Good afternoon and I hope everyone is getting through this amazingly stressful time. In an effort to keep busy I have been reaching out to some amazing people that produce some amazing gear and as we all know their business depends on people and most of those people are stuck inside their homes. For the most part we can’t get out doing what we love… fly fishing, backpacking, camping, etc.. but we can still support them. Over the next week or so I am going to be bringing you one or more quick write-up about these people so make sure you check in each day to see who has been spotlighted.
This is also a great time to go through all your gear, donate the items you don’t use anymore and support these companies and individuals by buying some cool new gear you will be using in the near future.
I will get this started tomorrow and some of the names are:
Everyone needs sunglasses.. Not sure people that fish but EVERYONE!! When I’m looking for glasses I have a few things I have to check on my list to fit my needs.
Are they polarized
Do they have a decent amount of style to them
Do they block the sun from burning my retinas!!
and lastly… DO THEY FLOAT ??
When I first started talking to Rheos I was skeptical if a pair of sunglasses that were $55 would meet my needs and have any quality at all. And.. floating is a huge must for me being not only a fisherman but also an every weekend lake person.
Order was placed for a couple pair of Rheos glasses and I chose to go with the Bahias model. They fit the look I wanted and were at a great price point – $55.
The two pair of glasses arrived and came in a cool package.. At the end of the day this isn’t a must for me. I opened the box and inside were both pair of glasses and in a standard bag.
After getting the glasses out of their bag I looked them over and they are truly a good quality pair of glasses. Especially at a price point barely north of $50. The next test.. Do they actually float? THEY ABSOLUTELY DO!!
Let’s back up.. Yes floating glasses are nice but there is a backstory why floating is a must.. As I said earlier I am an every weekend lake person. I am on docks, boats and in the water constantly and in the sun where sunglasses are a must. three years ago I was floating in the water with a large group, wearing my Oakley prescription sunglasses.. Someone decided it was a great idea to push my head under in their stupid drunken state and what happened? Yes my glasses were ripped from my face and before I knew it at the bottom of the lake. Now you know why floating in a must have in a pair of glasses I own.
I couldn’t be happier with my Rheos glasses as they definitely check every box on my needs list.
Enough of my stories.. Let’s go over some information about Rheos glasses and in particular the Bahias (Sport) I own. As usual when I do a review I steal content from the actual website of the product and this review is no different. Why would I try to describe the features of a product when the company has done a good job themselves… So here we go and thanks to Lejend and the Rheos team!!
About The Bahias
Polarized Floating Sunglasses – Bahias
The Bahias frame is dedicated to one of the best kitesurfing locations in the western hemisphere, Bahia Salinas in Costa Rica (though we may be a little bias because that is where our team first learned to kitesurf so many years ago). The mini sport-style frame is perfect if you are looking for a smaller fit of an athletic style, complete with full-wrap for wind protection.
Nylon is the biggest innovation in eyewear since polarization. The science behind our new Nylon Optics collection means every fisher, boater, surfer and mermaid-in-disguise will have clear vision on the water without any optical distortion. And unlike heavy, bulky shades, our lightweight floating frames will never sink.
Beginning in 2020, all Rheos shades will be outfitted with the latest innovation in sunglass technology: Nylon Optics. These lenses are clearer than glass and light enough to be the most comfortable sunglasses you’ve ever worn. This technology allows us to develop optics of the highest quality and class at an accessible price point like no one else in the world.
How Do They Float?
The basic principles of buoyancy apply: when an object displaces water, the heavier of the two sink. Meaning, if 2 oz. of water is displaced and the water weighs just barely more than the object, then the water sinks and the object floats. With that in mind, our frames are made of the highly durable and ultra-lightweight specialty Nylon material. These frames weigh approximately 30% less than similar sunglasses moulded in polycarbonate, all while maintaining a hyper-durable structure to ensure comfort for long-term wear and floating capability. Because our shades weigh less and displace the same amount of water as standard frames, ours float while theirs sink.
How Do Polarized Lenses Work?
Light is made up of waves traveling in different directions. Vertical light is useful to the human eye; it helps us see. But when light strikes a flat surface, such as a lake, snow, or even your car or boat windshield, it changes to horizontal light and creates a glare. Polarized sunglasses block horizontal light, so you don’t see the glare. And nobody likes glare. It’s just about that simple.
And.. there is a lot more information on the Rheos website.. Below is a link to check out and better understand how they make their glasses and explaining the features. I have to admit.. I actually learned things about sunglasses that I didn’t know just from reading this page. Truly great information!
+ Sport frame shades for men and women + Polarized NYLON lenses as clear as glass + 100% UV protection and polarization + Long-lasting comfort with featherlight frames + Floatable design for life on the water + Outstanding impact and scratch resistance + Backed by our Saltwater Promise Designed with love in Charleston, South Carolina.
Did you know? A portion of your purchase will go directly to nonprofit organizations that defend our coastlines and waterways.
**NOTE** It should’t have to be said but I will say it anyway.. I picked up the Bahias as they filled what I needed in a pair of sunglasses. Obviously Rheos has far more models than the Bahias.. Below is a link to the page of different models they offer.
And.. Not only do they offer sunglasses for adults they have a kids line as well! AWESOME!!
Lastly let’s give you a little background on Rheos Nautical Eyewear. From the Rheos website (again!)
Our story is the same as yours – We love life on the water.
The Rheos Story
Like you, we feel most at home when surfing, fishing, kayaking, you name it. If there is a body of water nearby, we’re there! But we want to be protected while we play.
Sun damage is up to four times more harmful when reflected off water’s surface, yet only half of Americans wear sunglasses when near a body of water. Why? Fear of damage, sinking or loss. We believe your sunglasses should protect you and not the other way around.
That’s why we designed the best sunglasses for the water. No more sinking, no more breakage. Just adventure.Since launching in 2016, we’ve grown a strong community of fishers, paddlers, surfers and mermaids-in-disguise.
Who We Are
We are paddlers, fishers, surfers, and mermaids-in-disguise. We didn’t just make floating sunglasses. We made the best sunglasses in the world… and then we made them float.
Our team is small but mighty. Based out of the coastal city of Charleston, SC, we need water to breathe.
The Rheos River
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” – Heraclitus. Rheos is the Greek word for river current. Just like our brand philosophy, a river is constantly flowing, constantly changing, and most importantly, it carves its own path.
As a member of 1% for the Planet, we promise to give back at least 1% of our annual revenue to nonprofits that support environmental causes.
We partner with local groups to advocate for our waterways, and as a team we regularly volunteer to keep our beaches and marshes clean.
I know that was a lot of information but after using the Rheos sunglasses I am passionate about what they are all about and the products they are putting out there… Give them a try and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
Now I just need to get my hands on a few more pair! Next Up.. Maybe a pair of Coopers (Square) in Gunmetal Thermal and Waders in Gunmetal Gunmetal… As you can see there are a lot of options and I need more!!
In a short six days I’ll be driving to the airport with my lovely wife and will begin the long trek to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Leg one gets us to Dallas and then the long 11 hour overnight flight to Buenos Aires. Over the 10 days in Argentina there will be lots of steak and wine with fly fishing and a trip to the Polo Club. Should be a memorable time.
Check back for a few posts while we are down there. There will be a few fishing posts but we might sprinkle in a few posts about Buenos Aires in general to give people an idea of what can be seen and done in this cool city. So.. Let’s go over some of the details of the trip…
Lodging… Since we will be there for 10 days we have decided to split our time between two different hotels.
The Lodging– Two Amazing Places
Nights 1-4 we will be staying at the Fours Seasons Buenos Aires. Who wouldn’t want to stay at a cool place like that.
Nights 5-8 we will be at the Melia Recoleta Plaza. Another great looking hotel. We opted not to go for the rustic lodge feel this time around.
The Food – Meat, Meat and More Meatand Then Some Wine
The national dish of Argentina is Asados which is a variety of barbecued meats and then wash it down with a bottle or two of Malbec. One night we will be giving Las Nazarenas a try. From the many recommendations I have received this is the place to be. Mark it down!!
