FiberGlass Fly Rods - From Glass to Back: Coming Full Circle

The first decent glass fly rod I owned was a vintage brown glass Fenwick. A tad short, a bit stiff, and with a plastic triangular tube that didn’t hold its shape and couldn’t keep its cap, it worked, and fairly well. Next I stepped up to an Orvis Golden Eagle, the last glass fly rod I purchased until just a few years ago. But that’s where it ended as I was swept up by the graphite tide.
Best Fiberglass Fly Rods

From Glass to Back: Coming Full Circle


At 60-years young, like most people my age I learned to fly fish on fiberglass rods. At the time, glass rods were the relative newcomer, having bumped bamboo from the mountaintop roughly a generation earlier. Like most fly fishers from my generation however, I moved on to graphite fly rods when they crashed the party. But after roughly 30 years of pushing carbon, I have come full circle.

I grew sick of the same old same old.

How and why I ended up back on glass is as interesting as the fact that I did, at least to me. The whole thing was very much driven by a rekindled interest in small stream fishing, which was very much tied to a newfound appreciation for wild native fish, and a realization that there was more to the sport than I was getting out of it.
After years of chasing big fish – species and origin be damned, pulling on oars and anchor ropes, untangling overly complex rigs, casting more than fishing, competing with an opponent that didn’t care to compete, and dodging crowds, I grew sick of the same old same old.

Fishing Fiberglass fly rod

I also came to the realization that while I had always thought of myself as a conservation-minded fly fisher, I was actually a conservationist that fly fished. I decided that saving fish, wild and native ones as they are what really matters, was more important than saving fishing, and that saving the latter was not going to save the former but saving the former might save the latter.

This late-in-life epiphany pushed me back to brook trout, the fish of my childhood and primary native in my New England homeland. And brook trout pushed me back to their namesake waters, brooks. Brooks in turn pushed me toward glass as it is the perfect tool for the job. To me there is a clear synergy between the three…

Cutthroat trout on fiberglass fly rod

My Glassroots

The first glass fly rod I owned was an Eagle Claw Trailmaster spin/fly “convertible.” Like most products designed to perform multiple functions, it didn’t do anything well. Next was a classic but horribly clumsy Shakespeare Wonderod. Then I purchased a Daiwa VIP Gold, a good-looking but marginal stick. I owned several Shakespear Ugly Stik’s as well, and other than being virtually indestructible, they were, well, aptly named: Ugly. I also bought an amazingly heavy and incredibly poorly finished Kodiak, and a few other long- and best-forgotten dogs and cats.

The first decent glass fly rod I owned was a vintage brown glass Fenwick. A tad short, a bit stiff, and with a plastic triangular tube that didn’t hold its shape and couldn’t keep its cap, it worked, and fairly well. Next I stepped up to an Orvis Golden Eagle, the last glass fly rod I purchased until just a few years ago. But that’s where it ended as I was swept up by the graphite tide.

Best Fiberglass Fly Rods

After a hiatus of twentyish years, I found myself looking at glass rods again for the reasons noted above. As the owner of a shop at the time, I looked at what was available through conventional fly rod manufacturers. While one company offered a well-wrapped rod with modern tapers and a narrow profile, there was just not that much out there.

Having purchased a best-in-class mainstream S-Glass rod, I started looking beyond my vendor circle. What I found was this niche cult-like market dedicated to pushing the envelope and developing cutting edge fiberglass fly rods. Some businesses made blanks, some wrapped other people’s blanks, and some made blanks and rolled their own finished rods.

Soon I took on a fiberglass rod column in a regional online magazine, and quite accidentally. Apparently someone had agreed to do it and failed to deliver, leaving the publisher holding the bag, and him handing it off to me. This upped the anti and planted me solidly in the glass rod camp, and the rest is history.

Inevitably my journey landed me at Epic, manufacturers of best-in-class glass rods. In fact, once you delve into the world of modern fiberglass rods, all roads eventually lead to Epic. Their blanks are clean, the tapers modern, the cork flawless, the hardware top-notch, and the workmanship impeccable. And while clearly high-tech products, they still have that traditional glass feel that I have grown to love.
My affair with Epic started with an S2-Glass 370 FastGlass Studio Built rod, a great all-around small stream rod. Next up was a 476 Packlight FastGlass, a 5-piece rod for backcountry use. While I’m not sure where I’ll go next, I am sure I’ll go…

Bob MallardBOB MALLARD has fly fished for forty years. He is a former fly shop owner and a Registered Maine Fishing Guide. Bob is a blogger, writer, author, fly designer, and native fish advocate. He is the Publisher, Northeast Regional Editor and a regular contributor to Fly Fish America magazine; a columnist with Southern Trout online magazine, and a staff fly designer at Catch Fly Fishing. Bob is a founding member and National Vice Chair for Native Fish Coalition. His writing, photographs, and flies have been featured at the local, regional and national level including Outdoor Life, Fly Fisherman, Fly Fish America, Fly Rod & Reel, American Angler, Fly Fishing & Tying Journal, Fly Tyer, Angling Trade, Eastern Fly Fishing, Southern Trout, Fly Fishing New England, MidCurrent, OrvisNews, The Fiberglass Manifesto, Tenkara Angler, the R.L. Winston catalog, and the books Guide Flies, Caddisflies, and America’s Favorite Flies. Bob has written two books and contributed to several others. Look for his books, 50 Best Places Fly Fishing the Northeast and 25 Best Towns Fly Fishing for Trout (Stonefly Press.) Bob’s next book, Squaretail: The Definitive Guide to Brook Trout, is due out summer of 2019 (Stackpole Books.) He can be reached at www.bobmallard.com, info@bobmallard.com or 207-399-6270.

