Friday, October 31, 2014

Forget About The Damn Blank Color

There is hardly a day goes by that I don't receive an email, phone call, text, or a message from someone who is asking for some assistance in sorting out what fiberglass fly rod that they should be looking for.  I enjoy these conversations and it can be a lot of fun pointing people to a certain fly rod or maker and then hear back months later how it was the exact fly rod they were looking for.

Some that I talk with come with a pretty good idea of what they want as far as the line weight or taper desired but there are times when others are completely hung up on a certain blank color that really appeals to them aesthetically be it any color of the rainbow that glass blanks are offered in from a multitude of makers.  A particular blank color or the way that a fly rod has been built becomes the objective without really considering how that fly rod is going to cast.


I get it.  I've been there before many more times than once.  All the colors offered within contemporary fiberglass fly rod blanks are really just one of the aspects of appeal for many and it doesn't help that there are quite a few small shop builders and fly rod companies that just know how to tug on that part of your brain that likes the shiny things in life.  My suggestion though, forget about how a fly rod looks and what color the blank is.  At least until you figure out exactly what you're looking for in that next fly rod.

You can invest many hundreds of dollars into a fly rod just because of how it looks and end up with something in the end that you just don't enjoy casting or does not work well with the type of fly fishing that you do.  I've learned the lesson the hard way a couple times and reselling fly rods is a very easy way to cut your money in half, even if a fly rod is very lightly used.  

I have a short list of questions that I always ask and the answers can be very helpful in deciding on which fly rod you should bust your piggy bank open for.

WHAT LENGTH AND LINE WEIGHT?
This always seems like a logical place to start and hash out what the preferred length and then line weight needed in this next fly rod purchase.  Are you looking for something short for that brushy little stream that you hike into or do you need a longer fly rod for hucking long casts from the front spot in the boat?

There are just so many choices out there in length and line weight that this process can be quite a bit of fun and it can even make your head spin a bit since we're in the middle of a real upswing of modern fiberglass fly rods.  This is good for all of us.

TYPE OF ROD ACTION OR TAPER PROFILE?
There are a few custom rod builders that I talk to quite a bit and one of the things that continues to astound them is that clients will frequently order a fly rod where they never ask about the rod action or profile taper of said fly rod because they are totally smitten with a certain color of a blank.

How a fly rod is going to cast and what characteristics are should be what's asked and answered right after figuring out what length and line weight you're looking for.  Are you looking for something full flexing, parabolic, medium, progressive, or even the fast side of glass? 

The T.F.M. Fly Rod Loan Program has been helpful for many in deciding on a certain blank over an other but I don't have access to every single contemporary glass fly rod offered and it may be well worth your time to contact the rod maker or company for a better explanation of a fly rod that you might not be able to cast before ordering.

WHAT IS THE INTENDED PURPOSE?
This question falls hand in hand with the rod action and taper profile question.  What are you doing to do with it?  If you are looking for that perfect small stream dry fly three weight then you're going to be looking at a much different fly rod than the five or six weight that you're planning on throwing everything from a hopper dropper to indicator rigs to streamers on a sink tip.  Finding the perfect fly rod to do what you wish to do is generally very possible and glass as a rod material medium can make for a really excellent tool.   

FACTORY BUILT OR CUSTOM BUILT?
Simple enough question.  Do you want something off the shelf or are you more about a one of a kind build?  Several fly rod companies also offer the ability to change up and customize a fly rod to your own choosing which can complicate the decision as well.

At times you can save some money on a factory built fly rod but there are few things as special as a one off build from your favorite custom fly rod maker.  That said, there are some small shop builders that do very excellent work and their prices are extremely reasonable as well and should be considered.

I try my darndest to keep the Rod Shops page updated with all the known choices in glass offerings from the various fly rod companies and custom fly rod builders in hopes that it helps you make your decision.  If you see someone I am missing on the list, please email to let me know.  Thanks.