The Guide – The Man / The Myth / The Legend – Alejandro Pozzi
When traveling to a foreign country there is always a slight level of unknown you are dealing with and when fly fishing the need to find a great guide is incredibly important. So when I started my research of the best fly fishing guides in the Buenos Aires area everything kept coming back to Alejandro Pozzi… Initially I reached out to Alejandro and laid out what my plan was for the trip and that I would be doing gear reviews and he was 100% on board. I’ve never dealt with a guide that was more accommodating and willing to share information than Alejandro. The guy is absolutely solid in my books and I can’t wait to fish with him.
The Gear – Bring On The 8 Weights
As with any time you are on the water there are numerous pieces of gear you take and use but we are going to start with a quick look at the two fly rod/fly reel combos we are taking.
Combo 1 – Scott Tidal Fly Rod – 9′ 8 weight / Redington Behemoth 7/8 Reel / Rio Summer Redfish WF8F Fly Line
Combo 2 – Moonlit Lunar S-Glass 8’6″ 8wt Fiberglass Fly Rod / Big Y Fly Company – The General 7/8 Reel / Rio InTouch Big Nasty WF8F Fly Line
So we are taking a graphite rod and a fiberglass rods with two fairly similar reel types but different lines on each reel. Two totally different rod and reel setups and I would image will fish different as well.
Check back in a week for another post after we arrive in Buenos Aires, Argentina!!
If you have ever used a cooler for any length of time you know that the time is coming during the day that you are going to have melted ice/water in your cooler. And.. If you have food in the cooler you now might have soggy food. Why?? Because dumping ice into a cooler is a great idea until it starts to melt. The days of soggy food, drinks floating in melted ice water are over!
The Neatice bag is fairly simple and easy to use. Fill the bag with ice, secure the zip top closure, roll the top down and secure the first velcro strip then secure the second velcro strip.. And now you have a totally enclosed ice bag. Brilliant!!
So.. fast forward to the next day.. Now you have a bag full of water… Simply insert the included drain tube into the valve at the bottom of the bag and drain the water… Fill it back up and you are good to go again. Oh.. and just a reminder.. NOTHING IS WET IN YOUR COOLER!! It’s simply fill and drain and fill and drain.
Now let’s go over the length of time it stays cold.. Well.. that is going to depend on your cooler. I tested this in a Grizzly 165 quart cooler.. No it doesn’t fill the entire cooler. I am going to pick up a couple more just to be able to do a full cooler of the Neatice bags and review but so far I have to tell you I am truly sold on this ice bag. Back to length of time the bag holds ice… In all actuality it depends on the cooler you are using. Are you using a $500 Yeti or a cheap $25 Coleman. Yes it makes a difference. You aren’t going to buy these bags and throw them in your cheap cooler and extend your ice time for hours more. Nope.. these bags are going to extend your ice time a little but the real winner is you aren’t going to have sloshing water all over the place that got your food soggy.. These do exactly what they are supposed to.. KEEP THINGS DRY!
So.. you might be asking yourself.. Why don’t I just use large gallon size ziploc bags? Well you could do that but they will pop open and you are back where you started. I know personally this isn’t a great option. Regular Ziploc bags just don’t work like the Neatice bag..
Here’s a quick look at what is listed on the Neatice page.
Zipper: TPU(Thermoplastic Polyurethane) -BPA free, potable water safe, microbial resistant
Drain Hose: 10″ Silicone – BPA free, potable water safe, durable and flexible with on/off valve
Weight (with drain hose, empty) : 5.6 ounces
Dimensions (when full) : 15in x 9in x 6in
Capacity: up to 10 pounds of cubed ice
There are a couple of options to purchase.. You can pick them up on the Neatice website or on Amazon. Currently they are (1) $39.99, (2) $74.99 or (3) $99.99. If you have a large cooler pick up three of these bags and you won’t be sorry.
If you have any questions drop Scott a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.. Or you can give him a shout at 518-796-4817. Don’t worry.. He has that number listed on the website so I’m not giving out something he doesn’t want made public. The contact I have had with Scott has been exceptional.. He is incredibly responsive and open to answer any questions you have. He’s a solid dude…
I am going to stray for a second from my normal way of writing reviews because I want to give you some info on the two inventors/owners/outdoors folk at Neatice… There are times you run into a product and wonder who the heck came up with this brilliant thing so here you go.
We spend every moment of our free time in the outdoors and strive to maximize the enjoyment of that time. NeatIce was envisioned to save food, save water, and maximize the fun while eliminating the hassle of the common messy cooler problem.
Scott Kraeger is the inventor and designer of NeatIce and has been playing in the outdoors ever since he was knee high to a grasshopper. He grew up in the snow belt of Upstate New York and spent over 20 years as a forester in the Adirondack Mountains. He and his wife, Emily, and dog Moxie moved to Colorado in 2015 to enjoy all that the Rocky Mountains have to offer. He worked in the bicycle and outdoor sports industry for a few years before chasing his ultimate dream of developing a product in the outdoor sporting goods world that would truly solve a problem and add to outdoor enthusiasts overall good times.
Emily is the co-creator of NeatIce, a science professor and an enthusiastic outdoorswoman. Her training in the science of ecology has inspired and informed the role of NeatIce in conserving water and reducing food waste. She loves to cook creatively in the camp kitchen and develop delicious cocktails for apres adventures.
Moxie also enjoys all things in the natural world. Her favorite pastimes include playing ball, swimming, chewing sticks and chasing squirrels. When not playing in the great outdoors, Moxie can be found either barking at the mailman or holding down the couch at NeatIce HQ.
So jump on their website and pick up a product that will say goodbye to soggy food and floating drinks. You won’t be disappointed!!
After a few weeks off for planning and communicating with our gear partners. We have compiled a list of some really cool items we are going to start writing about. So be watching the site…
In addition to awesome outdoor gear reviews we will be heading out on our annual gear review trips. The calendar of trips is coming together with our first in three weeks. We will be heading to beautiful Argentina to chase big Golden Dorado. Stay Tuned!
Also… we are working on a podcast concept that we think is very unique and a far cry from most of the boring monotone podcasts out there. It’s still in the beginning planning stage but we hope to have it ready to go sooner than later.
Thanks as always for following us and if you have an idea about a review or know of an outdoor piece of gear you think would make for a good review drop us a line. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
When camping and you are able to pull your vehicle up to the campsite the thought probably doesn’t cross your mind about the weight of your camp chair.. but food those that are having to carry their chair either in a pack pack or strapped to them somewhere weight is a huge concern. Today we are looking at a multitude of chair and sit pad options that are out there for those that need to keep it light..
As a side note.. My backside has graced nearly every one of these chairs at my local REI or Backwoods stores and all of them do the job they were made to do and that’s give you a place to get up off the ground. Sadly this is one area that some don’t think about and they get to camp and see everyone sitting in their comfortable chairs and they have the luxury of pulling a log or rock up to the campfire. Yes, I know some love the thought of sitting on a big hunk of wood or rock but for me I would rather have a chair and I am willing to add a little weight to my pack to have that comfort later. But.. to each his own.
So here we go with some chair and sit pad options for those that don’t want to sit on the ground, log or rock.
First up is the REI Co-Op Flexlite Air Chair. Priced at $99.99 the Air Chair is a quick set up chair that has an aluminum frame much like a tent. Think lightweight poles… The seat is made from a ripstop nylon and is water repellant os it easily repels water and anything else you might spill on it while around the campfire. The Flexlite Air Chair folds up to 5”x16” and can be stored in the stuff sack that is included. Here’s the great part.. This chair only weight 1 pound with a weight capacity of 250 pounds. Absolutely impressive. Yes, I know the chair costs $100 and some would rather drop their rears on the ground of a rock instead of pay $100 for a chair but in my opinion the comfort is what I’m looking at and it weighs near nothing. The chair comes in three color options – Orange, Black and White.. The REI Co-op Flexlite Air Chair is a fantastic option.
