I went fishing last week

Someone asked me recently if I ever get any work done and do I only go fishing? My answer was an unequivocal and hearty ‘YES’. Being your own boss has perks. Like fishing. But it’s also a necessary part of building fly rods as part of ‘research and development’. So last week I took my new Synthesis 66 (a 6’6” 2wt 4 piece rod) out for some exploring. I’d fished in the area before but not this particular creek. I had a feeling it’d be good and I really wanted to see all of the fishable water so I had a mission. When on a mission like this, part of it is covering ground to check out the fishery and the other part is to fish to get to know the personality of the fish there. This is a good time of year to do that since the trees still don’t have leaves and you can see the whole terrain through the forest, and the fish are starting to get active. The struggle is to keep the exploration momentum is real if the fish are biting though so it takes strict discipline as seen in the photos below.

On the way there…

There… good pools and plentiful runs. Decent game trails and beautiful fish.

More… tired dog, a stowaway mayfly and pretty fish. And a little exploration for different access next time.

My conclusion is that this stream needs more ‘me’ time. I loved it. The water is clear and healthy, the fish are smart and eager and the pools are plentiful. This will be a good early summer spot for sure.

First day of Spring

Several weeks ago, on the first day of spring, I took off. It was one of those days that needed to involve fishing no matter if fish were caught or not. I got a few official rod building items done, told the the necessary people where I’d be and clocked out. I decided to explore a new section of a creek I know well. One that hardly ever sees an angler, I imagine.

I parked, knew the general direction to walk through the woods and went. 

After about a mile I found a spring that lead to the creek. I love this time of year. New life popping everywhere. And seeing a spring just happen was icing on the cake.   May flies and stone flies and caddis flies, little green shoots shooting up, ferns and fungus.

Following the trickle, it started to build momentum. Past old logging trails and game trails. Then I found the stream, sat down and rigged up as I watched a little pocket of water for activity. I saw a few shadows dart in the water so I hands and knees’d it to within casting distance. A few false casts to test whether or not I’d hook a tree first then presented my #16 Mr. Rapidan. Swipe! I missed the first signs of a fish. Laid the fly back down and wham! First beautiful brook trout of the day. 

That happened over and over again over the next two and a half hours. Ending with a huge 11”er. Sort of. That eleven inch totally wild and native brook trout, king of the stream actually took a little line. Heart pounding, I landed the fish, admired it and let it go. Deciding then that the day was done and I felt totally refreshed. Then I saw another pocket to cast to and caught a 9”er. Cut off my fly, stuck it in my hat, took my rod apart and started the hike out in the general direction of the car. 

When I got back into cell range while driving home I called my fishing buddies and told them all about it still brimming with excitement. 

That was my first day of spring. And one of the best yet.  

Driving north. Pilot Mountain

Driving north. Pilot Mountain



Exploring with my constant companion.

Exploring with my constant companion.

I think Stella needed this day about like I did.

I think Stella needed this day about like I did.

The first of many.

The first of many.

The fish were super fat and colored up.

The fish were super fat and colored up.

Small and mighty.

Small and mighty.

I think this guy just ate a craw fish.

I think this guy just ate a craw fish.

Home of the big fella.

Home of the big fella.

The big fella. Wild, native and free.

The big fella. Wild, native and free.

Another constant companion, my 6’8” 3wt Blue Ridge Special.

Another constant companion, my 6’8” 3wt Blue Ridge Special.

Early Spring in the Blue Ridge

A few weeks back Fishing Buddy Dave and I fished a nearby creek. He took great pictures. We caught fish. We saw life peaking out and bugs in the air.

The ravages of winter and life.

Stella pays attention to everything. I would love to know her thoughts.

A wee stonefly taking a break on my shoulder.

Can’t hold new life back.

Saw a bunch of these mayflies in the air. Fish were mostly feeding on the nymphs but we caught a few on dries.

Walking the old logging trails.

Fishing and scrambling up the slots.

