I lost my fly rod today, or more accurately, it was taken from me.
The rod was an Epic 590. It was given to me by Carl McNeil and rodmaker Trevor Bourne at Epic headquarters in Wanaka, New Zealand. I was on the South Island at the time, filming ‘The Introduction: New Zealand’s Brown Trout Story’ with Jack Kós.
First, let me say, I’m not a rod collector. I like to fish one rod and fish it well, and I like utilitarian fly rods. The Epic 590 is just that - four piece for easy packing, no hook keep, light weight with enough backbone to land a big brown in heavy water, yet nimble enough to creek fish. I remember the day Trevor took it off the rod rack and handed it to me. The cork handle was flawless. The rod balanced perfectly in my hand. It was a work of art. I felt deeply humbled. That night Jack and I ate dinner at Trevor’s house and listened to him play blues guitar.
A good fly rod is forged by the the spirit of those who craft it, but it is also imbued with the trout it has caught, the adventures it has seen, the stories it creates. A fly rod has a soul, a resonance. My 590 became a part of me.
Yesterday, I fished my Epic for the final time. My wife and I hiked to an alpine lake high in the Pioneer Mountains. It’s the realm of black bears and mountain goats, pika and bald eagles. We fished for cutthroat trout that rose with a beauty only they possess.
The last trout I caught with my Epic was a Yellowstone cutthroat. At dusk we broke our rods down and placed them in their rod socks for the night. We set them on a boulder near our tent and climbed in our sleeping bags. Sometime after dark as we were drifting off to sleep I heard the whoosh of wings swoop over the tent, real or imagined I couldn’t say.
The next morning, as soon I as unzipped the tent I knew my rod was gone. Christine’s rod sat alone on the rock, just where she’d left it. My Epic had vanished like a dream. An eagle had come in the night and taken it.
To be honest, I’m gutted. But in the end there’s not much more I could ask of a fly rod. It was an incredible gift and a great joy to fish.
(Ben Pierce is a photographer, Filmmaker and Fly Angler living in Montana - He loves Eagles)
This is a 9.25 pounder I caught on a size-18 Parachute Adams with Jack and Tony Entwistle. Watched that fish rise 18 times before casting to it once. Perfect take. Crazy thing, Jack caught the same fish in the same pool a couple years earlier. After he told me we were bonded for life:
Back home in Montana casting on a magical piece of water for monster cutthroat trout. I took Jack here and we fished it together when he was in the States. These fished were colored up and the jacks were pushing 6 pounds. That’s a serious fish in our neck of the woods.
Casting in the shadow of Vulcan Lanín on the Rio Malleo near Junín de los Andes, Argentina. This trip fulfilled a longtime goal to cast on the Malleo that was seeded on my first trip to Patagonia in 2009.
Giving the Epic 590 a workout on Zorro Spring Creek in the Chilean Andes last January. I was consistently amazed at the way that rod performed in a variety of circumstances. I mentioned utility in my Instagram post and I meant it. The 590 basically ticks all the boxes for me as a trout rod. You guys ruined me.
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