A relative of the Flexlite Air Chair is the REI Co-op Flexlite Chair. Nope.. No Air in the name of this chair which means it’s heavier.. Not by a huge amount but it is heavier. Compared to the Air Chair the regular Flexlite Chair weighs 1 pound 12 ounces. Typically this chair retails for $79.95 and for me adding $20 to the purchase is worth dropping almost half of a chairs weight but currently the REI Co-op Flexlite Chair has been dropped to $59.93 which really makes you think. Near half the price of it’s lighter family member but almost near double the weight.. Hmmm. Makes you wonder which way you should go. The chair folds down to a 4.5” x 15” package and fits in the included stuff sack and has a weight capacity just like the Air Chair of 250 pounds. Sitting in both there really isn’t much of a difference so it comes down to price and weight between these two chairs. 1 pound and $99.99 for the Flexlite Air Chair and 1 pound 12 ounces and $59.93 for the Flexlite Chair.. You decide what works for you and budget.
One of the pricier chair options in the review is the Helinox Chair Zero. With a price take of $119.99 it’s a little higher than the Air Chair but weighs the same light 1 pound. Folded dimensions are 13.8” x 3.9” x 3.9”, so it’s a little smaller than the Air Chair and a little easier to pack away. Not much but to give it credit it is smaller. The seat sits 11” off the ground and also made with an aluminum frame and weight capacity is 265 pounds. Like the others, the Chair Zero comes with a stuff sack for easy storage. For those that are truly backpacking in to a remote location and want the luxury of a chair this may be your option. Smaller packed size with a crazy low 1 pound overall weight and will hold up 265 pounds.. this chair may be the perfect chair for those that don’t care about dropping $120 on a camp chair. And… It’s very comfortable!
Next Up -Another Helinox chair – The Helinox Chair One. Priced at $99.95 this chair is $20 cheaper than it’s sister the chair zero but it also weighs in at 2 pounds. Double the weight for a drop in price of $20. Doesn’t seem like a great deal to me. Packing down to a size of 13.8” x 3.9” x 4.7” it’s slightly larger than the Chair Zero but did I mention it’s double the weight?? Like all the other chairs listed above I have sat in this one and it’s comfortable but no more comfortable than any of the others. The only thing and I mean only thing this has that the others don’t is a weight capacity of 320 pounds. So if you need a chair that can hold over 300 pounds and still stay around 2 pounds this may be the chair for you. Other than the added weight capacity this chair makes no sense to me. If you are truly backpacking and trying to shave off as much weight as you can spend the extra $20 and get a Helinox Chair Zero over the Chair One. Easy decision…… and those colors. Ouch!!!
The Big Agnes Skyline UL Chair.. Weighing in at 1 pound 12 ounces it’s a light chair but just not as light as a couple others. But still light for anyone looking for a good solid camp chair option. Packing down to 3.5” x 17” it will easily pack down to a size you need to either include in your pack or attache to the upside. Now.. in my opinion this chair is the most comfortable out of all the chairs reviewed here. It just has a different feel to it. I’m not sure if it’s because it feels like you are more laid back or what. It’s just different. I really like this chair and at under 2 pounds it’s a great choice. Frame like the others is made from an ultralight aluminum and the weight limit comes in at 275 pounds. Plenty for most people out on the trail. If you need more than 275 – The Helinox Chair One is the chair for you. Price for the Big Agnes Skyline UL Chair is $109.95 so a little higher than some of the other options but a great chair in my opinion. Two Thumbs Up From Me !! And…. I love the yellow color option.
The little sister to the Big Agnes Skyline UL Chair is the Big AgnesSkyline UL Stool. For those that don’t need a full size chair and just need something small maybe the stool is what fits your needs. Coming in at 1 pound 4 ounces it is surprisingly heavy for a stool but still light when it comes to carrying it around. Packed down size is 3.5” x 12” so it’s small… really small. Weight capacity of 250 pounds and like the others the frame is a lightweight aluminum. This is one of the few options in the review that I have not sat on. It was out of stock when I made my trek to my local REI. Maybe that means something… Priced at $79.95 it’s budget friendly compared to some of the other light weight options in the review but remember.. It’s a stool not a chair so if you lean back you are in for a fall… Color options like the chair – Black or Yellow
As you know there are a lot of chair options out there and we just brought you a few really good options of lightweight chairs with large weight capacities, that pack down small and don’t break the bank. Now we are going to look at a few seat pads.. For those that don’t have a problem sitting on the ground or wherever you can lay these pads out. They obviously won’t be as comfortable as a chair but they pack down to near nothing and weight far less than a chair. It comes down to what do you want to carry with you compared to comfort and price. So here we go….
The first one we are going to look at is made by the ever popular company – Therma-A-Rest. With a recognizable like they have it’s near guaranteed you will be getting a good product. The Therma-A-Rest Z-Seat Pad. I’m not sure how many products out there can boast they have three hyphens in their name… If you are looking for unique you might have found it with the three hyphen sit pad. Your friends will be envious. Their chair or pad probably at best has one hyphen… Sorry.. Back to the pad.. The Z-Seat Pad weighs an astonishing 2 ounces. For everyone highly concerned about weight I’m not sure 2 ounces can even be felt much when backpacking so this may be your option. Packed size is 12” x 2.75” x 2.5” so it’s amazing small. Small, light closed cell foam with a aluminized coating makes this pad a great choice for the camp. The pad as said before has an aluminized coating which adds warmth when resting on rocks or logs. Accordion design allows the seat to full up to an incredibly small size. And the best part… The price tag is $14.95… This is a great option if you want something that will take the edge off but not make you haul a packed down chair around with you. And at 2 ounces what else needs to be said…
Next up is the REI Co-op Sit Pad.. Weighing in at 4.4 ounces it’s another super lightweight option for sitting around camp. Unlike the Z-Seat Pad this sit pad inflates with a small valve on the side. If you own a sleeping pad this is the same concept. Inflate, sit, deflate, roll up and shove it in the included stuff sack and you are ready to go. Packed size is 3.5” x 8” and when open it is 16.5” x 12” x 1.5” so plenty of room to sit on when something basic is needed. Like the Z-Seat the price is highly attractive as well at $19.95. Just as a side note.. This sit pad gets mixed reviews. Some people love it and some hate it but at $20 it doesn’t hurt to give it a try. If you are one of those people that it doesn’t meet your needs throw it in a closet and know you are only out $20. Not as painful as finding out you don’t like a $120 chair.
And Lastly….. The REI Co-op Flash Sit Pad. Better reviews than the regular sit pad but slightly heavier this sit pad might be a good option. This sit pad has polyester and Mylar insulation layers which help retain heat and like the other pad this one inflates with a valve quickly. In addition to being a sit pad this pad can roll up and snap forming a lumbar or sleeping pillow. Killing two birds with one stone and all for a low price of $24.95. Higher than the other sit pad options but multi-use makes it worth the extra possibly to some? Some specs for the pad – weight 3 ounces, packed size of 2.5” x 5” and when inflated it expands to 16” x 11” x 1.5”.
This is obviously not an exhaustive list of sitting options out there but these are a few great options for those that are needing to pack in a chair or sit pad. All decently priced with lightweight numbers you really can’t go wrong with anything we reviewed. I would suggest heading over to REI or whatever outdoor store you shop at and sit in them to see what you like. For those that shop online.. Close your eyes and point at the screen. You can’t go wrong with any of them.
With 2020 fast approaching I wanted to take a couple of minutes to give you a look of what’s to come in the next few weeks once we get past the holidays. Lot’s of good things in the works.
Full review of Camp Chairs And Sit Pads. Whether you need one to pull a chair out of the SUV at your campsite or need an option to carry a chair or pad in your backpack out on the trail for a few days we will have a multitude of options for you to look at. The possibilities are near endless. Check back for a good number of chair and pad options with weights. There will be something for everyone.
If you are a fly fisherman looking for good quality gear at a reasonable price look no further… Compass360 has what you are looking for including waders, wading boots, rain gear and much more. We will have some waders and jackets in hand and out on the water given them a run for their money.
