I was thinking about the changes in fly rods over the years I've been fishing
and tried to decide what was my favorite rod.
The more I thought about it I realized other changes had occurred too. The
same is probably true for you as well, but I just hadn't considered it.
For a long time I fished with a Heddon Black Beauty. It wasn't new when I got it,
and I think it may have been a cast-off from my first husband. The rod was refinished
by a local Michigan man, who later became well known for his involvement in Trout
Unlimited, Art Neuman. It was a pretty slow rod, and since my casting at the time
was more of a lob than a cast it fit me just fine. I still have that rod.
Castwell and I married and I discovered how much I didn't know about rods and
casting. It was a learning exercise for sure.
Scientific Anglers came out with a whole series of fiberglass rods, called System
Rods in I think from 4 to 12 weight. They had matching reels, and were really
great combinations. We used them in our classes, and fished them too.
I cast a couple of Russ Peak rods in those days, they probably were the very best
fiberglass rods ever made. They were powerful and very smooth. But they were
terribly expensive and not easily available in Michigan at the time.
Castwell insisted I have an Orvis Madison bamboo rod. It certainly was a step up
from the Heddon, and I really enjoyed fishing it. It seemed to have a 'life' to it,
something which to me felt more natural and appropriate for the type of fishing
I was doing. We moved to Montana and I acquired another bamboo rod, this
time smaller and lighter, a 3 weight Pezon Michelle. It was made in France and
the work of Charlie Ritz. The tip section was not the same length as the butt
section, and was called a parabolic rod. The 'Charlie Ritz' rods had their own
following, but were not particularly cherished because they were considered
'foreign.' It was dressed especially well with red, green and white wraps, and
came in a red silk bag in it's rod tube. I caught a lot of fish on that rod. Light
rod, fine leaders and tiny flies. Perfect for the Spring Creeks around Livingston,
In the early 1970's Orvis came out with the first of their graphite rods. A friend
at Orvis, Don Owens, sent me my first graphite rod. It was a 5 weight Far and
Fine, designed by Jim Payne, and felt quite a bit like a bamboo rod. Medium
action, but lighter in hand than the bamboo I was fishing. Really a lovely rod.
I have that one too.
We have owned several other brands of fly rods, Sage, Loomis, Elkhorn, Lamiglas,
Redington and Gatti. We still have most of those.
What I've discovered is I have favorite rods for specific fishing conditions. None of
the rods I currently have would do the job for the different conditions. For saltwater,
salmon or bonefish my favorite is an 8 weight, 9 foot Gatti, progressive action. Gatti
makes a faster rod, the tip action, but I prefer the progressive. Both situations are
similar where it's either big flies or wind conditions, so the 8 weight is perfect. For
small streams, which frankly we don't get to fish that often, I have a 3 weight Gatti
FRC which is very close to a medium action bamboo rod. So much so in fact, that
several of the bamboo rodmakers at Grayling Michigan's Gray Rock were very
impressed with the delicacy of the rod. Which of course is one of the selling
points of the better cane rods.
Looking back, I'm not sorry I had and fished any of those rods. It has been a
learning experience, and a journey. I do regret I no longer have some of those rods!
I would like to have the 4 weight S.A. System Rod (and reel), and I really regret
having sold the little french rod. It would have been fun to fish that on our Fish-In
2001 this summer. But we really don't have anywhere locally to fish it - and I do
believe rods should be fished, not put in a glass case. If I lived in Michigan or the
east, I'd probably start looking very seriously at finding both of those rods. Both
had a 'feel' to them which was very pleasing.
That of course is all personal preference. It works for me. If I hadn't had the
history of fishing all those different rods, I might prefer something entirely different.
Circumstances and location do have a real bearing on what our favorite rod is
at the moment.
What's yours? ~ The LadyFisher
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