The Epic brand was born out of the simple desire to “Build a Better Fly Rod” after having seen so many fly casters hampered by stiff lifeless fly rods.


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Recently I was asked if I’d like to try out the Epic 590 C.

Being somewhat of a fan the Epic fibreglass range for the past couple of years and having enjoyed the soulful experience they offer fly fishers I have to confess I wondered “why on earth is Carl of Epic bothering with Carbon”? Hell that is such a well catered and competitive market - right? 

Most of us in the game reckon it’s REALLY hard to get a rubbish rod nowadays! Many are superb casting machines – some are even great fishing tools. Occasionally, those attributes come together and this baby, the Epic590 C, does it with all the panache and style of an Aston Martin!!

From the moment of undressing from the stylish black rod tube it is clear that there have been many hours of thought, research and downright passion that have gone into the making of this state of the art modern fly rod - from the high grade Portuguese cork handle, black alloy bar stock reel seat, black nickel guides, Japanese silk wraps all on a black unidirectional carbon fly rod blank. It clearly appears thinner and much lighter than other rods. Put simply – “ it oozes “slick””

In the past 30 years we have all witnessed the quest for a faster and faster rod action. As a guide I have seen far too many “bust offs” on “sets” and “fights”.  However, some manufacturers really didn’t get caught up in all of that “testosterone, macho, greatest distance caster hype” Epic is such a rod maker and the 590 C is the quintessential example of what a fly rod should do. Its medium fast action allows for extremely long casts while being equally at home with the finest and shortest of presentations. Its recovery speeds are surprisingly incredibly fast and yet the rod performs with a classic silky smoothness and finesse rarely experienced. I have to admit for me “it was love at first cast”. I didn’t want to put it down! At all distances its performance was exemplary. 


"the 590 C is the quintessential example of what a fly rod should do"


Testing on the water was even more of a thrill – funny that! Short tight casts under trees, delicate reach casts over glassy water to “spent” risers and even to the inevitable methodical “ripple working” it performed with absolute grace. Mending and presentation casts were a joy to execute. Oh yes and of course the “set” and “play” – not a problem the “cushion” was sensational even on the “testiest and angriest” of wild Upper Mataura browns. Thrusts and parries could be executed with absolute confidence - fish quickly succumbed. The classic “feel” comes right through to the handle – sensitivity with strength – sounds like the “perfect male”!!

It is clear that “passion and soul” have come to fore in the making of this exceptional fly rod and to think that it all happens in New Zealand and more particularly here in Wanaka is something quite unique. 

Occasionally, through our fly fishing journey our passion gets “re invigorated” – most often through “people” - engaging with younger, blindly enthusiastic younger like minded people. In this instance, for me, that reinvigoration is ignited by discovering a phenomenal fly rod, the Epic 590 C. 

Good on you Carl, Jeannie, Trevor and team for sharing your passion with the world.  I for one just can’t wait to get “back out there” with the Epic 590 C!!


Ian Cole Wanaka Fly Fishing Guide

Ian Cole is the real deal. He has extensively guided over the lower half of the South Island since 1992. Starting fly fishing at the tender age of 13 he has amassed 45 years of fly-fishing experience.

Ian is a Certified IFFF Fly Casting Instructor and IFFF Guides Association Member.  

Of particular note, Ian has made an outstanding contribution to New Zealand Fish and Game as a long standing council representative & active conservationist.



The Boca Grande is a three hat steak.

Golden Trevally on the Epic Boca Grande Fly Rod

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.

Golden Trevally Peci Boca Grande Fly Rod

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.


Wicked Fun!

WOW. I was a little intimidated at the thought of building a rod. It's the reason why I hadn't already completed a rod on my own. Buying equipment and various components, and making sure everything went together appropriately seemed (to a complete novice) like a daunting task. This kit takes the process and simplifies things, making it easy for ANYONE to build a fly rod.

Any questions you have are answered and there's even a page in the instructions dedicated to tips and tricks that will make things a little easier during the process. I was able to finish my rod within a week's time, taking my time when I could sit down at the desk and put in a couple hours at a time. It was truly enjoyable, and once completed I couldn't wait to start my next one! Swift/Epic has put together a freakin' awesome instruction booklet and some legit, quality components in this kit! The finished product... Well, it's nothing short of awesomeness and badassery! It's been impossible to put down a nd has already been treating me right! This rod is a beast.