A colored up wee fella.

Dave used sinking flies. And caught more fish.

Trying not to fall.

A hungry little fatty.

Casting to the fishy part of the pool under a downed tree.

Just sitting and watching the water. Much of fishing is enjoying the moment and reviving.

Wood and Women

I love wood. Early on, I preferred to build rods with a cork reel seat. I loved, and still do love, a simple cork seat. I fell in love with them on those early Orvis bamboo, fiberglass and graphite rods with the dual ring seats. So classic and simple and functional. 

Photo courtesy of Vintage Fly Tackle

Photo courtesy of Vintage Fly Tackle

But I’m always drawn to the beauty of wood. Furniture, guitars, floors, downed trees. It’s unpredictable, beautiful and tells story.  Recently I have used a piece of wood that I recovered from a bowling alley in Nacogdoches, Texas when I was in college during a demo/construction job. I’ve built  some rods with reel seats made from that beautiful birdseye maple. I only have a few pieces left. 


In a seeming happenstance last year, I received a piece of wood from a good friend along with some other wood species to try. As I was turning it, I was overwhelmed by the smell. In a very good way. There was this comforting eye and nasal burn that was absolutely incredible. It smelled so good, but also brought me to a place that reminded me of good things and wonderful people.  

I learned to fish by spending time along the edges of Mississippi farm ponds with my grandmother. It was by her side that I grew to deeply love the process of fishing. The patience, the quiet, the exploration, the exhilaration. 

My grandmother would use this slimy stuff called Mentholatum. She used it for chapped lips, scratches and scrapes, rub it on your chest to help with congestion as well as any other aches and pains. The main ingredient to this smelly slimy stuff is camphor. When I was turning this piece of mystery wood from my friend, it brought me back to those times with my grandmother. It was camphor wood.

Naturally, another woman that has heavily influenced my love of fishing is of course, my mother. Moreso than my grandma actually. As a kid and on into adulthood, she lovingly encouraged my love for fishing. She has carried on the torch of Mentholatum usage. In fact, every single birthday and Christmas for my rememberable history I have received a small gift wrapped box containing a small jar of Mentholatum. A bit redundant but also much appreciated - every single drawer and hideyhole in our house has a stash of the slimey smelley stuff. I don’t mean to sound unappreciative. I truly do love and appreciate it. And when the gift is forgotten I am quick to remind my mom of her negligence. Not a day goes by that I don’t apply a little bit of the stuff to a cut, chapped lips or my chest or feet to help with some kind of discomfort.  I have a small jar of it on my desk in front of me right now.


As usual, this has been a drawn out and semi-convoluted story so far. But, when I discovered a wood, something I deeply appreciate, that reunites meaningful family and fishing and all that is truly significant in life it was a no brainer to adopt this wood as something that I would incorporate into the fly rods I put all of my being into. 

So after all that, which is really more than anyone, other than my mom, should read. I thought I’d share a few sequence pictures of how I choose wood for my fly rods. 

Yesterday afternoon I moved my wood blank lathe out to my back porch. It was in the mid 50’s and a little breezy but I felt like I needed to do my part to summon springtime so I donned my favorite pair of cargo shorts and showed the neighborhood my pasty white legs. I packed a pipe that was recently given to me by a friend and customer with a favorite breezy day tobacco - Gawith & Hoggarth’s Louisiana Perique Flake. I took six 1.5x12” sticks of camphor wood, that on the surface only told me a little bit of what their character was and turned them down to 1 1/8” dowels.

It was pointed out to me that my tool rest is much farther away from the work piece than it should be.  NOTED!  Won’t happen again.  Thanks for mentioning it J!

It was pointed out to me that my tool rest is much farther away from the work piece than it should be. NOTED! Won’t happen again. Thanks for mentioning it J!

As always Stella is nearby. Along with one of our cats, named Hercules, but I call him Scooter. No one is safe from the dust and wood chips.

