Friday, February 28, 2014

A Sweetgrass Rods Fantasy Realized

Admittedly I am pretty fanatical when it comes to collecting contemporary fiberglass fly rods, but Adam Tsaloff easily puts me to shame with a personal collection that covers some of the finest glass and bamboo fly rods being made today with a lot of very unique one off builds in the mix.

Adam's Sweetgrass Rods fiberglass four weight is one such build that is now even more unique with a second tip made of bamboo over the winter by Glenn Brackett.  Adam was gracious to share the story of this special fly rod in this post.

Adam wrote...  "On one of my early visits to The Fiberglass Manifesto, I remember reading an interview with Sam Drukman, who was a famous glass and graphite rod designer, about his new line of glass rods that he was making with Sweetgrass Rods.  I owned and fished a few glass rods at the time but was more interested in bamboo at that time.  Sam mentioned that he really liked his 7’9” four weight model and that the rod was “something special”.  That was it.  The rod was ordered and delivered and fished lovingly.  

The rod is truly something special and one of the finest made and best casting glass rods I own (and that is saying something because I own a lot of glass).  When the rod was made it was in the early days of Sweetgrass Rods and they didn’t have all of their product in the shop.  My two piece rod came in a bag with three compartments.  

Last year we lost Sam, and the rod building community mourned the passing of a legend.  Last summer I didn’t fish the rod, it seemed to depressing.  In the Fall I took it out in the yard to cast and it was still an amazing rod.  When I was putting the rod away an idea crossed my mind.  What if I filled that empty tip slot in the bag with a bamboo tip?  I contacted Sweetgrass and laid down the challenge.  Who among the rod makers would want to honor their friend and make a new bamboo tip for the Drukman glass rod.  Much to my surprise Glenn himself took up the challenge.  “Send me the rod this winter and I will see what I can do.” 
Pairing glass butt sections with bamboo tips is not a new idea.  Pezon & Michel had a line of very powerful distance rods called the “Variopower” rods made for steelhead fisherman.  The tubular glass butt section could handle huge force generated by the heavier bamboo tips without deforming.  Each material played to it's strength.  Early last week the rod came back to me.  Glenn made a glass female ferrule and attached a bamboo tip.  The tip fit beautifully.  I noticed the new tip loaded the rod much further down into the butt, and slowed the action down.  The bamboo tip is heavier, but somehow the rod feels balanced in hand, and not “tip heavy”.  

The extreme cold in Northern Michigan hasn’t allowed much test casting but early results are in. The new tip makes the rod a casting machine with a five weight forward line.  The action is slow, but those who know my taste know that slow action is right up my alley.  Bamboo came into fly fishing as just the tip section of rods made of other woods.  Russ Peak made rods with glass butts and graphite tips. 

Thanks Glenn Brackett for entertaining my fly rod fantasies.  You have honored your friend with such great work.  I hope others will continue experimenting with different material pairings.  Who knows where it could lead." 

What a wonderful and fitting addition to this very special four weight.  Sam is still missed and I have wondered more than once on how many ideas in contemporary glass were lost in his untimely passing.

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