Full review of Chris Lantzy’s handcrafted leather items for fly fisherman. We will take a look at The Mini Pack, Fly Wallets and Leader Wallets. I own all three and I can tell you they are heirloom quality pieces any fly fisherman would be proud to carry. Check out his website here or check back for the full review.
We will take a look at Jason Shemchuck or wadeoutthereflyguy as he is known on Instagram. Jason is a Husband, Father, Fly Fishing Blogger, Artist and Former USAF Attack Pilot. To say he is busy is an understatement. We will look at Jason, hear his story and take a look at the awesome art he is putting out. Until we get everything up on the page check him out at:
Currently in the works is a look at 5 wt Fly Reels.. Yes everyone has one and if you don’t you probably need one. To say there are a lot of options out there would be flat out wrong. The number of 5wt reels out in the market is staggering and we will look at a good number of them. From high end models to budget friendly options there is something for everyone.
Looking for a new pair of wading boots? Check out the full line of KorkersWading Boots with options for both men and women. One boot – multiple sole options…..
We will stray from gear reviews for a post on Reel Recovery – Reel Recovery is a national non-profit organization that conducts FREE FLY FISHING RETREATS for men living with all forms of cancer. An incredible organization that has an amazing story about their founder and how they came about. This is a definite must read. Until the post is finished check out their website and all the great things they are doing. Take some time and give back.
You have seen the reviews and write-ups on DRAGONtail Tenkara and their rods. Next we are going to dive into their multitude of Tenkara Lines&Tippet and Fly Tying Products. Great company with great people running it. Customer Service second to none is the reason these guys are a constant go to for me personally on the water. We will also go into the relationship between Moonlit Fly Fishing and DRAGONtail Tenkara.
Everyone hates the water siting in the bottom of their cooler after the water melts.. Introducing a solution for that – The NeatIce Bag brought to us by a couple avid outdoors folk – Scott and Emily. Check them out on their website while I do initial tests on the NeatIce Bag and get the write-up done. As an outdoors enthusiast and Lake Bum.. I have an extensive amount of time dragging coolers around and dealing with draining water. This product could be a game changer..
We will take a look at all the furled leaders that Cutthroat Leaders is putting out. I have been using furled leaders for a while now and have a good idea what they should do for me on the water so I’m looking forward to seeing what Cutthroat is putting out.
A couple of weeks ago we took a quick look at three magnificent custom fly rod builders with JP Ross being one of them. With a rod coming in the near future we will be taking a deeper look at the different models JP is producing and then an on stream review of one of them. Couldn’t ask for a nicer guy to work with so check out his page until we get the review up.
With multiple gear review trips planned for 2020 we will be doing posts throughout the year about different people we run into, guide us out on the water and give you a look at some great options for fly shops, guides and other cool stuff. Note.. if we talk about them they are great people. Plain and simple.
Our first gear review trip of the year will be in late February as we head to Buenos Aires and chase giant Golden Dorado with a guy that is truly an awesome human being. Alejandro Pozzi will be guiding us out on the water and he won’t disappoint. Check out Alejandro at the link below and if you are planning a trip to Argentina give him a call. You won’t be disappointed.
We will have multiple trips to the Southern Colorado area as well as NorthernNew Mexico. Lots of gear reviews and bios of awesome people we run into.
One of the places I have done an extensive amount of fly fishing is Taos, NM and the surrounding area. If you have a chance to get to Taos make sure you drop in to see Nick Streit and the staff at the Taos Fly Shop. I have been dropping in this place multiple times a year for a while now and they are beyond helpful and the knowledge base is incredibly helpful. I have also spent a day with one of their guides a few years back and it was one of the best days of fishing ever. Check out their website and we will get pictures and info about Nick and the shop once we get our trips planned for the new year.
Here’s a quick bio from the Taos Fly Shop website – The Taos Fly Shop was started in 1980 by Taylor Streit, author of three books including “Fly Fishing New Mexico.” The shop was closed in ’87 and after a “brief” hiatus, Taylor’s son Nick along with his wife Chrissy re-opened the store in 2004. Taylor continued his guide operation after closing the shop in the 80’s, and continues to own the guide service that operates from Taos Fly Shop. Nick handles most business things now, and has an impressive resume himself. A member of the 1998 Junior Fly Fishing Team USA, Nick has been guiding for over 20 years. He has fished and guided from Alaska to Argentina, and is known for his passion to teach anglers of all skill levels through classes and guiding.
And lastly.. we are kicking around the idea of starting up a podcast and YouTube video posts. Keep checking back for updates on these exciting things.
Thanks as always for your support of Bang For Your Buck Outdoor Reviews and we hope you have a Merry Christmas and 2020 brings you an amazing year of fly fishing, backpacking, hiking, camping and everything outdoors.
You have probably heard of Tenkara Fishing which is a near 200 year old style of fly fishing but many haven’t tried it. Until the past year or so I was one of those people. After fly fishing for almost 20 years and feeling like I have a good grasp on it, why would I want to change things up or at a minimum add a different style to what I do? Because learning something new is exciting! That is the reason I gave it a shot.
As I said I am new to Tenkara Fishing being that I have only been doing it for a little over a year but my interaction with a few Tenkara companies has been extensive and one stands out above the rest. That company is DRAGONtail Tenkara. Over the past few months it seems like every time I have a question I will lob it their direction and within minutes I have an answer. If I need some type of fly tying supplies they guide and direct me in the direction I need to go. To say their customer service is outstanding would be a huge understatement. They are simply… OUTSTANDING!
Being that I am new to Tenkara I am going to give some basic information on Tenkara found on the internet. The guys at DRAGONtail will probably be screaming at the screen while reading this!!
Tenkara is a Japanese style of fly fishing that has been around for at least 200 years although historical documentation is limited so this is an estimate. According to Wikipedia Tenkara literally means “fishing from heaven” or “fishing from the skies” and is a simple style of fishing practiced in Japan. This style of fishing is primarily used for mountain stream trout fishing and is a popular fly fishing method in Japan. But.. don’t let that last statement fool you. There are numerous different types of Tenkara rods that allow you to chase a huge number of fish species like Trout, Bass, Catfish, Panfish and Carp.
When talking about the equipment let’s just say it’s simplistic unlike traditional fly fishing. Being a gear guy when I hit the trout stream, creek or river I have a vest or hip pack filled to overflowing with stuff that I may or may not need when I am out. I am a pack mule carrying half of everything I own. Yes it’s ridiculous. When Tenkara fishing it is down to a rod, tenkara line and a fly. No reel is used. It’s basic and it’s fun…. Oh.. Did I mention Tenkara rods collapse down into a rod that is perfect for easy transport or fits nicely into a backpack.
I’m not sure that the limited amount of information I gave you above would make anyone really want to jump at Tenkara Fishing but trust me.. if you haven’t tried it the investment is low enough you should at least give it a try. At a minimum it’s never too late in life to learn something and you actually may like it. I know I did!
If you have read this far now it’s time to talk about gear. Yes I know it’s taken a while to get to this point but we are here. Like I said earlier I have talked to a few different Tenkara companies here in the US and DRAGONtail is hands down the best in the way of customer service and response to my questions. As an example. Yesterday I had a couple of questions and I messaged the guys at DRAGONtail a couple of questions and they responded in 51 minutes. In comparison I emailed the head of another competing Tenkara rod company 87 days ago and I still haven’t heard anything back. Yes I went back and counted the days from my sent email. There is a chance I am asking too much when looking for a response and he is probably busy…. The DRAGONtail guys are busy but somehow find time to respond. I like that….
So like I said earlier, Tenkara is a very simplistic way of fishing with a Rod, Tenkara Line and a Fly.. throw in a piece of tippet as well.. let’s dig into the offering from DRAGONtail in each of these areas.
Buckle in.. there is a lot of gear offered by these guys!
Looking at the DRAGONtail website it looks like they have nine different Tenkara Rods for sale.. As a side note.. I own two of the nine. Let’s look at each one very quickly. Hey DRAGONtail guys.. Yes I used used the images and information from your site! This is one of those times where you ask for forgiveness! All product information comes straight from the DRAGONtail site. Let’s be clear.. they know how to describe their gear far better than I do.
