For those of you that have ever cruised in the “fishmobile” you know my love of fly fishing stickers. What can I say, I love to fly the flag of brands and causes that I support and associate with. So with being a recent glass man (Thank you Shane at Gray Wolf… more on that later!) I had to hit Cameron at The Fiberglass Manifesto up for some sweet TFM stickers. Right now it is spitting freezing rain outside so they will have to wait another day or so before making their way to the vehicle.
No disrespect to Cameron’s sweet sticker swag but the truly big news is that I am now the proud owner of my first custom build glass rod courtesy of Shane Gray at Gray Wolf Rods. So first a disclaimer. I have received nothing free or even discounted from Gray Wolf or from Carl at Swift Fly Rods down in New Zealand. I wanted to talk a bit about the build experience, the service supplied by both, and the excitement around how the rod turned out and the frustration of not being able to fish this beautiful stick yet!
Let me start with the blank selection first. I wanted to build a glass rod primarily for carp and smallmouth. I liked the idea of being able to load a rod in tight situations and make a smooth accurate presentation. (something that can be a bit more challenging with todays faster rod blanks) The rub was I also needed the rod to be able to throw a larger weighted fly than most trout situations mandated. No disrespect to the larger rod manufacturers offerings but I needed something heavier than a 5 weight, longer than 8′, and with a bit more backbone. After reading, and reading, and yes more reading, I came across a great review on the Swift Epic 686 that Cameron had done. It even came complete with a picture of the rod with a sweet slab of bronze attached to it.
If there is a guy out there that knows his glass from his ass, that would be CM so who was I to reinvent the wheel. I interviewed a couple of Rod Builders all of whom were great sources of information and I felt the best fit for me was Shane. He listened well, gave good advice, and was incredibly responsive to emails as well as calls. The truth of the matter is that custom rods are not for everyone. They are not cheap by any stretch (nor should they be for the artistry that goes into them) and they don’t typically carry the same type of rod warranty that you get with factory rods. The flip side is that you can get the exact rod you want… exactly how you want it…. from wraps, to reel seats, to stripping guides. Your rod, your way!
Which leads me to Swift. The Epic is categorized as “fast glass” which is not to be confused with “Helios 2” fast but is definitely more stout than many of the more traditional glass blanks on the market. (see Swift’s site for more technical details) I was a bit unsure of a line pairing so I hopped on their site and sent an email through their contact tool. I was truly a bit surprised when the response I got was from the Director, Carl McNeil. We had a great email exchange and he was extremely helpful in helping me choose a taper that matched my targeted species and casting style.
The only thing left is to take this beautiful rod on her maiden voyage. If you are in the market for a custom build I can tell you with absolute sincerity that you won’t be disappointed with what ends up in your hands from Swift or from Gray Wolf.
Tight Lines and Loose Pants,