Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Orvis Glass - What I'd Like To See

In all truth it's not been a very well kept secret that Orvis has been working on a fiberglass fly rod project with excited reps and fly shop managers spreading the word to the various glass geeks that they've come in contact with over the last few months.  This is kind of funny since the couple people that I've been talking to at Orvis were trying to keep it as quiet as possible. 

On the other side of all this, it's really cool to see so many people within and associated with Orvis this excited about fiberglass coming from a company that has such a long history of very well thought of fly rods. 

This is also a good time to share one of the latest videos from Orvis which gives everyone an inside peek into the Vermont rod shop along with telling the story of who Shawn Combs who is as a product development specialist there.

While Shawn and the rest of the product designers at Orvis continue to tweak and hash out the final build plans for this next (very possible) generation of Orvis fiberglass, I figured I'd mark down the few things I'd like to see out of this series and why.  While in the Catskills with Shawn a few weeks ago, I bent his ear on all of this and it will be interesting to see what the final offerings look like. 

1.  Made in Vermont.  There is just something special knowing that a fly rod blank was rolled, wrapped, and inspected several times over by the talented builders and employees at the Orvis rod shop.  

2.  Keep the "Old Guys" happy.  For decades Orvis offered fiberglass fly rods in a long list of lengths and line weights and there are still quite a few of these fly rods in personal collections all over the world.  These fellows are undoubtedly going to compare (how it casts, how it looks, and even the price) this new generation of Orvis glass to the fly rods that they grew up with and likely still spend a lot of time on the water with.  They will be the first to discount a new offering as Orvis is doing glass just cause everyone else is doing glass.  Put a new fly rod in their hands that makes them say "Damn...I really like this.".  

3.  Let's not over think the offerings and keep it simple.  A 7' three weight, a 7'6" four weight, and a 8' five weight cover all the bases in the "trout weights" and admittedly are a recognizable sweet spot for glass.  

4.  Fly rod tapers are so subjective and each person that picks up a fly rod is going to feel something a little different due to their own casting stroke, fly line used, weight of the fly reel, etc.  My suggestion for these fly rods would be to slow down the three weight enough to be a small stream dry fly specialists dream and then give the four and five weights a medium progressive taper which would shine with dry flies but still be able to do the dirty work with nymphs and even streamers when needed.

5.  Bridging the gap with fly rod components between the 70's and now on how these fly rods looks is kind of a tall order.  My suggestion is to give these fly rods a classic look from the blank color, thread wraps used, to the hardware.  Stay away from ceramic stripping guides and reel seat hardware that looks like it came off an Orvis graphite offering.  Think earth tone colors with the blank and thread wraps, mildrum stripping guide, a cork reel seat, and metal hardware that looks way more classy than modern.  I like cap and slide band as well as downlock reel seats in blued or bright nickel would work.  The look of these fly rods in my mind should tip it's cap to fiberglass of Orvis's past.

6.  There are just some fiberglass offerings that deserve the handwritten ink treatment across the butt section of the blank and I think an Orvis offering is it.  Begrudgingly I could get used to a decal with a handwritten look but it would mean just a little more if someone with a steady hand in the Vermont rod shop was scripting each build one by one.       

7.  I have a little better than an elementary understanding of margins, the cost of materials, and who all needs to make a little scratch off the sale of a product and in the end I don't mind paying more for U.S.A. made quality.  If Orvis can build these fly rods with much of the above included at or around $500 I would be very happy. all of the above for around $600 and they'd still fall well under the price of other premium glass fly rods from established fly rod companies in the business.   

Agree or disagree with any of the above?  What would you like to see from a contemporary Orvis fiberglass fly rod?

Stay tuned for more information as the Orvis glass project continues to develop.


The NOCO Nympher said...

Awesome post! I completely agree with the "inked" label and signature! Classy touch to say the least! Thanks for sharing and you continue to inspire!

Jay said...

I'd love to see Orvis reviving the glass rods with the famous Superfine grip & reel rings. Just like they used to look.

Middlemac said...

That's poetry. Could be a poetic rod! Thanks.

ratfacedmcdougal said...

I'd like to see all that you mentioned with the exception of price. Under $500 would make it more appealing to me. Golden Eagle green for the blank, Ferrule ring like the GE, Thread hosel instead of winding check, no up locks thank you and maybe the 8' in a 3 piece. All in all I'm getting excited about Orvis coming out of the Dark Side

Cameron Mortenson said...

NOCO Nympher...we'll see if that makes the cut or not. I hope so.

Jay...time will tell what the final version looks and feels like.

Kevin..."poetry" might be a stretch but the fly rod might be.

RFMcD...without a doubt we'll see them come out of the "Dark Side". Everything that I'm aware of will be in three pieces.

Paul said...

I would be happy with everything you suggested but I would add 2 elements. One is the unsanded blank and 2 is 7ft 9 in far & fine in addition to or in place of the 8 footer. I'm just a huge fan of the far and fine and the unsanded blank is a great aesthetic element:)