy these discussions because I read about rods or reels I've never tried but might like to. I came late to fly fishing back in 1996 and I think a lot of you have much more experience than me which adds to my enjoyment in reading your comments. Since 1996 I've acquired and sold/traded my fair share of rods and ... more reels. Been fishing bamboo since 2000 which just made things worse (my wife's opinion). I don't wish to extend this long discussion beyond its' use but just to add a few brief comments. 1) It's Tom's blog and his opinions. For the most part I enjoy his comments but not always nor do I always agree with him but so what! I still like it. 2) This started out as the twelve best fly rods of all time but it seems to have evolved into "Fly rods I have enjoyed or my favorite rods." So I think most everyone enjoyed the opportunity to participate. Thanks to Tom for letting it continue. 3) I don't think there is an intentional bias here regarding Orvis rods or English/European rods. The comments reflect what we know. I'm sure if you polled fly fishermen in the Eastern U.S. you would find the majority own or have owned Orvis rods. I also think if you polled fly fishermen in the Western U.S. you would find equal numbers who own or have owned Fenwicks, Sages, Winston or Powell rods. Over the years I have visited numerous fly shops in the West. Very rarely did I find any who stocked Orvis rods and I never came across any Hardy rods. So I think it's a question of exposure and marketing efforts by manufacturers. 4) I have actually heard and read more comments that Leonard rods are over rated than I have vice versa. But I have also spoken with a number of highly reputable makers who think highly of the tapers. Interestingly enough the same seems to be true of Winston bamboo rods. H.L Leonard had a long and varied history and many anglers have enjoyed buying and fishing them and my thought is that they were probably the single most influential maker in their time. 5) I have had the good luck to have cast a number of very fine rods but only a few really knocked me out. A Dickerson 8615, a 9' 2 piece EC Powell B taper (probably one of the best 9' bamboo rods ever made) and an 8' 7wt. one piece quad bamboo by Bruce Howell (sublime power). My apologies to all for extending this discussion far too long but it's been fun. Thanks Tom.
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[…] 4,8 and 9 weights, all 9 footers. I especially like the 8 and 9. The 4 is a little faster than I think a 4 should be, but then again, Tom Chandler of the Trout Underground blog named it one of the dozen best fly rods of all time. (Others on his list include the Winston IM6 8 1/2' 5 wt and the 8' 4 wt Tom Morgan Favorite, two rods that seem to receive praise pretty regularly on ... more this board.) The Dozen Best Fly Rods of All Time […]
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I own a Steffen 7'9" 4/5 glass rod and it lacks backbone. Tip is stronger than the current Scott F2's but I would put a (modern) Kabuto or Epic rod ahead of it any day.
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Nope.
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Do you guys ever find time to fish?
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I am lucky enough to own 2 rods on your Top 12 list. The Sage 389 3 weight, and the Eagle Claw 7.5' Trailmaster. I also have two Phillipson-Johnson Profile rods, both Uniglas Series 800 rods; 1 is a 8F863, 8'6" 3 piece fly rod and the second is a 2 piece 8S70M, spin cast rod. Both are NEW, never fished, both in original soft and hard cases. I have them both matched with period reels, a Johnson-Magnetic ... more for the fly rod and a Johnson spin cast reel. I would love to have a Winston IM6, 5 weight, used or basically any condition; this rod to fish with as my advancing years dictates more nymph fishing than the dry fly fishing I have chased for 35 years here in Colorado. Jim
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Hey Tom, Is there a discussion of which fly lines you would pair with the 12 best? Maybe I'm missing the discussion somewhere. Keep up the good work.
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[…] Originally Posted by moucheur2003 Damn right. You wouldn't want to play golf with only 3 clubs. Although I did list a "core" selection of 3 as the first item on my list -- 9' Loomis NRX in 4, 6, and 8 weights. (I might swap out the 9x4 for something shorter and more delicate for smaller streams and spring creeks if I had to pick only 3, though. Maybe a Sage Circa or Orvis ... more H2 in an 8' 4 wt.) In fact, for many years I did only have 3 rods: a 9' Loomis GL3 6wt (my first and all-round trout rod), a 9' Loomis IMX 4 wt (originally bought for a trip out west, and since named by the Trout Underground blog as one of the "dozen best fly rods of all time"), and a 9' Loomis IMX 8 wt (which, unexpectedly, has proven to be the most versatile, used for everything from bass bugging to New England saltwater to Bahamas bonefish to Canadian salmon and lakers). By the way, here's the Underground's list of the dozen best. In contrast to the rules of this thread, he chose only out-of-production models that he considered to have been the iconic rods of their time. Fun reading, if you haven't seen it before. The Dozen Best Fly Rods of All Time […]
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Wow, what a fun thread, and an impressive list of fine fly rods! Tom, you have got to be the wittiest, most amusing "troll-thwarter" I have ever had the joy of chuckling at. Moved to Montana in '79. Started with a couple of Cortlands, which both eventually broke clean-off at the butt while casting, oddly enough. But wait! My first, dare I say rod, was that glass Eagle Claw yellow- horror pack rod, ... more given to me by my folks for a pack trip in to the Thoroughfare country, headwaters of the Yellowstone. Finally caught a fat cutty after much flogging and tree-nymph harassment. Then the brooding, moody Italian-American Ennis fly shop owner turned me onto a first gen Sage 690 in the early 80's and I still fish that thing on big water to this day. Got a 490 Sage III for smaller water (overload with a 5), then a Loomis IMX 8 foot 3 weight, sweet little thing,…. then, the salt years: Sage 1090 RPLX overloaded with an 11: Keys tarpon and also big stripers on Cape Cod. Money rod. Go to rod these days: a 3 piece SP 4 weight. Recently got a Sage 383 SPL. Nobody has mentioned the SPL on this thread, I don't believe. How does it compare to the beloved "LL"? Have had several cane production rods, some good ones, but never any signature rods. Still fish an 8 foot Battenkill and some ancient "off-Broadway" English 6 footer that casts like medium graphite with a WF5. After reading this thread, I want a Winston IM6 5 weight and a Sage LL 389, I suppose. Cheers!
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What, no Grangers? I have to agree with the Sage 389LL. Superb rod (mine is a kit) that I've been fishing for well over 20 years.The only thing to get me "away" from that was picking up a SB 346 5 wt. boo' rod and then 2 Grangers. A GV9050 and SL9050. Oh my........
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Tuffyzyn: I own a Scott G Series 752/2 (7'6") among other UL's. Can't say what is "best" but, Cortland 444 Classic Sylk DT2F, Cortland 444 Classic Peach WF2F, Wulff Triangle Taper TT2F, and Rio Light Trout LT WF2-F, Rio Light Trout LT DT2-F are all lines that should work well with your Scott G 802/3. Your 802/3 is a full taper in 2&3 line weights. In the old G Series they made a point of saying ... more you should not over line your G (messing with perfection :-)). That said, you will see plenty of 3wt WF/DT lines used on 2 wt UL's. All depends on what you're doing with it, what your casting stroke and abilities are like, and what "feels good" to you.
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tuffyzn: Hi there, I have recently purchased a Scott G 802 / 3 for approximately $250. This is my first truly ‘light’ rod! Does anyone else own one? How does it perform, & what is the best fly line to use? I don't know about the fly line, but if it's in good shape, that's a decent deal. The original G series rods are still much loved.
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Hi there, I have recently purchased a Scott G 802 / 3 for approximately $250. This is my first truly 'light' rod! Does anyone else own one? How does it perform, & what is the best fly line to use?
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I like Dean's last comment about that "first good rod." I have grown through the evolution of graphite,don't own any bamboo, and my notions of what constituted a good, or favorite rod, has certainly changed over the years mostly through buying, trying, trading. Most of my rods today are Sage graphite (more availability than any other reason) that fall into the fast (XP) and slow (LL SP) categories. ... more What I have found is that a high percentage of my dislike/fondness for a rod is developed in the yard before I ever get on the water. I would describe my reaction to rods as more of a "kinetic response" rather than "technical assessment." It's all in the feel and delivery, which I then try to translate to a more technically grounded description which this site has helped me with. Once I get on the water I can love the slow rhythm of an LL 3wt. with a dry, an SP 4wt. bouncing a nymph, an XP 6wt in a Montana "breeze." I have enjoyed reading the comments prompted by "the list." Seems to me like the opinions and emotions that weave through our fishing experiences, favorite rods and the memories are what makes all of this so rewarding. After 20 years of traveling west to fish I am moving to Northern New Mexico. I look forward to seeing more and trying more of these classic rods on the rivers that made them famous.
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I posted earlier on this site praising my Sage GFL 4711 LL as the best small stream rod I ever fished. Today I noticed an old plastic green rod case in the closet. I took out a battered 8 foot six weight Orvis Green Mountain rod. This was the first "good" rod I could afford. For six years it was my only rod. The rod worked well enough on small streams for me to catch fish and served me well on larger ... more streams and rivers. This rod allowed me to develop the skills to appreciate more advanced rods. Most importantly this rod started my lifelong love of fly fishing and that ain't bad. As I looked at the rod I remembered good fishing and great friends, this rod will always be one of my best.
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HEY I married her LOL Just kidding but great comment and true to a T
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Greg I realize you made these comments long ago but the Fenwicks have made a remarkable comeback on E-Bay
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HAHAHA great line about the hook keeper! HOWEVER I will grant the Eagle Claw a vote for sheer numbers but the best pack rods ever were the Fenwick Voyagers in glass. Regardless of whether you have the combo fly/spin or one of either type they were simply excellent. I still have two 5'6' 3 piece med spins that I wouldn't take anything for and would like to find another.
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Congrats on a thread that has survived and is still being found for over a year! I had to put my opinion in the record. Haha,....To me the greatest trout rod ever created is barely even mentioned by anyone in this thread. The original Sage 590 RPL is a standard that set the bar for all new "space aged" rods. It was THE catalyst that drove higher modulous, faster action rods, and as a result an entirely ... more new generation of anglers in the late 80's and early 90's. You can name all the cute little backpackers, and silly fiberglass rods that you want. A USED Sage RPL 590 will sell for MORE than it did when it was new! Try finding one! This was the Shaquille O'Neil of flyrods. It changed how the game was being played. This rod fueled the G3 and GLX series from Loomis. The T-Series from Orvis, which eventually became the Helios series after YEARS of clear misses, and obviously the entire Sage line for several decades: from RPL, to RPL+ to SP, to the XP. That's when they put the brakes on. All big 3 rod makers realized that their NEW rods were becoming brittle with graphite p/p/m that stiff. A couple split shot, or a nick from a weighted fly and these rods crumbled. The new Z Axis, the Loomis GLX Streamdance series and Orvis Helios Series rods are cool versions of the old school RPL! Light in the tip, strong in the butt, tons of midrange punch in the wind, but with a delicate enough tip to still play small trout on dry flies....Rod manufactures have made a return to the original RPL style which I consider the rod that started the entire "new era". For that alone, it is worth at least mentioning. Ask any western trout which rod he "wishes he still had", for many it would be a 590 RPL. As a side note: Winston also did a cool thing with their Boron rod series, and this deserves mention as well. No one else is doing what they are! We mentioned the first fiberglass rods. These rods sucked then and still suck today...... but they were innovative and you thought worthy of mentioning.....Winston Boron Rods are equally innovative and obviously WAY more fishable. Great article!
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Note: My Powell Tiborons were not Tiboron II, they are plain Tiborons made in USA by Powell and before they sold the company. Quite possibly the pinnacle of Powells experience went into this rod, but due to the fly rod boom at that time not enough were sold. I recently purchased a Tiboron XL made in China and it was in my opinion not what I was looking for and nowhere near the same rod.. I then bought ... more a Winston BIII SX 10 weight. When I compared it to the Tiborons it was a lot like the Tiboron 9 weight. When I fished it it seemed to be in between the Tiboron 9 & 10 WTs. The problem for me was the line I needed was not what I had or could get. To me, a Teeny TS 450 was a bit too heavy for it and the TS 350 a little light. I would like a 400 grain sinking head 30' with a floating body section for it.
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[…] they agree.... The Dozen Best Fly Rods of All Time […]
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I like the Powell Tiboron II for saltwater, I have a 12 wt. 10 wt. 9 weight and they are great for casting weighted lines such as the TS series bt JimTeeny. I used to fish Scott STS and they were really fine three piece rods. i have an RPLXi in 9 wt. which is a five piece, good for traveling and softer, which I like for Bonefish. I just bought a Powell Tiboron XL that was a left over and except for ... more the upper part of the blank being unsanded, it seems great so far and much faster than my Sage XP 8 wt. albeit a tiny bit heavier. I also have a Albright XT in 11 wt. but it is a bit softer, more like a 10. The Winston TMF 8' 4 weight for Eastern small streams has been my best choice, backup is a 5 piece Albright A5NS 7' 6" 4 wt. - Loomis GLX 9' 5 wt. for longer casting more open waters. My steelhead rod is a 2 pc. 9.5' Scott Arc rod in 7 weight.
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I own that GLoomis 12 weight. It is an awesome rod. He is right: it is light, but all backbone, and fishes some water like no other.
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I found the 5 wt RP to be sharp and faster, cool rods. Hugh
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I enjoyed your list and all the comments, a lot of love for many great " flyrods" but as far as "tools" go, I don't believe there was a finer tool than the IM6 6 wt RP... as far as flyrods go Im with the scott crowd-
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I have HMG GRAPHITE(GFF805) /R414273 with bag and allumnium cast. Is it worth anything. I think its about60 years old.
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I agree with you whole heartedly Rich, I own both of these rods except my Shadow is a 9' 4wt. by Leonard. Diamodback blank. These two rods are the best graphite rods ever made.
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Hi Tom, I may be able to contribute if you are willing while I learn your rules...But please keep in mind... My family's business is a point of pride. We don't dabble in the fly fishing industry, we live it. Not as experienced a writer as you. No blog expect. But learning the rules. If you've been to our family website or seen any of our articles...You'll know we are the real deal. 5 generations of ... more actual fly fishing. From my grandfather's Uncle Henry, Civil War vet and stream side poet to my ten year old daughter who can roll-cast with the best of them. My old man's wrestling coach and friend was Joe Humphry's and he caught his famous 50" brown on Penn's creek near my grandfather's lumber mill. I won't mention the rod maker :) That trout made him a Penn's Valley legion. My family is one of the best kept secrets in fly fishing. And I am very proud. So, pardon the enthusiasm behind our new products and my apologies for mentioning it, again. I admit it was a selfish plug. But Molly needs a college education at some point ;)...BTW I actual enjoy the of fly fishing stories that describe an actual experience and less about the technical stuff. John Gierach is a master at it...The technique blogs come and go. The experience is the part that hooks a family like mine for 5 generations. Hope you'll allow me to continue to contribute. I promise to give you my "private label" comments. Tight Lines, Thomas!
