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AJ Morris

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Reply with quote  #1 
So what constitutes a classic rod? to my mind, a classic rod is simply one that has captured the imagination of sufficient people to become a benchmark. Other rods will come and go, some better, some worse, but the classic rod remains the yardstick by which they are measured and compared.

These days, there are so many rods on the market and the turnover among models is so rapid, that none of them really have a chance to achieve that classic status. What was the hot stick today will be obsolete tomorrow and consigned to the great wasteland of yesterdays rods. I know several people who are so enamored of the "next best thing", that in many cases they fail to appreciate what they have in their hands right now.

I do not see this current pace of development and marketing as sustainable. At some point, especially given the cost of top-shelf rods, this whole house of cards will likely implode. As a side note, it is interesting to see how many classic rods have begun to appreciate in value the last few years, whereas much of the latest stuff is available at pennies-on-the-dollar on the used market. 

It is probably fair to say that many of these new rods really are among the best ever made. It's also worth pointing out how little difference that actually makes. John Geirach once wrote that "if you know how to cast, it's difficult to find a rod that won't actually work for you." What he charitably left unsaid was that if you don't know how to cast, no amount of money or "technology" will compensate for your lack of skill. Geirach also noted that if someone has to tell why this is a good rod, it's not a good rod for you.

As someone who has been accumulating fly rods for close to four decades, I can say that rod development has been incremental at best. I do believe that as a group, fly fishing consumers really ought to take a deep breath, step back and re-evaluate things. I told a friend of mine recently that I could go back to a St. Croix Imperial and a Windcutter tomorrow, and it wouldn't change my fishing one iota. He thought I was kidding.

Just my thoughts for today.

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Poppy Cummins

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Reply with quote  #2 
I agree the St. Croix Imperial was one of the great ones. The 14'-9/10 was my first factory two hander after I made the "junkyard spey" and I will always have a soft spot in my heart for that rod. I also agree about that rod and a Wind Cutter line. A great match.

Some other classics in my opinion were the Sage brownies, the CND Expert 1510, Loomis Greaseliners 15 ftrs, and the T&T 1409-3, and the original Meiser Highlander 5 piece 7/8/9.

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Poppy=Red Shed Spey Rod Pimp http://www.redshedflyshop.com FRSCA-Founding Member How you get the line out and fishing is personal preference so as long as it works and is easy no one should care but the caster. MSB
Wayne Dreger

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Reply with quote  #3 
My first rod was a Sage 8150, I now have two of them.
Brian Colin

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Reply with quote  #4 
I remember reading - at least 60 years ago - that the good rod would be splice jointed greenheart which flexed evenly down to the butt button.   The author of that book modified this view regarding rods for Spey Casting by dictating that the tip section needed to be stiffer/firmer than a rod for the then normal method of overhead casting.   It because the Sharpes bamboo spliced rods follow this design principle that they made such excellent general purpose salmon rods.    [Don't forget that these rods were all made well prior to the development of new tapers of so-called 'spey lines' in all of their forms].

Of the carbon rods, my early favourite was the old 15' Loomis sold in the UK as the 'Spey' model....this was superseded by the IMX range which were again great to use but far too prone to break ... I got through 6 of them.   Again the early Sage rods were great to fish with but also broke - often for no apparent reason.   B&W made a few excellent rods, but for me The lighter line Burkheimer models, and for heavier rods Meisers, are still at the front of the game...there are many rods which are great with one specific line taper or another, but the Burkies or Meisers will throw whatever you put through their rings.   [It is interesting to note that both of these makers provide designs which are not soft in the tip!]

[I didn't fish last year as a result of open chest surgery, but have already put out a line a couple of times here in Scotland and can say that I am still as bad a caster as ever I was...bursitis in the shoulders doesn't help nor do advancing years (77 in a month)]
Serge Mrkobrada

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Reply with quote  #5 
Great post AJ, I think you nailed it....too often we get caught up in the latest and greatest. I know this happened to me with single hand rods, finally realizing that my Temple Fork Pro Series 4 weight was my absolute favourite after going through more expensive and higher end rods.