Don't let the fiberglass flexiness fool you. It has some big cahones! I've tossed everything from light foam poppers, to large articulated streamers on it with no problem! And apparently it comes with some major fish karma! I'm completely smitten with this rod, and the fact that I put it together makes it that much sweeter.

Big thanks to Swift and Epic for taking the uncertainties out of the rod making process! I'll have a full review and photos of my build on G&G in the coming weeks!

- Justin Picket


The Epic 690-C, carbon fly rod: 

First impression
In my opinion,  outside of a custom job by a top rod builder, this is undoubtedly the best made fly rod on the market,. Certainly steps ahead of the other high-end 'production' fly rods on the market.  Because fly rods make up such such a tiny portion of the fishing tackle industry, all the high end rod makers tout their products as more or less hand crafted.  This is true. There's just no way to finish a high quality fly rod through some kind of mechanised process. It takes hand work. Hand work takes care, and time. On the cheaper rods, usually made in Asia, this shows. Low cost components put together with little quality control.  Not that you can't get a decent rod for very little money these days, but you won't get a really fine instrument like the Epic 690-C. So for those anglers with an eye for quality and fine craftsmanship, as well as value for money, you need look no further.  There is no detail overlooked by the two full-time rod builders at Epic. No assembly line here. The build on this thing is superb.

The build:
The first thing you notice, and feel, is the grip and reel seat. Both are exceptional. The quality of the cork is outstanding, there is no better out there, and Carl McNeil promises that this is going to get even better.  He's got a line of the best cork available, smooth and fine, and very 'squeezable', with no sign of the extensive filler found on all other high end fly rods. The distinctive grip shape grabs your attention.  I love the size and feel of the full wells grip.  Grips that are too narrow cause me to squeeze too hard and at the end of a long day I can feel it.  The Epic full wells nestles comfortably in my hand and the palm swell is perfectly situated. The Epic full wells has a unique, thoughtfully designed rather than traditional, look to it. 'Form follows function' here beautifully. 

I've got a thing for reel seats.  Most of us who have been around the track do.  There are some beautiful custom seats out there now, but the Epic remember is a 'production' rod. The Epic seat is a robust, all metal, all machined job that really looks and feels the business. Over the past few decades, high end and custom rods usually sport a decorative wooden barrel insert, usually of some rare-ish species. Personally, I always go for the all metal type, always black, normally double locking. The Epic has a single screw lock up, but its rock solid. The threads on the uplocking seat look  look a tad long behind the reel, to my taste, particularly with the cork butt added, but this is nit-picking on a very fussy level and is only apparent with a small diameter reel.  With my Abel Super 6, for instance, it looks perfect.The extended length with the 'fighting' butt keeps the reel out of the dirt, which, after all, is its main function. The cork butt on the Epic is the nicest I've seen. The handle cluster is finished off with a beautiful metal, not plastic or rubber,  ring that matches the reel seat and discretely displays the rod serial number. A nice touch, and its these details that add up to a high quality rod. The whole thing has a beautifully designed, no-nonsense look to it.

The guides are the best there is: titanium strippers with Silicon carbide inserts and Snake brand snakes and tip ring. All in black. There's a Bugatti thing going on here. 

The action:
For the past forty years, like most of us, I've been in love with stiff fly rods.  They kept getting stiffer and faster, and they couldn't get fast enough for me.  Recently, the top end rod makers have been offering softer, gentler, more 'fishable' actions.  Maybe its because al lot of us are getting older and our pace is slowing a bit, but a lot of young anglers have been taking the slow lane as well.  One reason is, simply, that the stiff rods are too hard to bend. They lack the cushioning feel of the classic medium action and demand a fine tuned sense of timing and a sophisticated stroke.  The Epic 690-C, and it's little sister, the 590-C, have been a revelation to me. It combines a lightening recovery speed with a sexy, smooth as butter feel that you just don't get with the usual gun fly rods.