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chris: Willow and Cane will be adding a 5wt fiberglass rod to the stable in June. [Can't wait!!!] New 5 weight graphite rods will be available in 7-10 days. Chris, this blog does not exist to serve as a medium for your spammy comments. If you want to contribute feel free, but I'm not interested in serving as a host for your classified ads.
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Willow and Cane will be adding a 5wt fiberglass rod to the stable in June. [Can't wait!!!]New 5 weight graphite rods will be available in 7-10 days.
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I have a 7 foot 5 wt. Feralite pack rod (Fenwick) that is simply marvelous. I note that you and I are not alone in liking these. A nice Feralite in 7 to 7.5 feet will fetch multiples of its original price on ebay. Truly classics. chris: Great list. I’d like to add a few…of my favorite 5 weight rods. Fenwick – Perfect fiberglass rod for the money 80s Phillipson with steel core. – Great rod from the ... more late 60s early 70s Willow and Cane – Split Bamboo Rods. Great feel and good price. (2000s) Looking forward to some of the newer glass rods. That’s right glass is back! With a twist.
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Great list. I'd like to add a few...of my favorite 5 weight rods. Fenwick - Perfect fiberglass rod for the money 80s Phillipson with steel core. - Great rod from the late 60s early 70s Willow and Cane - Split Bamboo Rods. Great feel and good price. (2000s) Looking forward to some of the newer glass rods. That's right glass is back! With a twist.
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I enjoyed reading a bit about the J Fisher rods...I have a 9-7wt graphite I built in the late 70's and its still my go to rod...fished it last year in AK and still love it...casts like a dream (ok, its a bit soft for very windy conditions) and is a joy to recall all these years of use and the many trips around the northwest and AK.
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I have a huge collection of old and new fly rods. (scott, thomas and thomas, sage, winston, bamboo) if anyone wants to buy them please email me at alex.nguyen3131@gmail.com
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Yes, fun to just hear the name Vangen. I have a Minnie Low Water Vangen 2 handed salmon rod that I bought from them upstairs in a buliding in Olso where, I think, they were made. Got my first Atlantic with it in Lærdal. It's a telephone pole compared to modern graphite, but maybe a minor collector's item now. The Hergård reel I put on it could stop a train. I am not suggesting it as one of the world's ... more twelve best, but great memories.. Ha det godt. Stewart Scham
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[...] rods today. Here's Tom Chandler's list of the dozen best (legacy) fly rods of all time: The Dozen Best Fly Rods of All Time However, advances in materials and technology do make it possible for skilled designers today to [...]
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Carl Agee: I think it’s an understatement to say that the discussion has veered off topic. In the spirit of getting back on topic and discussing the best fly rods, has anyone tried the new Orvis Helios2? I’m trying to convince myself I need this rod, although I just bought a Hardy Zenith 9-4wt recently and love it. The 8 1/2' 5 weight H2 mid flex is a very sweet stick. I test casted it recently ... more against the Zenith 9x5 and found that while the Zenith could cast more effortlessly and accurately at long distances, closer in the H2 had the edge for precision and finesse. I don't think I'm ready to concede that the H2 should unseat my Winston IM6 (acquired a couple of years ago, thanks to this discussion) as the 8' 6" 5 weight on Tom's list of the Dozen Best just yet, though. Incumbency and hard-earned honor have their virtues too.
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Chuck That is very nice i hope the two of you have a Wonderful time on the water together this season, of course reminiscing over old times & times to come
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That Dickerson's worth a lot, but you're sure as hell doing the right thing fishing it. Good luck with the Hendricksons.
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My Dad passed away three years ago the eve of our Michigan opener. In addition to a love of flyfishing and Grouse hunting he left me with his Dickerson. When I fish with it it is as if I am wetting a line with my hero. I'll see you on the Holy Water next month Pops, don't worry those old eyes I've tied a box of Hendricksons...we are good to go!
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boron2x8'6"#3.greyline9'#3.sp8'6"#345.this and other are wonderful rod.i am facebook hello and good fishing.
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stop stop stop.one once6'6"#2. gladstone6'6"#3.sp7'6"#3.ultralite7'6"#4.diamodback7'9"#3.xp7'6'#4.ll7'9"#3.spl6'6"#3.txl7'10"#4.sp
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[...] Best Trout Rods ? Then of course there are Tom Chandler's picks: The Dozen Best Fly Rods of All Time Of these, I've got the 9' 4 wt Loomis IMX, the 8' 6" 5 wt Winston WT, and the 8' 4 wt Winston [...]
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I HAVE A POWELL JIM STREET GLASS FLY ROD---6'6"==2 PC 5 WT----COULD YOU PLEASE TELL MW WHAT IT IS WORTH---IT IS IN EXCELLENT CONDITION.
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Very interesting, but not at all surprised to see the Sage LL on the list, as I've always felt that the GFL 490 LL was perhaps one of the nicest, fly rods I've ever cast over the last 40 years. Beautiful feel and an absolute deadly weapon on spring creeks and at only 2 9/16 oz, it's still extremely lightweight even by today's standards!
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Which 8' 4wt Powell are you referring too? Graphite? Cane? Rich
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Correct my typo - Winston Boron IIx 490-4 9' 4 wt.
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Let’s bring this thread back to its original purpose - best fly rods. I would like to add a few names for consideration. I have been fishing over 20 years and have been through over 30 rods of all brands. I am a big fan of the Scott G series line as I own 6 of them. The best of the bunch is the Scott G 9'6" 6 weight. It can cast a dry fly 80 feet with control and is the perfect rod for nymphing. Soft ... more touch with a lot of guts. If you see it, try it. A great big water rod. The Winston Boron IIx 940-4 is a modern classic and will make the top list in 10 years. It is the best rod for small flies that I have ever fished. The old Powell 8’ 4 weight and Sage LL 389 were wonderful. For some foolish reason I parted with both of them. Both would make the list.
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First time I've seen this article and WOW! I have 5 of the 12... Your big omission was the Paul Young Midge--no other rod (in bamboo, fiberglass, or graphite) casts or feels like this rod does. Lee Wulff used it to catch Atlantic salmon and it was Arnold Gingrich's favorite as well.
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Tom, I am Ok with 1, 2 and 3, although I would have had the Payne 2nd and the Young 3rd. Then, you have to go long, and it has to be bamboo. Edwards and Payne did long rods, to 9', weighing in at just over 5 ounces. Great rods. But, I would put Per Brandin 4th, in his 8'6" 2/2 Tournament Trout Fly Rod. Then short, and you could take any one of these three, Hunt 2/2 by Leonard, by Maxwell, or by Mark ... more Aroner. Or even shorter, a 6' 2/2 4wt Thomas and Thomas Caenas. Sixth, Young's Midge Rod. Seventh, a Carpenter Mohagany 2/2 7'6" 4 wt. It's a Payne with extreme finesse. Eight, Jim Hidy, 3/2 8'6" with 5 and 6 wt tips. Nine, Per Brandin, spliced joint, 7'6" 2/2 4 wt. An extremely cool light rod. Ten, your Morgan glass. I know that some of these rods are not production rods; not seen often, but, they could easily be on the list ... And many more! Tight lines.
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Going to close the comments on this thread for a while. Let the troll wander off.
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Carl Agee: I think it’s an understatement to say that the discussion has veered off topic.Yeah. Just killed a bunch more trolls, and a few responses (sorry folks). This poor loser keeps trying, which suggests someone with a rich, full life.
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I think it's an understatement to say that the discussion has veered off topic. In the spirit of getting back on topic and discussing the best fly rods, has anyone tried the new Orvis Helios2? I'm trying to convince myself I need this rod, although I just bought a Hardy Zenith 9-4wt recently and love it.
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parkerjamesii: I would love to learn more about rods made in countries other than the US and Britain. Actually, I would too, but that was clearly not the aim of the troll/commenter.
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Sully: How DARE you give a lucid explanation of the First Amendment? And on the Internet too. What was I thinking?
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How DARE you give a lucid explanation of the First Amendment?
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My aren't we having fun! I haven't read this thread for a while, but I can see we have been reaching out. I would love to learn more about rods made in countries other than the US and Britain. THe more the merrier. The more to sample and learn from. Perhaps there are many. I really don't know. Regarding the First Amendment...there are many folks here and abroad I am sure that could use a wee consciousness ... more raising.
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Bell: Twobe needs to understand that first amendment rights to free speech are the rights of American citizens and do not apply to third world trolls. Actually, I think everyone needs to understand that the First Amendment has zero application on the Trout Underground, which is a private enterprise. The First Amendment guarantees no one the right of free speech on someone else's property; it simply ... more gives individuals the right to free speech on their own property. Which RU is clearly free to do, though I'm sure trolling his own zero-traffic site isn't nearly as satisfying. I haven't had to kill off very many comments over the years (I've closed two comment threads when they grew racist and I started receiving threatening emails -- thanks miners!), but I do feel free to do so whenever anyone crosses the line, regardless of any false, wrongheaded understanding of the First Amendment. I sure hope this thread can resume its long-standing inanity at this point.
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Jim Ferguson: And just in time. Affirmation of Godwin’s law was imminent, possibly ending the discussion altogether. Even on fly fishing sites. The endtimes are clearly upon us.
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Twobe: Tom So clearly showing your First amendment in action Do I even have to note that nobody has any first amendment expectation (rights) on someone else's website? The first amendment doesn't guarantee anyone the right to troll someone else's site; it gives you the right to launch your own blog and troll yourself. Less satisfying, I'm sure.
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Thank you Tom, Twobe needs to understand that first amendment rights to free speech are the rights of American citizens and do not apply to third world trolls. Sully makes a good point, and has me curious. Can anyone name a third world commercial manufacturer of fly rods? Or anything from Russia, Brazil, China, India, Australia, or South Africa?
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And just in time. Affirmation of Godwin's law was imminent, possibly ending the discussion altogether.
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Tom So clearly showing your First amendment in action
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“for better or worse, it is the commentator who has the last word.” ? Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire
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RU: Given the tone of your subsuquent comments, it's pretty clear you're just a troll. All further comments will be deleted.
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Tom will you be attending this years trilateral fly rod commission meeting?????..... we need to muster the imperial powers and finish finish plans to stamp out the third world rod makers...... Aside from Hardy, and a large number of great bamboo builders.. I wasn't aware any other rod companies existed.....Of course when you count our rod companies you kinda have to leave out Sage they're actually ... more in the tomato stake business.....
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Cogratulations on being only the second recent commentor to uncover the true imperialist underpinnings of this apparently harmless post about fly rods. In fact, recite key passages backwards, and you'll hear powerful sub-hypnotic phrases like "Destroy all foreign fly rods" (also "Lefty is dead"). ... more

Gosh, if only us American bloggers were smarter, perhaps we could better hide our true intentions.

Congratulations to you and your friend (who stuttered out his comments earlier). I am humbled in your presence (as we all should be).
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While I wouldn't normally reply to response such as yours, I couldn't resist suggesting that this is somewhat like a TV or radio. If you don't like the station, move along.
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alas, we only know what we know. For myself, I apologize for nor being able to afford to constantly travel around the world in search of the best fly rods of foreign lands. I have not found the part of this thread where the rods of many lands have been so heinously disparaged, nor have I found the part where you, dear foreigner, have attempted to enlighten us. Until either of those areas become known ... more to me expect your comments to be filed in the loony bin.
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R U Joking ( if that IS your real name), When you come down please fill us in on the latest Brazilian fly rods. Thanks in advance.
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I am surprised to see the comments keep coming regarding one persons limited knowledge on the subject. I say limited, because the author is completely bias toward yank companies thus with this in mind I can only conclude that his knowledge is limited to them. A complete knowledge on the subject would have produced a far different list, covering the world of rods and there makers. As much as you may ... more foolishly believe that the world revolves around the usa, NEWS FLASH it does not. This list is based on the same mentality that you call a national competition “A world series” in witch the rest of the world is excluded, this selfsame ridiculous egotistic mentality is also the backbone of the above list The worm turns, history has shown repeatedly time after time superpowers become no more. Rome, Great Britain, The USSR all past superpowers, and the usa will follow the same demise I wonder how you egos will suffer when you answer to countries such as China, India, or even Brazil. Remember the higher they climb the thither the fall Now I must apologise. Yes, I am rambling like a mad man, obviously the stupidity of this list and that of the author is contagious. Let us have an end to this absurd list, FULL STOP.
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Yeah...fished a 376-3 sp for over 15 years untill I fell and landed on it 2 seasons ago breaking the butt section... I cried. Well, inside anyway. As it had long been discontinued, Sage replaced it with an SLT....still crying inside.
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Funny, I have a Fisher Graphite F25602 8 1/2' #5-6...... which has not seen water in close to 30 years. It was my 3rd rod. Wonder what it's worth...I may have to take it out on the Kern next year, or maybe the Beaverhead, to refresh my memory as to how it casts...
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Ditto on the Fisher. My favoirte rod. I bought a 2 piece 9 foot seven wght out on the Bighorn in the 70's from a fly shop on clearance/ rod had a very smooth action, broke tip twice and they were out of business. Still have the one section.
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Mr. Russell - I apologize for offences presented to you by fellow Americans. Thank you for services rendered in combat along side American soldiers. We are all brothers in rods. After 59 years of flyfishing, I'm sure you cold teach us all a thing or two.
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Everyone has preferences and I respect all opinions. The Fenwick Boron X 9' 6wt is well balanced but initially felt whippy - until you actually cast a fly and man it could zing - and softly too. I'm here in south La. and fish for brim, soc-a-lait and bass and love my 9' 7wt Garcia Royal Javalin my grand-pa bought in the 50's. Unlike Mr. Chandler, I believe in technology. My 9' 5wt GLoomis NRX and ... more Hardy Zenith are both pleasures for all freshwater fishing down here. Remember - a good rod is like a good putter. It's not the tool, it's the person using it maximizing ability obtaining maximum proficiency.
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Carl, I think that the one main difference of today's rods and vintage ones is that of specialization versus versatility. Most vintage rods were versatile six weights made to easily cast a wide variety of fly types and sizes. Todays rods are made to specific, specialized uses, e.g. a four weight dry fly action for small streams or a long fast seven weight for nymphing in big fast rivers. Some makers ... more still produce six weights with a versatile action, but even those are not really similar to the older 'work-horse' models, rather more like a 'thoroughbred' that anyone can ride.