Russell Kolstad

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Reply with quote  #6 
The spey rod movement here in the US seemed to really get going at the same time the internet and fishing forums started up..  Seems like the cult status of allot of these rods may have never developed without it.  Not sure how the classic rod would look without people too busy in life to fish reminiscing about whatever rod on the internet.. 
Like myself

Lots of good rods out there.
I will have a windcutter for sale shortly in the classifieds.
Great thread
Michael Smith

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Reply with quote  #7 
I would say  "classic" would be those rods
that never seem to come up for sale anywhere.
BTW if you think this is bad, look at golf.

Michael
Bruce Kruk

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Reply with quote  #8 
I have sought out certain rods that I thought were good at the time and ended up not being as good as I once thought.....the crux is as you become a better caster and are able to exploit the rods the newer rods make sense...my 2 cents anyways
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AJ Morris

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Reply with quote  #9 
I've certainly had that experience as well. In some cases I really have become a better caster (although there are plenty of people who would argue that...) Interestingly though, it's more often a matter of re-calibrating the internal metronome, so-to-speak. The older rod may not be as powerful or as responsive as a newer rod, but it's powerful and responsive enough.

When I was guiding in Alaska in the late nineties, a Sage rep. told me that according to their market research, the average angler purchasing a Sage rod spent around seven days a year on the water. Even now, I have several friends who consider themselves "serious" anglers, who are happy to get on the water only once or twice a month. I'm not convinced that the current rate of turnover in rod models is doing much for the average angler other than separating them from their money.

More to the point, I'm not convinced that the current crop of rods (good as they may be) actually change the fishing paradigm all that much. A friend of mine purchased a TFO Pro and a Windcutter from Poppy the year he opened his shop. He still fishes that rod and catches a lot more steelhead than many anglers who have spent a lot more money. Another friend is a long-time guide for an outfit in Alaska. He gets his mitts on any number of new, hi-tech rods every season. With his pro-deals, he can also afford most of 'em. His rod of choice for the Clearwater? A Redington Prospector 8136...

Are the latest Sage rods better than my Z-Axis? Undoubtedly. Is the Z-Axis a better rod than the St. Croix? No Question. In the overall scheme of things, does it really matter? I'm not suggesting for an instant that anyone sell their new toys and start fishing 25 year old rods. But there is absolutely no reason they couldn't.

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JonathanHicks

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Reply with quote  #10 
After 30 years of trying various Spey & lines I must say that one which has always stood out to me is the B & W 13 ft Norway Speycaster #7/9 with a Rio Windcutter #8/9/10 line on it - I have both the floater & the grey coloured one originally sold as a fast intermediate & later re-classified as a Sink 2 I believe.

This rod / line combination was effortless to use, I could push it past 110 feet range without busting a gut trying, & it was light enough for shorter ranges on sunken Summer rivers but powerful [& robust enough] to handle a sunk line & beat a good fish in heavy Autumn flows.

It was also light in the hand & balanced really nicely with a Scientific Anglers Mastery #10/11 reel on it - this in turn had a super drag which made the whole outfit good at dealing with a strong fish.

I've had plenty of other good rods but this one, particularly partnered with the lines & reel mentioned, was a firm favourite & one I still fish with on occassions.

Regards, Jon.
Jan Sorensen

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Reply with quote  #11 
I’m very new to Spey and Just wondering why there is no mention of Bamboo rods?
AJ Morris

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Reply with quote  #12 
In North America at least, during the "golden age" of bamboo rod making, for all intents and purposes spey casting didn't exist. Certainly not as we understand it now. Any double handed rods of the time were designed for overhead casting with shooting heads. Apart from a handful of British rods, on this side of the pond bamboo double handers are a relatively recent development.

Then too, there is the question of how many actually fish with 'em. I don't think there have been enough anglers fishing bamboo over the last three decades for any rod to gain what you might call a following. Bob Clay and James Reid are both highly respected builders, but apart from Poppy, I don't personally know anyone who owns one of their rods, let alone fishes it. 


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DaveEvans

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Reply with quote  #13 
This is a great topic.  I do not have the experience to add much, but like reading what others have to say.  There are certain rods among the people that I have fished with that are "favorites" for the water we fish, but not sure if any would be "classics."  
AJ Morris

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Reply with quote  #14 
It will be interesting to look back and see if any of the current crop of rods develop that status. The Meiser Highlander 15' 6/7/8, and the Burkheimer 8142 seem to have quite a devoted following. It is worth pointing out that both these rods have been around for more than a couple years now though.

As to the more mainstream manufacturers, as I said earlier, I tend to believe they are turning models over too fast to gather that kind of following.

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