The MIZUCHI – A Small Stream Tenkara Rod which was Co-Designed By Tom Davis – $159.99
The MIZUCHI zx340 Tenkara rod can be fished at 3 different lengths with its two locking zoom sections, making it an excellent choice for small stream fishing to open water fishing.
The 11ft (340cm) long length is excellent for when you have open casting room such as wider sections of the stream, a river, or even on still water. The 11ft length is a great general purpose length for a Tenkara rod that will work great in most types of water where there is room to cast.
The 9.6ft (290cm) middle length is great when the stream or canopy are a bit to tight for a long rod but don’t require a super short rod.
And the short 8ft (240cm) length is perfect for when there is lots of canopy overgrowth. You can also perform an excellent bow-n-arrow cast if things are to tight for this length.
These 3 different lengths in one rod allow you to cover many different waters with the same rod.
THIS WILL BE MY NEXT TENKARA ROD!!! NO DOUBT!
The Shadowfire Tenkara Rod 365 – $99.99 – (I Fish This One)
Although the Shadowfire 365 model is price comparatively to entry level rods it is a high performance rod that will out perform other Tenkara rods within $50 of it’s price range. 12 foot (365cm) 6:4 soft action rod. This rod has a light balanced feel and a soft action for an amazing Tenkara experience.
The 12ft length and soft action make the Shadowfire 365 a great rod for most purposes. It is a great choice for small streams to rivers where the fish are mostly under 18 inches and as small as 4 inches. The Shadowfire rod can handle larger fish than 18 inches, depending on your Tenkara fighting skills but it is not really a big fish rod.
The soft smooth casting action of this Tenkara rod with very very low oscillation will help you cast more naturally and accurately. If you are using level line, you will want size #3 or #3.5 for best performance but it will cast smaller sizes if desired. It will also cast any furled lines or tapered lines with ease.
Shadowfire 365 Specs:
Rod Length: 368 cm (about 12 feet)
Soft 6:4 action
Rod Weight: about 2.9 oz
High Quality Carbon Fiber
Collapsed Rod Length: 23.25 inches
Handle Length: 10.25 inches
Swivel Tup Lillian
Universal & Regular Tip Cap
Matte Black Finish
Hard Storage Tube: 24.75 inches
This is a great rod for the money. You can’t go wrong with the Shadowfire 365. How do I know? I have one and it’s actually going out on the river with me tomorrow. And.. it’s the only rod going out with me tomorrow.
The HYDRA zx390 Zoom Tenkara Rod – $139.99 – On Sale At The Time $124.99
This rod is a 6:4 soft action rod can be fished at either 13′ or 11.5′, it easily zooms between the 2 lengths. The HYDRA zx390 zoom Tenkara rod is a great choice for fishing small streams and rivers as well. Great for targeting trout in the 4″ to 20″ range.
Whether you are a beginner in Tenkara or been in the game for quite some time, this is a good rod choice to consider. It provides an enjoyable action and performance UN-matched by other rods in this price range.
Tom Davis of Teton Tenkara called it a great option for the “what rod should I get” question. He also said “Its softer action made casting a #3 level line effortless… If you are looking for a rod that will cover most trout fishing situations, and yet won’t tax your wallet, you should consider the DRAGONtail Hydra ZX390”
HYDRA zx390 Rod Specs:
Rod length: zooms between 390cm/350cm (about 13ft/11.5ft)
Soft 6:4 action
Rod weight: about 3.2 oz
High quality carbon fiber
Collapsed rod length: 21 inches
Handle length: 10.3 inches
Stealthy Matte Black Finish
Hard Storage Tube: 22.5 inches
Stylish Rod Sock
The Talon Tenkara Rod (Great Backpacking Rod) – $84.99
The Talon backpacker Tenkara rod is a great choice for streams and backpack fishing, I would recommend targeting fish under 15 inches.
Also a option for kids and beginners at its budget friendly price. We have taught many new Tenkara anglers casting on the Talon and they have found it quite easy to learn on.
The matte black color keeps the rod from reflecting the sun and possibly alerting the fish of your presence. Despite being matte black, this rod is very appealing to the eyes and has a quality finish.
This rod feels quite weightless in your hand with no tip heaviness at all.
Talon Rod Specs:
Rod length: 325cm (about 10.6ft)
Rod weight: about 2.9 oz
Rod with case weight: about 6.9 oz
High quality carbon fiber
Collapsed rod length: 17 inches
Handle length: 11 inches
Metal butt cap
Matte Black finish
Hard Storage Tube: 17 13/16 inches
The KOMODO Zoom Tenkara Rod (Great For Small Streams & Kids) – $129.99
The KOMODO zoom Tenkara rod is a great choice for small streams and tight fishing, I would recommend targeting fish under 16 inches.
Also a Great Kids Rod option and with 2 lengths it can grow with them.
The soft casting action of this rod will help you cast more naturally and accurately. If you are using level line, you will want size #3.5 with this rod for best performance.
The Zoom Section lock at the butt cap and at the joint of the sections to hold it secure when collapsed.
We also redesigned our handle to fit the hand more comfortably to reduce hand fatigue and to give you more casting control. You will most likely be pleased with the feel of the handle shape.
The matte black color keeps the rod from reflecting the sun and possibly alerting the fish of your presence. Despite being matte black, this rod is very appealing to the eyes and has a quality finish.
KOMODO Rod Specs:
Rod length: zooms between 320cm/275cm (about 10.5ft/9ft)
Stiffer end of a 6:4 action
Rod weight: about 2.8 oz
High quality carbon fiber
Collapsed rod length: 22 1/4 inches
Handle length: 10.25 inches
Metal butt cap
Matte Black finish
Hard Storage Tube: 24 3/8 inches
The HELLbender Zoom Big Fish Tenkara Rod – (I Have This One Also) – $139.99
Before I get to the DRAGONtail description of this rod.. I can tell you that I own this rod and it’s fantastic! It’s my go to for all things Bass!
The HELLbender is a great Tenkara rod for those chasing bigger fish when you don’t want to cast a very heavy rod or a super long rod. The 13ft length gives you good leverage and the 7:3 action backbone to control the fish. We made this rod with a higher grade of carbon fiber to keep the weight down but still keep the rod strong. I would recommend this rod for Tenkara anglers who fish waters with decent size bass or trout in the 16in – 22in or even bigger if you have the skillz for it. This rod is rated for tippet size up to 3x, I generally use 4x tippet most of the time with it.
The HELLbender is a Zoom Rod that fishes at both 13 feet or 11 feet. This allows you to use this rod on smaller or tighter streams as well as the big water areas. This is a also great rod for casting weighted flies & nymphs. It is also a great rod for getting started with Tenkara if you want a rod that can handle bigger fish but still great for the small fish as well.
HELLbender Rod Specs:
Zoom Rod lengths: 13ft-11.3ft (390cm-340cm)
Rod weight: about 3.4 oz
High quality carbon fiber IM12
Collapsed rod length: 24 inches
Handle length: 12.25 inches
Matte Black finish
Hard Storage Tube: 26 inches
Now we step it up to the DRAGONtail Tenkara Premium Rod Offerings….
The NIRVANA 400 Premium Tenkara Rod – $179.99
The NIRVANA 400 Tenkara rod is made for American streams and rivers with a smooth cast and good backbone. This rod will be fun whether you are catching small mountain trout, blue gills, or good sized river trout. With it’s long length and strength you will be able to fight larger trout in the 20 inch range or take on a good sized bass. The rod is made to cast both Level Line and Tapered Line very well with a smooth casting action. This is no entry level rod, it is a high end series rod that also looks fantastic with graphics that are made to stand out.
WOWing Graphics and Aesthetics ! We spent a lot of time and money in developing the graphics and aesthetics of this rod to make sure it looked as good as it performed, in other words we did not skimp on any of it. From the graphics to the butt cap, handle, and winding check, it all looks great. When you hold this next to any other rod it is going to stand out in a good way. This may not affect how well you fish but you will enjoy fishing a fantastic looking rod.