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Great question Carl. My own opinion - of limited worth - is that it comes down to the person using the rod. I have a Sage #1 and it isn't that old so it is quite new technology. I wouldn't go fishing without it. I have a Grey's with new technology and it, is great. I grew up on the old bamboo and progressed into fibreglass and so prefer the slower fuller action that that generally entailed. SOME of ... more the newer rods seem too crisp and sharp for me; but not all. It does not follow that newer is better: newer is just newer. To my generation, much of what is produced these days is cheap crap. This is not the case with companies like Hardy, Sage, and many others: they produce excellence in the main - even if mass produced. But they produce equipment to current trends and tastes. In many ways you are asking to compare apples with oranges. Bamboo rod makers like Morris Kushner "the violin maker" and Walter Brunner, etc. were perfectionists, and very gifted artists (all of the rod makers mentioned on this page were and/or are). Modern rod makers are not necessarily better. You wouldn't suggest that modern violin is better than a Stradivarius just because it uses modern technology. Some rods made by some rod makers in the last decade of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century are like a Strativarius in that they are the pinnacle modern rod makers seek to achieve. . There are people who could give a good argument for Hardy slipping a long way behind what they used to be, the same might be said of Orvis (but I might disagree about the latter). Hardy is excellent with some of their equipment; but overpriced and trying to ride on the back of an historic reputation. And my Sage: I would not leave home without it. Lesson's learned from bygone days? I think that the only lesson is that there is an infinite way to come at fly fishing and we - the consumers - can generally be coaxed to try something new and slightly different.
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Thank you Mr. Russell for your response. I would have liked to have been the first in line to have thanked you for your service, but alas my reply to that is tardy. You have a remarkable command of the English language, something I greatly appreciate, but perhaps you have parsed my comments too thinly. In my opinion, your attempt at bashing "American exceptionalism" in your first comment was "nationalistic ... more fervor". Nor do I think that my comments were perhaps too supercilious when you consider the innovation to fly fishing tackle made by Americans, whether six-strip bamboo, tapered fly-lines, synthetic fly lines, monofilament nylon leader, flurocarbon leader, etc. I think that the readers should be informed of the back-story of Hardy making the first carbon fiber rods. The first rods made with high modulus single fiber material (I think that is the proper terminology?) were the Boron fiber rods made by Don Phillips, American. Had he had access to carbon fiber material, he would have been making them a decade before Hardy, but alas the patent for the commercial application of carbon fiber technology was owned by the office of the British Home Secretary and the use there of was only granted to British companies. Hardy didn't willingly come to manufacture these rods either, but were granted substantial subsidies by the British government to do so. And when they did manufacture them, they chose to use the Howald process, another American innovation. But please, don't think that I don't appreciate Hardy products. I have cast a C C De France rod before and found it entirely suitable and beautifully made. I also lust after the little Cascapedia reel (the original edition, which was a beautiful copy of the Von Hofe). I have also cast a Pezon et Michel Long Cast model, and that of all rods I have had the opportunity to buy, it was the one that got away. I will admit that the parabolic taper was one of the few Non-American innovations that was truly great. I have also owned other non-American made rods, the Walker Lennox and Isacc Sharpes, both of which are consistently under-valued here. Please don't let the comments by Mark or Jefferson offend you, they have too easily mistaken an educated discussion for pompous pedantics. I for one, appreciate a worldly discussion here.
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This is a great discussion -- especially when it stays on topic. So I have question about the how the new equipment measures up to that of earlier decades. Shouldn't the newest Sage, Orvis, and Hardy offerings i.e.: the Sage One, the Orvis Helios2 and the Hardy Zenith, be the best of all time? After all they are product of the newest technologies and lesson's learned from bygone days.
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Mark, Jefferson, it's all about understanding.
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Hello Darrell. Thank you, my friend - one day I hope to be able to visit again and fish the delightful streams and rivers of your State. If you ever come to Australia, let me know; I would be happy to do the same for you. We, as nations, have all lost way too many good men in the wars we have fought in together. Remembrance of and for the sacrifices servicemen and women make is important: LEST WE ... more FORGET. Unfortunately I get out onto the water less these days because of the ramifications of service on my body. My health has not the shine and rippling muscle and swagger that I had in the early '60s. That said, I get on the water as much as possible; and when not possible I cast either in a casting lawn in my back yard, or on the reservoir just up the road. The reservoir is stocked with trout (rainbows, brookies and some browns). I suffer from a number of wounds that haven't healed and won't, and they limit me. But fly fishing is my therapy - and the only place I can find peace from the demons that haunt: PTSD. Darrell, I know little about fly fishing. I started about 59 years ago, and have remained a faithful student. Perhaps I am a slow learner - perhaps there is too much to learn. I tied flies semi-professionally (in that I did one job in the day) and tied flies at night for a Melbourne fly fishing store. I still tie, but my lack of eyesight makes is difficult to do anything other than the most simplistic flies. I probably a self-absorbed sort of fella, as Jefferson remarked; you turn in on yourself as you get older. Questions about what you've done and how you've done it become important: self assessment. I am well fished, more than most: it has been my therapy - but it was always my favourite pass time. There is nothing like extending the vitality and soul in one's body down though the arm and hand, along the rod and thence the line, all the way to the fly to place it exactly where you want. Its a spiritual thing shared by you and you rod and all of the essential tools of fly fishing. In those moment, nothing else exists. Cheers to you, William
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William, my hat doffs in your direction, thank you for your service in Vietnam. The country of uniform nor flag does not matter to me; believe service members stand at the point for rest of us. I hope you are well, sir. You are welcome in my state, California, on any stream (we do have fine wild rainbow and brown trout fly-fishing believe it or not) at any time. Would gladly guide you, provide gear, ... more food and drink. Cheers mate, Darrell
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William, Yes, you got a reaction, because despite your protestations to the contrary, you really do come off as a bit of an arrogant, condescending, self-absorbed tool; that was my impression, anyway. I'm willing to bet that the crowd here is just as worldly and well-fished as you claim to be - just without the need to gloat on about it. All that being said, nice set of toys you have there.
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Crikey! I'm sorry to have stirred up Mark to so much vitriol. Mark, I fought and served alongside Americans during the Vietnam War: I do not deserve such venom. There is no need for sensitivity to critical comment; it gives us the opportunity to look at things from a different point of view: a different perspective. I speak plainly: old men often do; old Veterans are even more likely to say things ... more as they see them. Bell, there was no nationalistic fervour in my comment - neither did I mention a national point of view, nor did I attack Americans as a nation; rather I made comment that the article above and subsequent comments were overly Amerocentric or American exceptionalism with very little consideration to a wider world of fly rods and fly fishing. Broadening horizons opens us to the potential of more experience. As for the rest of the world catching up to America, Bell, that comment might be seen as a little too supercilious. We all have a lot to share with one another. What is it, do you think, that makes fishers like Ernest Schweibert, David Profumo, Brian Clarke, John Goddard, Nick Lyons and others so good? (Beside their skills with words, I mean.) An open mind to learn from others: none have stepped out onto the water blinded by the glare of national superiority or smugness. Schweibert wrote extensively of the work of Alfred Ronalds and said he was "...one of the principal milestones in the entire history of fly fishing; with his Entomology, the rational basis of the scientific method..." Ronalds was born in England and died in Australia. Now many of us occasionally fish "New Zealand style" with a nymph on a dropper from the bend of a dry-fly hook? Who was it that came up with, and made the first carbon fibre fly rod? It was Hardy. We all have something to give; and I, for one, am not keeping score of who gave the most. Such a concept is not possible. I have fly-fished Michigan, Colorado, New Mexico and California, and loved every minute of it. America is blessed with some wonderful fly fishing opportunities. The whole of the world expands those opportunities almost beyond measure: certainly beyond the measure on any one man. Hardy did get mentioned by a few above: I have an old Hardy carbon (made in England) and a newish "glass" Aln (made in China). I love these two rods - they are a part of me. Hardy has played an exceptionally significant role in fly rod development (and it needs to be acknowledged that this role has involved the exchange - in both directions across the big pond - an enormous amount of information). I must say that I own a Loop GreenLine: one of the first made (with their unique world-changing reel design) and although I thought it was technically a brilliant rod, I just never "married" with it and it sits gathering dust. Rods are very much a personal thing - they either become a part of you, or merely a tool in your hand. The Loop, for me, was a tool, not an extension of my arm and mind. My Bamboo rods, over the past 59 years, have been a mixed bunch. My first was made by Sir Lawrence Wackett (the father of the Australian aircraft industry and aircraft designer, writer of a number of books on fly fishing, and the man who first made plastic bodied flies - he and my grandfather worked together during WWII and were fishing partners). I don’t know much about what bamboo he used: Wackett was, like my grandfather, a perfectionist. The rod was superb; but even the Kingfisher #1 (100g - the same as IGI I think) silk line that I used became too heavy for the rod when the line got even a little too wet. My second rod was a Hardy Marvel - a Palakona. The Marvel was President Eisenhower's favourite rod, I believe. And it was my favourite, small and slow and comfortable for a little boy in his fourth year of fly fishing. I owned a Leonard at some point in my childhood and youth and I found it horrible; but at the same time my grandfather owned one and I thought his better. When I came home from service
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I had/still have several of the rods mentioned, notably some Winston IM6s and two Sage LL 3 weights, the 8'9" and - I think - 7'9". But my favorites, which I still have, are two Sage SPs: the 9' 4 weight two piece, my most fished rod, and an 8' three piece 4 weight, both of which I love. The only problem with the latter is that I only rarely find any water where it seems the right water to fish; it ... more is either too short or, on a really small stream, a 7'6" rod seems more apt. It may not be of any importance to some, but I do find the Winston IM 6s to be well ahead of the Sages in the good looks department.
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Good Ol' US of A is great, but the world -- our world -- is a big, wide and wonderful place. Don't believe Mr. Russell's musings deserve the reaction. And like or not, the reaction is the puffed-up pride that others don't like about the Good Ol' US of A. Mr. Russell deserves an apology from you, Mark. Be a good, friendly American and say hey pal, sorry 'bout that, you're welcome on my waters anytime, ... more and I hope after my apology I'll be welcome on yours.
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I fish a couple of bamboo rods in the 8'-8.5' 6wt niche. For when I need a 6wt cannon (like when you're fishing a windy lake), I fish the Orvis Zero Gravity 9' 6wt, a rod I prefer to the newer Helios. For a slower 6wt rod (the kind I described), I'd suggest you're probably on the right track with the G series (I cast a 6wt G2 and thought it was OK, but stiffer than I'd like). I haven't cast a 6wt ... more Orvis Superfine, but based on my affinity for the rest of the series think it could be a winner. Keep in mind my preference for a reasonably tapered 6wt (Chris Raine calls it a "soft six") isn't exactly current thinking in the fly fishing world...
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Mark, be nice, America didn't invent fly fishing. We might have made it better and exported it to the rest of the world, but they are catching up, real fast. William said "I know nothing, I am still learning" This reminds me of what Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden: "Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its ... more thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars. I cannot count one. I know not the first letter of the alphabet. I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born" I'll admit that I've been a troll to previous vitriolic comments here, but I will give William the opportunity to start again, without any nationalistic fervor, what have you learned? What do you reccommend? Who made your bamboo?
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America may not be the world, but we have probably bailed or bitch slapped the country you come from. I still would rather live here rather than somewhere else.
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America, America, America: there is a whole other world out there. With 59 years of fly fishing experience under my belt, I can tell of a wider richer experience than what is stuttered all over this page. I've flyfished in America, the UK, New Zealand, India and over sweet trout in Australia; chalk streams, freestone, boudler-strewn, limestone, lakes and mud; bamboo, greenheart greenwood and timber, ... more fibreglass and carbon fibre; from makers in England, the US, Japan, India, Australia, and woop-woop. I have MY favourites, and MY hates; and one thing I know is that no two fly-fishers are the same. No two waters are the same. I know nothing - I am still learning: I keep myself open so that I may experience more and thus learn more. I own a bamboo rod, a fibreglass and a few carbon fibre; only one of which was made in America. America is not the world; it is just America.
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Tom, your point about 6 weights in general is well taken, but if you had to pick your own personal favorite 81/2 to 9 foot 6 weight, which would it be? The Scott G? What are you fishing now in that niche?
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I always fish my Winston IM6 8'6" 5 wt. Everyother year or so I buy the newest and best - each year the rods are fast lighter more distance. While I think this is great for bone fishing when you want to double haul and shoot out your whole flyline,but I find it has severe deficits for trout. The IM6 is a nice smooth rod moderate action rod. It will load and caste close. It won't let me throw big long ... more casts - with work I can make tight long castes but its too much line out to set the hook. My IM6 casts best around 40 feet, always with an effortless cast that delivers the fly where I want. I have landed a 28 inch rainbow below the Ashton Dam on the Henry's Fork on a 6x tippet - this rod has some backbone. I've never fished 3 or 2's, but I fish big river with possibility of 20" fish every cast. I think a 3 or2 would exhaust a big fish in a big current. The line would wear the fish out but I wonder about the rod getting the fish in before its exhausted beyond recoveryP. I liked your picks, I had a Loomis that I lent to a close friend that I've never seen since that was fun to cast and fished well. I have always wished I still had the rod but it doesn't have the finesse of the IM6. I appreciated your article L
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Cast one. Nice, though I liked the East Branch rods better. Sadly, neither is still available...
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Actually, the Diamondback Classic Trout eight footer is a 3/4 weight rod and the 8' 6" model is a 4/5 weight. I use the heavier line.
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Can I put in a word for the Diamondback Classic Trout rods? The 8 ft. four wt. is a sweet moderate action rod, the 8 1/2 ft. five weight is an all around delight, and the more recent four piece 8' 3" five weight is easy to travel with. These rods sold for under four hundred dollars new. Some call them a working man's Winston.
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I can't find the vitrol you refer to; nobody who read my review of the 8' 4wt Orvis Superfine Touch or the Helios 8.5' 5wt prototype has suggested I'm anti-Orvis. In fact, on more than one occasion I've been accused of being too protective of Orvis. Nobody's flaying anybody's hide, though I have little tolerance for trolls.
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Yowsa! Reason I quit The Drake was the energy expended on denigrating Orvis. I show up here hoping to find a kinder, gentler board infused with droll wit and an ethos of "to each, his own." Lo and behold, at the bottom of the post pile I get a whiff of the kind of childish, churlish O-Show bashing that reared its ugly head on Drake's board. So Leigh and Perk and Dave have millions of dollars and about ... more 400 wives between them. That doesn't mean they make shitty overpriced products for guys who fly fish in ties and vests. I happen to love my 4 Helios rods, and My Winnies and my Scotts and my Powells, and, GASP! my TFO BVK. If that makes me a pendejo, then so be it. If I happened to meet any of you on the water, it would never occur to me to bash your gear, no matter its price and pedigree. Unless, of course, you were tramping through my water in your crappy Hodgman neoprenes. I would hope you would offer the same courtesy. Why do these boards or blogs or whatever seem to be breeding grounds for such childish vitriol? I would love to find a fly fishing board where we aren't so eager to flay each other's hides over something as silly as brand names. Could this be it? Guess we'll see.
