Friday, August 22, 2014

Rajeff On ECHO Glass Two Handers

The other day I received an email from Tim Rajeff of ECHO Fly Fishing on the soon to be released Glass Switch and Spey offerings in early 2015 and I'll admit it's kind of neat to get the ego stroked with a mention of thanks for the input on the development of the ECHO Glass series but really it's even more exciting is to see a series of seven two handers made of fiberglass going from prototypes to final specs.  These are fly rods that many have been asking for and it's neat to see that Tim Rajeff listened. 

I trust what Tim does with glass because he has such a background with it growing up as an angler and champion tournament caster.  He has had deep experiences with fiberglass and really understands where it shines as a rod building material.  The ECHO Glass fly rods are a great example of this and I expect nothing less from the fiberglass Switch and Spey fly rods.

This is a somewhat long read but really worth it as Tim covers a lot regarding his experience with glass growing up and how he wanted this series of fly rods to cast and perform on the water.

Tim wrote...


I wanted to thank you for the positive influence you have had on my efforts at designing and producing glass rods.  It has been fun designing ECHO Glass rods and people seem to like the rods.

Last year when you and I spoke about the possibility of making some Switch and Spey rods and I really didn’t think it would happen.  As a small business owner, there never seem to be enough hours in a day to get everything done. I knew in order to make a good glass two-hander it would take longer than normal and the rods would need to be tested in different conditions using different lines.  I wasn’t even sure our factories had the right tooling to hit the correct action and power on long glass rods. Fortunately everything lined up and ECHO glass switch and two-handers were born.  

The single hand glass rod project was fun, I learned a lot about the difference between designing with fiberglass vs. graphite.  For the two-hand glass rods it would have been easy to just copy the lengths, power and action from some of my graphite rods.  Doing so would be the opposite of the situation we went through in the early 1970s when graphite rods were being developed. At that time my brother was the world casting champion and Jimmy Green from Fenwick Rod Company gave the first graphite fly rod ever made to my bother to use in competition.  I remember that the rod had an unusually thin butt diameter and a yellow colored fiberglass sleeve over ferrule. The rod had no soul and the tip was way too stiff but the rod recovered better than anything we had ever seen.  It blew our minds. It would be many years later that I abandoned my glass rods and moved to carbon fiber for my competition casting and a year or two after that for my tout fishing.  The point I am trying to make is that every rod material lends itself to a particular design and that fiberglass and graphite are very different in what they can and should be used for.  To simply copy the rod action and power from a graphite rod to fiberglass would be a mistake.  

You might remember that a couple years ago you warned me to “not make the glass rods too stiff” and in the single hand rods I took your advice.  They turned out great and are smooth casting rods and a joy to cast.  I was able to use my long history of fishing and competing with one hand glass rods during the design process.  In the switch rod and two hand rods I didn’t have the same history to tap into.  Back in the mid 1970s I used two hand rods for overhead distance casting and the rods we used were long and super stiff.  We would use more than double the head weight a person throwing a modern 15 foot #10/11 Spey rod would use.  As you can imagine someone trying to bang out a 250 foot cast with a glass rod is doing some crazy stuff to do so.  I was unable to apply much of what I gained using glass two-hand distance rods into the design of the new ECHO two-hand glass rods.

When I started the prototype process I wanted to use the same grain weight targets we have on our existing two hand rods.  The first glass samples were too stiff and too close to the action and power of a graphite rod.  They felt like a heavy graphite rod which wasn’t the design goal.  I wanted a rod that would benefit from the slower recovery rate and higher amount of elongation found in glass fibers.  To keep the rods ability to cast a certain grain weight the butt power is close to some of our existing rods but about a 1/3 of the way up the blank I began to add flex.  More rod flex lends itself to casters that use longer strokes and will perform best when the power application is more gradual.  Both of these casting dynamics are things everyone learns to control when casting glass rods.  I think people that learned to cast using a glass rod develop the ability to dampen the bounce at the end of the cast better than people who learned to cast using stiff / light graphite rods.  The ability to dampen vibration in a cast is part of what makes casting loops with few if any shock waves.  It is one of the joys of casting glass.

The tip of the glass Switch and Spey rods are firm but not stiff.  The firm tip allows a caster to get that last little bit of pop out of their delivery stroke.  The smooth bottom half of the rods allow the D-loop to be formed with less effort and together with the rest of the rod make these new rods cast like a dream.  At first my friends and I were casting the glass two-handers with the same tempo and force as our graphite rods.  The rods did OK but as soon as we slowed down and relaxed our casting strokes our casts went farther and our cheeks began to cramp up from smiling so much.  The new glass rods are incredibly smooth and cast like a dream.

There are seven new ECHO glass two-hander in the 2015 catalog.  A light and medium trout switch, a light and medium steelhead switch, and three Spey rods.  We adapted some of the curves of my old Fenwick glass rod handle into the shape used in the handles on our new rods.  The ECHO handles feel and look great and are light in the hand.  On the eight weight Spey rods we used a down locking reel seat to help balance the rod.  We used the same blank and thread color from our single hand glass rods on the two-handers.

We hope people enjoy using the new rods as much as we had designing them.


Check out this previous T.F.M. post with more information on the Glass Switch and Spey fly rods which should be showing up in fly shops in January 2015. 

The ECHO Glass Switch and Spey offerings will be worth the wait and I wouldn't be surprised if these fly rods spark off a few other two hander offerings from others in the industry.  


Jay said...

Sounds great!

I hope that these two handed glass rods will have the affordable price (around $250 - 275 would be fantastic!) as the single hand rods.

Can't wait to try them myself.

Cameron Mortenson said...

Jay...these are pricing in at $280-300 which I think is a lot of value for this series.

Jay said...

Good pricing!
I'd love to get one and my bank won't be broken.

Cameron Mortenson said...

Jay...right-o. I'm pretty stoked about these.

JJP said...

Something about a good, affordable, GLASS, switch or spey rod just gets me pumped. Can't wait for -15!
Needless to say, I'm impressed with your industry influence, as well.
Fish on and have fun, John

Cameron Mortenson said...

John...I've been really stoked to see more options in affordable glass and switch/spey fly rods have a lot of room to grow in glass.

Martin Kurtz said...

Great! Another fod I will need! : )

Martin Kurtz said...