Photos: One Last Trip into the Colorado High Country

Originally posted @ Orvis

Written by: Jon Hill

Tom shows off a gorgeous late-season cutthroat–the reward for a long hike through snowy terrain.
Photos courtesy Jon Hill

It is a well-known fact that you never know what to expect from the weather in Colorado. So when a snow storm rolled through the state the day after Labor Day, it was no surprise. Tom and I had planned to do one last backpacking trip for the year, but because of that storm, we had to change our plans from a four-day/three-night trip to a two-day/one-night trip. We really didn’t know how much snow would still be up in the high country, nor did we know what to expect from the fishing because of the drastic weather shift. But it didn’t deter us from trying.

If you’re hiking in the Rockies in September, you have to be ready for anything.

We hiked in roughly five miles, the first half on completely dry trails, the second half in the snow. Once we found a decent campsite, the rest of the weekend was filled with blue skies and fly casting. Late season at that elevation, it’s usually best to fish in the afternoons because the water has time to warm up throughout the day. Only having one afternoon and the next morning to fish, we both were still able to get a few cutthroats to bite, although the fishing was definitely slower than we would have liked.

Your legs suddenly feel less tired when you see a glorious trout

Excited to get one last trip to 11,000 feet and catch some beautiful cutthroat trout, we now look to next year and start to plan where our adventures will take us.

Jon Hill lives in Littleton, Colorado and works in the digital-graphics field. But he spends almost all his spare time chasing trout in the high country, and his photos have been featured many times on the Orvis News. (See hereherehere, and here for just a taste, or visit his blog, Ramblings.) He’s also a former Trout Bum of the Week.

Fishing during warmer afternoons paid off for Jon.

Fiberglass Talk

Originally post @ Ascent Fly Fishing

Why a Fiberglass Rod
Should be your Next Fly Rod!

By Guest Writer: Jon Hill

If you are looking for ferocious fights, soft precise fly presentations, and the chance to get your knuckles rapped every time you hook up, look no further than a fiberglass fly rod!

Whether you want to change things up and replace your carbon fiber/graphite rod with a fiberglass one, or you’re interested in adding something unique to your collection, here’s the information you need to help determine the most accurate weight and length of your new custom rod.

A fairly standard option is the 3 wt. Ranging in sizes from 6′ to 7′ 6″ in length, this rod is perfect if you’re new to fiberglass, or are looking for something sturdy that can be used in a variety of conditions. 

I enjoy using my 3 wt in smaller creeks and streams when casting short distances or roll casting – dropping the fly exactly where you want it. With the full flex design of the fiberglass, slowing your cast down is a must – letting the rod help load the line – instead of doing all the work yourself. Once you hook, fight, and net your first brookie with your 3 wt., you’ll understand exactly why these rods are becoming so popular.

Next up is the 4 and 5 wt. fiberglass. These range in size from 7′ to 8′ in length, and are better suited for rivers and lakes. A 5 wt. will cast streamers and heavier nymphs exactly where you want them to go. The flex and taper of the fiberglass, which becomes obvious when you’re hooking into a large rainbow trout or smallmouth bass, makes this type of fly fishing so much more enjoyable. With the smooth casting and gentle yet strong hookset, landing all sizes of fish with fiberglass is a blast.

Stepping up into the 7 wt. range of fiberglass fly rods, the ideal fish to target would be carp, largemouth bass, small tarpon, and the like. Meant to be used in larger rivers while throwing big streamers, the accuracy you can achieve when casting one of these is exactly what is needed for these types of fish. If you find yourself scouting for spooky carp or throwing buggers all day for pike and muskie out of a boat, the 7 wt. fiberglass is right up your alley.

When you think of saltwater fly fishing, you probably don’t think of fiberglass, but an 8′, 8 wt. fiberglass rod was designed for just that scenario. Casting heavy, articulated streamers or your favorite salt flies for bonefish, salmon, redfish, steelhead, and even golden dorado, you’ll discover the taper and casting ability of an 8 wt. fiberglass in salt is just what was missing from your rod collection. 

Whether you are wanting a custom made fly rod created just for you, or are interested in building one yourself, Yellowfin Custom Fly Rods has you covered. 

About Jon Hill & Yellowfin Custom Fly Rods

Whether you are wanting a custom made fly rod created just for you, or are interested in building one yourself, Yellowfin Custom Fly Rods has you covered.  


 Haldin fiberglass blanks starting at $155.
– Custom-built Haldin fiberglass rods starting at $445
– Custom-built fiberglass fly rods for $235.
– Custom-built carbon fiber/graphite fly rods starting at $225.