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My family owns a Leonard #2 bamboo small stream rod that is currently on loan to the Catskill Museum, and on display there. It includes the original aluminum tube with brass cap, and also the original brown cloth liner. It was given by H. L. Leonard himself to Guy Jenkins as a wedding present in the 1940's. Guy was my adoptive grandfather, he and his wife Jane lived acvross the street from me growing ... more up, and he taught me. He was an early contemporary of all the famous Catskill fraternity members, including Theodore Gordon. I solicit two things: 1) what is it worth, and 2) expressions of interest prior to the auction in November. Many thanks in advance. jlacey@mba1981.hbs.edu, Southwestern CT Shoreline
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It certainly seems that the Orvis Superfine is very popular with rude people for whom english is a second language. Ugly rods for ugly people.
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Matt: As expect he took the “I’m cool because I don’t like Orvis” route and made himself look like a moron. What's it like to live alone?
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I was waiting to see if Mr. Chubbs, here, would give a truly unbiased list of best rods ever built or just list the "I'm cool because I don't like Orvis" fly rods. As expect he took the "I'm cool because I don't like Orvis" route and made himself look like a moron. The original un-sanded and ugly Superfines are one of the best fly rods ever built (period) They are synonymous with eastern fly fishing. ... more They are the perfect rod to put on a clinic to demonstrate presentation and technique at close to medium range. I have dissected many a streams in the Appalachians with devastating precision using my 5 wt. 7.9" Far-n-Fine, loaded with DT line, and I promise, it was the rod, not me. They just come like that. I have no problem with Sage, Winston, or any other rod builders and I have no problem giving credit where credit is due, so I find it annoying when others will not, even at the expense intelligence.
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Great List, but I probably would have included the Thomas & Thomas LPS 865 from the late 90's those had such great feel. And, I still am a fan of 2 piece rods today too :) It is still one of my favorites rods to fish...
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The original list is fun. I coveted a Fenwick rod when I was a teenager and caught a trout out of a beaver pond in NM with a friend's Trailmaster - that was a weird rod. I have a Mike Clark 7.5 foot 4 wt bamboo that's about 18 years old, which is OK for the local small streams, but I actually fish better with an Orvis Superfine graphite of the same length, line weight, and age. I inherited an Orvis ... more Seven-Four bamboo from my dad that I fished for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I love the size for small streams, but it's a lttle noodly if you hook anything over 8 inches.
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You say o-tomodachi, i say tomah-to.
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Ha-ha-ha! Don't feign innocence my o-tomodachi ( I stole that from another of your posts). Cap'n Bob
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Shush. There are many great rods out there, many are owned by posters. In fact, since first redwood was felled by proto-fishing man, believe name was Grok, many rods of many materials have been used to snag fishies. I own horrible, horrible rods, yard sale finds. 'Scuse me, putting up pole beans right now with them.
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I admit that I have not read all of the comments, and that I have only owned one graphite rod (one that I built on a Redington #9672 blank), a 9 foot, 2 piece, 7wt, rocket launcher that I have not fished for about 10 years, I prefer the slower action of glass and grass. One of the rods that was not mentioned is one of my favorites for fishing dries is the 8 1/2 foot, SB 323, rated for a HEH (5wt) ... more line. I also fish the SB 290, rated for a HDH (6wt) a lot and like it. As you can see, I'm a "blue collar" fly rod fisher. I also like my Fenwick models FF80-4 and FF806, both 6 weights. One that I would like to own, and had a chance to cast on stream. is the 7 foot Leonard "Duracane" for 4wt. I'm surprised that Flykuni did not mention that rod. He owns a nice one that he graciously let me cast that was nicely balanced with a Hardy "Sunbeam" reel. Cap'n Bob
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Hmmmmm...I think this is a plot. A diversionary tactic aimed at channeling away from any XP's left on ebay. Shame on you.
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Correct me if I'm wrong ? but this thread seems very biased to the western rod makers. to not list the un sanded full flex orvis rods of the late 70's and 80's to me is a crime. Orvis being one of the worlds biggest and longest running companies in the world with some of the biggest brake throughs in rod building deserves a little respect I would think. On a different forum of best graphite rods a ... more guy mentions the= Sage 389 LL Winston Im6 6 wt. G-Loomis glx 9' 5 WT And then just simply says= Orvis far-n-fine ! He states it this way because all the far-n-fine and super fine orvis models from that era are some of the best "FEELING" rods while casting. does not matter if its the 9'3" 5 wt. spring creek or the 7'9" 5 wt. super fine or the 8' far-n-fine trout model. they have the full flex actions with no (what i call hick-ups) in they're tapers. I bought a 590 sage LL and it felt so jointed (soft top half and would not flex bottom half) and i sold it that week. the 690 3 pc. SP I purchased at the same time was better with its taper but the tip was just to weak - and felt like it would brake when going for distance. I've seen written that a guy lands chum salmon on a 4 wt. sage LL sorry but a 4 wt. fly rod should not be able to land chum salmon in alaska without braking. it's supposed to be a 4 wt. LIGHT TROUT ROD. Orvis went to the mid flex western rods and that's where they lost it for years, was trying to make these two rods in one blank crap they make today. almost all sage rods are cannons and would love one for steelhead fishing the big western rivers I live by-but for trout rods they have nothing over orvis super fines and far-n-fines of the 70's and 80's. these full flex rods can and will cast for distance in the right hands, you don't need a 6 wt. butt on a 4 wt. rod to cast long you just need to be a better caster. As many are biased to sage and other rod companies I am just as biased to Orvis full flex unsanded blank rods. they feel like a fly rod should feel like in casting and landing fish. I'm shocked that you have no mention of these rods when you talk about "history" rods now days are just being built so everyone can be a good caster, I guess this is a good thing, that everyone can buy a fast rod and throw 80 feet. LL and SP rods are fast to me. I would like to try a sage 389 to see if this rod is progressive and flex's down it's length when more pressure is applied to the cast in a smooth progression. because the LL and SP that I tested did not. from my research the winstons and scotts do this the best - but I would have to say they just followed Orvis's lead of the full flex rods. By the way the best feeling g-loomis rod I have casted was a signature series 9' 5 wt. built on a Loomis Im6 blank of yesterday, just like they sold to winston that are so prized. Mr. Chandler this has been a great read and hope you do more of this kind of reviews. But I beg you to go try 9' 3" 2 PC.spring creek far-n-fine from the early 80's or any of these rods and give a review of your dislikes or likes. If you have as much knowledge as it seems this should not be hard for you. I tested the new super-fine touch rods in 490 and they are a little stronger in the taper then the old full flex but a very nice progressive taper with no feeling of having to change your cast because the rod blank changes in strength at some point through the blank - very smooth - very light - stronger blank with the great full flex feel - try one you'll like it. might remind you of a TMF or G-series, but it is not a sage - thank you Orvis for bringing it back.
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I was lucky and bought several rods when the Sage LL's and SP's were out. I currently have these rods, all in 2 piece trim.... Sage LL - 379 blank, 389 factory, 490 factory, 586 blank, and 690 factory Sage SP - 490 custom built, 590 custom built, and 690 custom built I have tried the faster action rods and they just don't do it for me...as crazy as it sounds, I feel like I am fishing on the river, ... more not fishing with the river. I am always looking for blanks in the SP and LL line in the 3 and 4 wt, but I have always wanted to try a Burkheimer and that may be my next purchase. I am not 100% yet, but think I am going to sell an SP 390, SP 590, and LL 586, all factory rods. I will keep the ones listed above in the family forever, and let my now-2-yr-old son fish them when he is ready. Newer certainly does NOT mean better.
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Even though this thread, like Queen Elizabeth, has gone on WAY too long, I have to strongly second your praise for the FF79. Fun fact - California legend Buz Buzek had a hand in designing that model. One of Fenwick's finest.
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Great thread and some wonderful insight. I love that the Fenwick 7.5 ft 5 weight made the list. I love mine dearly. I would also add the Fenwick FF79 8 ft 6wt to the list. Light and limber, a true joy to cast. Great post, Tom. I appreciate what you do.
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Les Young: Is it coincidence that I independently ended up with the majority of the trout rods on your lists? Or did I just luck into them in the course of amassing 200 sticks? I'd say the laws of probability fall squarely on your side on this one. I hear what you're saying about the Perfectionist (hence my ownership of the Beasley version). The Paul Young rods are famously uneven. In fact, I've ... more cast tow Leonard 50DF rods, and neither was in the same ballpark as the Beasley version, which I *knew* I had to own after a single cast. Happens.
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Just came across this very interesting list. Is it coincidence that I independently ended up with the majority of the trout rods on your lists? Or did I just luck into them in the course of amassing 200 sticks? When it comes to cane, I do believe that some modern makers do a better job than the classics that set the stage. For instance, of the several Perfectionists that I have ffished, and the dozens ... more that I have casted, no two were ever the same. With one single exception, Bob Summers 275 outperforms every Perfectionist that I have seen. In general, many canes now are superior, certainly srtucturally, than all the old classics. The short lived S Glasses were often marvelous. Too bad graphite overwhelmed them in their infancy. I also want to put in a word for borons, pre-Winston. Manufacturing difficulties made them uneven, but when they were good, they were great. hp les
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hmm let see have a few t+t rods, 804 and a 865, love them, also have a few orvis bamboo. 704 battenkill my go to rod, 806 for steelies and a flea for when im looking for exercise. one of the rods is 65yrs old , would that qualify in the top 10 best fly rods :)
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When this string began, I thought only about trout rods. As a veteran steelheader, my current tastes in rods run to faster rods and spey rods. Everyone knows about those wonderful IMX and GLX rods from Loomis, and Sage's XPs etc. I would like to tout Diamondback VSR rods - another great US-made fly rod that is no longer made. In performance, they remind me of Lamiglas's XM50 rods - very fast and very ... more precise, but they were beautifully built - much nicer than Lamis. For those of you who peruse Ebay, if you fish the flats or steelhead, watch for Diamondback VSRs - they way outperform their price range.
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Perhaps Tom should start a sting where we can dump on the dog rods we own. I own some doozies. Elsewhere on this string, someone dissed Leonard rods. You see, its the hype, Leonards are expensive and have a huge rep, but according to some, don't measure up. My "faves" in this regard are custom rods made from Batson blanks. These blanks are heavy and reverberate like mad - and they break easily. Even ... more if they gave their blanks away, it wouldn't be worth my time to spin one up. Worst rod I ever owned was a fiberglass Herter's rod (buggy whip) that would not cast at all. Also, I purchased an Orvis Clearwater 10' for 7 as a backup steelhead rod that is simply terrible.
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Phil, Both the DFRs and FSF Redington rods were spun on high-end Lamiglas blanks. Only a very few of these rods are available. I happen to believe that in fast action, anadromous and saltwater rods, Lamiglas - is unsurpassed. I own a Redington FSF 10 ft. for 7 that I use to one-hand spey cast 80 feet or more. One minor complaint about Lamis - they seem to vary in performance more than most. That is, ... more buy a 6 wt. and it may be terrible at throwing a 6 wt. line and fabo at tossing an 8. Also, except for the XM50s and Aeroflex rods, the rods are "working man chic", cheap real seats and mediocre cork. But if you are heading to Alaska and want a rod that would handle hot silvers, without having to take out a 2nd mortgage, get a Lami, or an old Redington DFR or FSF. You won't be disappointed.
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Ha. Well, I guess every rod needs some qualification...or maybe I just grow into them. as for the RPL+, its sole purpose, it would seem, is tight line nymphing on the Lower Yuba or Trinity...though I've thrown a lot of dries with it to not the most discerning char, grayling and rainbows... anyway, it and the Scott seem to wind up in the same bag frequently. I have always considered it medium with ... more a bit extra at the butt. Sold it immediately,eh? Impressive. I'm a bit slower to judge, I guess, and by the time I do judge, I've found a place for a rod or a line that works well with it... like I said, I don't think I've ever cast a rod I've really hated(minus the home-made). If I ever do get around to fishing for bonefish, it will probably be there.
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Zeg; I think the historic context was lost on a lot of people, who didn't see how a Payne bamboo rod could possibly be "better" than a z-axis. It was the best available at the time. As for how much it might change in ten years, I don't know if that's a significant enough stretch of time to change things. Still...
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You like that RPL+ 6wt? I was given one, and sold it immediately. To my thinking it was just too stiff -- fine if I was using it for bonefish, but a little less charming for trout. Stil, because I'm a benevolent dictator -- and you mentioned the 389LL -- I'm giving you another chance.
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Tom, I think you did a good job with the list and I don't understand people getting so bent out of shape over your opinions. Of course there are better rods out there to some folks but it's your page and YOUR opinion is all that matters. I think we can all agree we love at least one or two of these rods. We could all argue for months about favorites because everybody is looking for something different ... more in feel. It seems to me that most of the distasteful responses come from those that cherish casting 80' with a broomstick. If that is their opinion of a good fly rod, so be it. Other people are mad because they think soft, deeeep flexing rods make you a purists, they are lost as well. I found your list well rounded and tasteful. Enjoyed reading all the post and responses. There was a gentleman who said he'd like to see the list years from now and see how much it changes. I would say, unless they stop pushing featherweight broomsticks and start making production boo and fiberglass again, not much. Cheers
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Wow. The thread that won't die! Great stuff. I'll play... Fave 6wt: Sage RPL+ 9" 4pc. Broke once, even better after repair. I am connected telepathically with this rod. 5wt: Tough, but I'm going with my Scott G-Series mostly for sentimental reasons. (unless we're throwing streamers.) 4wt: Easy. Orvis T3 8.5' mid-flex 4pc. Threw one of these before they hit the market, got one of the first, paired ... more it with a Abel TR1...end of story. I want to be buried with this rod. 3wt: Sage LL 389. yep. 2wt: Scott S3 7.5".(7'4"?) I've been using 2wt's on backcountry Sierra streams for decades and found that this relatively fast rod does it all. Excellent presentations, but the wind performance really sold it for me...little differences mean a lot when throwing tiny lines. It's also nice to know that if I ever needed to, this thing can shoot a s/a double-taper about 75'. Lives in my backpack and dreams about Golden trout. I haven't thrown a Fenwick in years...might have to dig one of those up. I don't think I've ever cast a rod that I hated...except maybe for that 7wt I made about 10 years ago - All pride aside, that thing's a dog!
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This thread has been a laff riot.
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My Dads Bigger than your dad !!!
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No, I think you handled the 14 year-old bit for me just fine.
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Thou Shalt not question Tom his ego will not allow you to question his statements no matter how valid they are, supplying you with a 14 year olds response if you do Tom sadly believes he is the definitive source of knowledge in fly rod performance for example his No1 choice of fly rod let’s face it the leonard is an overpriced over rated and underprofoming rod that is not consistant across two rods ... more Tom is obviously swayed by reputation rather than ability or maybe he has never fished with this rod and could not admit that being the expert he is, in his own mind. Tom I look forward to you 14 year olds response
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Older Bro bought a Temple Fork 8'9" 4wt Finesse -- which is nice -- but I didn't have similar warm feelings for the 5wt version. I think the tapers on these Superfines are a little more progressive than the original Superfines, but I'm prepared to be wrong about that...
