Picture by Simon Penn - SLP Productions
"A fly rod has one simple function - to add value to the day. The same can be said of fly lines and flies for that matter. Everything else is mostly just salad near the steak.
The Boca Grande is a three hat steak.
A 12 weight rod should do a few things well. It needs to cast a 12 weight line. It needs to cast the size flies you would expect of a 12 weight - billfish flies, aerodynamic dogs like big crab flies, and oversized poppers and gurglers that generally look like seagulls ploughing into a stiff breeze. And it needs to pull hard on big fish. The Boca Grande does this very, very well.
Personal rod preference after that, and what makes a great fly rod, are the subtleties.
For me, who I fish with is far more important than anything else. In recent years, that means fishing with friends who are far better anglers than I will ever be; friends who are beginning their fly fishing journey with all the enthusiasm and wonderment of a Hogwarts new starter, or by myself.
Mark, Golden Trevally and selfmade Boca Grande fly rod. Picture by Simon Penn - SLP Productions.
Fishing alone in the tropics has some inherent challenges, especially with a fish near the boat and sharks not far behind. The Boca has limited interest in highsticking, ergo just bend the damn rod and grab the fish. I like this very much.
Like all rods, the deeper the bend the less concerned the fish is though, so rod angles are still critical. If you want genuine power, keep the angles flat and pull like hell, but there is great comfort in using the bend for cushioning, especially for those species that don't like being manhandled - often the softer touch is a more productive tactic. The Boca Grande can be as rough as a Wildling's beard or as a gentle as a drowsy puppy. I like that very much too.
I built my Boca, so I didn't expect it to be as refined as a professional build. Builder skills aside, the components are superb. The kit is easy to follow and there is enough of everything to tolerate a learning curve.
If competition distance casting and ultra stiff, fast action rods float your boat, you might not like it. It's not one of those rods.
The Boca Grande has, however, very obviously been designed by fine flyfishers who know what a fishing rod should do and have known it for a while.
It's been as fun on the flats as it has in the deeper stuff. Experienced friends have enjoyed the Boca's style and those on a learning curve appreciate it's forgiving nature.
It's a great fishing rod, it's a lot of fun and it does the subtle, important things very, very well. It is always in my boat and I use it a lot because it adds a whole lot of value to my day. "
Mark Bantich is well known, accomplished (and quite humble) Australian based saltwater fly angler. The Boca Grande was his first rod build.
The Boca Grande is sold as a fly rod blank, a Ready to Wrap Rod Kit, or a complete Epic studio built fly rod.