Jon is a full-time husband/father/9-5’er with a passion for fly fishing and rod building. When not working or coaching his son’s soccer team he builds custom fly rods for his company Yellowfin Custom Fly Rods, www.yellowfinrods.com. He also writes for Southwest Fly Fishing Magazine where he gets to share his adventures of backpacking and fly fishing in the Rocky Mountains, www.jonathanfhill.com.

Fiberglass Fly Rods: The New, Old Standard

Original posted @ Ascent Fly Fishing

Article & Photo Credit to Jon Hill of Yellowfin Custom Fly Rods

It’s no secret that fiberglass fly rods have made a big comeback in the last 5-10 years. All of the major fly fishing companies have started bringing back fiberglass into their lineup of rods and there are a dozen of new companies that deal exclusively in fiberglass blanks and kits and full builds.

Starting in the late 1940’s, fiberglass rods started replacing bamboo because of the ease and cost of creating them. Once the new graphite rods came into style, being a lighter material and with a stiffer action, fiberglass was pushed to the side because everybody assumed the new technology was better. If you have ever fished with fiberglass, you know this isn’t always the case.

In my experience with building and fishing fiberglass fly rods in the 2-4 weight range, these are some advantages I have found:

• Slow down!
The deeper flex of fiberglass allows the rod itself to load and shoot the line with less stress and effort on your casting arm.

• Tippet
Coinciding with the deeper flex, less stress is forced upon your knots and your tippet when setting the hook and playing the fish into your net.

• Accuracy
The slower action allows for less line to be loaded in order to get an accurate cast. This is perfect when in tight spots casting 25 feet and less.

• Mending
The taper/action of the glass rod allows for a smoother, easier mending presentation of
the fly.

• Tough
Any rod will break under certain situations, but fiberglass is known to not be as brittle as some of its graphite counterparts. I’ve heard stories of people accidentally bending the tip of their fiberglass rod, instead of breaking they actually just bent it back into being straight and kept on fishing!

• Heavy
One complaint is that fiberglass is too heavy compared to graphite. In my experience, this is partly true but honestly not a noticeable difference. Here is a breakdown of the weight of graphite blanks compared to their fiberglass counterpart.
Graphite 9’ 5 wt. – 1.8 oz. / Fiberglass 8’ 5 wt. – 2.6 oz.
Graphite 9’ 4 wt. – 1.6 oz. / Fiberglass 7 ‘ 6” 4 wt. – 2.0 oz.
Graphite 7’ 6” 3 wt. – 1.0 oz. / Fiberglass 7’ 6” 3 wt. – 1.9 oz.

Finally, the number one reason to give fiberglass a try is that they are fun to cast and catch fish with. The play and action of a fiberglass rod make it a joy to hookset, fight and reel a fish into the net. So the next time you are hitting the creek, pick up a 3 wt fiberglass and you won’t be disappointed!

About Jon Hill & Yellowfin Custom Fly Rods

Jon is a full-time husband/father/9-5’er with a passion for fly fishing and rod building. When not working or coaching his son’s soccer teams he builds custom fly rods for his company Yellowfin Custom Fly Rods, www.yellowfinrods.com. He also writes for Southwest Fly Fishing Magazine where he gets to share his adventures of backpacking and fly fishing in the Rocky Mountains, www.jonathanfhill.com.

If you are interested in a hand-built, custom fiberglass, graphite, or euro nymphing rod for as little as $225 check out Jon’s website at:https://yellowfinrods.com/ or email him at:jfred17@gmail.com

Custom Built Fly Rods

By Peter Stitcher @ Ascent Fly Fishing

Over a lifetime on the water, you are going to own a number of fly rods, but as your arsenal of rods grows, your first fly rod will always hold a special place in your heart!  While decades have elapsed since I purchased my first fly rod, I remember keenly the anticipation and vast investment that went into that purchase.  Having hoarded my allowance, checks from birthdays, and my every penny from my first job, I decided to go big and order a custom 9-foot 6-weight rod from a Wyoming rod builder.  The $300 spent felt like a fortune, and the months of waiting seemed like an eternity, but once I received my rod and held it for the first time, the rod felt like an extension of my arm like only a custom-built rod can feel.  After fishing this rod on three continents and using it to net numerous cold and warm water fish species, I decided to look into purchasing another custom rod and was pleasantly surprised to find how easy and affordable the process has become!

