Epic Fiberglass Fly Rod Review.
I think it was back in 2008 when I sat my International Federation of Fly Fishers Master Casting Instructors (MCI) exam in Queensland. The travelling international examiners had just come from a testing event in New Zealand and I asked them if they had met any particularly smooth or clever casters over there while they were testing.
Carl McNeil’s name was quoted by all of them.
I had never heard of Carl at that stage but then along came “Once in a Blue Moon” and then “Casts that Catch Fish”. Carl was now on the world stage.
I participated, along with other Australian MCI’s, Matt Howell, Simon Zarifeh and Tony Loader in an October 2012 Casting Examination event in Christchurch. This event was organized by Carl and hosted by the Christchurch Fly Fishing Club.
Read more about this on my blog.
Carl had just received shipment of the final prototype ‘Epic” fiberglass blanks that he had been diligently working on over the past year. Now, I’ve always loved softer action rods with more feeling and I can’t tell you how excited I was to try them out.
As an aside. Many years ago I was a handy tournament caster. Ten times Australian Champion in fact. You know…. it all ended, the talent ran out- the day my Fenwick 1021 fiberglass rod got run over in the car park by a mate. A very sad but true story. I never cast very well after that using carbon fibre rods.
So, back to Christchurch, the boys shaped up and Carl got out a few different prototype rods. We threw short tidy loops into and across the wind. We roll cast, curve cast and mended. Each of us showing off, trying to go one up. Then it happened - the big cast. Howell would not give the rod up and he was out over 100 feet with the Epic 8 foot #5. It looked so very impressive.
Zarifeh was wetting himself – he thought he could do better. He didn’t.
I took the rod, pulled off a further 3 meters (they didn’t notice that I had already wound up 4 meters while I was talking to them) then luckily threw the leader all the way to Twizel ! The line hit the reel hard and the guys begrudgingly gave me credit for winning. A happy ending.
We truly were all so very impressed with the up close finesse yet also the deep down power when required that will stand these rods in good stead for any fishing situation. Whilst they cast like demons they would be at their best in fishing situations.
I can tell you that the rods are capable of throwing a silky smooth candy cane loop for dry fly work, they are capable of giving sensational feedback to the hand for all the finesse line manipulation casts and they will throw a heavy fly long if you need to.
I enjoyed Carl’s 7’6” 4 weight so much that I used it for the week to fish for late run 4 pound rainbows. It was sensational. Check out the Facebook header photo on peterhayesflyfishing. This was a great photo taken by Simon Zarifeh. I tried so hard to break that little rod that week and it was impossible. Carl was pleased about that !
Since then I have taught casting and fished with the Epic 8’ #5 in South Africa where I caught the awesome Yellowfish. I have caught 15 – 20 pound Salmon in Alaska and big Rainbows in British Columbia. I have jumped up and down on it in car parks to demonstrate the toughness and actually put a fair sort of gash in the butt section that does not seem to matter a jot to the structural strength of the rod.
It has been a delight to use by me and all the hundreds of people that have cast it.
I can’t wait to get hold of the 7’6” #4 again. (hear that Carl)
My crystal ball tells me two things about fly fishing these days. One is that we will all be using more and more spey casting/constant tension casting techniques into the future with our single handed rods. My casting classes already show this trend.
And, secondly. As people become more discerning casters and fishermen they will migrate towards softer rods like cane and fiberglass. The wonderful Sage Circa is testament to this fact.
This new S2 glass that the Epic rods are made from is nothing like the old fiberglass in any way.
The Epic Rods are not heavy in the hand. They are very robust and I doubt you could possibly break one. They have a beautiful feel and give meaningful feedback to your brain through your casting hand. I think you will cast them more accurately than a stiffer graphite rod. They cast silky loops a very long way if you need to. They fight fish with more finesse and feeling something like my Taransky cane rod does. It is kinder to the fish this way. The cushioning in these S2 glass rods will loose you less fish.
I think you could hit them all day with bead heads and it wont matter a jot. If you only had to take one rod away on a fishing trip with you where toughness and durability mattered then it probably should be an Epic glass rod. They seem to be bullet proof.
Where’s the downside? Well, Carl has made them in 3 pieces but the lucky thing is that the length pulled down of 32 “ still fits in my Simms duffel bag ( the 7’6” #4 – 3 piece will of course be shorter). I cannot break the rod in half to put in the car like I can with a 4 piece rod. I am getting used to sticking it in whole – it’s not so long anyway.
While a plastic rod can't compare to the craftsmanship & beauty of my handmade cane rod by Nick Taransky - they are not trying to.
Go try one. You will not be disappointed.