Reviewed by Bob
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.
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.
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.
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.
this rod from the others? Two things stand out - it's weight and
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.
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.
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?
problem is now I want to build the rest of the Appalachian models.
I could use a little 3wt. Hmm ....