The Global FlyFisher - The Largest and Best Place to go for Online Fly Fishing and Fly Tying
Reviewed by Bob Petti
"Delightful. Crisp. Smooth."
I have had the pleasure of building and fishing many different types of fly rods, everything from the top-dollar brand names to very inexpensive imports. It has become apparent to me price is not always a good indicator of performance. In fact, it is hard to find a rod these days that anyone could honestly categorize as "a dog". In this world of no-fault warranties and acceptable performance across the price spectrum, I can't help but wonder what rod companies are doing to differentiate their products from their competitors outside the realm of advertising and hype.
In recent years, I have built and fished more 4wt rods than all others combined - especially 7'6" 4wts. That length and weight feels perfect for most of the trout streams I fish. Long enough to facilitate most common angling techniques, heavy enough to handle a variety of fly sizes and weights, yet short enough to feel comfortable in tight situations. I had heard a bit of buzz about the Lamiglas Appalachian series rods and blanks, so when Todd Vivian offered me a chance to review one, I jumped. I've reviewed other Lamiglas rods (see here and here), and I must admit my expectations were quite high.
The blank I received was the typical matte gray natural finish found on so many blanks these days. At first I didn't like those matte gray blanks, but I can honestly say it is now my preferred finish. For a custom builder, it opens the possibility of using all sorts of thread and wood combinations, where on a colored gloss blanks I feel someone constrained.
For the Appalachian, I used a nice birdseye maple wood spacer inside an aluminum uplocking reel seat. I've since learned that I chose the same model seat as Lamiglas for their factory rods, the difference being the wood choice. (Pacific Bay A5, in case you care). I finished the blank out with a simple cigar shaped grip, nickel silver winding check, and my preferred single foot chrome wire guides.
I had built the rod last winter, but I wanted to fish the rod several times, in different circumstances, before offering my review. After all, I can't really review a blank based on looks - especially the matte finished ones. They all look pretty much the same. And while you can run some Common Cents data on a blank, I firmly believe you cannot offer an honest opinion until you've taken it out fishing. The more often, the better.
The first time I took the Lamiglas out fishing, I did so with a specific purpose - to gather some thoughts for this review. Every time after that, I had a different purpose - to catch some fish! I liked the rod so much that every other small stream rod I own has gathered dust, including two brand new ones that I built at the same time as the Appalachian.
What differentiates this rod from the others? Two things stand out - it's weight and it's action.
The Appalachian is light as feather. I wish a had an good scale, because I am curious about the finished rod's weight. However, side-by-side casts with similar rods leaves no doubt. It is light in both actual weight and "swing weight" (i.e. it is "tip light", as opposed to "tip heavy"). It's not just a little bit lighter - it's is "Holy Cow!" lighter. Since my other rods were built with pretty much the same techniques - single foot wire guides, thread, and epoxy, the difference is most definitely the blank itself.
The action can best be described as progressively fast. On short casts, the tip will flex and load the rod perfectly. I can feel the rod load even when flicking short casts to close up targets. You know what I mean. On your knees, casting to a small spot fifteen or twenty feet away. Float the line behind you and then "flick" the line foward. Man, I love this rod for that kind of fishing. It's like it knows what I want to do and casts a perfect narrow loop with impressive speed. When I need to air out a bit more line, I can feel the rod flexing deeper into the butt and supporting much longer casts than I would expect from such a rod.
Being light, with such a smooth and crisp action, the finished rod is simply a joy to fish. You can feel what's happening beyond the rod, whether you're drifting a nymph or flicking a dry fly. I've lobbed split shot, swung streamers, and done just about everything else I can think of on a trout stream with this rod. Honestly - I can't say this strongly enough - it is a fantastic rod. As perfect a small stream 4wt rod that I could ever expect. Modestly priced, domestically produced, and having a good warranty, what more can a person expect?
The only problem is now I want to build the rest of the Appalachian models. I could use a little 3wt. Hmm ....
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