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the Orvis Superfines-- the only full flex ( simulated bamboo action) graphites ever made (?) till Temple Fork brought out the Finesse. Orvis just re-introduced them tweaked slightly. They l0ad and cast themselves.
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I have two Winston IM6 8'6” 5wt. and I'll never sell either of them. I also have the Sage LL 389 3wt.It is too bad that neither of these two rods are made any more. Faster action is not where it is at if you want a sweet casting trout rod.
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Actually, where did I claim it was "scientific"? As for contributions, I'm less impressed by yours than you are by mine.
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fenwick feralite 6,0. 5wt. Try it with a 2wt dt. fantasic on small brookie creeks. I broke my new 2wt and put the same r&r on the fenwick and it was a revelation.
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This is analogous to the Baseball 'World' Series, where no other nation except for the USA, competes. Consequently, the US wins the World Series every year - terrific job! It may be tongue-in-cheek, but its certainly not 'scientific'. If this is the 'Underground's' contribution maybe they should stay there.
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Have a good time!
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Yes, the Hardy graphites were quite advanced for that time, I remember the Fenwick graphite being even more expensive, of course the bamboo purists were horrified -- haha!
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My Sunbeam 6/7 is identical to the one in your link, I also have a 5/6. I actually bought them in the late 1970's in London at the Hardy store (no longer exists -- I looked for it this summer). The new model had just come out in something like 1978. Yes, I replaced the lines and have been fishing the Pecos here in New Mexico and the Dolores in Colorado. Just starting to get back into fly fishing and ... more have caught the fever again.
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Tom, if I remember correctly those Hardy rods were ultra-lightweight. I bought a Sage rpl III back then, it was the lightest 8.5 ft 5 wt available (still rivals anything made today) and the Hardy rods were the only close competitors. You are right about the lines, todays lines are light years ahead. Spend you money on flies, especially if you know the person who tied them.
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It all fishes as well as it did when you bought it. Since then, rods have gotten lighter, longer and faster (and the "standard" trout weight here in the USA is more like a 9' 4wt or 5wt), but there's no reason those won't work. The Hardy Sunbeam reels came in two flavors -- the early minimalist models and the 80s versions (which you can see here.) I don't know which you have. I'd suggest new fly lines; ... more your rig is probably a little on the heavy side by today's standards, but there's no reason it won't catch fish...
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I bought two Hardy 8.5 ft graphite 6/7 rods back in the late 1970s with Hardy Sunbeam reels. I've recently picked up fly fishing again and was wondering how this 30+ year old gear compares with the new rods and reels on the market. I love fishing with the Hardy but wonder if I'm missing out on anything?
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Have you ever fished a leonard or where you actually trying obtain a free one? In my opinion you would be very disappointed I feel there is more craftsmanship in the $450 presentation box than the rod I do understand this is Your Blog and you are entitled to your opinion but every action has an equal and opposite reaction you should expect this if you feel your opinions warrant posting for others ... more to read on an open site. Obviously, you do not comprehend my kind of humor although I do stand by what I have said regarding leonard rods. I in return cannot comprehend your reasoning in rating this rod under the criteria you have set, in my opinion you have forgotten or are unaware of one rod that makes your #1 choice feel like a lump of 4”x 2” I will let you all debate
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Tom Chandler: Exclude? It was just a representative sample; it would be a long list of rod builders if I included everyone who builds a rod that someone likes… And don't forget it says right there in your criteria that some of the best bamboo rods ever made are being right now...by guys like Mike Clark - but are not produced in large numbers and will not be fished by any but a select few and ... more thus were not considered for this list. Consider yourself one of the lucky ones, Jim.
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Snert: Cortland has several mid 1990′s medium/slow graphite rods in their store in Cortland NY. Call and ask them to check the factory for you. Be persistent. Several are prototypes of the Black Diamond. There is a 5 wt 8'8″ there. There might be more in the factory, in old boxes. It may be worth a call directly to the office at Cortland Line, asking if they “might have a few Blue Sapphire or ... more Black Diamond rods still sitting around”. These were IM6 rods, and I have several. They are medium action and you can get them for $40-75 dollars if you are smart and recognize they simply want to sell them to “afficianodos”. (Whatever.) I know, cause that is how I got mine. The trick is to be nice, encourage them to look for you, and be ready to send the money. Older technology, but they cast and catch fish. After posting, I did some more looking, and bought them myself, so they are all gone. Nothing left at the factory. Sorry.
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Exclude? It was just a representative sample; it would be a long list of rod builders if I included everyone who builds a rod that someone likes...
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Hey, troll; did you not notice this was a blog and not a message board? Don't pull that trollish crap here.
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H.L. Leonard ???? are you sure, this makers rods are designed for Brag purposes, people who want to look the part are the main purchasers of these rods. Very few rods make it to the water's edge, and even less catch, fish ( just look how many records are held by pros using these rods ) In fact, I was told Leonard rods where given away free with the purchase of a Deerstalker Hat and a Tweed Jacket! ... more ( Not sure how true this is ? ) as for WBR i feel this statement from one magazine has been overused to perfection in marketing a mediocre rod to the highest degree
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did you intend to omit Mike Clark/South Creek Limited from your list of today's top grass rod makers? If you had ever cast his 8' 5 wt, you wouldn't.
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Cool tip.
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FlyGuy: Not to go “new school” on everyone, but does anyone have an idea where I can get a slow action graphite 4 wt? I swear I have looked everywhere with no luck. even a slow medium would suffice. something in the 8 foot range? I am looking in the 1 to 200 dollar range and everyone tells me ebay but I dont know brands well enough to know which rods are slow. Thanks,Jeff Cortland has several ... more mid 1990's medium/slow graphite rods in their store in Cortland NY. Call and ask them to check the factory for you. Be persistent. Several are prototypes of the Black Diamond. There is a 5 wt 8'8" there. There might be more in the factory, in old boxes. It may be worth a call directly to the office at Cortland Line, asking if they "might have a few Blue Sapphire or Black Diamond rods still sitting around". These were IM6 rods, and I have several. They are medium action and you can get them for $40-75 dollars if you are smart and recognize they simply want to sell them to "afficianodos". (Whatever.) I know, cause that is how I got mine. The trick is to be nice, encourage them to look for you, and be ready to send the money. Older technology, but they cast and catch fish.
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I remember the Lew's Speed Spool casting reels; light years ahead of their time and the reels everyone else eventually copied. I didn't know they made fly rods either.
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Here is another garbage/treasure hunt. I recently purchased a Childre Speed Stick fly rod(G 76-F) purely out of curiosity. It was mated with a cheap little Browning 2145 reel and my expectations were low, but I lived bass fishing in the 60's and 70's as a kid and had never known that Lew's made fly rods at all. At any rate when I got the little rod out to the water I was amazed. The little 5 wt. casts ... more like a rocket ! The Sage and St. Croix rods back at the house lost a little shine that day. Lew's is long gone(current company just bought the name), but I would love to know the history of this infamous run of rods, and whether or not they ever produced other weights/lengths. Any help?
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Anytime Marc. I grew up in Chico and started fly fishing in about 1979 at age 8. We had a cabin near a place called Butte Meadows - I hiked all over fishing Jones, Butte, Colby, and occaisonaly, Yellow creek. My first rod was a yellow Daiwa 5 or 6 piece - I don't know if it was graphite or glass - it was a fly/spin combo with a black foam grip and a rubber plug for the end of the grip you were not ... more using. I remember I would always try to fly fish because I thought it looked so cool when my dad was doing it and I knew my dad felt it was a noble way to catch trout - but I never caught anything. The only reel I had was a Pfleuger Medalist, but I'd switch the rod around to the spin side, go catch a few hoppers, and dapple those with a couple split shot...and catch fish. I felt a little dirty doing that, but I figured why else would my father have given me a fly/spin combo rod? I think he had realistic expectations of my fly fishing abilities at that age and that was his way of letting me know...we never talked about it other wise. It was a big deal, when in high school, my father gave me my true first fly rod - an 8' 6wt glass rod built by an older gentlemen out of his garage in Davis...Zackarian or something like that perhaps. Off topic - but does anyone know what sort of rod that yellow Daiwa pack rod was? It was a cheap rod (certainly not one of the dozen best) but I would love to see one again.
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Thanks Rich, I enjoyed and appreciate your comments. I started fly fishing in 1966 when I was 14 years old, and used a South Bend 9' 6 wt. bamboo with level line and an untapered leader for small stream trout. That was a "dog", but at that age I didn't know any better and loved it. Compared to that old South Bend, my current rods fish like magic wands.
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Marc - I know almost nothing about the newer Powell rods - by new I mean post Schwab sale of the company. I do believe those early Tiboron's are decent rods, but the karmic implications of owning a post Chico era rod have always been enough to keep me from going in that direction. I don't know the vintage on your Light Touch and like the Tiboron, I've never spent time with the later Light Touch rods ... more - I'm not sure what blanks they were built on. The original Powell Rod Co rods - those made in Press Powell's shop - were by in large great rods. There were a few lengths/weights that were dogs, depending on which material they were made on. For my money, in a graphite, it's hard to beat the heart of the order in trout length/wt Powell Light Touch IM6 rods. My brother in law is coming up to speeed in this past time and had been fishing a entry level St Croix rod. I found a Powell Western Sierra (8'6" 5-6wt) Light Touch and gave it to him as a gift. He likes it quite a bit.
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To Rich, or anyone who shares my interest/appreciation for Powell fly rods. Powell fly rods were the top tier choice in my local a few years ago. Sage dominates now, but they generally seem too stiff, in my experience. I use a Light Touch 8'3" 4 wt. and a Tiboron 8' 3 wt. I read your opinion of the Light Touch and agree, but would like to hear anything about the Tiboron. I believe mine was the first ... more Tiboron model made in USA and it performs very well. The owner of a well known fly fishing shop in Indiana that once sold Powell rods told me he still has a high opinion of the earlier Powell graphite rods and considered my Tiboron 3 wt. somewhat rare and desirable.
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Tom; That's a nice list of favorite cane, but I'll be honest, it's not that hard to make a really nice cane rod in 7' or 7.5' lengths. They're nice rods, but the list of good ones would be long.
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Fisher made some very nice blanks for a lot of companies, though I'm not sure what an early 9' 3wt would fish like. I've got an 8.5' 3wt Winston a friend gave me (fiberglass), and while it's nice, it has its shortcomings...
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That's pretty much what I was going to say, but you saved me the trouble.
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Because I said right in the article that contemporary rods weren't considered; history judges rods, not industry ads or tame reviewers, so we simply don't know. That said, I tested a DFR 6wt, and while it was a nice rod, it hardly rises to the level of brilliant.
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I'm sorry - but you don't include any real justification as to why the DFR rod should be considered one of the best. A 4wt taking a big fish does not make it a great rod. I could fish the lower 50 miles of the sea of cortez like it was my grandma's back yard with a 4wt broom stick and haul 50lb tuna out without breaking it - that does not make it a good rod. If you want to convince me give us some ... more words on action and distance - on cosmetics, feel, or it's place in history. Give us a clearer picture of what is happening on the fisherman's end of the DFR.
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How is it that the Reddington DFR never made this list or any comments I've read so far. While Reddington is for the most part entry level beginner just a step above a St. Croix, the DFR is without question the exception. I live in Montana, and fish the Big Horn's world renown upper 13 miles like some hit their local watering hole. My 3 piece 4 wt. has performed toe to toe and bent over farther with ... more more tactile deliverance than my Winston Boron 6 wt. While you may think 'of course a 4 wt will portray a clearer picture of what's happening on the fish's end than a 6 will' I assure you, any other 4 wt rod on the Big Horn fighting a 28" piglet of a trout would give up or snap!
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TC, I'm a convert to bamboo..let's get that out front. Never touched fiberglas but have owned/used a lot of graphite rods 4-12wt. My favourites are the original St.Croix legend 9ft 6wt. ,the Reddington NTi 9ft 5wt and a Strudwick 9tft 9wt (Dean Butler from Oz). Of the 16 or so bamboo rods I have, I prefer the FE Thomas 6'8" 3wt, AJ Thramer's signature rods (any of them), the signature 7' 6",5wt penta ... more from Larry Tusoni and an odd rod from Chapman Bros. in the UK.....supposedly a 7'6" quad made on a Payne taper. Whatever it is, it is light, quick and handles 4,5 & 6wt lines very well.
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I agree, the use a favorite fly rod and how you can maximize it's strengths is up to the user, I've used Fishers, Scott's and even the spendy Hexagraphs, what you use is all on the situation that you are in and the water that you are trying to tam.
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Hi, so I have I Fisher Emerald 9' 3 weight fly rod. I'm not sure how old it is, as it was given to me by my grandfather, who bought it from a friend. I couldn't find any information on Fisher fly rods, but heard that they made high quality blanks for sage, Winston etc. I'm wondering whether anyone has ever heard of these rods, and also, does anyone have any idea of its value? Thank you so much~Gaige
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I always wondered about the 7'11" length of the 4711, though it's hard to knock the performance of any of the Sage LL series, which fell victim to progress some time ago. I'm currently testing an Orvis Superfine Touch 8' 4wt, and when I do finally get out to Tennessee, I'll test it against Ian's 8' 4wt Scott G series (another much-loved-but-discontinued series). Too bad the 4711 or the Winston TMF ... more won't be part of the gig...
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For 40 years I have been addicted to the small streams of the Southeast. Over a number of years my quest was to find a perfect or near perfect small stream rod. I wanted a rod that would work well on short casts, handle a variety of roll casts, cast small flys as well attractors and weighted nymphs and still handle longer casts with delicacy. The best rod I have ever found to achieve the objectives ... more listed is a Sage GFL 4711 LL. For fishing small, tight streams this rod has my vote as one of the best fly rods of all times. Dean Donehoo
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[...] [...]
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Gordon Davies: With the best of ANYTHNG folks differ so much its so personal , & rods differ & end uses differ so much. So who crowned you the royal rod crier . no one crowned him except you..., it's his article, his opinion....get off your lazy bitter ass and write your own article if you disagree.....why can't you just enjoy?.....winer
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Tom Chandler, For Fly Guy's price range and other specs, one of the previous mentioned top ten - the Eagleclaw Trailmaster, would certainly apply. This spring I bought a new "plastic" rod to use saltwater. I tried several eight weights and bought the 8 1/2 ft 2 pc 8 wt Sage Flight, but . . . The Sage Vantage was noticeably softer, and a very nice action for a very low price. If that also applies ... more to their lighter smaller models?