Jon Hill of Yellowfin Custom Fly Rods was introduced to me a couple of months back and it was evident within 5 minutes of conversation that he was passionate about building fly rods!  Proficient at building in both fiberglass and graphite, and able to knowledgeably speak to the specific considerations that go into small creek rods vs. light-weight and far-reaching euro nymphing rods, I wanted to address the elephant in the room and ask him how much a custom rod would cost before getting my hopes up.  I was blown away when Jon told me that getting a custom rod built wasn’t just quick and easy (taking just 3 weeks from design to holding a finished rod), but relatively inexpensive costing just $225 for standard-length  (7′ 6″ – 9′) fiberglass or graphite rod!  While the price was tempting, I had to put these rods to the test and see how they stacked up to go-to Sage, Scott, and Thomas & Thomas rods.  With the action proving incredible and the price tantalizingly low, I commissioned Jon to build me an 8 weight for Bonefish and Tiger Muskie. 

Picking Your Rod Blank & Components

With more than 12 colors of rod blanks, dozens of different reel seat and cork options, and an infinite array of thread colors with which to wrap and accent the rod, it is easy to create a one-of-a-kind rod to match your personality and tastes.  Staying true to our no-frills brand of fly fishing and pulling colors from our logo, I chose a matte black rod blank with gunmetal guides and reel seat, grey and tan cork, and burnt orange, white, and black thread for the wraps.  Jon sent me a photo with the different components that matched my criteria and in just a couple of minutes, I finalized my order.

Feedback Driven Production

When I placed the order, I had selected white thread as the primary color wrap for the guides on the line.  Apart from choosing fly tying materials, I don’t get to choose many colors in our home (if my wife asks me my opinion on a paint color, I trust her to give me one)!   In my mind, I thought that white would look cool, but when wrapped to the rod Jon went the extra mile and shared some sample photos and provided some artistic suggestions.  He allowed me to backtrack, going with a black wrap as my primary, with white and orange as accents, and the results were killer! 

A Made-to-Order Fly Rod in 3 Weeks

I was on a call when I saw the notification from Yellowfin beep through with photo attachments and quickly made my excuses to cut the call short.  The rod looked better than I could have imagined, and when I received it later that day, I found that it cast like a dream as well.  Standing in the street and double hauling an articulated streamer down the road with ease, I could not have been more pleased with my new rod. 
Final ThoughtsIn a sport crowded with big brands and expensive gear, working with Yellowfin Custom Rods to create a custom rod for an honest price was a breath of fresh air.  Like Ascent Fly Fishing in the fly space, there are a number of startup rod, reel, fly line, and tool companies that are pushing back the veneer of fly fishing being a sport of the wealthy and elite and providing exceptional products at prices the everyday fly fisher can afford. More than 30 years into fly fishing I have more fly rods than most, but I look forward to using this new 8-weight and anticipate that it will find a special place in my heart in the years to come.

Custom Sage X

I was lucky enough to build another fly rod on a Sage X blank. This one was setup on a 10′ 8 wt. with carbon fiber grip and Recoil guides. Shipping for the first time across the pond, Trevor will be using this soon for the brown trout run in England.

The Zenbivy Bed

I truly wish I was a ‘sleep on my back’ type of person. While out in the backcountry of the Colorado Rockies, in a tent on a sleeping pad with a mummy style sleeping bag, sleeping on ones back would be preferred but that just isn’t going to happen for me. For years I had to make do while using a mummy bag but times have changed. Enter the Zenbivy. Half quilt, half mummy, the Zenbivy is an ingenious 2 part sleeping system that allows you to easily sleep comfortably all night in any position.

At the heart of the sleeping system is the down quilt which is filled with 700 HyperDry Duck Down wrapped in a 20d Nylon Taffeta shell. First mainly used by the ultra light backpackers, the quilt is slowly becoming a favorite among the weekend warrior. Technology for the sleeping pad has helped with its redesigned choices for shapes and sizes and the advancement in technology to up the R value of the pads. Matching the Zenbivy quilt with your sleeping pad has never been easier and more comfortable. The second part of the Zenbivy process is the fitted sheet that easily goes with any sleeping pad. With its side zippers and covered pillow area, it easily slides over your pad and attaches to the quilt and allows for a variety of sleeping styles.

To be honest, when I first heard about the Zenbivy I was a little apprehensive. The quilt is straight forward and a no brainer for me, but add to that another piece that needs to be put on a sleeping pad and then connected to the quilt…I thought it would be too much trouble for what it was worth. I was very excited to have proven myself wrong! It’s so simple and easy to set up, not to mention the fact that it weighs in at roughly 2 lb 9 oz. Matched up with your sleeping pad, the Zenbivy sleep system should definitely make it into your over night packs as it is now in mine.

Head over to the Zenbivy website for all the specs and special offers. Also while you’re there, take a sneak peak at what they have coming for March 2019!