After turning all each piece I apply a thick coat of Tru-Oil to help seal it until I can make a reel seat out of it and so I can inspect the grain of each piece. Some are simple and straight grain, some have wild figuring, some subtle rays, flecks, curls and birdseyes. It’s all beautiful and I do my best to use all of it on a fly rod. Each stick can make 3-4 reel seats. I’ll send pictures to anglers I’m building rods for so they can choose their piece and the life of the wood can continue to tell a story on a fly rod.

One further thing that surprised me after fishing a camphor seated rod is that even after several coats of finish the aroma seeps out after getting a little wet. And for all you tube sniffers out there, whoa, opening the tube gives a refreshing subtle aromatic vapor that will remind you of my Grandma and Mom.

Next time, I’ll write more about the reel seats once they’re finished.

Water Color Artist Julie Dockery

Not too long after moving to Winston-Salem I met a friend of a friend who is a water color artist. I started to watch her Instagram page and loved what she was doing.

A few months back I saw her at a friend’s birthday party and she asked my thoughts about painting fish. I LOVE fish art so I got uncomfortably excited and encouraged her to go for it. I sent her a few pictures for samples.

Yesterday I met with her to see what she’s been working on and I was totally blown away. She’s made these fish print cards that are incredible.

I think it’s a shame for people not to know about and enjoy what she’s doing and I know many of my friends out there would appreciate her work. So please give them a look. Check out Julie’s website at www.juliedockery.com and follow her on Instagram @juliedockery13. I hope to be able to offer these for sale soon and if you order a rod from me, be sure to look for one of these in the box.

Here are some cards I came home with yesterday. My pictures don’t do them justice so you’ll need to buy some for yourself. Also check out her original paintings. Simple and classic. You’ll love them!

“Rainbow” by Julie Dockery

“Brown Trout” by Julie Dockery

“Brook With Hook” by Julie Dockery

“Brook With Blue Lining” by Julie Dockery

Does that one look familiar? It’s probably my favorite one - I remember that moment pretty clearly.

Photo by Dave Fason

Hope y’all enjoy.

Good fishing!



I’m not usually so comfortable with publicity. I mean I like to be noticed and appreciated but overall, like any good old fashioned introvert, I’d rather just keep to myself and fish. It’s hard to make a living staying in the shadows though, so I thought I’d share a few things that have come out recently…

This is Fly magazine: My good friend Dave Fason wrote up a little something in This Is Fly - page 70. Also check out page 142 for my other good friend Aaron Reed’s write up on our Southwest trip back in September. He captures it well. Aaron is a good dude and you can find more info about him here: http://bluecollarflyfishing.com/

Remote. No Pressure fly fishing podcast. Check out season 1 episode 62 to listen to my sultry monotone. Feel free to put it on 2x speed because I kinda talk slow.

More stuff coming out over next many moons and I’ll be sure to update here.

Thanks and good fishing!!


Here’s a pretty waterfall.

Here’s a pretty waterfall.

Road Tripping : Fish, Friends and Food - a post by Dave Fason

I recently returned from a truly epic adventure with some very good friends. Some of us hardly knew the other at the beginning but as life goes, by the end we were close friends. My friend Dave Fason (who takes most of my photos) wrote up a fantastic account on the Fiberglass Fly Rodders Forum that I cannot improve on so I am going to share it here…

“The past few weeks have been a insane. From new fishing adventures, work, life, etc it has been an whirlwind of a ride. Rewind to earlier this summer to a conversation I had with a person I never met, Aaron. He had an idea to start in Austin, TX and travel to Colorado, Arizona then New Mexico. Fish for Rio Grande Cutthroat, Gila and Apache Trout all in their native waters. Toss in some native Guadalupe bass, Rio cichlids and other random warm water species and you have a party! The trip was part of a assignment for him and he let me photograph the entire trip. To make it even better Chris Barclay and a good friend of Aaron's joined. Four dudes, a Jeep and 2,500 miles. 

