I have just got back from a BFCC meeting in Oswestry which I will write more about on the BFCC website. One of the people attending was Steve Parkes who makes AtomSix rods, and, of course, he brought along a rod or two for us to play with. The standout one for me was the #5 Tachyon, which I am sure is capable of making some seriously long casts but when I talked to Steve I told him I thought that if the bottom two sections could be beefed up slightly it would make a wonderful comp rod. Later in the day he put a rod in my hands and told me to try it and lo and behold I had a real cannon in my hands. I could only play with it for a few minutes but it had so much potential I didn’t want to put it down. The only other rod I have had like it was the original silver Hardy Angel TE. It was the only rod I have ever owed that you could keep asking more from and it would give it to you…until it broke….and broke again, and again. I feel the rod Steve handed to me has the same potential (not for breakage). These are not easy rods to cast, you have to work them out. Nearly all the #5 rods I use for distance have some limitation that you have to recognise and work within, it’s nice to get one where you can go beyond the normal boundaries. If Steve decides to market whatever it was he put in my hands I will buy one.
Having a beer with a rod builder is interesting experience. I learned more about rods and how they are designed, blanks made and built in an hour than I have in the previous ten years. Steve is an enthusiast, I normally steer well clear of enthusiasts they can be a bit of a pain in the arse (where is a smilie when you want one? It would be an ironic one) but an interesting enthusiast is a pleasure to be around…especially if he happens to build bloody nice rods.
Now, I don’t think I’m a bad caster. Modesty aside, I am actually quite a good caster, so it’s a bit of a blow to the ego (not that I have much of one) to feel very agricultural when casting beside someone like Lasse Karlsson or Stefan Siikavaara . I caught up with them at the FFF Euro-Conclave in Kolding, Denmark, last weekend. I haven’t seen either of them for a couple of years and it was really nice to catch up, however briefly. MCI’s were a bit thin on the ground and all their time was taken up with testing and workshops so they were both in demand for pretty much the whole weekend. However we did get a few minutes casting together at one of the casting pools at the fly fishing show. I saw some rods beside the pool and grabbed one for a waggle. I asked if there was a 9′ five weight there (there was) so I strung it up and gave it a blast. Lasse had a go and suggested we should try to carry the whole line, so we tried. Stefan had a go, I had a go and Lasse had a go (Lasse got closest). I then heard remarks that this was totally inappropriate and why would anyone want to do this with a five weight?? Who from? The guy running the pool for Hardy who’s rods I had hijacked. I told him it’s what we do but I could see he wasn’t impressed so we wound down and gave him his rods back. Mind you if I was Hardy and I had just had my new rod thrashed by some good distance casters, and got it back in its original four pieces, I would be quite chuffed. The rod was the new Sintrex (sp) with nano technology. It was a nice rod, probably great as a fishing rod, it wasn’t a distance stick though. I will have to have a word with Howard Croxon to see if they plan to make one to the same spec as the original Angel TE. I’d buy it. I had a chat with the Hardy guy and had a mini lecture in nano technology. Did you know that one of these nano fibres is soooo small ( actually, small is a pretty inadequate word) that if you had one on your hand it would pass through it? I have a job getting my head around that.
Back to the ‘clave. I had pre booked three workshops to attend. The first one was on Friday and was given by Andrew Stiles ‘casting drills that thrill’. Drew is from one of the southern states and had the laid back drawl and typical American enthusiasm that had us casting at imaginary fish and rat traps as if our lives depended on it. He gave us each a little pack of goodies and we also had a draw for a pair of Habervision sunglasses. Mark Surtees came out first but put them back because he uses prescription glasses. I came out next, and don’t. Result. These are really cool shades man, and, you can get them in bifocals so those of us that need glasses for tying on flies don’t have to keep fiddling around trying to find them, they are already on the end of your nose. I reckon, my next christmas present is sorted. I had an added bonus that Drew gave me the plastic cones he used during the workshop. What a nice man.
Next up was Raffaele Mascaro and single-handed spey casting. Bloody fantastic. Mark and I learned a whole lot about roll casting we didn’t know before.
