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 built rod 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.