WHAT IS YOUR BUDGET?
It makes no sense at all to start talking up a $700 custom fly rod when your budget is $250.  Knowing your exact top end number really helps narrow down the choices.  Luckily there are quite a fly options across all the price points so it really doesn't matter if you have a crisp $100 bill or $1000 tucked away, there are lot of really great glass fly rods to consider.

WHEN DO YOU NEED IT?
If you are jonesing for a new fly rod as a gift for a special occasion or to take along on a trip, then my suggestion is to plan early, especially if you're ordering a custom built fly rod.  Many small shop builders are working off of ever growing build lists and it's tough (if not impossible) to jump in front of the line for a last minute build.  There are many things that can slow down the process of a build and just a few of these include a builder's shop schedule, waiting for a blank to arrive, sourcing cork, waiting for hardware or other components to arrive, and then just the process and time involved in building a fly rod from start to finish.

If you're looking at a factory built fly rod then I still suggest that you give yourself time to get the fly rod in through your favorite "glass friendly" fly shop.  Fiberglass fly rods may not be routinely stocked and even the larger fly rod companies can take a bit to complete orders.

NOW...ABOUT THAT BLANK COLOR?
Okay, now that we've hashed out everything in the above questions, then there is usually several blank makers, along with various color choices to choose from, in making your final decision.  That said, I know there have been times when the perfect fly rod blank for someone isn't offered in the color that they like and I've seen it time and time again where the blank color wins out over the functionality of the fly rod.  Blank color can be very important aesthetically but please don't let it win out over the casting characteristics and the intended purpose of the fly rod you are looking for.

Perfection in function and looks is when everything lines up with length, line weight, taper, and the blank color but that isn't always how it works out.

Something else in this to consider is that there are some mighty fine and talented fly rod builders to tap the shoulder of and I wouldn't be surprised if they were to build you a fly rod, with a blank color that you might not be so jazzed about, and have it still blow your mind.  I've seen it happen more than once and a blank color that is typically thought of as drab goes through an unreal transformation into something truly special.

I hope that this post has been helpful in narrowing down what you might be looking for in a future fiberglass fly rod purchase.  Just don't get hung up on the blank color until you really figure out what you're looking for as far as a fly rod casts and performs.  Let the blank colors offered be secondary to that and I think you'll be even happier with your investment in that special fiberglass fly rod.

Graywolf Rods - Pre-Order The Natural Series

Shane Gray of Graywolf Rods is taking a limited number of pre-orders for his next batch of The Natural Series blanks and there are still a few left for those interested in getting on the build list.


The Natural Series is offered in three through five weight in lengths 6'6" to 9'2" and in three or four pieces depending on the model.  The action of this series is considered "progressive but full flex".

From the Graywolf Rods website...

In the past I made a run of The Natural blanks and offered them in the In stock list. Due to demand I am offering TEN builds as a pre order. You can pre order the taper(s) of your choice. 

1) Send me a message with the taper(s) you would like. Contact Me page.
2) Pay the pre order deposit. Pre order deposit of $100 per blank is required.
3) Blanks should be finished in 5 to 6 weeks, then I can get your specs and build your rod.
4) The balance due when your rod is finished.

Check the Graywolf Rods website and Blog for more information and examples of past builds on these blanks.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Small Shop Brands You Should Rep

The internet is a pretty interesting place and just one of the things that it's really cool is helping artists and small shop apparel companies get a start and sometimes in a big way.  Each of these companies have a growing website and social media presence that make them worth following for their latest offerings, discounts, and occasional giveaways as well. 

Here's a quick breakdown of eight small shop brands that you should be representing right now.

CROOKED CREEK HOLLER
Asheville tattoo artist Danny Reed turn hunter and angler apparel company entrepreneur with some designs that are an interesting departure from everything else that is out there.
  