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As fasuto noted below, the TFO 7'9" 4wt Finesse rod kinda fits your bill. I haven't cast that model, but have cast the 8'9" 4wt, which - while I wouldn't necessarily classify it as slow - is a fairly sweet rod. In your stated price range, there isn't a lot of choices, but those are pretty good ones. Don't overlook good glass rods - the Diamondback Diamondglass fly rods are back, and in 8' 4wt and ... more 8.5' 4wt - but most glass rods are a bit more than $200. Also, the Redington "Classic" series rods are impressively "medium" tapered for modern graphite, and they now offer an 8' 4wt for $150. Worth a look (or a cast, if you can lay your hands on any of them). It's hard to comment on used rods (ebay stuff typically) because
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FlyGuy, the TFO Finesse 7' 9" 4 weight might fit your bill. (If you google "lower forty outfitters" and look for their sale page you will see some great prices on TFO overstock. There might still be one left.)
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FlyGuy, I know nothing about really new stuff. I don't know of any current production rods on slow blanks - particularly in your price range. The Scott A2 rods were wonderful moderate action rods - they can be had on ebay I think. But better yet - contact Jim Clarkson at www.raptorrodworks.com - his number is on the website. Call him - he is a great guy and if you tell him what you want and go no ... more frills (no insert reel seat and single color wraps etc) I bet he can build you exactly what you want for about $200. Many folks don't realize how easy and inexpensive it is to have a rod built for them. And a realtively small operator (compared to Sage or Scott) can give wat better service in their product. Jim built rods for the Powells for 10 years and has been in business on his own since the mid 90's . I routinely fish his rods and I love to give them as gifts to family and friends. There is actually a great article about Jim and Raptor Rod in the December issue of California Fly Fisher if you can find it. Rich
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Rich Morrison, Thanks, Rich!
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Not to go "new school" on everyone, but does anyone have an idea where I can get a slow action graphite 4 wt? I swear I have looked everywhere with no luck. even a slow medium would suffice. something in the 8 foot range? I am looking in the 1 to 200 dollar range and everyone tells me ebay but I dont know brands well enough to know which rods are slow. Thanks, Jeff
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Doug - google fiberglass fly rodders. It's a great site...check out the fiberglass fly rod wiki info that is at the bottom of the main page.
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Doug - google fiberglass fly rodders. It's a great site...check out the fiberglass fly rod wiki info that is at the bottom of the main page. There is lots of great info there. And if you go onto the forum those guys can easily tell you what you want to know.
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Afraid the Fisher glass rods haven't been much on my radar; I fished a Fenwick glass rod in the 70s. For what it's worth, the Fisher glass rods seem to get a lot of love, though an 8wt probably isn't worth a zillion dollars. Could be the ultimate bass bug rod though...
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Wow, great answer, in that I acquired an affirmation of my 9 ft. 5 wt. St. Croix Imperial from someone who knows. I'm going to guess my Imperial is an old model, in that it was produced about 1996. Thanks, Mr. Chandler. One April morning two years ago on Coffeepot Lake in Lincoln County stands out for me, in part because I administered a chironomid clinic to my good friend Jim Gaddy, who taught me ... more this stillwater sport. On the vast majority of days, Dr. Gaddy schools me big time. I was using that St. Croix Imperial. Any feedback on that 8.5 foot, 8 weight "Fisher Glass" (in white ink hand writing on the blank near the winding check) rod of my Dad's? Doug Pineo Tom Chandler,
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Where the hell do all the lost fly rods go?? As for the Imperial, the old model was lovely, so naturally, it had to be discontinued, though St. Croix recently issued an "upgraded" model, which I asked to test, but was refused. Nice, slow rods like the Imperial have largely fallen victim to the shift to indicator nymphing as the dominant technique of the sport (fast-action fly rods do this much better), ... more and - like the fabled Scott G series - I doubt the modern version is nearly as sweet as the original.
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Anybody know anything about a Fisher 8 ft. 6 in. 8 wt. glass rod? It's my Dad's, but he played more golf than he fished, so it's mint. I believe it dates from the early 1980s. My own favorite rod was a Fenwick World Class 9 ft. 5 wt., wrapped by a friend. He told me these were the last USA-made Fenwick blanks. It was a sweet casting rod, and made me an advocate for the 9 ft. 5 wt. as the best all ... more around rod for our region. One spring in the mid-1990s I was bouncing around in my long box Toyota truck with the canopy off, toting willow and redosier dogwood cuttings, and lunch for 8 volunteers, overseeing a riparian restoration job on Crab Creek in the Columbia Basin, when the rod case bounced out of the truck unbeknown to me. I looked for it for hours, but no luck. In my grief I bought a St. Croix 9 ft. 5 wt. , a lowly Imperial. Though I have fly fished since 1962 (still have my first glass rod, a Herter's 8 ft. 7 wt.), apparently I never learned to cast well enough to appreciate that the Wisconsin-made graphite fly rod is an inferior stick, not worthy of mention in this very interesting thread. I love this rod, and the fact it's made by people who might even know what it's for. Recently, I read a book by a guy named Matthew Crawford, called Shop Class as Soulcraft, which really helps me put the "best dozen fly rods" and "made in America" discussions in their legitimate perspectives.
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Tom - I agree completely on the post Schwab rods. I've got a couple of those blue rods that Press was selling out of the CFS after the sale and before he passed. They are nice graphite rods and very Powell-esque as you would expect. I've got a couple friends who are Powell fans and we always refer to the Walt rods you find with workmanship not up to his usual high standard as "debt rods". Walt would ... more quite often trade bamboo rods for things like legal or accounting services and to pay off other debts. As you might expect - these sometimes were hurried affairs and are where I've seen most of his less than stellar work. And Walt did not build a ton of hollow built rods and those he did do in appreciable numbers tended to be longer heavier line weight rods where the weight savings of a hollow built made a big difference. I've got a Walt bamboo 3-4wt 8' semi-hollow and it's the only one of that smaller ilk that I've had or really ever seen for that matter. There are some out there, but you're much more likely to find a 9' 6" 7wt in semi-hollow by Walt. But by in large his rods are soild built. And yes those deep blue rods were the Legacy series. Rich
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I think the quality of Walton's bamboo rods tended to vary widely - and at what stage of his career you caught him. Neither of my rods was hollowbuilt, and the workmanship seemed indifferent. One of the tragedies of the Powell Rod Company's reliance on outside manufacturing for its graphite rods (Loomis) was the fact that they didn't own the mandrel of their own rods, so after the Schwabb takeover, ... more the graphite rods had to be reverse engineered - a process that was handled somewhat imperfectly. In fact, Press continued to sell "no-name" Powell rods out of the Chico Fly Shop until he sold the place, and to my arm, they were a closer match to the original graphite Powells than the stuff being sold by the "new" Powell Rod Company. And I honestly don't remember which model Powell I own; it's one of the deep-blue models, which I think makes it a Legacy. I'm too sleepy to get up, go downstairs, and look.
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Tom - The Walt rod I sold to Tiffany was a very nice very early rod from Walt's time in either Belmont or Paradise with the red and gold aluminum reel seat and aetna foul proof guides. It was quite exciting. What sort of Powell graphite is that 8wt of yours? And I think it's important to point out something that I see often misunderstood...Walt and Press were, until just before the Schwab disaster, ... more pretty much completely separate rod makers. Walt's rods were always labeled as The Walton Powell rod or A Walton Powell rod or Made by Walton Powell - he was not part of the Powell Rod Company - that was Press. All the well known graphite rods labeled as Powell - the Signature Series, Light Touch, and Legacy rods were Press' rods. From time to time Walt and Press would share a facility (like both ends of the West 8th Ave property the Powells owned for years) and some equipment and would bounce ideas off each other - but they were always producing their own stuff under their own labels. They had very different opinions on favored tapers and actions. Press did not do much bamboo work - in fact I believe all the bamboo blank stock belonged to Walt. And every few years Walt would get pissed off about something and load up all his stuff and move his shop somewhere else for a few years. That is how he ended up in places like Quincy and Chester and why the address on his rod tubes was always changing. The final reconciliation occured just before Schwab took over.
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Thanks Rich. I had a pair of Powell bamboo rods (later Walton stuff) that weren't very exciting, so I moved them. I still own a Powell 9.5' 8wt graphite rod that's pretty nice given the weight and length, but overall, think their "Light Touch" series rods were probably their best work.
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Good luck on your search. I was given a Winston 8.5' 3wt glass rod that might be a Fisher blank, though it's not a spectacular rod. About ten years ago, I found a guy at the San Mateo show who was in posession of a huge stock of early Fisher blanks, though he wanted a couple hundred each for the things. I passed, but always wondered if he was able to move any of the things.
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I've read this list over many times in the past few years - but I just noticed the comments thread. I actually sold Tiffany who posted above a Walton Powell bamboo rod a few months back. An absolutely lovely and historic rod. I have no beef with the list. I am just pleased to see the Powell rods mentioned here and there. I currently own 11 Powell Light Touch rods covering most of the range of length ... more and weights. I currently have about 40 Powell rods (none of the post sale era bad karma stuff) from Walt, Press, and EC in graphite, bamboo, and glass. If anyone needs info and or values or wants to sell or trade Powells please let me know. I love to talk Powell and I'm pretty smart on their story and rods. Dig it. Rich gyro@suddenlink.net
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I like your list (well, except that Eagle Claw monstrosity), but you really miss one name. You have Diamondback, Scott, and Winston, but you missed their progenitor - Kennedy Fisher. These rods are very much like Scott and Winston - indeed, at one time or another, Fisher made the blanks for those rods. I once talked to the owner of the company - around 1980. I was impressed by the lack of reverberation ... more in my Fisher rods and asked him about it. He said the trick was in eliminating the scrim used to keep the rod circular in cross-section. Scrim added weight and that weight added nothing to the rod's elasticity. By eliminating or reducing scrim, he was able to produce rods that produced those wonderful loops - enabling an accomplished angler to throw hooks, steeples, etc. with ease. I own a Fisher 8 foot for 5 that I love so well I would trade my closet full of Loomis to get back were I to lose it. Fishers tended to be a tad fragile and likely would not have fared well in the age of "lifetime guarantees" but I continue to haunt Ebay, looking for another.
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fausto, (oops, I meant GL3 9' 6 wt, not 9' 6")
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Thanks, Tom. This is an intriguing list that I only just discovered. My 8' 4 weight is an Orvis Western Midge that I bought a from Orvis at a closeout discount in the early 1990's. The Orvis guy said that, despite the name, it was their favorite model for Pennsylvania limestoners, and he was genuinely sad that it was being discontinued. It's not finished out as nicely as the Winston or Scott that ... more you picked, but similar reasoning applies and it cost me less as a closeout. I have never owned a Winston. Have wanted a Winston IM6/WT for some time, but have had difficulty deciding on which one. The recent WT price increase/limited production decisions at Winston and your recommendation here have moved me to decide on the 8' 6" 5 wt. Found a mint used one online for under $400 and am waiting for it to arrive. Thanks! I've got the Loomis IMX 9' 4 wt and it's not my favorite, but I understand why you named it. It does everything it is supposed to do and more, but to me it lacks the delicate "feel" that a 4 should have. It has surprising power, and if I want to launch streamers 50 or 60 feet, it can do that, but a 5 or a 6 is still a better choice for that kind of fishing. I also have a 9' 8 wt IMX that I absolutely love. I have caught everything on it -- salmon, lake trout, stripers, bluefish, bonefish, largemouths, smallmouths, bonito, even flounder. It's a cannon with an 8 line and a medium-flex, nice feeling rod with a 9. I didn't have enough $ to buy a 6 wt IMX, too, but I bet it would have been awesome in your 9' 6" category. Instead I got the cheaper GL3, which does the job adequately but inspires no rhapsody. I'm thinking about replacing it eventually -- maybe with one of the current Sages or Hardys. I'm surprised you didn't put a shorter, small stream rod on the list. I have a 7' 2 piece Orvis Battenkill that is pure delight with a DT4, but the 7' 5wt Orvis Small Stream Special would probably be more of a mass-production "classic" in this niche. (There are other candidates too, of course.)
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I'm still a diehard Pezon/ Michel fan, have owned 5 different ones from 6'4" to the most incredible 8'5" Fario Club, in my youth, I bought the A.J McLane fishing enc. and from that time on wanted to fish a Fario Club rod. Finally when in my 50's had the time and money to buy one it was love at first cast, having moved to Panama, sold my Fario to my best friend, and can still use it when visiting the ... more US. It will be in Yellowstone this Sept.
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The Vangen 603 7-weight, because it was the rod that turned Norway on to fly fishing. Norwegians are the only ones that matter after all.
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I can kill the thread from your first post if you want. Let me know.
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I didn't think about that! How do you delete a post? Eek!
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All of us have favorite waters, some famous some remote. Listen for the names, Then thou shalt know. I have one ques: WHAT IF HE READS THIS?
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Thank you, too, Flykuni! Above I tried to give some more information; as much as I know while waiting to hear more from his family! I would ask him directly, but I'm sure he would be suspicious, and I don't want to give it away! I appreciate your help! Tiffany
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Hi Tom, That's not the first time I've been told that haha! I had to expect that coming! Although I like the looks of Chris Raine's rods, I still can't afford to spend much more than 1,000 (IMPOSSIBLE, I know!). I wish I could, but as a full-time college student, tuition is costing me an arm and a leg! However, here are a couple of less-expensive builders that I have been referred too! I'm not sure ... more if you have heard of them, and I know that you mentioned that it would be difficult to comment directly on specific rods that you have not cast, but perhaps you could take a look at them and tell me what you think? I would really appreciate a few opinions! The first website is almighty rods, and the maker Lee Koch. He has been extremely helpful, and recommended to me perhaps a rod based on one of his favorites, the Dickerson 8013 taper? I believe it's a 8 ft, 2 pc, 5wt. However, here is his link... http://almightyrod.com/Gallery_of_rods.php Lee also recommended that I look into Don Recker (from Ohio) and his rods. They recommended to me a few of his rods that are available and on sale, such as the "North Fork Special, a model based on the Payne 100, a model based on the PHY Perfectionist, as well as the Hollowbuilt 801510. Here is his link... http://www.coldwatercollectibles.com/recker.html Lee also referred me to a man named Steve Pennington, but I am waiting to hear back from him still. He does not have a website. I am also still waiting to hear back from my boyfriend's sister and father about where exactly they fish in Northern Cal, and how he fishes! Here are a couple of pictures of his that I stole from his Facebook page that are from when he was in Canada fishing on mountain streams. I don't know if this will help give you any more of an idea of what he might like! C:\Users\Kyle\Pictures\33596_777537925728_12724336_42880698_1072648_n.jpg C:\Users\Kyle\Pictures\33839_777536653278_12724336_42880632_5876996_n.jpg C:\Users\Kyle\Pictures\59456_774042211168_12724336_42790495_5558123_n.jpg C:\Users\Kyle\Pictures\33839_777536658268_12724336_42880633_3859971_n.jpg C:\Users\Kyle\Pictures\60853_777535964658_12724336_42880599_6833085_n.jpg Thank you again SO much! I really want a gift that will be special to him, and one where he can spend more time with his father and grandfather, since they all fly fish! I just need help in doing so, especially spending quite a bit of money! Tiffany
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I have a Sharpe's 83 cane rod I would sell... Used, in excellent condition. 8'3", impregnated cane, 2 piece, 1 tip, for 6 wt line. JohnMD1022@yahoo.com for more.