The Crew :

Aaron - The great mind behind it all

Aaron - The great mind behind it all

Jess - Dr. Pepper addict

Jess - Dr. Pepper addict

Chris Barclay

Chris Barclay

Dave Fason

Dave Fason

We flew into Austin to meet Aaron and Jess. Mind you I have only talked to Aaron and Jess over the phone and will be stuck in a car with them for seven days. Add backpacking, camping, driving and everything else! We ended up getting along and will cherish the memories I made with them. Aaron was extremely kind and purchased custom nets for the trip from Dustin at Heart Wood Trade. After a couple beers and food we were off to Brushy Creek for an hour to fish for native Guadeloupe Bass.

Heart Wood Trade nets and tacos!

Heart Wood Trade nets and tacos!

After a few to hand and a couple sunfish we were off to the house to pack. It was extremely interesting learning the difference between a Guad and large mouth. I really want to go back to chase the larger guys!

Aaron and Brushy Creek

Aaron and Brushy Creek

I think I should fish a damsel fly.

I think I should fish a damsel fly.


We arranged, packed and took off into the sunset. We decided to drive through the night which almost killed me. The trip was almost derailed after a MASSIVE elk almost drilled out car in the middle of the night. After a wild ride up a rocky road we landed to our spot. The moment we got out of the car we spotted Rios. The scenery was inspiring, the fishing was lights out and the company was even better. 


Funny photo : I stalked a Rio and was able to get a fish pictures RIGHT behind it. 

We packed, loaded and were on our way to Apache area in Arizona. To say I was impressed with Arizona is an understatement. The landscape was gnarly, wild and raw. We were after the Apache trout and while we landed a couple they were NOT in the mood to play. The next day we hit larger water and hooked up to some nice hybrids and browns. I saw more wildlife here than anywhere else. Elk, goats, lizards, snakes, owls, etc. INCREDIBLE!

Bryan the AZ biologist, Aaron, Jess

Bryan the AZ biologist, Aaron, Jess


Next stop was Gila wilderness. From what we read we expected a mild hike but not hard. It ended up being a GRINDER of a hike in and really put a hurting on us. Regardless of the hike we made the best of fishing. The Gila were like the Rios and very active. I really wish we would have had two-three days here. The granite rock scape, amazing forest and perfect waters. This leg of the trip really brought us together as it pushed the boundaries of what we could do. 

Almost halfway.

Almost halfway.

back at the trailhead

back at the trailhead


After the grueling hike back we slugged beers, ate food and then ventured back to Austin. We made a pit stop on the Llano river for more Guads and Ciclid. This is were I landed my first RIO!


Randoms, funnies, food :

At the Cafe outside the Great Sand Dunes

At the Cafe outside the Great Sand Dunes

Reorganizing/finding our stuff

Reorganizing/finding our stuff

When in chili-land…

When in chili-land…

beer bottle/belt buckle

beer bottle/belt buckle

To say the trip was less then legendary would be disgraceful. 2500 miles driven, 40+ hiked and 100000000 funny stories. I was able to see parts of the country I never knew existed, met new friends, new food, new fish and new memories. I can't thank Aaron enough for bringing me along. 


Like I said, a trip of a lifetime with some of the best guys around. The diversity of fish caught and landscapes traversed is hard to describe but hopefully Dave’s pictures give a good idea of what we enjoyed.

Be sure to look out for Aaron’s series of articles in the coming months.

Thanks for looking! - Chris

The 2018 Carolina Conclave: thoughts, thank you's and photos

I'm just now digging out from the aftermath of the Carolina Conclave.  I had to hit the ground running (almost literally) when I returned home with a busy end of year school schedule, rod builds and a few unexpected things.  

We had people come from quite literally all the way across the country as well as folks from just around the corner and it was as close to perfect as possible.  

My good friend Steve (Mary, his wife, deserves the credit honestly!) from Missouri catered some incredible brisket, coleslaw (vinegar based) and chips Friday night for our meet and greet.  



