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BrianBM

Rod Notes from Somerset

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Well ..... I went, I saw, I cast. And hung out a bit with RJ. The day was pleasant, and I did take a few casts with a variety of rods (one of which I liked enough to buy.)

 

I went to Somerset today (Friday) with the notion that on Friday there'd be less of a crowd and I'd have more time on the casting pool. .... nope. The place was packed, there was a line at the casting pool throughout the afternoon, so I got no more then six or eight casts with each rod. Rods are like trousers, they fit you or they don't. As our UK brother Mike Oliver was saying the other day, we all look like heroes at the casting pool, and rods that are killer pool casters may or may not deal well with wind or fish. My opinions, therefore, are mine alone, and worth every penny you're paying to read them. I'd've liked more pool time with all the rods listed, but it wouldn't have been fair to the other happy visitors.

 

The day started with a computer mishap of sorts. I entrusted the task of navigation to a Garmin Nuvi, last used this summer past. I'd set it up to choose the fastest route, but perhaps while unused it reset itself to seek the shortest route. The damn thing took me from Long Island into midtown Manhattan, via the Midtown tunnel; zigzaged me around a bit (probably signal reception problems amidst tall buildings) and finally led me to escape into New Jersey via the Lincoln Tunnel. This turned an easy sub-two hour trip into nearly four hours.

 

I arrived in time lunch with RJ, and then for Henry Cowen's show on fishing Lake Lanier stripers. The patterns that Henry showed were of the various shad and herrings in the lake. There are crayfish in Lanier, though, and RJ and I were plotting the demise of Lanier's stripers on crab or crayfish ties during the presentation. Henry, we'll catch up with you down there. Two questions I forgot to ask; do you guide on Lanier's tributaries as well as the lake itself, and are there any musky in Lanier?

 

Onwards then to the casting pool! I went first to the Scott booth, borrowed a 11wt X2S (? - the latest Scott rod, whatever the designation) and the STS 11wt that Mark's so fond of. Capt. Dino was there, and my take on the rods confirmed his opinion; the newer rod is a bit softer in the tip then the STS, which I preferred. The STS 11wt felt fine, but it's not different enough from the 10wt to inspire me to go buy one. Sage had a big display, and that's where I went next. There is no 11wt TCX yet, so I borrowed a 10wt. Again, a perfectly nice rod; I'm used to my STS 10wt and didn't find the TCX to be anything I'd prefer. Your mileage may vary. If there's an 11wt or even a 12 wt TCX next year, I'll play with them too. I also tried a Legend Elite 11wt, and didn't care for it. None of them were the immediate thrill in my hand of the Loomis Crosscurrent GLX that I was ranting about some months ago.

 

Mike had mentioned the Grey's lines of rods, Hardy having bought the Grey's firm. The North American sales director, whose name I'll remember in my next post, accompanied me to the pool with two rods. [saturday morning edit: his name is Ray Zink, and I've invited him to stop by and chat here]. The first was a 10' 8wt G-Tec. This is softer then I'm used to using, but it'd do wonderfully well for careful presentations in salt water; casting immediately called to mind thoughts of presenting small shrimp ties to weakfish in the shadow line of dock lights. The other rod was a Platinum 9' 8wt. This one got me immediately, I really, really liked it. RJ tried it too, and we'll have to get his take. I went and bought it. At $245 it's a darn good buy. Further information will have to wait on the rod's arrival (coming in the mail) and the retreat of the ice from local shorelines.

 

The Eastern Fly Rodders (my club) were there in force. Dan and Dave steered me towards the booth of Cote's Fly Tackle, as they had really, really nice bucktails. (Saturday edit again: I wish I'd bought more. Nice soft wavy hairs ... The lady behind the counter and I got to chatting while she restocked her display with new bucktails. She was kind enough to select for me. I've never had a personal shopper before, much less for hair from a deer's ass, and I kinda liked it.

 

Late in the day I visited Brian Horsley's and Sarah Gardner's booth. I've never met either Captain; nice to put faces to the names.

 

The thread is now open to anyone who tried out a particular product, or had any other experience worth a post, at the Somerset show.

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Brian,

 

Loved the GPS story. It's all too common a problem with them things. Can be useful but boy a paper map can be a very good back up.

 

Glad you enjoyed your trip to the show. Maybe one year I will fly over. Right now flights are buttons but we all know why and I am caught up in the crap like many others.

 

Greys have come a long way.

 

Mike

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JimDE, what can I say? I am a slave to my lusts. This one only annoyed the bride a little. I try to bring her to these shows - it's amazing how she finds things that do interest me, given her total disinterest in all things piscatorial - but she stayed home, again. She will not defend me from temptation, despite my warnings that (in her absence) I may succumb to the attentions of Fly Floozies.

 

Further notes now that I'm half awake. I watched several tiers for a bit. Ray Murphy was his usual intensely concentrated self, the man's a wonder. If BobPop was around I missed him. If the @%#$*@ Garmin hadn't wasted so much of my time, I'd've tried the St. Croix 10' 8wt that he likes, both for its' own sake and to see how it compared to the Grey G-Tec. A reel manufacturer that I'd never heard of was present, a West Coast firm with reels in the Abel/Tibor price range; the salesman was talking the current salt water buzzwords (machined frame, reel foot machined as a part of the frame - no screw attachment points; sealed drag; standard, medium, large arbor spools, yadayada) but I failed to grab any literature and have forgotten the name.