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I'm not sure "bamboo" and "reasonable" belong in the same sentence any more, but you do have to give us a bit more information (like where and how he fishes). For example, Chris Raine's 8' 5wt Upper Sac Special is a pretty good all-around rod (from small to medium-sized stuff), but if he mostly fishes the Upper Sac, McCloud and other decent-sized river, then the 8' 3" wt "Simplicity" would be a better ... more choice. That said, his rods are advanced, hollowbuilt and $1595; there are less-expensive builders out there, though it's harder for me to comment directly on specific rods because I may not have cast them. Tell us more; maybe we can help.
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Know where he fishes, know what he needs say I. The old Schweibert story, tell me where the PM (of Australia) fishes, and I can recommend. The Underground can help; Chris Raine, maker, Wayne Eng guide too. Good luck, lucky dude. Lemme know if you ever exchange boyfriends.
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Hi Tom, I am looking for a bamboo fly rod for my boyfriend, but I'm not sure what to look for. He is a steady trout fisherman, and has fished in mountain streams in Canada, and also fishes (majority of the time) in Northern California where he lives. Do you have any suggestions for me? He has always wanted a bamboo fly rod, and I'm unsure who to go to, where to go, and what to look for at a reasonable ... more price! Thanks for your advice!
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The Cortland 444 6'6" cane rods were outstanding. I owned 3 of these, and just sold 2 of them for a lot more than I paid for them. Walton Powell's Hexagraphs were superb rods. I have 2 of them. I have a Farlow 5'10 1/4 " Ultimate (bamboo) that will throw a 4 or 5 wt a country mile. Also, a Scott glass rod, 7'6" for 3 wt that is very nice.
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Mythbuster, I couldnt agree more, and less with you. My fly rod collection is broad. I have an old sears model 8 wt (bought for 2 bucks at a yard sale), all the way to the ef payne I referenced earlier in the post. My favorite rod is a ww grigg 9 ft 5 wt. I picked it up for 38.99 on clearance at sportsmans and paired it with a 22 buck okuma. while i originally purchased this set as a knock around ... more rod for my work truck, it has quickly become my go to. it casts great and when you hook anything larger then a 2lb rainbow, it feels like you are fighting moby dick. Having said that, I can always appreciate the craftsmanship in a well built fly rod. The new line of echos are absolutley beautiful and are a joy to fish with as well. nothing wrong with that at 169 bucks. Looking at the differences of my grigg and my payne, the payne stands out as more of a work of art rather then a fly rod. Yet, both are a joy to fish. I see nothing wrong with liking the craftsmanship of a rod that costs over a hundred bucks. If it makes no difference, a 1989 festiva will get you from a to b just as well as a benz. and for less money. My daughter (4) may as well be hung next to warhol at the local museum. As far as purists, if you cant be happy for the guy next to you who is landing fish on a beat up south bend fly rod, then you need to go back to using salmon eggs and a bobber at that neighborhood pond we all learned to fish at, and remember the joy of catching those 9 inch bows.
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I haven't met a fish that was capable of brand recognition nor the difference between fibreglass, graphite or bamboo (flamed or uncooked) rods. The marketing crap that surrounds fly fishing is worse than for other fishing "disciplines". To those shocked purists (i.e. to those who ascribe to the theory that only fly fishing is politically, ethically and morally correct) take a rain check. For the price ... more of a rod, reel, line, backing, rod case, vest, waders, line cleaner, floatant, tweezers, feathers, strike indicators blah blah blah I can holiday in Thailand and get as much fish as I want for a year..... Classic rods...the dirty dozen....I agree with the choices above, they are all classic BS and really just based on "peer group" comments. For me..I ditched the sages, the winstons, the hardys (I hope I spelt hardys-made in Korea incorrectly) and make it a point to use the cheapest set ups I can fine....and you know what, because I have made it fun again (shock horror) it seems I catch more fish...go figure. Cheers.
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In the article, I said the contemporary bamboo rod builders weren't really considered because they're not really producing enough rods to matter. Whereas Paynes and Phillipsons were production rods - and built by the thousands - today's stuff isn't available enough. And while I love Thramer to death, I'd have to rank a few builders higher than him in the hollowbuilt pantheon (Reams, Johnson, Branden, ... more Raine, etc). They've just been doing it longer.
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I just can't believe that a hollow-built bamboo rod did not make the list. In my opinion they are the supremacy of bamboo building, in the craftsmanship of building them and their performance. My opinion puts A J Thramer as one of the best hollow builders, but alas he is still living. (I don't own one of his rods, but have used one before) Also I think that the original Sage RPL, not RPL+, was better, ... more lighter, faster. I own an 8 1/2 foot five weight which was the lightest model 5 weight made for over a decade. Only the R L Winston Boron 5 weight is lighter. I have owned Orvis, Leonard, and Payne and sold all of them. I have kept a F E Thomas, Eustis Edwards, and Powell. All of these rods 6 weight, and comparable legnths (mostly 9 foot) I would not reccommend Eustis Edwards because most of his rods have a bunk finish, his son Gene Edwards did a better job.
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I'm thinking it might (sadly for you) be one of the Japanese made rods that were built by the bazillions during the postwar period. Every once in a while you find one that casts nice, but typically they're clubs and not worth anything. Keep in mind that's just a guess; I haven't ever heard of that brand.
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J, go to Clark's Classic Fly Rod board and check in there. As TC says, it's a score. that's a very fine rod, protect it and don't do anything to it in the meantime, keep it cool and dry and away from hot attics or car trunks. T, in six pieces it sounds like a rod of medium value. Sorry, but multi piece rods are usually not from the great makers. Check in over at Clark's; the names you mention are ... more not familiar, could be singed by the guy who owned it. SOL rings no bell either, sorry.
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I am trying to find out what I have. I have a 1940's cane rod with a signature of SE Damaskius very mint condition with extra tip. 6 pieces in all. No flaws at all. On bottom of rod it says SOL. Appreciate the help on this. Maybe history and value?
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A mint Payne 197? Jackpot. If it really is in the shape you suggest, it's a couple grand, easy.
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My old man and I were going through some old fishing gear in his garage today. We came across a silver cylinder containing a 7'6" eb payne rod labeled #197. It has never been used and is complete. It even has these end plugs that I have never seen on a fly rod before. While I do fly fish, I in no way consider myself knowledgeable on the history of the art. I stumbled across this list while trying ... more to learn more about it. My first thought was lets break it out this weekend and see how she works, but being as the economy is tough, my pops wants to see what he can get for it. I am going to try to keep it in the family but it is his, so, anyone have an idea on the value of these? Thanks, Jeff
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[...] [...]
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I am the proud owner of a Sage 2 piece, 5wt RPL+ and it is my most cherished piece of flyfishing equipment. The author has obviously never roll cast 2 nymphs, 2 pieces of shot and a large indicator 40 ft with an RPL+. Then watched his buddy with a Winston absolutely flail with the same cast. If he had, he would never say a bad thing about this monster of a flyrod. If you want a relatively sensitive ... more big water rod, especially out of a drift boat, or if you are planning on catching large fish all day long in places like Grey Reef the RPL+ is a brilliant choice.
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I am in possession of a Fenwick Feralite A1688 9'8" 5 3/8 oz Special. I am trying to find out the approximate value of it. Can you help? Thank you.
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MaineFlyBoi: I can say with absolute certainty that I was born well after many of these fly rods were on the market. I wonder what this list might like like 20 years from now. I would imagine it might look MUCH different. Given that I picked a lot of these rods because they were the best in their historical era (and yes, a few were picked to see what people would say), I imagine we'd simply see another ... more layer added on in 20 years (The Two Dozen Best Fly Rods of All Time). Then again, this list has about as much weight as your average fly fishing big fish story...
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Ref Fly bot Hell man I am now trying to trace the 3 M orphans I now possess , 20 years from now I should be put out of my misery [croaked]
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I can say with absolute certainty that I was born well after many of these fly rods were on the market. I wonder what this list might like like 20 years from now. I would imagine it might look MUCH different.
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Sully , any rod or reel that comes into my possession stays ,as I just cant part with anything for fly fishing & that's rods reels hooks & hackles ,the disbursement up to the lawyer.
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Gordon- Well, if the hydraulic lift on your hatchback ever gives out you certainly have the right sticks to prop it open.
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Ref 3 M fly rods I own a #6 8'6 & a &8 8'8 both stiff as pokers but pretty. It has always bothered me about my 2 orphans & wondered about their maker.
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Gordon- I actually own one of the 3M rods with the metal ferrules. It is an 8-weight bought during a fevered Northern Pike phase. Also have a mondo Scott fiberglass (the butt section is about as fat as your little finger) from those days. You interested in buying them?
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So the insults precede the questions these days?
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Speaking of odd rods . Does anyone know of the 3M early graphite rods C/W SS ferrules & how long they lasted?
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With the best of ANYTHNG folks differ so much its so personal , & rods differ & end uses differ so much. So who crowned you the royal rod crier .
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Scott G Series 8'4" 4wt 5 pc. This one will go in the funeral pyre Viking canoe with me! Scott G Series 9' 6 wt 4 pc... I never shoulda sold this rod. Winston LT 8' 9" 5 wt 5 pc... I never shoulda sold this rod. Sage RPL 590-4... The touchstone western river fast 5 wt. How many Colorado boys lined one of these up on a regular basis? Probably saw more stick action than that hot blond waitress from ... more the Chart House in Aspen 25 years ago.
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Interesting to see preferences to certain rods , but all not the same as type & conditions never the same. [ example ]I like a softer rod for small water & a big brawling bugger with balls for big water. As we all know you can never have enough rods to couver all the water we might fish.
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I really am no expert on the value of fly rods; my guess is it's not worth a lot - unless you sell it to someone who desperately wishes they had an older Powell (which could amount to a fair number of people).
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The older, lower-modulus rods offer a casting motion that doesn't seem easily emulated by newer, lighter and stiffer high modulus rods. Are 80 million modulus rods driving a resurgence in fiberglass and bamboo? Could be.
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I have a Powell rod, 8'6 4-5wt purchased from the shop when it was in Chico, Ca. Serial is A71205, I think the model is SS4865. Any idea what the value would be. Its never been used, has the aluminum case, and cloth bag. Very nice.
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Hi Jason, I like the Thomas & Thomas rods too. Which rods do you have? I have a LPS 563 and a HII 907S-4 Andre
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Just tripped into this older thread and thoroughly enjoyed it. I won't quibble. It's a great list. My IM6 Winston 8'6" 5-weight is still my go-to rod after 16 years, although I wish I'd kept my old Powell 8' -4-weight TR80, which was also an IM6 rod.
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Someone mentioned the Orvis Superfines and I think the 5 wt. Far and Fine, old-style gray, unsanded blank, tip section longer than the butt, is one of the most enjoyable rods to cast out there and top of the line for Orvis rods. You can fish it all day with no fatigue.
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FM: What a crapload… Thanks for that. Insight like that is always welcome here.
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What a crapload...
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Tom, No T&T's at all? The 804 Special Dry Fly is a great choice and the T&T Paradigm graphite series are among my favorite. I just picked up a 7' 5wt McFarland he just did in yellow glass I think that might change your list a bit.
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No T&T 804 Special Dry Fly? or Diamondback's 905 Golden Shadow? I have cast every graphite and glass rod on the list and with the exception of the IM6(I own a pre-IM6 905 that is a darn nice rod), none come close to the aforementioned.
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Please ignore mispellings as I post secretly while at work...............
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Great list, Tom. I agree with much of your list, and evaluations. The Sage 389 is what it was, a great one. It's the one Tupperware I'd fish and not be ashamed to be seen with onstream. I appreciate some of the oldies -- two SF-era Scotts rest under the sofa, for girls and friends who are careful: the 802, which I put a DT3 on, and an 8'8 in three pcs. Also with a three line. Like the old Winstons ... more they have a tip, and they flex. Interesting how Fenwick's HMG and boron rods appeared with a bang and left the scene. I wrapped up a Fenwick boron for a kid, the 8'6 for five. That thing felt like bamboo, it worked deep and powerfully. I was sorry when the kid went in and lost the rod. His mom was glad to get him back. I thought it was a half-win. I flexed and original Perfectionist this year. I haven't recovered. I think I may have to get one, tho I've told peeps 'I'm not a parabolic guy.' The Leonard 50 is properly in the pantheon. My Goodwind Granger occupies that space in my collection; it's sweet for a medium river with the five line, pvc or silk. But please, only in DT. The Granger 7' taper, ah. That's a rod -- like the 389 Sage -- that guys on the opposite side of the aisle could like. It' s a flicky thing, quick on the tip and strong above the grip. Like the SB 390, another fast one, it's a converso's rod. I was happy to see you list the Payne 100. It's not often mentioned, except by its fans. I'm fortunate to own one, and feel it comes close to what a pre-war rod should be, slim of profile and lithe, soft, a true medium. Gentle. I fish mine with a three line. Out of respect for the veteran. It's subjective, we know that.
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Tom, Having worked in a prominent east coast flyshop for the past 20 years I have heard and witnessed a lot of aurgements regaurding your article. I am truly amazed by the fact that people buy rods and spend amazing amounts of money on fishing gear based on recommendations and opinions of other experts and do not cast the rod they are purchasing! I have come to the conclusion that the right rod for ... more the right person should be that the rod is matched to the casting stroke of the person casting it. Bottem Line there truly is no best or worse. there is only the right one for the right person. Sorta like getting married! P.S. I am married to a Sage 480 rp!
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I've been accused of worse than communism ("rod abuser" was the epithet once hurled at me by a bamboo rod builder). The list represents the "best" fly rods of their eras from a historical perspective, and I should rewrite the lead to make that clearer. And yes, it's not exactly wholly serious, though I got pounded a few times by people who were aghast I didn't include the Sage XP or some other current ... more fly rod in the mix.
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An interesting list and a fun topic. I find myself in much agreement with most on the list and happen to own several of them. But I question the inclusion of one or two rods which are added not for being good rods but for other reasons which don't seem to point to the 12 Best Rods category (I wouldn't consider the Eagle Claw to be one I lust after for instance). Additions? How about an Orvis Battenkill; ... more the Midge model is a personal favorite. And I'd add the Scott 8'4" 5/5 wt. as a worthy companion to the Winston 8'6" 5 wt.; maybe it's an even better rod. So it's a good list though and I cannot make any accusations of incompetence or communism about the author.
