Monday, February 18

South Fork Rod Company C9052.

Steeped in olde timey, bitches. 
In the fall, I decided I'd finally put the time and effort into making wet flies work. I've thrown myself into it, preferring them to all things (although I haven't tried them through a major hatch, yet, mostly because there haven't been any), but I've been assured that I should do so by someone who's opinion I trust.

Amongst things devoted to wet flies has been an interest in obtaining a rod to fish them correctly. At this time, I have little interest in the North Country, tight line method espoused by such notables as Oliver Edwards and Davy Wotton (a personal note to Mr. Wotton: Please consider a manicure before your next video. For the love of God, your nails are revolting, and since you're tying flies I'm forced to look at the disguisting things. Yes, this matters), but am much more focused on the more traditional cross stream methods most commonly associated (and derided) with wet fly fishing.

I tried a couple of rods to start, first a 10' TFO Jim Teeny 5wt (with a 6wt line), which turned up the myriad of shortcomings, both expected and not: Tight loops and high line speed are not ideal for wet fly fishing. You want to keep loops open to ensure your droppers don't tangle each other (which can be done somewhat by simply changing stroke), but the line speed issue is more or less integral to things due to the intrinsic power you put into a stiff rod. The thing I didn't know ahead of time is that fast line speed turns fuck ups into catastrophes, meaning if you tangle your line against itself in a bad cast, you're gonna end up cutting and retying alot. When your cast hits a branch, it tends to wrap itself tight, and you'll loose a lot more flies, whereas a slow rod allows your tangles to be unwound without constant recutting, and you can retrieve flies without having to clomp across the stream.

So, the Teeny was out, and a $20 eBay (including shipping!)  Silafex 022985 was in. We're closer, as its slower, fuller action seemed to prevent alot of the issues, but its basically a 6/7wt (emphasis on 7wt) rod, which is a bit too much for the small fish I frequent. I may have resolved the issues of a fast rod, but it was definitely overkill for the smaller waters I frequented.

Come the Somerset Fly Show, I met with Cameron from TFM, and mentioned what I'd been fishing. He suggested a rod I should try out, and said he'd send a loaner up my way.

Three weeks later, I came home to a surprise at my door.
A path to wet fly taper perfection.
First impressions, at 11:30 at night, was that it was slow as shit, and was a giggle inducer when waved in that sort of way assholes wave fly rods when they first picked them up.

You know what I mean. You do it to. We all do it. Its an entirely unscientific and stupid metric that means jack shit, but fuck if you want sit there and wave rods above your head in the store, anyways.

Fortunately, despite the fact that its February, and the heart of winter in Pennsylvania, I had a weekend of upper forty degree weather ahead of it, so I was able to get out and enjoy it in decent weather (not that I won't fish the ever loving hell out of it til he makes me send it back).

SFRC offers two lines of fiberglass fly rods, the Classic and the Fiberglass. The latter are evidently rolled in house by Margot Redington, and the former are made by Lamiglas to SFRC's specifications. The C9052 is a 9', two piece blank that comes in that trade mark peanut butter honey colour Lami blanks are known for. 

Only the stripper and ferrules featured the brown tipping.
The model that I'm currently using features a different thread colour than the standard blue, an almost transparent golden yellow that matches with the blank, with brown tipping and silver metallic accents. These were finished without CP, so its nicely transparent and shows off the guide feet below.   Just below the understated yellow fish logo are what I assume to be David Redington's initials. I'm not sure if he wraps all the rods, or just this example, but that's kind of a nice touch.

The cork is exceptionally smooth, with a nice black metal winding check at the top. Its a standard Western grip to hide the uplocking reel seat hood. While the rod is already on the heavier side (its a 9' fiberglass rod, so that's not unexpected), I really wish it had a reverse or a full wells. Maybe that's personal bias, but I think that helps with holding and using a heavy rod.

The seat is plain black, but very nicely machined. A single ring will cinch the reel in place against a nicely matte finished wood thingy. I'm not a fucking carpenter, so don't expect me to know what the wood is, but its nice and sort of light brown, and certainly not obnoxious to look at. The nicest little touch is the SFRC name etched into the lower band. Evidently the insert is not SFRC standard fare, but the seat is.

The whole thing comes in at a non-ridiculous $300 sticker, and its completely made in America, which is nice. Blanks are also available at $147, so you can be a cheap skate and change what you want on the rod.

So, of course, the questions that really matter are how does it fish? In a word, sublimely.