DEAD WEIGHT FLY
Artist Ryan Sharpe is Dead Weight Fly and he recently made the jump into apparel with a mix of t-shirts, hoodies, Doo Rags, and more on his revamped website.


FLOOD TIDE CO.
Artist Paul Puckett and company are doing big things in Charleston (and beyond) and their fall line up includes some interesting offerings including a collared shirt which is the winner of the line up for me.

Oh yeah...and their Ambassadors kick total ass too.


H&H OUTFITTERS
These brothers continue to rock and the designs get cleaner and cleaner.  The fall line is available now and worth checking out.  STLHD anyone?


MARSH WEAR
Another reason why Charleston rocks and frontman Logan Roberts is handpicking some high quality fabrics and designs in their offerings.


REP YOUR WATER
More than just caps and it's been really cool to see this husband and wife company spread it's wings over the past couple years.  Remember to use discount code "TFMFREESHIP" on your online orders.


SKINNY WATER CULTURE
El Presidente Vince Stegura of S.W.C. recently quit his job to take this company to the next level.  Keep an eye on this one and take advantage of a 30% off discount using code "FB30OFF" which is good through October 31st.



THE FLY TROUT
This is another one man show and Joe Pino always has something cool up his sleeve.  His latest design, TROUTSET, is a neat play on that one thing you never want to get caught doing.


That's eight brands on my radar but who did I miss?  I know that there are a few more out there that I should be tracking on.

A Gift From The Sky

The Charleston Angler held their yearly GoPro Film Festival recently and this Ascension Bay permit flick took top honors.



There are a lot of reasons to like this shortie but David Porter's commitment to only fish bamboo is truly commendable.  All the pieces of the puzzle came together and make for a very cool part of this story. 

Permit on fiberglass?  I'm sure it's been done over and over again but I'd like my turn at it soon.

View the rest of the 2014 GoPro Film Festival offerings on YouTube.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

PNF Camping Weekend Postcard

I know that things around here have slowed down a bit over the past week or so but we were gone over the weekend on a camping trip in the Pisgah National Forest with some friends from church.  I am now catching up on things online, at work, and still getting the smoke smell out of everything from the weekend.

Here are a few snaps from the weekend from iPhone and Fuji X100s.  Click on an image to view larger.












The high points of the weekend included a whole bunch of family time, camp food made on the Coleman stove and in cast iron, the leaves in full color, morning coffee in the press pot, a great hike to the top of Looking Glass Rock, and the taste of crisp mountain apples.

It was a stellar weekend but it's time to get back on track with a lot going on over the next couple months at home, work, and of course T.F.M.

Montana Fly Fishing Magazine

I just got back from Montana a few weeks ago and I'm ready to get back there all over again.  The latest issue of Montana Fly Fishing Magazine is helping matters at all.


This issue is 88 pages of Big Sky goodness.

CHECK IT.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

2014 International Fly Tying Symposium

This is a quick heads up the 2014 International Fly Tying Symposium will be taking place on November 22nd and 23rd, 2014 at the Golden State Exhibit Center in Somerset, New Jersey.

Not only will there be over 100 featured fly tiers in attendance, various presentations, and fly shops selling fly tying materials of all sorts, but there will also be both a fiberglass and bamboo fly rod casting competitions on both days as well.  The fiberglass fly rod casting competition will be held on Saturday and the bamboo fly rod casting competition will be held on Sunday.


I will be making the trip up to Somerset for this event (It's a great excuse for a husband/wife trip to NYC) and will be assisting with the fiberglass fly rod casting competition with Michael Mauri of Seele Fly Rods.  I will not be giving any presentations at this event but do plan on bringing a rod case filled with various demos for those who would like to cast a few fly rods.

Please check out the International Fly Tying Symposium website for details and the rules for the fiberglass/bamboo casting competition have been posted as well.

If you have any questions or requests for the demos that I bring along please send an email to thefiberglassmanifesto@gmail.com.