My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things-trout as well as eternal salvation-come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy. NORMAN MACLEAN -A River Runs Through It
I met a young guy on the Swift last year who said that he was interested in buying one of those NEW fiberglass rods that are being offered. I mentioned how more companies seem to be getting BACK into the fiberglass business and he seemed puzzled. That's because he wasn't even born when graphite swept fiberglass aside over 40 years ago. It was a new material to him. Here's a brief history and a personal opinion.
Bamboo ruled the fishing rod business until just after World War ll. Bamboo came in all grades and sizes. Some were junk and some were treasures but they all had a certain limitation - 8 ft was the maximum length for a easy casting trout fly rod and that rod topped out with a 6 wt.(sometimes a 5 wt) fly line. The "odd" length of 7 1/2 ft was an American invention to make the lightest long rod possible. It stopped there.
Then came fiberglass and the mass producers of bamboo rods were doomed. Fiberglass was cheap, very strong and lighter than bamboo in most cases. Now, some fiberglass rods were also junk but some companies really ran with this material and made very good rods. Fenwick was one of them. Up until the late 1960's glass rod makers used metal ferrules just like the bamboo boys. Then Fenwick invented the SLIP ON ferrule (feralite) and that was a real game changer. In my opinion it was the most significant improvement in the manufacturing of rods EVER!!! Less weight and no dead spots!! But fiberglass still had it's design limits. increased length = increased weight was the main one. The best fiberglass rods for fly fishing for trout topped out at 7 1/2 ft.
My first quality fly rod was a 7 ft Fenwick FF70 for a 5 wt line. I caught a ton of trout with it under ALL conditions and actually thought that I may never need another rod (HAHA). Then came GRAPHITE!
There are certain times in ones life where one experiences something that is far greater than anything experienced before. My first cast of a graphite rod did that. It was 8 1/2 ft 5 wt that was the same weight as the above mentioned Fenwick. IT WAS SOOO LIGHT!! It loaded like a dream and shot line like a cannon. An added feature of that rod length was that now I could cast above tall bank side grass and shrubs, an act not done successfully with a shorter rod. In short order we were introduced to 9 ft and 10 ft rods and 4 wts and 3 wts. That's when things got crazy and that's for another post.
How does fiberglass stack up to graphite? It doesn't and that's my humble opinion. Fiberglass rod makers still run up against the 8 ft barrier (even with rod design improvements) but will charge you more than 10 times what I paid for that Fenwick 40 years ago and that Fenwick still casts the same as newer models. I still occasionally take out that Fenwick for a few casts on the Swift but it's retired and replaced by better things.
A very good Friday morning on the Swift getting Brooks and Bows on size 20 to 24 larvae patterns in less than 5 inches of water. I'll write about it later.