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Backcountry Fly Tying Kit Equally at home on a trip or on your fly tying bench, our Backcountry Fly Tying kit features the very best Italian made tools by Stonfo and a pair of remarkable hand crafted fly tying scissors by Renomed of Poland. There are no finer fly tying tools made. We've taken the best of the best and presented them in a thoughtful waxed cotton canvas tool roll featuring genuine leather trim and straps fastened with classic brass catches. The hand stitched waterproof tool roll houses & protects these high quality tools and features two additional pouches to tuck away fly tying materials and hooks. The Renomed "Fly Tier" scissors feature a 'super cut' finely serrated blade that makes cutting deer hair and fur a breeze, and the larger scissor handles afford comfort and extraordinary durability and functionality. Tool Collection  Renomed Fly Tier Super Cut scissors (retail US$45) Stonfo Dubbing Twister Stonfo Hackle pliers Stonfo Elite Bodkin (Stainless Steel) Stonfo Dubbing Brush Stonfo Bobtec1  Adjustable Bobbin With Ceramic Insert (Stainless Steel) Stonfo Elite Bodkin (Stainless steel) Stonfo Elite Whip Finisher (Stainless Steel)
Streamer wallet fly wallet Streamer wallet fly wallet
Backcountry Streamer Wallet $69.95
Back Country Streamer Wallet Carry and show off your streamers in style in our cotton canvas fly wallet Handcrafted and waterproof in waxed cotton Canvas, genuine sheepskin and hand tooled leather. Each wallet is hand cut and stitched from waxed cotton canvas and lined with lambswool. Measuring  12cm wide by 17 cm closed (4.5" x 7") Big enough to house and protect even the biggest lures and streamers. Streamer wallets have a few advantages over dropping your expensive streamers in a fly box. The open ended design and fine lambswool liner drys flies and lets them breath Flies are kept separated - No more tangled flies and hooks Easy to see and easy to grab - particularly if you have stinger hooks on your streamers They look sensational and big fish love them! Measuring 11cm wide by 17 cm long closed (4.5" x 7") Waterproof, small enough to fit in a wader pocket but capable of holding a large collection of flies
Skeleton Pocket Knife Skeleton Pocket Knife
Skeleton Pocket Knife $49.95
Stainless Steel Skeleton Utility Knife Our paired back skeleton knife features a locking blade and belt clip. Easy to clean, and at just over 2 inches folded (55mm) and pocket knife size, it's the perfect everyday carry or the ideal addition to your fly fishing kit. Sheeps-foot Blade A sheepsfoot blade is shaped with one flat edge that meets the opposing edge at a curved tip; one edge is flat to the tip while the other edge runs parallel, curving at the sharp end to provide a curved tip. The dull flat edge is ideal for providing the user with lots of control over the blade and is favoured for whittling, trimming and cutting where a high degree of control is required.   Blade material: 3CR13 s/s Handle material: 2cr13 Blade length: 55mm Blade thickness: 2.5MM Blade finished: steel Knife length: 140mm A great quality handy utility knife
Fly Tying Vice Travel Fly Tying Vice
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Backcountry Travel Vice Equally at home on a trip or on your fly tying bench, our Backcountry vice is a robust, beautifully built, no-nonsense fly tying vice. Featuring hard steel jaws, quick lock cam and all packed away in a stylin' protective felt case made from recycled plastic bottles! Holds hooks from size 2 to 22 Hard steel jaws Quick-lock cam' operation Rotary head Fully adjustable Allen key Recycled PET felt carry pouch
Stroft Tippet carry system Tippet Stroft Cutter and Carry System - Complete Set
Stroft Cutter and Carry System - 3 spool Set $27.95
3 Spool Stroft tippet system Three high quality German made Stroft Cutter & retaining rings - made to fit over standard Stroft tippet Spools. Spool Holder Stroft short strap - Vest strap & Carabiner The ideal system to hold, dispense and trim Stroft tippet A retainer rings and high quality cutter ring. Cutter is razor sharp, and coated in come magical stuff that is corrosion resistant. (We couldn't even spell the alloy) Fits all Stroft spools from 25m to 50m (ABR, GTM, FC!, FC2, Fluer) Includes color coded easy peel labels  This is an incredibly well made tippet system! *does not include spools of tippet material - Stroft Tippet Spools available for purchase separately  Got questions? - Drop us a line, we'd love to hear from you.
Stainless steel Hip Flask Hip Flask
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The Good Libations Stainless Steel Hip Flask  Carry your favourite adult beverage in style with our Good Libations Stainless Steel Hip flask. About the size of a small fly box it's the perfect addition to your fly vest or bag. Smooth rounded corners make for quick extraction in times of celebration. Stainless steel and about as tough as they come, at a hearty 9oz ( 28 ml) there's plenty to share! Stainless Steel Silicon cap retainer Easy sippin' ergo design Bigger than most Cheers! Capacity: 9oz ( 266 ml) Dimensions: 127mm x 83mm x 29ml Material: Stainless Steel Positive Mood Adjustment

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