High Strength Design This rod is made with a super high-grade of carbon fiber (a blend of IM12 carbon fibers) with an improved carbon weave pattern to increase the strength and durability of the rod blanks as well. These two factors make this a rod you can depend on.
Smooth Rod Action This Tenkara rod is a tip soft rod with a slight flex down through the mid sections rod for a smooth cast but has backbone and length for bigger sized fish. The rod will flex quite deeply when the fighting a decent sized fish to distribute the pressure through the rod. It is designed to cast both Tenkara Level Line and Furled/Tapered Lines.
Fantastic Handle The handle come with either Hi-Quality Cork or Quality Foam, choose your preference. Both the cork and foam handles have a section of durable burl cork at the tip end of the handle for a nice look and also so you can hook you fly in it without damaging the cork or foam. The handle fits your hand very comfortably at two positions so you can switch up positions when desired.
Butt Cap The butt cap of this rod is made with hi-quality nylon that is very durable, unlike cheap plastic. The butt cap is a rounded shape to allow a comfortable grip even if the rod is held at the very butt of the handle with the butt cap in your palm.
What Is Up With The “NIRVANA” Name? Many of us go fishing to escape the troubles, worries, and busyness of life. We want to find a state of perfect happiness on the water or in nature away from the world, we want to help you achieve that state of “NIRVANA” on the fly by providing hi-quality products that improve your experience in seeking that goal.
If you are looking for a beautifully designed and rod that is pleasing to the eye and in addition want a rod that is just a at a premium level.. Pick up a NIRVANA Tenkara Rod.
The NIRVANA 370z Zoom Premium Tenkara Rod – $179.99
Behind The Design NIRVANA ON THE FLY wanted a rod with the quality feel of Japanese Tenkara rods but have more backbone for American sized trout. We also like to fish both light Level Lines and quality tapered furled lines (like Moonlit Furled Lines). The look of a rod’s aesthetics also improve our feeling about the rods we fish and we feel like we went a little overboard on this rod and we love it.
NIRVANA 370z Rod Specs:
Rod length: 373 cm (12.25 ft)
Soft 6:4 action
Rod weight: about 3.1 oz
Very High quality carbon fiber (IM12)
Collapsed rod length: 22.7 inches
Handle length: 10.25 inches
Brand: NIRVANA On The Fly
The Tanuki 275 Premium Tenkara Rod – $199.99
Tanuki 275 is designed for small streams. It is perfect for brook trouts and other wild fish that are 10″ to 16” in size. It is the lightest rod compared with other rods of similar length. Ultra light and high flexible tip section is designed for better casting with level line. Flexible tip and light weight is what Tanuki 275 provides.
With a good backbone of Western Tenkara rod and delicate flexibility of traditional Japanese tip, it is built for pinpoint casting. It is designed for anglers who like to fish with a small dry fly as well as European modern nymphing style.
Blanks are built with Japanese carbon fiber by Toray and grips are in high density synthetic EVA foam.
Twenty miles outside of Hamburg, Germany there is a small town called Kaltenkirchen and in this town there is a man who is a master craftsman. His name – Jochen Lehfeldt. I initially reached out to Jochen to inquiry about his hand carved Kuksa. I can tell you my email interaction with Jochen has been nothing short of fantastic. The man, like I said is an amazing craftsman, humble, knowledgeable and just plain nice. You couldn’t ask for a better person to deal with especially when you are diving into a product you don’t know much about. You ask.. What do you need to know.. It’s a wooden cup. Yes, it’s a wooden cup but a simple question to Jochen about these simple cups opened up a history lesson not only of the Kuksa but of him as well.
Kuksa – A type of drinking cup traditionally duodji crafted by the Sami people of Northern Scandinavia from carved birch burl.
Like I said above the Kuksa was originally crafted by the Sami people which are indigenous inhabitants of Lapland. The Sami people would have to go on long hikes through Lapland with the reindeer herds and they were often lonely people for months and months as they trekked through the vast tundra of the north. Yes it sounds cold! So when out on the trail with their reindeer herds the ability to procure household items of any kind would also be required to be taken from nature. Thus, the drinking vessels were carved out of wood which could be used for a long time and this also still fulfilled their usefulness. In time the Sami people learned that a Kuksa or wooden drinking vessel couldn’t be carved from just any wood. Over time they realized that the Kuksa that is carved from a birch tuber would last longer is more wear resistant and had a longer life.
In modern days drinking from a traditional Kuksa has become a Finnish tradition and is widespread around the campfire, hiking or outdoor activities.
And this is why I originally reached out to Jochen. Yes, anyone can buy a Nalgene bottle or any other water bottle out there and yes they are still needed when in the backcountry but to be able to drink from a Kuksa steps up your outdoorsman game a tiny bit. Any as you know if you have followed any of my posts at all.. I am a sucker for anything that is handcrafted by someone that has a passion for what they do and what they produce. Jochen is that person. Trust me…
When looking for a handcrafted Kuksa you need to know there are a lot of copies out there with some being made of more or less decent material while there are also companies making Kuksa from plastic.. WHAT?? Plastic.. Yes people are trying to pass off a Kuksa with their fancy sawdust infused plastic as authentic.. Wrong. Then there are the mass-produced goods that are made of bamboo wood from China or Beech wood from the Baltic Countries. Although they bear the name Kuksa they truly aren’t a traditional Kuksa in any way at all. Refresher.. A true Kuksa is made from Birch Tuber Wood from Lapland. If you want a true Kuksa hand carved in the traditional way you need to search out a true craftsman that does it correctly and I’ll save you a little time.. Below is a link to Jochen’s Etsy store and his website. Check him out there.
A true Kuksa doesn’t require much further care after their completion. Unlike copies they never need to be re-oiled or treated in any way. When caring for your Kuksa you need to be aware not to ever put it in a dishwasher or wash it with any type of detergent. Once you have used the Kuksa it is sufficient to wash it out with plain water and dry it. That’s it.. Just like the Sami people did it years and years ago. If you follow these simple rules your Kuksa can last a lifetime and make a really great heirloom to pass down to one of your children. As an example.. Jochen has been using his Kuksa for almost 40 years now.
So now that you have had a history lesson into the world of the Kuksa take a look at Jochen’s website and pick up an authentic Kuksa to strap to your backpack and use when out on the trail. There’s just something different about being out in nature and using something that was created by someone’s hands and not a plastic bottle that was molded by a big machine. +
Pictured below is my Kuksa that Jochen made me and I absolutely love it. It’s just a different feel drinking from a handcarved wooden cup than a glass. Give it a try and I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
In addition to his fantastic Kuksa, check out all of Jochen’s handmade items in his Etsy store and his website. He is a true craftsman which is hard to find anymore.
In a world of mass produced products bombarding us from every side it’s great that there are still craftsman that still hold the art of building fly rods sacred. If you have spent any time at all on this site you know that I love handcrafted gear whether it be fly rods, leaders or even clothing.. I love products that are crafted by individuals that have a passion for what they are doing and putting out.
Today we are going to look at three of these individuals and show you their work.
JP Ross Fly Rods
Graywolf Products and Services
Custom Fly Rods by Chris Lantzy
First we are starting out with JP Ross of JP Ross Fly Rods and also owner of Rising Trout Outfitter Fly Shop. After spending a good amount of time on JP’s website and reading about him, his history in the business and what he does, all you can say is he is amazing. Truly amazing with what he has done by the age of 41 from opening a fly shop, starting a rod building business and also calling on his understanding of material and fly rod design to come up with his own blanks. This is a rare thing as you know.
JP specializes in Fiberglass Fly Rods and also has a line of Carbon Silica Hybrid Fly Rods which is what I want to focus on. Never heard of Carbon Silica? Well, here is what JP has on his website about what Carbon Silica is and the history of how he developed it.
Carbon Silica Hybrid – Carbon Silica technology came about because JP wanted to release something to the market that was extraordinary for the user and technology advanced. What we have done is combined the feel of casting glass with the action and fiber of graphite. By creating a new lamina that combines these materials, we have made a real “hybrid” fly rod. A carbon-glass hybrid. We also have incorporated the use of silica into our component process to increase the bond strength of our adhesion. At first we thought this would just be for small stream rods, but later found that it was extremely effective in other rod as well. We believe this is the next step towards the new standard in fly rods, and this technology is proprietary to JP Ross & Co.
