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!

Fall on the Creek

I love this time of year because the big browns get so active. The creek I fish comes alive with the different species of fish that is in it. I hit it one weekend and did really well just before the spawn was starting to happen. Then the following week the spawn was on in full and there were beds all over the place. No fish were caught that week, I just walked the creek and enjoyed seeing all of the action that was going on at the redds.

 

Photos: One Last Trip for High-Country Cutthroats

Originally posted @ Orvis

I took one last trip to 12,000 feet this past weekend. Kurt, James, and Steve accompanied me into Colorado’s Sangre De Cristo Wilderness to chase Rio Grande cutthroat trout. The afternoons were spent hanging out under pine trees waiting out the rain-and-hail storms and the nights dipped down into the mid 30’s, but the Rio Grande cutts were out in full force. It’s always a good time hanging out in the Rocky Mountains and catching trout, no matter what mother nature throws at you.

Photos: An East-Coaster in Colorado’s High Country

Originally posted @ Orvis

I “met” Nick Meloy a couple of years ago on the fly-fishing forum on reddit, and this past week he was out in Denver on vacation. He had a free day and wanted to meet up and hit some Colorado water. We could have gone to the Dream Stream or the Blue or the Colorado, which are all fantastic fisheries. But being the altitude junky I am, decided to take him up to 12,000 feet above sea level. A three-mile each-way hike, with 2,000 feet in elevation gain, had the Pennsylvanian out of breath a few times, but we made it to the lake for an amazing day of catching cutthroat trout!