Its the little touches that make it cool. 
It is a true 5wt rod, full flexing and will toss a lazy loop as long as you don't push it too hard. I think you could safely put a 4wt line on it (and maybe I should try that) and get some more distance, but in the small 20' wide creek I've been fishing that's not something I've had to explore. It will happily cast just a leader without more than a foot of line, as well as an easy 30'+ (again, small creeks and barely there weather haven't given me much desire to push it). As per its design of long, slow, and full loading, it roll casts like a dream, and it'll let you do what I can only assume are "single hand spey" techniques (don't ask me, I just flip the shit around like a 12 year old gymnast with one of those ribbon sticks. Which, in the interests of proper blarg research I figured I'd find out what its called. Its called "ribbon." WTF? Why doesnt it have a fucking fancy French name or some shit? can I suggest "ruban fille à peine légal virevoltant merde danse?"There. Lets call it that. Make it so!).

So, it casts like a champ. Its also easy to mend due to its length, as well, letting you flop line around like a fat kid with cupcakes, making it really fun to fish with. It handled a three wet fly cast admirably, without a single accident incident of the line crashing into itself and ending up a jumbled mess. I also was able to shorten the leader, and flip a bucktail streamer out to either strip it back, or swing it down and across with ease. I'm not sure how it would handle a heavy monster streamer, but I don't really expect that to be the domain of a real 5wt rod, anyways, it would certainly be workable with one that's got some lead wraps under the body, though. It was also happy indicator nymphing, again, with reasonably weighted flies but it did get a little floppy when you started to crimp shot on the line. Then again, maybe that's shitty leader design. Its not exactly my forte.

Maker's mark.
Dry fly fishing is another matter, entirely.  Personal opinion is to the traditional school of thought where dry fly rods are better as tip action fast affair, unlike most people who want a noodle to fish a dry. That said, it reasonably fulfills the requirement, but it wouldn't be my first choice. It just doesn't have the power to really turn over a longer, softer leader, effortlessly for me,  due to the slow, full flex, but still being a shit ton of fun to cast and thus probably pleasing people who think slow rods are dry fly rods. Where I really struggled was setting the hook on takes, though, where it seems like my timing was consistently off due to lack of response and length of rod (I usually fish shorter, and seem to gravitate to tippier rods do to a preference to dry fly fishing above all things).

¥ou know where els it didn't work so well? Wind. Again, there's a time and a place for tight loops and fast line speed. It would not be my first choice on a windy day.  Matter of fact, casting into a moderate breeze is a shit show. Period. There's no flowery way to say it, it just flat out sucks ass.

Its also a bit heavy in the hand. Its to be expected, and on day one I definitely felt a little strain after using it. By the end of day two, either my muscles had needed to get used to fishing again (its been a shitty, cold winter), or I had found the right stroke, as it was alot less strenuous on my wrist and hand. That said, I prefer a rod with some weight in the end of it, as I think that's what makes fly fishing fun, and it gives you the necessary life and soul to the rod that is, really, my whole point to being out there. I don't necessarily care about catching fish, as long as I'm having a fun time in the process of attempting to.
Fly fishing hipsterism in action: The wet fly wallet.
As to actually catching fish on it? It will, as you expect, bend nice and deep with only a moderate fish on the end. While it makes you feel pretty badass to see it flex so far, I can't help but wonder how much backbone it would actually have with a large fish on the end of it. Even with fish in the area of 12", it seems like its awfully hard to control them due to lack of backbone. Its a mixed blessing. It definately has the giggle factor to see that big ole 9' rod bend down deep into a nice C curve. I suspect a real trophy fish could be an issue, but its not exactly a problem I suspect I'll have to worry about any time soon.

I'm probably supposed to send it back someday, which is a shame. I'm half thinking about telling Cameron that I've been held up by pirates or some shit, although since I've now stuck that plan out there for the world, I don't imagine he'd believe it anymore. That said, its exactly what I've wanted since I've decided I've wanted one (how's that for roundabout logic), a perfect, and true, 5wt rod suited for the down and across fishing I've come to really enjoy in the last six months, and for a very reasonable price considering its American made.

(ps, since I suspect you'll read this at some point: completely sober, beginning to end, you can tell due to lack of unfocused anger)


  1. DO wet flies lead to Tenkara or Hari kari?

  2. Now...what would you have said if you were drunk or stoned? HA... Great review.

  3. Wet flies? don't you know it's the year of the bluegill? Seriously though, this is the best post I've read in awhile. I thoroughly enjoyed it. 9 foot rod you say?! I had no idea. Steffen told me he doesn't go over 8'6". Of course we are talking 2 totally different actions here. I'd like to build one of these out.

    I never really thought that you'd go thru with fishing a brace of wets. I fully expected to hear "fuck it. it's too much hassle." Full of surprises you are. Maybe you can share some leader setups with me.


  4. every year i've fished in my life has been year of the blue gill for me. the rest of you guys are just figuring this out now. once it warms up, i have to re-stock my fish tank with them so i can fish in my dining room.

    i swore i'd do exclusively wet flies up til about sulphur time. i'm mostly sticking to that.