The icing on the cake, for me, was the MCI workshop taken by Dan McCrimmon. The stuff I learned there was invaluable and I hope I can remember half of it when I take my test. Dan has a very easy style but always gets his point across. One lesson I learned was to keep my mouth shut. I was the only English MCI candidate in the room and the workshop was conducted in English. Once or twice, when I thought one of the others was struggling with the language I, sort of, tried to help out and Dan politely told me to shut up. Just before we went out to do some casting he told us out first task was to pick up 55′ and shoot to 75′. I do this stuff on a regular basis while practicing but I wasn’t sure any of the others did so on the way to the field I asked Dan not to put me up first. Of course he put me up first. Lesson No 2, keep your head down. I learned a shed load of stuff. Thanks Dan.
My only gripe was the show and the conclave were in different venues and I could see that it made organisation a bit problematical and we missed a lot of the show. Hey, I finally got to meet Viking Lars, Jan Man and Bernd Ziesche. I intend to make it my business to spend some time with Bernd next time we are in the same place at the same time. Bernd rocks.
I have missed out a lot of people I met but there were so many. Congratulations to those who passed their tests and comiserations to those who didn’t, this time. Special mention to Chris Price who came over and nailed his MCI and was immediately called on to assist CCI testing. Respect.
See you all in Munich
Oh God, here we go again. I thought I had got distance out of my system, but no, here I am just in from a couple of hours of pure distance work, thats the third time this week. Casting conditions are just about perfect, very slight breeze, pressure dropping and still warm enough to be in shorts and T shirt. To make it interesting I now use three different five weights and lines and have a shootout between them. It has made me revise my opinion on the rods. For instance, I thought the Angel was the fastest of the three but when casting with a long line it bends right through to the butt, you can even feel the cork bending sometimes. The TCR never bends that far, I mean, you can put a very deep bend in it but not to the extent that you feel the cork bend. The Echo UD feels stiffer than both of the others, and heavier, in fact it feels a real brute, but I know it’s pretty well indestructible so I always put the DT on it because I have broken both of the others casting DT’s on them.
Now, which rod would you think cast the furthest consistently, the big beefy unbreakable Echo which can easily hold up 90′+ of DT. The more subtle but equally powerful TCR or the through action but fast frequency Angel 2TE?
Surprise, it’s the Angel. With all the rods I was casting mid to high 120′s but the Angel plonked me over 130, twice, one to equal to my old PB and another well over it.
Now, all I have to do is keep it working for a couple of weeks and the BFCC meeting on the 18th could become quite interesting.
So, you want a new rod, what do you look for? Me? Value for money comes pretty close to the top of my list, in fact I baulk at spending more than £300, no that’s not true, I really hate spending more that a couple of hundred these days. I just don’t see the point. There are lots low end rods out there that are more than capable of holding their own against their more expensive cousins. I have been sent one on approval to try, it is just a tad under £100 and I am so impressed with it I will be sending the money off tomorrow. They are even honest enough to have a ‘made in Korea’ sticker on it. I like that. The hue and cry of a couple of years ago about oriental blanks being rubbish just doesn’t cut it any more. Ok, the rod I am going to buy may be a tiny bit softer that I would ideally like if I was going to push it for pure distance but I am buying it to fish with and use for instructing and I think it is perfect for that, added to that I am quite impressed with the build quality. I am not going to name names, yet, I will give the rod a fair crack first, but if it is as good as I hope then I will give a review.
I did buy a discounted mid priced rod at the Game Fair. I think it is near the end of that ranges life, that’s why I got it cheap but I did try several rods first and liked it best. Funnily enough I tried this rod a few years ago when they first came out and hated it, now I like it! Life’s like that.
I do own some top end rods. Like all thoroughbreds they are fragile things, I have broken them regularly over the last few years, however, they are primarily distance rods so take a fair old hammering whenever I feel the need for speed. One in particular I own because in the not too distant past it was the benchmark rod for us distance freaks. All the names used this rod so if you wanted to find out how you ranked up there with the big boys you had to have one.
When I see a nine foot five weight priced at six hundred pounds, or more, I just can’t help wondering why is it that I could go out and buy a top end computer, or a washing machine, or a television for the same money. Look at the thousands of bits that have to be manufactured and assembled to produce one of those and then look at a nine foot graphite stick with a few bits and bobs glued and whipped on, it just doesn’t add up does it?