I have finished my Epic 580 and thought I would share some impressions. First, I like it a lot. Whilst I am a child of the graphite age, the first rod I fished with was a fibreglass Killwell Robin Hood - a blue beast with nice red wraps that was borrowed from my dad and that he still fishes occasionally. So while i was trying to keep an open mind, i couldn't help remembering some of the character flaws of some of the old glass rods I've fished over the years. I have to say up front that comparing those wobbly old things to the Epic 580 is bit like comparing cro-magnon man to modern humans, sure he used tools and looked a bit like we do, but really the two are very, very different.
When the blank arrived, my first impression was how cool the blank looked. These blanks do crazy things with the light that makes all the graphite blanks I've built on look a bit boring. Once I finished building the rod, I soon realised that my preconceptions about glass rods don't apply to my new little olive green Epic. My first outing was a visit to a nearby stream to see if there was an evening rise. This is a small stream requiring accurate casts at ranges of 5-10 metres, and I'm pleased to say that the 580 performed well and two fat browns fell for my dun. The rod had the feel I was hoping for yet it had a crispness and backbone that I wasn't expecting but was pleasantly surprised by. In saying that, I was reserving judgement as I had a more demanding test in mind.
On the weekend, I had the chance to give it a bit more of a workout in the shallows of Lake Aviemore, where I learned to cast a fly and where I have been stalking trout for over 20 years. I was looking forward to this, since the style of fishing that I use here demands a lot of a rod - it has to be able to load with just a 12-14 foot leader and less than a metre of line out when sneaking up on fish, as well as being able to cast long ranges to fish the drop-offs and weed beds, all of this with flies ranging from unweighted #16 nymphs up to #8 Woolly buggers with more than their fair share of lead. I'll say it plainly, I was impressed. Despite some challenging conditions, including gale norwesters and high lake levels, the little green rod didn't miss a beat and I was consistently impressed by its accuracy and versatility. I admit that when I bought it, I had a narrow range of situations in mind, but my experience so far shows that this is a versatile fishing tool that will hold its own against the modern graphite rods, all the while having a unique class about it (as I said, these things look great). I can honestly say that I think that this will become my go-to 5 weight, which is saying something.
I have attached some pics - you'll see that I ended up going for a subtle look with green wraps to blend into the blank finished with U40 urethane varnish. (A nice stealthy look to blend into the willows).