Zeb Tonkavich of Snowman Custom Rod Works recently finished a Epic 686 for Jeff Price of J&M Flies and the results in the photographs below are a fine example of his work.
There are a lot of fly rod builders out there but Zeb takes things a step farther than most and nerds out on the blanks that he builds on to fully understand them by measuring effective rod number (ERN), action angle (AA), and having a very good idea and suggestion for suitable fly line types before a build leaves his shop. Fine work and a complete knowledge of the blanks that Zeb builds on is becoming a trademark of fly rods that are inked with "Snowman" across the blank.
Blank: Swift Fly Fishing Epic 686 Salsa
Finished Weight: 3.72 Ounces
Reel to Balance: Mid 5 Ounces
Line Best Suited: Mid Long Belly AFTMA #6
Reel Seat: Lemke LC-10
Winding Check: Goldem Witch Broad/High Polish
Stripping Guide: Lowrider Agate Arch Frame 12mm
Snakes & Tip: Snake Brand Universal
Silks: YLI Orange/Pearsall Cardinal and Straw
Zeb wrote... "Jeff Price at J&M Flies gave me complete freedom on this build which is always entertaining, but at the same time a bit unnerving. The salsa blank is such a vivid platform to build on, I elected to keep the build bright and relatively low key and refined (well as low key and refined as I get).
The cork selected was cut and assembled to compliment the blank and incorporated thread colors. The fighting butt measures in at .8250 and the full wells a a shade under 7". I cut the rear depression a slight bit deeper and elongated to help Jeff eliminate his wrist from the casting motion. The reason behind this is Jeff suffered a recent wrist injury and I would like to see him back chuckin line and tying up badass poppers as soon as possible. The full wells and butt are split by a Lemke LC-10 in bright nickel.
I elected to solder up an arched frame agate stripping guide for this one with a stone that complimented the blank color. I have to thank Joe Arguello of J.E Arguello Rods for his willingness to teach me his bezeling techniques in exchange I taught him how I dark nickel plate. The snakes are Snake Brand universal guides which I use on most everything, they're just to clean and sit nice and low on the blank. Everything was wrapped in with YLI bright orange, Pearsall cardinal red double tips, split by pearsall straw. The thread was finished over with spar varnish.
The rod was packed and shipped out in one of our hand stitched rod bags, sewn up to match the rod by Andrea Larko. The rod tube features the new Snowman logo sprayed up to match the rod with a baked on clear coat over top.
I will only touch on this for a second because everyone keeps hearing how phenomenal the 686 is. This is a phenomenal blank. The beauty is in the fact that the rod can lay out ten feet of line with the delicacy of a full flex cane, but when called upon fire 95' of line into a stiff breeze. It does all of this with a great deal of feel and composure that most rods will never achieve. It is quite possibly one of the best 6wts on the mark glass, graph, or grass."
The Epic 686 is a favorite fiberglass blank of mine. Check out the T.F.M. review for more information and my thoughts on this blank.
Check out the Snowman Custom Rod Works website, Facebook, and Instagram pages to stay up to date with what Zeb is working on.