|Budget does not always mean cheap.|
Man, I love cheap shit. I think I've said that before here, God knows its a personal credo. Maybe I should get CHEP BSTD across the old knuckles, eh?
Fine, I'll just publically celebrate my thriftitude by proudly using my Eagle Claw Featherlight fly rod, all of $19.59 at Amazon.com. Or, you know, your local Sprawlmart, but buy it through that link. C'mon, let me profit off this blog, dude.
|Don't Let Pigeon Drive the Bus. He can fish though.|
The FL-300-7, this thing has been around for years, and has gone through many generations going way back. Some are well loved, and some are well loathed. We'll talk about the 2010 model, when it was revamped (but not repriced) to become the most awesome $20 you can spend on fly fishing equipment. No shit. It also comes in a 6'6" 5/6 and 8' 5/6 versions, but generally you'll see the 7' 5/6 all over the place. I'm convinced this rod could drive the fiberglass revolution to new heights, and help peck away at the notion that rods must be faster and stiffer for every day use, instead of just specific needs.
If anything, the 7' model might just be a bit too short for ultimate use, so imagine my excitement when I found the 8' in a local store. I bought it and immediately proceded to go try it out.
|Brothers in arms.|
First, though, how about some words 'bout the 7' rod I've carried faithfully in my car everyday for the last year? I like the fact that its cheap, because I don't really care about it too much as it rattles around the back of the trucklet endlessly. Because its fiberglass, its also tough as nails (more about that later), and has a great smooth action that I find excellent for my style. Its rated as a 5/6 line weight, and I keep my cracked old Scientific Anglers GPX 5WFF line on it, a line that's weighted heavier than AFTMA rating (about a 5.5wt). The action has been described as slow and parabolic (meaning a full flex tip and butt, but moderate mid), which isn't for everyone but I really enjoy using. It'll throw a nice, lazy loop or you can tighten it up depending on your stroke, and I can happily throw flies from size 6 buggers and clouser minnows to size 16 dry flies with aplomb. Fiberglass rods aren't exactly featherlight, regardless of the moniker, so a heavier reel isn't a bad thing. Those of you who know me also know I love the old Pflueger Medalist, and so the weight doesn't bother me. I find a 1495 balances to my standards nicely.
|Surprisingly nice cork.|
|Fear no tree limbs!|
After its awesomely endearing action, and price, another fantastic feature of it is its incredible durability. With a plastic rod, you have to worry about every nick and scratch. A misplaced cast with some lead eyes quite possibly means exploring your rod manufacturer's warranty, but not so with fiberglass. I've smashed it full force against stone posts, and only knocked the paint off. That was six months of hard fishing ago, and the rod continues to be a workhorse.
Overall, there's a few things to be blanket statements on the Featherlight fly rods. The first and foremost thing about these rods is their colour. Its hard to miss the eye-popping yellow, so much so that I (and others) have referred to them as banana rods. You'd think it'd be disturbing, but there's something delightfully ridiculous. It'll also stand out like a beacon to anyone who looks that you're using a fiberglass rod. Wraps are done in yellow thread, with gold trim wraps and a neat little spiral wrap up off the grip. I guess in high tech modern rods that's chintzy, but I think its a level of class and distinction.
|Butt over tip. Novel, eh?|
The current models feature a surprisingly nice grip, the cork isn't going to win any awards but holds up well. Its got plenty of fill in it, but hasn't fallen apart under my hands like some other rods have. Its got attractive burled cork rings at the beginning and end, with an actual wood reel seat and is either cheap champagne coloured plastic or pot metal hardware, uplocking as per most other rods in this day and age. There's a single nut to screw it up with, and I've found its held up quite well over the year.
The rods are a two piece design, and are butt over tip ferrules. The older models are reknowned to feature a "dead spot" in the middle, probably owing to the parabolic action description. Those who've used them over the years state this isn't an issue, I've never noticed a problem. Then again, ignorance is bliss.
|Tiptops aren't the tops, exactly.|
|AZN uber alles.|
The snake guides are oddly gigantic, and pretty thick, to boot. I don't see an issue with the amount of them. The epoxy work isn't exactly Sage levels of quality, but considering it comes back to cost, again. I've noticed after a year of hard use, the epoxy and paint has slightly chipped off around them a bit, but I'm not really worried in the least. There's a single ceramic stripper on the rods, perfectly functional. Its not giant, and its not winky, its pretty much just about right. Tip tops are adequete, but I've noticed my year old example they're not as nice, sort of requiring some metal fill or something inside to sort of reduce the sharp edges. I know I drizzled some expoxy into it, then filed it down a bit. Does it make a difference? Who the hell knows.
For $20, it probably doesn't surprise you they're made in China. Then again, what the fuck isn't anymore? There's a label proudly proclaiming it so, but if it bothers you, a few seconds and an untrimmed finger nail resolves that little issue. Then you can lie about owning a rare Made in America version.
|I bet this used to be synonymous with Made|
in America quality, not Eastern manufacture.
So, then, you probably wondered why I sang the praises of the FL-300-7, but barely talked about the FL-300-8 5/6 8' rod... Pure and simply, I hated it. Its not a 5wt rod. Maybe its a good 6wt, but I don't have a good 6wt line. The 8' version is much heavier, and doesn't have the same sublime pleasure its smaller brother has. On first trying to cast it with the aforementioned SA GPX 5WFF, I was disguisted by its characteristics. I thought then that it'd make a fine 7wt rod, and it does cast the mystery 7WFF taper my Cabela's CGR 7/8wt loves so very much, although a bit more full flexing. It was much more usable with the Scientific Anglers Mastery 5WFS line I own, and I was happy to throw streamers with it while the local waters were too high.
I'd probably be quite happy to own it if I didn't already have the CGR, and to be honest with you, I think its probably a great beat around rod if you've got the need for a beater rod for light bass duty.
In deed, it'll join its brother rolling around the back of the trucklet, but for general trouting use?
Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, right?
Addendum: You can purchase these from The Fiberglass Manifesto, now, for a slight mark up over Sprawlmart prices. You should. And make sure you let him know you were sent there from me so I get the recognition I deserve, which I can parlay into... err., well, nothing. But whatever. Just do it.