Sunday, January 9, 2022

W. JUDE FLY ROD CO. - Introducing the Ondawa Series

If there's one positive thing that the ongoing pandemic has allowed, it's given time for some rod builders to work on projects that they may have had on the back burner and may have been nothing more than imagination and notes on pieces of paper working out tapers. 
Over the past year or so, Bill Hickey of W. Jude Fly Rod Co. has been working on a few fly rods that he's named the Ondawa Series.  There are two fly rods in this series so far with plans to add additional fly rods in the coming months.

These builds feature Made in USA blanks, Lemke hardware, Snake Brand guides, and flor grade cork grips with hardwood inserts.  There is also a build option of adding an agate guide over a standard stripping guide.  Prices for these builds start at $550.

I've know Bill for years and he's a heck of a guy and builder.  I know he's poured a lot of work into these blanks and hope to get my hands on one to cast at some point.
Bill Hickey wrote...  "ONDAWA" is one of the two Native American names for the Battenkill River and where the series was developed and tested.  
The first two fly rods in this series are a 7'9" three-piece 4-weight and a 5-weight of the same length.  The fly rod blanks are rolled in the USA and are constructed of black Uni S2 fiberglass.

As with my other builds, all finished rods will be built with USA-made rod components.

Both models underwent several months of prototype testing before the final two tapers were selected.  I spent the entire late spring testing prototypes and then in early summer the final two models were fished extensively on small to medium sized rivers with different brands and types of fly lines.

I wanted both rods to be able to do several different things well, from fishing dries, dry/dropper rigs, swinging wets, and fishing streamers but both needed a smooth casting profile.  These are both a pleasure to cast, easily able to place the fly where you are looking, and offer a great experience hooking, playing, and landing fish.

The 7'9" 4-weight is a medium-flex taper best suited for dries, dry/dropper rigs, and wet flies.  4-weight double taper fly lines are suggested.  While it will cast lightweight streamers, the 5-weight is better-suited. This model is a bit "softer" than the 795.  As with the 795, it will load nicely for close in work as well as reaching out to the 50-60 foot range when needed.

The 7'9" 5-weight is a medium-fast taper best suited for dries, dry/dropper rigs, wet flies, and streamers. 5-weight double taper lines are suggested.  This rod does everything well, it will load properly for close in work as well as reaching out for long casts, 65-70 feet with ease. While I recommend DT5 lines for it, it did do well with heavier weight forward 5-weight fly lines and standard weight forward 6-weight fly lines."

Visit the W. Jude Fly Rod Co. website for more information or to place an order.  Bill Hickey is always around to chat with an email if you have questions.

There is also a growing conversation on the Fiberglass Flyrodders forum on these fly rods that you might enjoy checking in on as well. 

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