We've spent the past year updating and refining both our carbon fibre and FastGlass fiberglass range, here's the lowdown:
What's up? We've updated the FastGlass range to a new revised material, new finishes and a new ferrule system.
What's the new material?
Zentron® Unidirectional S-2 Glass. Moving forward all Epic FastGlass® fly rods are produced using industry leading Zentron 8 micron Unidirectional S-2 Glass (a mouthful I know). This next generation fiber is specifically engineered for fly rod production and features 8 micron fibers developed and produced in the USA. These fibres are almost half the diameter of other unidirectional materials, resulting in a tighter, more precise and stronger material.
Zentron S-2 Glass is a modern composite material that exhibits very high damage tolerance, high tensile strength, high flexural strength and is extremely well suited to advanced fly rod construction. Modern unidirectional S-2 Glass is primarily used in the construction of wind turbine blades, helicopter rotor blades and militarily aircraft. It is very strong - the Sikorsky Helicopter Corporation even have a patenton it's use. Although a different grade material, we use it in our fly rods for many of the same reasons.
In short, because this material is so strong we can use less material, this gives us a very strong blank that is light and extremely responsive. This new pre-preg is expensive and challenging to produce - more expensive than carbon fibre.
Epic FastGlass fly rods still exhibit the full flexing feel, strength and casting goodness of fiberglass, but without the associated weight and that 'Noodle' feeling we all know.
Wha? The new stuff is just better.
Where is the glass fiber produced? USA
Where are Epic blanks made? We looked hard at many potential partners, and only one solution came up roses: We purchase the Zentron fibre directly from the manufacturer in the USA under an exclusive purchasing arrangement, we are one of a small number of brands worldwide licensed to use it for fly rod production.
That fiber is made into pre-preg by a composite manufacturing facility in Korea. The facility is a specialist composite producer and has a number of patents and proprietary industry processes pertaining to nano technology and advanced pre-preg production, they produce pre-preg for a number of well recognised fly rod brands. (you know who they are but we can't say) Each production run is specific to our purchasing requirements with weights and quantities specified for our production. We commission and purchase specifically to our own requirements.
What about Carbon Fiber? Our Carbon Fiber (graphite) pre-preg is produced by Toray in Japan. Toray produce our silica-nano matrix carbon fibre pre-preg. Toray is the single largest pre-preg manufacturer in the world (7500 employees), almost every carbon fibre rod in the world can be traced back to pre-preg made by Toray - regardless of where the finished fly rod is produced.
After our pre-preg is produced it is rolled into Epic blanks using our own proprietary mandrils - these are unique and are owned by the Swift Fly Fishing Company, no other blanks are rolled on these mandrils but our own designs.
Are you still in New Zealand? Yes, absolutely.New Zealand is the perfect laboritory to design and test great fly rods. When you purchase an Epic Fly rod from our website it is still handcrafted, one at a time with tender loving care as ordered, here in our Wanaka studio workshop. Blanks and kits are still QC'd, assembled, packed and shipped from Wanaka, and if you drop us a line or have a customer question you'll still get the same personal service and attention to detail you always have.
Is the material "really" new? Yes. The revision we are using is only a few months old and was developed specifically for high end fly rod production.
All models? Yes, all FastGlass models. All existing designs will be replaced by the new material over upcoming months, our most popular models are now in stock with the Epic 580 and Boca Grande coming online very soon.
What colors will be available? Over time a selection of colors will be introduced, first in our most popular colors - Olive and Salsa, then a new translucent Amber with So Blue and black to follow.
What's this new finish? All FastGlass blanks are produced in our new SnakeBelly™ finish. This is a radial semi sanded finish that is extremely tough and scratch resistant.
Why did you choose this finish? Two reasons:
1. Precise. Producing this semi sanded finish involves a process that does not remove excess material from our tapers - this means we can not only build very precise tapers, we can also make very precise ferrules that fit perfectly and make sections easy to replace (more on this below)
2. Tough. We've always taken great pride in making remarkably good fly rods with durability a core design requirement - this new finish is not only extremely tough it looks terrific.
What's with the new ferrules? All revised models now feature our Sure-fit™ ferrule, a hand ground section at the ferrule join. This has all the benefits of both conventional slip over ferrules and spigots without the down side.
This is not a spigot ferrule (an extra section glued into the blank to make a ferrule)
So what's the benefit to me as a fly fisherman? Good question - glad you asked! There is one very big benefit of this new ferrule to anglers. Easy repairs. Sure-fit ferrule's™ are very precise - this means if you bust a tip section (or any other section) we can simply send you out a replacement and it will fit - no longer do you have to return your fly rod to get a new section rolled and fitted. We can turn around most replacements immediately - usually the same day. Not weeks as is usually the case with a conventional ferrule. A big saving in time and money!
No matter where you are in the world, we can look after you.
The new ferrule system also eliminates knocks at the joints (common to most fly rods) and also makes for a very secure connection and smooth energy transfer along the blank.
Are the tapers the same? Yes and no.The new blanks are faithful to the feel and actions of our famous fly rods as closely as is possible given the new material - it was important for us to retain the tapers and actions that so many fly anglers worldwide have fallen in love with. They "feel" very similar but overall performance is improved, still full flexing and still very much fiberglass. A little tighter, a little snappier, more responsive and even tougher. If you love our legendary 686 fly rod or the mighty 476 fly rod you'll also fall in love with the new models.
So, are the new designs any better? Yes.That's why we made these changes. Our mission is to always "Build a better fly rod" (it's written on the whiteboard beside my desk) The revised range is "tighter" more responsive, exhibit less tip bounce and rebound, and are stronger. And with the new Sure-Fit ferrule our designs are more user friendly and very easy to support.
Will they make me a better fly caster? No. However, if you are a competent fly caster you will appreciate that we do make a exceptionally good fly rods.
What next? More, more innovations, more great designs and more unique fly rods. Being a small producer means we get to do all the things the big brands cannot - like make exceptionally good fly rods handmade to order, give personal one on one attention and good old fashioned service!
BEARHAWK LIMITED EDITION FLY RODS The Bearhawk Limited Edition* line of fly rod building kits and fly rods are inspired by fishing trips in my friends Bearhawk airplane. We always get there fast and can land in a places where most planes simply can not go.
The slim beauty is one of the most popular fly fishing knots in use today. It is a great knot for connecting class tippets to shock tippets as well as tippet sections to butt sections. This knot is strong, easy to tie on the water, and has a very low profile.
It is the end of the fishing season in Patagonia Argentina. Two of my buddies, Marcos Hlace, Diego Soto and myself decided to fish for the mighty migratory trout at the upper Limay River, a must to at least once in a life time.