With the technology and design figured out it is now time to introduce you to the rod that gets to use that technology – The Black Jack Carbon Silica Fiberglass Hybrid 8’6″ 5/6 Weight 5 Piece Custom Built Fly Rod…
The Black Jack is a medium action 8’6″ 5/6 weight built with a fullwells grip, silver reel seat with Buckeye Burl wood insert and black jack fly engraving on the reel seat and on the cork. Guides are wrapped in a translucent gunmetal gray. All guides are single foot chrome and the strip guide is a large size 16 for shooting line with ease. The rod comes with a rod bag and black on black case. Custom inscription is available for free.
A custom made fly rod with cutting edge technology all for $499.00. If you look at the images above you can tell that JP puts a lot of passion into what he does and his attention to detail is truly fantastic. Very clean.
The Black Jack Carbon Silica Technology Explained – I won’t pretend to understand what JP has done but I can tell you he has done it perfectly. Below is an excerpt from his website explaining the technology behind his creation a little more.
When we designed the Black Jack Carbon Silica Hybrid fly rod, there were a few design attributes and factors we wanted to include in the design. One in particular was the butt section diameter. We wanted that diameter to not be too big, so that custom builders could use this blank with wood reel seats. In conclusion of design and manufacturing the butt section diameter turned out to be 0.40inches or 10 millimeters, a diameter very easily worked around as a builder.
Aesthetically, we wanted the rod to be unique, not flashy, and somewhat nostalgic. So we went with the clear matte finish and left the blank un-sanded, except for the ferrules which are sanded to insure proper fit.
The action however was something that needed technology in order to achieve what we wanted to achieve. The rod had to be 5 pieces, very durable, not clunky, and seem effortless to cast like a high end bamboo rod might feel, but with a little more tip flex to keep the rod from the typical glass wobble that you get as the line exits the tip section.
The reason that nice bamboo rods are fun to cast is because all you have to do is move the rod in its casting arc and the rod casts itself. This is true because of a few physics principals.
Momentum is actually a combination or product of mass and velocity. A fly rod that is light and thin does not have the natural momentum of a slightly heavier rod like glass or bamboo. You have to push a stiff light rod to flex and cast because it has less mass. We didn’t want this push or fast acceleration need. We wanted the caster to just move their arm and have the rod cast itself, so we knew we needed a little weight in the rod like a bamboo rod, but not much.
Inertia is the principal of an object in motion. A larger mass in motion has more inertia than a lighter mass. So our rod is balanced properly, and has the perfect combination of glass and carbon so that when that rod is in motion it stays in motion until you stop the tip at the end of the stroke. Little effort is needed to cast this rod, yet the tip does not wobble.
If we made this rod completely out of graphite, the rod would have to be very thick in order to gain mass, and when you go thick in graphite, you get stiff. We did not want stiff. We wanted a medium to medium fast action. Medium fast with a 5 weight, and medium with a 6.
If we made the rod out of just glass, the rod would be too slow, too heavy and too big in diameter to be a 5 piece. It also would have a terrible tip wobble. We know this because we made prototypes of this same Black Jack in glass, and it did not work.
So the Black Jack is a Carbon Silica Hybrid. A mixture of glass and graphite. 2.2 ounces of it to be specific. Just enough to give the right weight and feel so that the rod feels like it casts itself when in its zone or sweet spot. This rod is made for floating line, weight forward, and non-weighted flies. Dry flies, small streamers, and light nymph rigs is where this rod works best. And when you do catch a fish on it, the feel is amazing. Better than glass or graphite, and because the rod is a tad bit heavier than normal, more like conventional glass but a tad lighter; when a fish bends the rod and changes the balance point, the angler must counter act to fight the fish and the feel is remarkable even on small fish.
As you can see JP is a pretty smart guy with his design and development of a truly unique fly rod material. How many people can say they have designed a fly rod material? Right.. not very many..
Our next custom rods builder comes to us from Michigan – Shane Gray of Graywolf Products and Services. Shane is a full time rod builder focusing his time on truly awesome fiberglass and graphite fly rods. As I said he lives in Michigan and is obviously an avid fly fisherman focusing on Trout, Bass, Steelhead and Salmon. Shane is an incredibly personable guy and I would guarantee if you got him on the phone and asked about fly rods the guy could give you more information that you can image.
When looking over Shane’s website it doesn’t take long to see the kind of passion he has for what he does. He builds some amazing fly rods and like JP, Shane’s attention to detail is magnificent. Incredible to say the least.
Looking at the first few images above you can tell what Shane is all about. It doesn’t take much to be able to look at a picture of a Graywolf fly rod and see the amazing work Shane is putting out. They are just different and different in a good way.
Shane offers builds on multiple different fiberglass blanks. McFarland Yellow Glass, Swift Epic, Ijuin, Steffen Brothers, Kabuto, Tom Morgan and Trout Smiths. We will take a quick look at a couple of the blanks he builds on but for a full list please visit his website to see everything he can do.
McFarland Yellow Glass – These blanks are known as AMERIGLASS Classic and made in Pennsylvania of honey yellow E Glass. The tapers are smooth, deep flexing with a perfect balance of power from the tip to the butt.
6’8″ & 7’0″ 3wt 3 Piece
7’6″, 7’9″ & 8’0″ 4wt 3 Piece
8’0″ & 8’6″ 5wt 3 Piece
8’0″ & 8’6″ 6wt 3 Piece
8’6″ 5wt & 6wt 4 Piece
As you can see there are a lot of configurations so give Shane a call and he can make just about anything you want.
Signature Line – $625
Stream Line – $645
Perfection – $675
Ijuin Fiberglass – These blanks are soft, full flex, fun rods as Shane puts it. Tomo Ijuin’s tapers are made in Japan out of uni-directional E-Glass. The blanks are painted a wonderful bright green color with white spigot ferrules.
Signature Line $635
Stream Line $655
As you can see that’s only a couple of the fiberglass options Shane offer so head over to his website and see the other lines of fiberglass fly rods he can build for you.
In addition Shane has a line of Fiberglass Ultra Light Spin Rods. The rod is made from a yellow E Glass and they were designed by Mike McFarland. The rod is a full flex action which makes this rod the perfect choice for your next light line, panfish or trout trip. All the hardware is hand made from nickle silver and all rods are 2 piece models.
And.. Shane also build custom graphite fly rods built on blanks from SAGE, Winston, Thomas and Thomas and Swift Epic. If interested in Graphite give Shane a call or drop him an email.
To wrap it up on Shane and Graywolf Fly Rods.. All you need to do is two things… (1) Pull up Shane’s website and look at the pictures.. Just pull up the pictures and really take a close look at your screen and I can guarantee you will see the incredible craftsmanship that goes into a Graywolf Fly or Spin rod. They are truly a work or art.. And (2) Call Shane.. Yep.. Just call him..
Custom Fly Rods by Chris Lantzy – If you have followed this page for any time at all you have seen Chris’s name come up multiple times. That’s because Chris puts out amazing work and not only fly rods but truly fantastic leather items as well. I have gone over all the cool things Chris produces so check out some of the previous posts to see what he offers or head over to his website to see the full line. Yes.. I own 3 different pieces that Chris produces.. A fly waller, leader wallet and a small pack. All incredibly built. But.. that isn’t why we are here today. Today we are talking about Chris and the custom fly rods he puts out.
Chris is a jack of all trades when it comes to fly rods with a line of Split-Bamboo Fly Rods as well as Graphite and Fiberglass Fly Rods. We will touch on his fiberglass and graphite in a few minutes but it’s Chris’s bamboo fly rods that we are here today to talk about. WOW!! Now these are works or art and the amount of time spent making a bamboo fly rod is mind numbing. It’s a totally different process and Chris has it down to an art form. Below is a quick look at what Chris lists on his page about the process of crafting a custom bamboo fly rod.
