The Global FlyFisher - The Largest and Best Place to go for Online Fly Fishing and Fly Tying
First published November 10th 2002 - More than 12 years ago
Reviewed by Bob Petti
High Performance Without High Cost
For me, as a hobbyist rod builder, once I got a basic understanding of the fundamental building processes, the hardest part of rodbuilding was figuring out a way to afford all the different blanks available to custom rod builders. I mean, sheesh. Not only do all the major rod companies sell their blanks, there are several companies that produce and sell only blanks. Where to begin?
Last year, Bob Batson started his own business and came out with a line of rod blanks called "Rainshadow". Having long served at the helm of Pacific Bay, Bob knows the blank business as well as anyone and was very familiar with his market. His first offering was a series of IM6 blanks with familiar actions and models finished in a beautiful gloss green color. With an excellent price/performance point, these quickly became popular among professional and amateur rod builders. Later, Bob released a series of blanks built with a more aggressive action in mind with higher modulus graphite. These "Xcel" blanks, as they are called, offer high performance at a very reasonable price.
The model I built was a 9 foot, 2 piece, 5 weight "Xcel". These blanks have a natural graphite matte finish and come straight and true. I've never been a big fan of that style of finish (or non-finish as the case may be), but I realize it is becoming increasingly more popular. Dressed with a deep claret thread and subtle trim, however, the finished rod looks pretty nice. That the blank was straight and true was hardly a surprise, as that was a hallmark of PacBay rods under Bob's direction. It's comforting to know that his Rainshadow rods share that favorable characteristic. A rod blank that arrives crooked and curley cue is quite a disappointment.
The 5wt rod was indeed fast action and powerful, but it was not stiff like a broomstick. I found it to be a pleasant and comfortable casting rod, with plenty of feel and lots of punch to drive high line speeds. With casts in the 40 to 50 foot range, the line zipped out with seemingly no effort at all and turned over nicely. It seems like this rod will be right at home on big waters such as the Delaware River where repeated long casts are the norm. It would also be an ideal rod for float tubing or fishing from a drift boat, as it easily lifts the line from the water and presents casts with accuracy and authority.
As of today, Rainshadow blanks are available only through their authorized distributors, so you will have to work through your local shop or favorite mail order catalog to obtain a list of models and prices.
For more information on Rainshadow products, visit their website http://www.batsonenterprises.com/