Carl has brought his casting expertise (IFFFMCI) and 'fishy' designers sensibility to bear in the Epic 690-C. As the foremost glass fiber rod designer today, he knows what's required to get both crispness and feel out of a rod, not to mention good looks, and he's done it here. (all the techy specs are available on the Swift website). Until I got the Epic in my hands I regarded the Sage One as probably the ultimate casting machine, and believed it too.  No mistake, the One is a serious rod. There are others of course, all good rods and some great, but the Epic is a game changer, and I'd put it up against any of them.  I've had a minor revolution in my thinking.  With the Epic I'm getting pretty much the same distance and all the handling capabilities of the One 691, but achieving it with less punch, and way more pleasure. One reason is Swing-weight.  Despite a much tougher and solidly built reel seat, the Epic feels ounces lighter in the hand than the Sage One 691.  It isn't that much, I suspect, but the extremely narrow blank on the Epic makes the Epic feel like a five-weight, or the One feel like a seven or eight weight, almost ponderous, by comparison.  The build quality, I must add, doesn't compare.

The big thing for me is the smoothness of my casting with the Epic. I've adjusted my stroke, throttled back on the power a bit, and out it goes, just as far and with no choppiness or tip bounce.  Roll casting and single speys are a doddle with the Epic, the mid-to tip action loads up beautifully and with plenty of grunt as it begins to lock up just below the half way point.  With a 'medium-fast' action like that you'd expect some noticeable swing weight and tip bounce, but the Epic is lightning fast and crisp as a crisp thing, recovering to straight in an in an eye blink. With a decent fish on, the rod really comes into its own, the lower sections have loads of reserve and while you can feel every throb of the fish out there, right into your hand, the rod is hooped in a perfect classic progressive parabola. That's great fly rod design. The thicker wall of carbon cloth allows extreme over all thinness in the blank, but gives it incredible strength. It looks so delicate and fragile, but its deceiving. Although you don't want to push its limits - it is a carbon fibre rod after all, not glass - I found myself doing things with this rod I wouldn't dare with any of my other rods - I've had more than a few rods explode on me while landing fish.

Summing up:
Casting, line management, fish handling and, best of all, the build quality - the Epic 690-C is the nicest carbon/graphite fly rod I've ever used. End of story. Now to get one of those sweet little 590s.

- Bob Wyatt. Author, Angler, IFFF Certified Casting Instructor


Subject: I love my 580!

Hi Carl,

I’ve fished my So Blue 580 three times now and have spent some time casting it in the yard. Only one other rod in my lifetime has given me anywhere near this much joy [an old Sage 389 VPS-L]. I’ve landed about 70 fish on it, including a few smallmouth bass in the 3-lb class, and have comfortably cast some big [#4] Chernobyls with it. It does everything I want a rod to do, except go long with a short stroke.

This rod is a magnificent achievement and I sing its praises [along with Craig Buckbee’s 686] to every serious flyrodder I know.

With deep thanks,

N. Macauley Lord
Macauley Lord is a noted U.S. fly casting instructor and author. Macauley holds multiple fly casting qualifications from the International Federation Of Fly Fishers (formerly the FFF) and in 1995 was certified as a Master Fly Casting Instructor.
In August 2012, Lord was awarded the highest distinction in the fly casting world, the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Federation of Fly Fishers. A press release at the time said “his words, like his instructions show beginners and experts alike how to take their skills to the next level, focusing on many of the little casting techniques that incrementally lead to the whole of being more successful in the water.” 


Exceptional rod and studio build
A year ago, I spent several days with Carl and Jeanne in New Zealand. On the first afternoon of our visit, Carl and I did some casting in his yard and he handed me the new Epic 686 fast glass rod to cast. Wow.... the more I cast the rod the more I like it. This is one of the few rod on the market which is 100% responsive. Vary your casting stroke acceleration and you will feel the rod load from the very tip all the way into the cork. Cast it with a quick stroke or a relax stroke and the rod responds. You can quit thinking about slow and heavy glass rods. This is not your grand father's glass rod of old.

Having returned home, I could not stop thinking about the Epic 686 rod and Carl did not help at all with pictures of killer rod builds on his Facebook page. Finally, I gave into temptation and ordered up the Epic So Blue 686 rod. The studio build on this rod is simply stunning with high quality components. You will love the transparent silk wraps. Everyone who has cast this rod is envious. This rod will stop traffic on the river if there is any. The blank seemingly glows in the sunlight drawing the attention of other anglers and wildlife alike.
I have had the rod for four months now and in that time have cast everything from a 3 wt to a 200 grain sink tip on the rod. This rod will take just about any line you can imagine and deliver an awesome casts. I have also fished dry flies on the rod with a 6 wt trout taper line (truly a treat) and fished big streamers on the swing with a 150 grain sink tip line. The 686 simply spanks fish from 14' to 28' rainbows. Spring creeks to big water this rod delivers. The Kiwi's have done it again with the Epic series of rods!
My only dilemma now is what Epic rod to order next.... Ohhhh... I am gonna be in trouble at home.
- Mark Huber, International Federation Of Fly Fishers Master Casting Instructor, Two Handed Casting Instructor.