Split-Bamboo Fly Rods – I hand craft each fly rod taking the time to split & plane the bamboo by hand. Often, I gently flame treat my bamboo so that the rod will be darker than a “blond” rod, but not as dark as a brown-toned rod. Only the best components available go on these rods. Let’s work together to make your custom fly rod.
I specialize in fly rods designed for trout & bass fishing of all different rod actions. I make the bamboo blanks from start to finish, taking the time to hand split & hand plane the bamboo. My split-bamboo rods are never built from mass produced factory made blanks. As an option I can hand make all the “snake”-style line guides from stainless steel wire that is extremely light, strong, & will not corrode (see below). I use Ferrules made from Nickle-Silver by Classic Sporting Enterprises. These are the finest ferrules available. The reel seats are all made in the USA & are the best in the world for appearance & function. All rod bags are made in house & to exacting standards of quality as well. All rods are traditional, six-sided rods. For every rod you purchase I offer a five day inspection period in which you can return the rod to me for a full refund -in unused condition- if you decide the rod is not for you. Purchase a custom fly rod from me without risk or worry.
Let’s be clear.. Like I said. I own multiple items that Chris has produced (not a bamboo fly rod—-yet).. and I can tell you that 5 day inspection period really isn’t needed. I guarantee you won’t want to return it once you get it in the mail, open it and see the type of work Chris does. If you are the person that looks at the rod and returns it.. I would say you can’t be pleased. Plain and simple.
There are three different series of bamboo that he puts out so let’s take a look at them.
Prudential Series -For those of you who want a great casting split-bamboo fly rod, but at an economical price, a Prudential rod is just the rod for you. All rods in this line are 2 piece with 1 tip (2/1). They all feature snake style line guides, chrome stripping guides, & down locking reel seats with walnut spacers with high grade aluminum hardware. You can have any color of silk thread wraps you want. The rod shafts receive several coats of a hand rubbed oil-based finish. They are marked with a personal inscription of your choosing & the maker’s (my) name, rod length, line weight, & serial number. Each rod comes in a cotton flannel rod bag & a custom duck-cloth covered pvc rod tube. These rods are the perfect introduction to the world of bamboo for those of you who have been curious but don’t want to spend thousands of dollars. I warn you though, you may never go back to synthetic rods!!! Prudential rods are available in any 2 piece length & line weight. The most popular are: -6′ 5wt -7′ 4wt -7′-6″ 5wt Price: $600 + $25 shipping & insurance
-All rod blanks are made from the same culm of bamboo. The tips are mirror-matched in node placement & nodes are spaced in the “3×3” method.
-Your choice of standard silk wrap colors of red, green, brown, or orange tipped in black. Other colors available at no extra charge.
-Top quality cork grip hand shaped in my shop from premium cork rings. All grips are standard cigar shape.
– Nickel-Silver “Super-Z” style ferrules made by Classic Sporting Enterprises. These are, in my opinion, the best quality ferrules available.
– All standard reel seats are down locking & available in a slide-band or screw-locking style. The standard wood spacer is walnut. The hardware is made from high grade aluminum.
– All rods come in a cotton flannel rod bag & a custom duck-cloth covered pvc rod tube. As an upgrade option,your rod can also come in a traditional aluminum tube with brass end caps for a small additional cost.
– Every rod comes with a personal inscription. Each rod will have the maker’s (my) name, line weight & rod length, & a serial number on one side of the the rod. The other side will have your name or any personal inscription you choose. All rods 5ft to 8ft in length are available in 2/2 (2 piece/ 2 tip) configuration. Rods 8”6″ to 9′ length are available in 3/2 (3 piece/ 2 tip) configurations.
Your options for rod length & line weight are many. I make rods from one piece 4′-4″ long to 3 piece 9′ in length & everything in between including all rod actions.
Base Pricing Without Upgrades
All 2/2 Rods – $865
All 3/2 Rods – $995
These are truly custom rods. Here, anything goes. You & I work together to make a rod that is truly unique to you. Every aspect of the rod is exactly what you want it to be. Each rod comes standard with everything listed for the Classical Series, with the following exceptions:
-Your choice of snake style line guides of hard chrome with standard twist or special hand twisted, stainless steel in a reverse “British” twist. (see below)
-Wraps in any color of silk thread you want.
-All reel seat hardware is made from Nickel-Silver & are the finest reel seats available. You choose from many different wood spacers & styles of reel seats.
-The winding check is made from Nickel-Silver with finely detailed knurling around the edges.
-Agate stripping guides are standard on all Custom series rods & you can choose between many different colors of stone.
-All Custom series rods come in a traditional aluminum rod tube with brass end caps.
-You can upgrade these rods with anything you want including custom engraving on the rod metal, custom reel seats, feather inlays, silk wrap colors, etc. With these rods we are limited only by our imagination. Contact me for other options.
Base Price Without Upgrades
All 2/2 Rods – $1,155
All 3/2 Rods – $1,270
As I said earlier Chris also produces a beautiful line of graphite fly rods as well. We aren’t going to go into a lot of detail so you can look over his website but the one thing that he says on his website that I think hits the nail on the head.
What’s The Difference?
So, what’s the difference between a graphite or fiberglass fly rod I make as apposed to one you can buy from a large store or catalog? Almost everything. First & foremost, every one of my rods are made in the U.S.A. With so many tackle manufactures moving their productions around the world for cheaper labor, I make all the rods myself, by hand, & with one thing in mind: quality.
Appearance – The first difference you’ll notice between my rods & the mass – produced ones are the look of my rods. I like to mix traditional elements with modern functionality. The many small differences of my rods add up to become a fly rod unlike any other you’ll use. For instance, many mass – produced rod’s guides are wrapped with nylon thread & coated very thick with epoxy that make for large, over-sized wraps that look out of place on a delicate fly rod. My guides are wrapped with a very fine silk thread & given a low-build spar varnish finish that results in smooth, elegant looking guide wraps. Also, many large tackle makers today are choosing guide wrap colors that are the same color as the rod shaft, & with no tipping wraps. That’s fine if that’s what you like, but when you purchase a rod from me you have many different choices when it comes to wrap colors, which can give your rod a very classy look. In addition, written on the rod shaft will be whatever inscription you want.
Components – The choice of components are another big difference in my rods. Most mass – market rods today sport long, skinny cork grips. I make my standard grips in a traditional cigar shape & the proper diameter for a comfortable rod you can fish all day long. Most mass – produced rods (especially the cheaper ones) don’t put enough line guides on their rods, or they use the wrong size guides in an effort to save production costs. All my rods come with quality line guides that are sized & spaced correctly for optimum rod performance. On many of the cheaper mass – produced rods you’ll also find rubber winding checks just above the grip. Not on my rods. I use quality checks of nickle-silver. Rubber will dry & break down in time. I build my rods to last for generations.
Performance – The biggest & most important difference you’ll notice between my rods & many of the mass – produced ones is the performance of the rod. Just the feel in hand tells you it’s a quality rod. The ease of the line shooting through the guides & the comfort of using it will be luxurious. A well made custom fly rod will be so much smoother in casting line than many mass – produced rods that you’ll never fall for those slick ads in the back of magazines again! All this mixed with classic, good looks that never go out of style & at a cheaper price than some of the large tackle maker’s prices. Contact me & tell me what you want in a rod, or let me help you decide. Together we’ll make you a rod we can both be proud of.
To put it simply.. Chris Lantzy puts out some beautiful fly rods. If you are looking for a true piece of usable art give him a call and talk to him about making you a true handcrafted bamboo fly rod and I can guarantee you that when you step on the stream, creek, river, lake or wherever you are your fly rod will stand out.
Custom Fly Fishing Rods by Chris Lantzy can be found on his website of https://flyrods.weebly.com/ or his Instagram page @customflyrods
That’s was a lot of information and if you made it this far you deserve a pat on the back. Trust me when I say there is a night and day difference between a big box retailer fly rod and a custom built fly rod by one of the three individuals I just introduced you to. Check our all three websites and one of them will be able to build you exactly what you need.