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Just a question -- I fish with a 3-weight Zero Gravity and a 5-weight GLX, rods that I selected after trying many because they match well with my messed-up casting style (bad shoulder). Do you think I would find something different / interesting in fishing with some of these classics? Are there actual advantages to presentation, distance, etc. or is it more of a nostalgia factor? Thanks.
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I don't know how collectible the Phillipson glass rods truly are (short of the epoxite midges and any of the "registered" models), but at least people are seeing the value in shorter, heavier line-weight fly rods again. Good luck with the sale.
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I have a Phillipson RF60C 1 -7/8 OZ. LINE HDH-HDG-#6 . I believe this rod to be one of the best of the lot. It is like brand new with the sock and tube. Although I believe it to be collectible I would like to sell it to someone who would enjoy fishing it.
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Hey look kids, a troll. But not a good one. Sorry. Try again, only harder.
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Wow. That you didn't once mention any of the Orvis Superfines in the 4–6 wt amazes me. What a punk. I'd take my 80's Orvis 6wt Superfine "Trout" as my go-to rod for any species, on any water, at any time, and the 4wt Superfine is still the best dry-fly rod for everything east of California. Oh yeah, one more thing, large-arbor reels are for tykes. Put that in your purple Patagonia fleecy-whatever-thingy ... more crap that you're wearing these days. What a pilgrim.
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The Dozen Best Fly Rods of All Time | The Trout Underground Fly Fishing Blog...The Underground ranks the dozen best fly rods of all time (at least in a historical context). What fly rods would you choose? And how do your choices match up to the Trout Underground's?...
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For $20, the 6wt SP could be added to the list. Just saying is all.
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@Jason I'm certainly not going to make a habit of this, but I'm agreeing with Chandler on the SP. I have a sixer - it's a funky combination of medium-fast rod with a tip that is just a wee bit too stiff for anything other than heavy fly nymphing. Meanwhile, it lacks the backbone to steer and lift larger fish, particularly in heavier currents and/or in deep stillwater. Mine now sits somewhere between ... more backup streamer rod and eBay sale item, but I'm loath to the latter since you never know when someone will decide to stick it on their dirty dozen list and it winds up a collectors item.
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@Heddon: Ever cast a 1 3/4ferrule 8.5' Heddon? I find the 8.5' 2F rods a little on the stiff side for my tastes (though I still own one).
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@Trout: DS 2, eh? Interesting. Exactly Tom. SAGE DS2 590-4 Graphite II #5 Line 9'-0" 3 5/16 oz.
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The Heddon #14's are very good rods. I own a 9' 2f #14 and a Folsom Arms 8'6" 2f #1515 (their equivalent of the #14) and like them both a lot. I don't use the #14 for river fishing much. I really like it for fishing stillwaters though. There was a big drop off in quality in the heddon rods below the #14 (13, 10 and 8). The hardware on those models was pretty questionable and the reelseat spacers were ... more the cheapest ones they had in stock. Some of them tended to look like something you'd find under the kitchen sink.
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@Trout: DS 2, eh? Interesting. @Heddon: Gierach's lack of interest in Phillipsons was always puzzling to me, but gratifying when it came to buying the things, which remained a teensy bit less expensive than the Grangers. He did really love the Heddon President, so Heddon didn't escape unscathed. I do think he said you shouldn't buy a Heddon less than a Model 20, but I'd fish a model 14 any day.
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Tom, Guess we should consider ourselves rather fortunate that Gierach didn't mention Phillipsons in every 3rd or 4th paragraph in Fishing Bamboo like he did with Grangers. He did mention Phillipsons in that book but only briefly. Same with Heddons.......
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Hell of a list Tom, for sure! I'll share mine for your perusal. Here's 6 that I own, in no particuliar order: *San Francisco Winston (Fall, 1974) 3 pc - 4 wt- 2 3 /4 oz.-chocolate glass w/'spigot' ferrules.. finish by Doug Wilson (@Winston). Mint! *Sage DS 2 590-4-Graphite II, 3 5/16 oz, 4 pc, 5 wt *GLoomis GL3-9', 5wt *Wilderness.. by Ford Scott Rollo, 4 pc-8'3"-5wt *Fenwick / Woodstream-8'-6wt *The ... more Diane Powell Rod- 7 1/2' 3-4-5 wt. V-sweet/Mint! I fish 4 of these rods several times a week during the winter and daily during stream season. They serve me well and are a credit to their makers.
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@Jason: Rationale?? On the Trout Underground? Be serious. As for the Sage SP, I owned the 9' 5wt for a time, and found it to be a medium-tapered rod that was too stiff (instead of all Sage's fast-tapered rods that were too stiff). @Heddon: I consider the 8.5' Phillipson to be the true "third generation" Granger, and while the Granger's more popular (it's certainly prettier), the Phillipson got my ... more vote. @Amy: Interesting choice - which was that for you?
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Ok. I confess. I'm not much of a gearhead. So, I have to say that the best fly rod has got to be the one that you catch your first fish on.
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I own one of the almosta rods (Phillipson 8'6" 5/6 wt) and used to own a Powell Light Touch 9' 5wt. Used to own a Winston IM6 8'6" 5wt too. Those Powell Light Touch rods were great fly rods that unfortunately fell victim to the infighting that doomed the company. Agree with Greg on the Winston IM6 8'6" 4wt. I regret selling mine and wish I had it back. Here are a few other bamboo rods that I'd put ... more on the list........ 8'6" 3/2 2F Heddon from the neo classic era. The heddons from the 39-48 period have actions that are very smooth and give Phillipsons a real run for their money. Granger 8642. Surprised no one has mentioned this one yet. South Bend 290. I've never owned or even cast one of these rods but a lot of folks really rave about them and they're always mentioned as being a very good starter rod for someone just getting into bamboo. The shorter H-I rods. Their top longer rod models (Registered, Vernley, Canada Creek and Cunningham) were pretty good rods but there was a big drop off after that and most of their low end longer rod models were real clubs and better suited for staking tomatos. That said, their shorter rod models (Tonka Queen and King, Prince and Princess) are actually very good rods and have a very loyal following. I own an H-I Princess and it's one rod I won't sell. It's a shame that H-I didn't put more effort into most of their longer rod models.
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I hate typos; the above comment should read "rationale" and I used versatile more than once - my sentence structure stinks. Anyone out there find pleasure in the Sage SP? Also, saltwater wise, I am a big proponent of the Thomas & Thomas Horizon series (late 90's) - especially as an 8 weight. Great rod!!!!
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What's the reationale decision wise to believe that the 389 LL is superior to the 490 LL? I own both but was curious as to why this decision was made. I love both rods but would argue the 490 is a tad - and I really mean a tad - more versatile. I don't believe an extra 3" of length is going to hurt anyone and it's a bit more versatile. In any event, both are nice soft rods and are a pleasure to throw. ... more My 490 is my preferred rod on the Fall River - if I ever broke it I'm sure I'd break down in tears. Nice list-
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We can go on and on about rods left off the list so I will throw one more out there...J.Kennedy Fisher produced some of the sweetest graphite rods...I still use a late 80's vintage 9ft 4wt...it is my go to rod for medium size streams...
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[...] The second part of this story is incidental. In the picture I’m holding the rod that some folks consider not a fly rod at all. [...]
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Tupperware=graphite. Dave is a "little biased" when it comes to grass rods, but he's one of the "fishiest" persons I've ever meet.
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Well I won't contest anyone's choice but here are a few of my favorites. Sage 389 Sage 490 Winston 8' 6" 4 wt. An early "cup logo" IM6 - cuts both the Sages hands down, IMO. Scott SF era G series 9' 4 wt. Very sweet and I wish I had one. Fenwick Boron 9' 5 wt. Smooth and light. I want it back, dammit. Fenwick Glass 8' 5 wt. An uncommon 3 piece I deeply regret selling. Phillipson 8' 5 wt. Bamboo - ... more The working man's 50DF. Scott SF era G series 9' 7 wt. but really a great 6 weight. Loomis GLX 9' 6 wt. - A great, great casting rod that I just could not love.
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@ Kentucky Jim: "I had the opportunity to cast one of Burkheimer's 5 wt. rods several months ago…very, very sweet; perhaps one of the nicest rods I've ever cast." I had a beautiful Burkheimer rod built from a 8' 5wt Peak blank. It was one of the finest casting rods I've ever had, irrespective of the material, but it had that peculiar Peak grip that flares ferociously at the top of the grip and is ... more a little on the short side. I fished it once but my hand was just too big for the grip. It was too nice to tear up just to get the blank, so it joined that group of , "Why, I had one of those," rods.
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Great info. Maybe this week I'll win the lottery.
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Thanks for the good info. This will keep me from having to do all the research.
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I love my 9', 6wt. I wanted to say that. Thanx for including that class of rods. It will throw bass plugs all day and still present a trico in the evening. It is a great rod for big rivers. Like you said, if you aren't sure of what you need it is a good go to choice. It is also practically useless on some of the rivers I fish, and not so great on small streams.
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The Tuperware class? Don't really get the reference, but I believe Cary Burkheimer has taken over all of Peak's tapers. I had the opportunity to cast one of Burkheimer's 5 wt. rods several months ago...very, very sweet; perhaps one of the nicest rods I've ever cast. It may be the next rod I buy. I own an Orvis 7.5 ' 5 wt bamboo, and it's my go-to rod on the Kern, but I'm not real exclusive about it. ... more The rest of my rods are graphite, ranging in price from $75.00 to $675.00. Of course, I don't distinguish between graphite, glass or bamboo. I guess that's because I'm a neanderthal...or a member of the Tuperware class.
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No Steffen glass? (insert raspberry here)!!!
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Fun list and not nearly as wrong-headed as one would have expected. Props for including the Eagle Claw Trailmaster. I remember performing casting first aid on the street in Boulder after painfully watching a guy trying to cast his jointed yellow stick. What was unfolding was a ghastly parody of one of those syncopated gymnastic twirling ribbon routines. Don't pretend you haven't seen them. Once I ... more showed him that he didn't have to thread the (fat level) line through the hook keeper things improved somewhat.
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The Sage LL 490 actually edged out the LL 389, you should correct that typo.
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No Lamiglas? Fenwick HMG Graphite fly rods I have lived and fished East and West coast Fenwick was the bomb in the 70's and early 80's Then they went all Korea on us and there was a huge backlash (pun intended) I don't undersand TFO and Loop dont learn from this or they just don't care. also an old Shakespearean silver blank with black foam grip like casting al dente spaghetti pure gold.
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@Michael: A 12wt? Please, we're talking fly rods here, not lethal weapons. @Jim: The romance of bamboo doesn't really apply; the only really good fly rods you could buy were made of bamboo for a long, long time - making them the "best" available in that historical setting. And the Phillipson "Dry Fly Special" is not the same as the 8.5' I mentioned - it's a wind rod, but too stiff and wouldn't ever ... more make the list. Try the "normal" version, and be prepared to be wowed. @AC The venerable (and now gone) G series got two mentions, which ain't bad. @Nathan The 6wt category is due for a revival, but I suspect it will never happen. @Big You're in the minority about the Heliply, but we're not banning you from the site just yet. @bill The Eastbranch rods did get a mention in the boutique category, but there aren't enough floating around to really qualify for the Dirty Dozen. @Mike Uhh, Jump on Winston glass? They got "almosta" status - that's better than a sharp stick in the eye, yes? I was given an 8.5' 3wt Winston glass by a friend, and you've gotta love the things.
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Tom - why jump on the SF made Winston glass rods.? Because I couldn't afford bamboo rods, I bought a bunch of glass rods from Doug Merrick in the seventies and they were ALL good. The best was a 7-1/2 or 8 foot (I forget which it was) 5 weight. Awesome rod... these rods were light, employed spigot type internal ferrules, they cast really well. Oh yeah, they were brown.
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great list Tom Those pre Schwab powell light touch's are great graphite rods and one of the few I've held onto after turning to bamboo. I'd add Eastbranch GT ( Hal bacon inspired graphite tapers). An upstate NY rod company out of business for some time but especially responsive rods similar to the Scott G series. I know shorter rods don't come into play much out your way but any list has to have a ... more Young Driggs and I'll throw in a Summers 856 for good measure. I've owned a couple of 389's and an IM6 winston as I wandered toward bamboo and they are all fine rods. You have a good eye Tom ;-)
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The 8wt HeliPly was actually a bit of a dud- a tailing loop machine. I still fish the 9wt and its lovely. Has balls, grace, and goes from 15' to 70' REAL quick. And yes the 490 LL is a gem. The VPS Light version works quite nicely as well.
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I knew you'd toss in the Phillipson 8.5'. I have one, too, and even when I'm not fishing it, it's the one I want to be fishing. I own no better rod for dries or wet flies, and the type of stream doesn't matter. I like it equally well on a big, windy western river or a small, intimate stream in the Smokies. Another of my rods fits neatly into your generic 6 wt category. It's a 9' Scientific Anglers ... more rod with a sweet medium-fast action. The second fly rod I ever owned. Not much to look at but a real workhorse. I use it for everything from dry flies for trout to bluegill poppers to weighted nymph rigs to bass bugs. Take care, Nathan
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I would have included the Scott G series rods, just my 2 cents. I really like that Diamondglass 4 wgt, one of these days...Nice list.
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My 2 cents, As for modern builders, all that you had on you list are fantastic, but I would put Bruce Howell in there, with well over 30 years of building, he has worked out the rough spots in a lot of bamboo tapers. Also Mike Clark has been building as long. Sure most of us didn't know about him until "Trout Bum" came out, (and shot up the price of them) That is not saying that they are not worth ... more it. He was building long before JG came on the seen. For the Tupperware class, Russ Peak should be at the top of the list. Like I said just my 2 cents David
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Ain't it great? There's no right or wrong answers here. Only what works for you. Clearly slower action rods work for you along with the romance of bamboo. I applaud the almost -inclusion of the older Winston fiberglass. I have an early 7' 6" Fisher/Winston blank that was wrapped much later (1997) at Winston. It is my favorite small stream rod, even over a couple of other nice SF-era fiberglass rods. ... more It just feels right. I had a Phillipson 8.5' Dry Fly Special and never really connected with it, so someone else is using and enjoying it (hopefully). I wouldn't have included it, but then there is no right or wrong answer. My go-to rods made the list; the Scott G-series. My favorite is the G905-4 (9' 5wt 4pc). It seems to work well in so many trout situations and you can take it almost anywhere, for me, it's much like the way you described the generic 6 weights. I've also used a G958-4 (9/6" 8wt) on the N. Umpqua for trout when there weren't any steelhead around. It wasn't all that bad.