by far the most popular GLASS streamer rod on the market
"I really believe the EPIC 686 is by far the most popular GLASS streamer rod on the market. More often than not, I get requests for the 686 and most of the time in Salsa. Carl has created a wonderful, and powerful taper and folks love them!"
- Shane Gray. Master Fly Rod Builder, Graywolf Rods.


It is quite possibly one of the best 6wts on the market
"I will only touch on this for a second because everyone keeps hearing how phenomenal the 686 is. This is a phenomenal blank.  The beauty is in the fact that the rod will lay out ten feet of line with the delicacy of a full flex cane, but when called upon fire 95' of line into a stiff breeze. It does all of this with a great deal of feel and composure that most rods will never achieve. It is quite possibly one of the best 6wts on the market glass, graph, or grass."

- Zeb Tonkavich. Master Fly Rod Builder, Snowman Custom Rod Works


I am beyond impressed
"the Epic 686 is (f#$%'ing) magic in my hands. This fly rod is responsive, quick to load, and a powerhouse that lays out very long accurate casts with relative ease.

Being able to drop a large weighed fly in front of laid up or cruising smallmouth that were 50' to 70' out with just a couple backcasts was amazing. This was way less about my skills and way more about the capability of the Epic 686. I am beyond impressed."
- Cameron Mortenson. The Fiberglass Manifesto


so smooth it's like casting with cruise control
Got to try out my new epic 480 fastglass fly rod today and I must congratulate Carl McNeil and swift fly fishing. A very honest rod a real pleasure to fish with. These rods are so smooth it's like casting with cruise control. The outstanding feature for this rod was roll casting and roll cast pick ups with just 20feet of line it was effortless and so smooth with a great soft presentation. Fishing was tuff today so I also tested it out with a dry and bead head nymph dropper, the rod handle it no worries. Looking forward to many more hours with this gem.
- Leigh Dowell. USA. International Federation Of Fly Casters Certified Casting Instructor.


Accuracy and presentation are both excellent
"The Epic bends deeper than comparable carbon rods, I cannot see why glass rods are sometimes compared with cane. I sort of expected the old, glass-rod wobble and weight, but this feels light in my hand, the action is deep certainly a lower stiffness than I’m used to. I found myself slowing and smoothing my casting just a little, lengthening my stroke. Loop control is good. Accuracy and presentation are both excellent. A very enjoyable casting and fishing tool, and nothing wobbled. The rating is for a #4 weight line - I can go a line heavier - I found myself casting a long line with relative ease, even though this is a small stream rod. 

Many years ago a tackle dealer friend told me that glass rods were still getting better when graphite and carbon-fibre replaced glass-fibre. Going by this blank I can believe it.”

"This Looks cool!"
- Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Magazine (UK) July 2014. Review by Magnus Angus
More >


One of the lightest and quickest glass rods I have thrown
"Jared took the honours and cast first. It took about 4 false cats for a big grin to spread over his face. Jared quickly gave it a “double thumbs up” and declared it more than a “situational” fly rod. I tried it out next and agreed. I kept setting it down after 5 minutes, then grabbing it again. Fun is the word. One of the lightest and quickest glass rods I have thrown. But it also has that lively feeling that many glass rods lack. You immediately want to take it out to the river."
- Headhunters Fly Shop. Montana.
Read the entire review>


excellent river smallmouth medicine
"Even being a five weight it would throw a six weight Mastery GPX without really breaking a sweat; just add poppers, and you have excellent river smallmouth medicine. Five weight trout lines were accurate and easy to lay out quietly; this rod would be very comfortable dropping Borcher’s parachutes into feeding lanes on the Au Sable come May, and would have the reserve strength to subdue the shouldery brown trout that live there. This is a Fishy rod.
- Scientific Anglers Tom Hazleton reviews the Epic 580.

