Enjoying Fiberglass Fly Rods

Written by Paul Beel: J. Stockard Pro Tyer Team Leader and owner of FrankenFly

Through the years I have owned and casted many fly rods and for a good portion of those years I used what I could afford to use at the time. At one point I purchased an Eagle Claw Fiberglass Fly Rod for $45.00. It was a 4/5 weight and I used it exclusively. It performed very well and at such a cheap cost, it was most definitely a bargain.

As time passed by I purchased other rods which were mostly graphite. However, that first fiberglass rod had an impact on me and I began reading online websites like The Fiberglass Manifesto and joining the forum The Fiberglass Flyrodders. These places love fiberglass fly rods and discuss them still to this day.

I then bought my first custom built fiberglass fly rod from Midwest Custom Fly Rods.  The advantage of a custom built fly rod is that you get to select what you want on the rod. You can select the cork, reel seat, guides, hook keeper and color of wraps around the rod. Sometimes you have the option of picking the color of the rod, but that’s not always the case. Some rod blanks only come in a specific color and some of them have limited colors.

Of course receiving and fishing this custom build just added to the fiberglass rod enjoyment that I had already experienced in the past and just made me want another one.

What’s so great about fiberglass you might ask? Well it isn’t for everyone, but here is what I like about them. First and foremost is that fiberglass rods are fun! When you catch a fish on a fiberglass rod, you can feel that fish clear down to the cork. Many fiberglass enthusiasts will obtain a small weight rod to just use on smaller fish, because it makes catching small fish so much fun. Pickup a 0 to 4 weight and go out and catch some small brook trout or panfish. It makes fighting these fish so much fun!

If you allow yourself to slow down on your casts, these rods cast smoothly. You can just feel the rod load so much better. Be aware, if you are accustomed to casting fast action graphite rods, you will have to slow down your casting stroke. Let that backcast sit back there awhile, have a cup of coffee or have a snack, and give that line some time to load that rod and then begin to bring it forward. Relax and slow down.

If you venture into the world of fiberglass fly rods you will find a wealth of information online. Besides the two sources I have already mentioned, you can find many custom builders online. Take a look on Instagram and search on the hashtag #glassisnotdead to see a myriad of wonderful fly rods for your viewing pleasure. Many of the custom rod builders post on Instagram as well, showing off their latest and greatest builds.

There are also several manufacturers making various types of fiberglass rod blanks. Many small rodsmiths make some of the best rods out there and there are also the big name rod makers making their own fiberglass fly rods these days. Scott, TFO, Orvis, and Thomas & Thomas to name a few. If you want to build your own, you can do that too. There are many options available. Keep in mind, these are not the fiberglass rods of old which were sometimes too big and heavy. These rods are made more modern, lighter and not so thick.

I’m extremely happy with my latest fiberglass fly rod. I had Shane Gray of Graywolf Rods build it for me. It’s an 8 foot 4 weight and part of his Trout Smith line of rods. I wanted something I could use on small streams, panfish, and the occasional big bass. So far I’ve caught smallmouth, largemouth, crappie, and bluegill with it. It’s so much fun and casts really smooth. When you hook a fish, it sure puts a bend in the rod, which is what makes it so fun.

If you are wanting to try something new or add to your fun factor while fly fishing, I highly recommend you check out fiberglass flyrods and determine if you enjoy them as much as I do.

5 thoughts on “Enjoying Fiberglass Fly Rods

  1. JC Cunningham

    Intriguing! i’m testing the water with some more expensive rods. after losing a $500 bait casting rod and reel I am investigating less expensive rigs. This article has fired the urge to buy first my fiberglass rod. I am excited. Thank you for the article.

    Reply
  2. Chuck Stine

    Paul:
    40 years ago, My wife & I, visited a little town in Northern calif., called Quincey. The big draw was Bucks Lake, wear I caught my first brown trout on my dads fly rod. I went into the little tackle shop and asked about fly rods. The only thing he had, was a fibreglass 7wt. 9 ft. Eagle Claw. I bought it and that was the beginning of my love affair with fly fishing. I too have other new rods, regular and switch. This is a slow action rod, but I cast it very well and for reasonably long distances.. I don’t remember now what I paid for the rod, reel, line ect. to fish with, but it was under $100.00 back then. But I can tell you it is a joy to fish with on still waters where you have ample room to lay out a big loop in the morning sun:
    Regards

    Reply
  3. Mike Cline

    Glass rods are a great example of what happens during technological innovation and evolution. The early glass rods of the 1960-70s were designed to replicate the performance of cane, but with a far less expensive material. That’s why those rods are somewhat heavy and shorter per weight than our current locus of graphite rods. As things progressed into the 90s, I think glass reached its technological pinnacle. Graphite rods were evolving from their crude beginnings in the late 70s into the casting machines we know today. Although today’s glass rods are fine tools, I think the production glass rods of 90s and early 2000s are the epitome of fly fishing with glass. My favorites are the Winston Retros, Scott F700s and not so well known Diamondback Diamond glass.

    Reply
  4. Freddy Block

    Hi Paul (and readers) –

    I lost a great friend, church brother, and worship band member last week. He was a fly fisherman, tied flies, and built fiberglass fly rods. This article piqued my interest when it hit my inbox because about a year and half ago, my buddy told me he wasn’t going to fish any longer and gifted me three fiberglass rods he had built years ago (he was cleaning out a storage unit).

    I have fished two of the gifted rods so far and few graphite rods I’ve bought over the years and there truly is a big difference in casting the two types and fighting fish on them. As you stated, the bend and the “feel” is quite fun and my 7’6″ fiberglass bends from the tip to the cork and is absolutely a blast for panfish (feels like “butter”). It has been on my to do list to read up on the “fiberglass” rod scene and the differences between them and the graphite rods. Even having experienced the “feel” when casting them and fighting fish, I was still looking for more information. Thank you for the references you posted; so timely!

    These gifted fiberglass rods are way more than just “fiberglass rods” to me and they’ll see much more use over the years ahead for sure!

    All the best – Freddy

    Reply
  5. Michael Vorhis

    My first “fly rod” was something I made from wood door trim and screws and tape, and worked every bit as well as it sounds like it would. My next one was a glass spinning rod about 6 feet long that I’d whip around as though it worked for casting flies…which it didn’t.

    My third I got in the PX in the military. It was an Eagle Claw six-section spinning rod that had a handle section you could turn backward so that the reel was on the butt end–hence a “fly rod.” I loved it although it had the action of a winch boom. Still have it. I could toss bass poppers and such with it.

    Never had a real fly rod made of fiberglass, to my recollection, but I had tose. That was a long time ago but the memories are sweet (sweeter than those rods’ actions, actually). Still, they got me as far as I am now, so for that I’m grateful.

    I think “the latest” technology is always different but not always better.

    – Mike

    Reply

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