 

The Cortland display was a little melancholy. I like Cortland product fine, but their distribution has been drying up for years. They've fallen out of the big catalogs that come in the mail, and Camp-Site in Huntington no longer carries them. My assumption was that the firm was still in family hands and that the current generation had lost interest, as happened to Penn. The sales gent corrected me. Cortland is owned as an ESOP, an Employee Stock Ownership Program. He bewailed his inability to get a hearing at Camp-Site and other LI stores. The gent had a certain air of bewilderment to him, and I came away feeling a bit melancholy. One of the hazards of ESOP operation is that the worker/owners don't have anyone in charge; they often are reluctant to spend money on marketing (we make good stuff, people should buy it) and they don't like to spend the big commission money that good salesmen require. I like most Cortland lines, I think the Precision lines are excellent, and I can't find them .... too bad. Their marketing stinks, as far as I can tell. I hope they survive.

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View Post A reel manufacturer that I'd never heard of was present, a West Coast firm with reels in the Abel/Tibor price range; the salesman was talking the current salt water buzzwords (machined frame, reel foot machined as a part of the frame - no screw attachment points; sealed drag; standard, medium, large arbor spools, yadayada) but I failed to grab any literature and have forgotten the name.

 

 

 

 

I did not make it to the show, but the reel you are describing sounds like it may be a Hatch. Very nice reel - I fished one last summer down in the Keys.

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Brian,

 

Interesting info on Cortland. So very sad that workers who own a company should behave so stupidly and blindly. Product however good has to be sold and marketed. If they continue with the business model they have right now they will fail especially as the competition is very strong for fly lines. Their products well some of them have issues to. There 444 Floating tropical lines do not float and their clear Intermediates I lines are as rough as barbed wire as they try and pass through your rod guides. The best product they have for me is the old 444 floater. I think they have a limited shelf life very sad unless the workforce recognise you have to have leaders and that you must invest and have good products to.

 

Mike

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Brian, isn't there some joint venture project thingy between Hardy's and Cortland? I know our Cortland Rep is also a Hardy Rep which now would be a Grey's Rep as well. I know my local shop carries Hardy/Cortland products

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I was there Friday and I got to try to cast a few rods and a few lines. Not really a lot of rods I wanted to try - I've tried a lot in the past and I was only interested in a few.

 

The one rod I tried this year that really stood out in my mind was the Beaulah (hope I spelled that right). Very smooth, and a nice combination of power and progressiveness. I was most impressed with how smooth it was, both in close and in long casts.

 

I tried the Scott STS which cast fine (10 wt) but it didn't really stand out for me.

 

Tried the St Croix Legend Elite in 9 wt (they didn't have a 10 there). It's a fast rod but not fast enough for my tastes and it didn't impress me the way the original Elite impressed me back in '02.

 

I cast the new Cortland clear line (meant for tarpon and flats fishing mostly) and it cast great - I think they have a great taper for tarpon lines (I have several of their various tarpon lines) and this was no exception. But...the clear line will take getting used to as it is impossible to track in the water so you *have* to be able to spot your fly 50-60 ft away.

 

I tried the SA Sharksin line and honestly I can't tell if I can cast further with it than say the Cortland clear as I was casting beyond the water in the casting pond with everything I played with at the show.

 

The one thing that did stand out for me, same as last year, was how many people, IMHO, need casting lessons more than new rods. One very nice gentleman I talked to while standing in line was trying a certain rod. He could barely get beyond 45-50 ft with it and to me it was obvious it was his casting stroke. (I saw this with easily 80-90% of the casters at the show - their stroke mechanics looked like they'd read it out of a flyfishing book from the 1800's.) He said the rod simply didn't cast well, I asked to try and I was able to make nice loops out to 90+ ft without much effort. I suggested he try modifying his stroke a bit but his answer was that the rod simply did not work, despite seeing me make it work quite well. Along those lines I got some nice casting tips from Ed Jaworowski (I'm always looking to improve). Ed made a great observation that many people buy the latest greatest rod hoping it'll improve their casting but in reality their money would be better spent in taking lessons from a good (emphasis on good) instructor.

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Just got back. Only rod I tried and liked alot was a 7wt. TFO Axiom, casting pool was not too crowded except for Cathy Beck hanging out there like she owned the placesmile.gif

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View PostFunny Mike ... The 444 peach line is all I use in freshwater but never use Cortland lines in the salt.

 

 

 

Jim the old 444 is really a very good line. Been out for years. I use mine for river fishing.

 

 

Formula !,

 

I hear you loud and clear about the casting. I bet the 1800 Guys are casting very short arcs and from a dainty wrist. I have even observed this style of cast in M.

But at least the rod companies benifit as the poor casters chase the silver bullet. Same over here to. It's the self denial that intregues me. It's always the rods fault. Hell $700 buys a lot of good casting lessons.

 

I hope to make the show withinn the next two years.

 

Mike

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I arrived in time lunch with RJ, and then for Henry Cowen's show on fishing Lake Lanier stripers. The patterns that Henry showed were of the various shad and herrings in the lake. There are crayfish in Lanier, though, and RJ and I were plotting the demise of Lanier's stripers on crab or crayfish ties during the presentation. Henry, we'll catch up with you down there. Two questions I forgot to ask; do you guide on Lanier's tributaries as well as the lake itself, and are there any musky in Lanier?

 

Brian,

 

Nice meeting you & RJ. I do not guide on the tribs and there are no muskies on the lake.

 

HC

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View PostFormula1, do you prefer clear lines for your tarpon?

 

Brian I've always favored at the clear tip lines for most shallow gin clear water type of saltwater fishing. The totally clear line is catching on with the tournament tarpon guys in the Keys big time but this is the first year I've considered them because Cortland finally came out with them (I've heard some questionable things about the Monic so I was not keen on trying them) - but it takes a lot more skill to fish. I have to try the full length clear line before I can say if I have the skill or not to fish it. I will be trying though, it's always interesting to try and if I decide to do the tournament stuff I will have no choice but to master the clear line.

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