Read the Full Review >


like comparing cro-magnon man to modern humans
"I have to say up front that comparing those wobbly old things to the Epic 580 is a bit like comparing cro-magnon man to modern humans, sure he used tools and looked a bit like we do, but really the two are very, very different." 
- Dean, New Zealand
Read the Full Review >


the best I have used
Took my new Epic 580 for its first proper fish today. Now, I have fished a lot of rods in a lot of places, and for stream fishing, I would rate this stick as the best I have used.  Casts so smoothly and accurately, and you don't need to worry about folding over the tip.
- Dan Isbister, New Zealand. FFF CI, Ex Alaskan guide, outfitter.


the Epic consistently out casts all of them
"As you know I love my Z Axis but I now find myself picking up the Epic each time I go for a cast or a fish. I have tried casting a number of Rods with the same line on each and the Epic consistently out casts all of them, which is amazing given that the Epic is shorter. The Epic loads smoothly and has heaps of grunt, it is a fantastic fishing tool. I am in the process of setting up a boat to chase some of the pelagic's up here and I intend fit it out with all Epic rods.

I know if you get an Epic you will be more than happy with it"  
- Brian Henderson, Professional Angler, Guide. International Federation Of Fly Fishers Master Casting Instructor, Two Handed Casting Instructor.Instructor.  



They cast silky loops a very long 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." 
- Peter Hayes, Champion Fly Caster, Professional Angler, Guide, IFFF Master Fly Casting Instructor.



I'm hooked
"That rod certainly lived up to its name. I fished on water that's usually reserved for my Winston BIIT, and the Epic outperformed that rod in every way. I'm hooked" 
- Charles, USA.


I am beyond impressed
"the Epic 686 is (f#$%'ing) magic in my hands. This fly rod is responsive, quick to load, and a powerhouse that lays out very long accurate casts with relative ease.

Being able to drop a large weighed fly in front of laid up or cruising smallmouth that were 50' to 70' out with just a couple backcasts was amazing. This was way less about my skills and way more about the capability of the Epic 686. I am beyond impressed."
- Cameron Mortenson, Fiberglass Aficionado. The Fiberglass Manifesto  


this thing is rock solid rod
"Backbone it has plenty. It was initially my fear this would be a cork flex blank. Very wrong, it flexes from about the tip to a third of the way down. It has reserve power to turn big fish, and throw huge meaty flies.  ...To recap this thing is rock solid rod. Anyone who is looking for a heavy line rod that with feel and sensitivity this is a serious contender. Whether it is graphite or glass, this rod will compete with the best of the best 9wts and very user friendly."
- Zeb Tonkavich, AKA "The Snowman" Master Rod Crafter Snowman Custom Rod Works


I like it so much
"I cast and fish the 480, it is a lovely rod. Actually I wanted to sell it but I like it so much, I decided not to" 
- Paul, Rod Builder.


blown away by the accuracy and smoothness
"When I first wiggled an Epic blank I just knew it will turn into an amazing rod. Shortly after the first rod was born I took it out on my local trout stream with a couple of friends to fish dry flies. They both tried the rod, one of them was a bamboo bum and the other a graphite fan. Long story short. At the end of the day, all three of us were blown away by the accuracy and smoothness of this rod. Very easy to cast a tight loop with it and make pinpoint casts to rising fish. They were both converted to the new Epic glass. And so was I."
- George Minculete, Master Rod Crafter, Tightloop Fly Rods



"Just some thoughts on the 480 now I have had a few hours casting. Simply fantastic."

- Nick, Australia.


"Rod built, blank very sexy, can't believe how it performs, a smoother rod I have never cast" 
- Pete, USA.


blown away
"Still blown away by the performance of your rods.. just love the smoothness and power.."
- Alexander, Sweden. 


"Hi Carl, A recent email from Peter Hayes reminded me that I had not reported back to you how the build went with the above rod blank that I ordered from you after the Cressy Conclave. It went bloody fantastic. What a lovely little dry fly stream rod. Ecstatic is probably the word I am looking for to describe how I feel about it."
- Andrew, Australia.


casts nicer than any graphite I own
"I am not a glass guy, or at least I wasn't.  I had always thought glass a poor second cousin to graphite - slow soft and imprecise, and most of the new glass offerings I've cast still are. Not so the Epic, my 580 casts nicer than any graphite I own - and that's quite a few! You have an Epic convert"
-  Taylor, USA

 You can view more Epic reviews, testimonials & custom builds on our Blog here >>>

Epic fly rods New Zealand