Ecusta Brewery hosted us and Hawg Wild Bar B Que fed us Saturday night.

The elusive Pisgah Forest Sail Brookie

The elusive Pisgah Forest Sail Brookie



Hawg WIld Bar B Que

Hawg WIld Bar B Que

The weather was just right.  The water was up and provided a little challenge but we were up for it.  


I'm not much of an organizer (not fishing for compliments here, it's reality!) and couldn't have pulled this off without the help of SO MANY people.  FIrst a big thank you to EVERYONE who made the effort to be there.  Fishing and fellowship are what these gatherings are about.  Thank you to Jillian and Jacob for the help, Larry Christopher at the Pipe and Pint in Greensboro for the BEER, Davidson River Outfitters, Josh at Ecusta Brewing, Hawg WIld Bar B Que, Steve! (and mostly Mary), The FIberglass Manifesto, Vedavoo, Nate Karnes, Fred Paddock, Joe, Jon, Dan and Kevin, Brook, Bob, David (the rod winner!), Chris, David and LInda, Tom and Alexis (406 Fly Lines!), Doug, Roy, Ross, Dave and Ed.  There are more but that's what my memory can handle at the moment.  


I'm already looking forward to planning next year's event (ideas and feedback welcome!).  The area was perfect for it with plenty of lodging opportunities, awesome and various fishing opportunities and the locals know how to show hospitality.  Couldn't ask for better.  


At this very moment last week I was fishing with Jacob and Jillian (betweentwobanks.com) on a small Pisgah Forest creek stalking rainbows.  What a perfect way to end an incredible weekend.  RIght after that, I was eating venison around a campfire with some very good friends.  


p.s. watch out for the clear 'Virginia Creek Water' being passed around in a Mason jar.  


Spigot Ferrules: Part of the Design

Spigot Ferrules: part of the rod design

I get a lot of questions regarding spigot ferrules.  Up until recently I have chose to use spigot ferrules on my fiberglass fly rods exclusively. When assembled, spigot ferrules have a gap of 1/8" to 3/8" between rod sections.  This prevents the sections from rubbing against each other and allows for future
wear*.   Spigot ferrules do not need wax, but a light coat of hard wax can be used.  Wax should be applied sparingly and buffed into the male ferrule and all excess should be removed  to prevent collection of debris.

Forcing the two sections together and pushing is a big no-no.  It only takes a small amount of pressure to assemble the sections and usually takes a slight 'push-twist' to assemble and line up the sections.  To separate the sections a 'twist-pull' action takes care of it.  

*Wear gap between sections:  Again, a small 1/8"-3/8" gap is normal and allows for potential eventual wear down.  Though with the modern materials I use, and proper care the ends should never meet and there will be a healthy gap between the sections for a very long time.  If a repair is needed because there is an improper fit or the gap is too close, it is fairly easy and quickly done.  

Carolina Conclave 2018: mark your calendars

Hello everyone,
I wanted to announce that I'll be hosting a Carolina Conclave somewhere in or near the Western North Carolina Smokies April 27-29 2018.  I'm still putting details together regarding exact location and further info.  Hopefully this is enough notice to get it on your calendars.  

Anyone willing to help host and put together details please contact me and I'll add you to the planning committee.  And of course, sponsors are welcome too! Please contact me here:  http://cbarclayflyrods.com/contact/

This said, and to help answer some questions, I will not be able to work out hosting the Coulee Conclave so I am holding this in place of the Coulee Conclave.  

Thanks, and I hope to see y'all there!

Research and Development

Yesterday I took the day for some research and development on a section of stream I’ve been aware of but haven’t ventured to explore yet.

Stella keeping her eyes peeled for water.

My goal was not necessarily to fish but to scout for future fishing opportunities. I did, however, take a rod with me just in case I found an appropriate circumstance to fish.

First of all, it was a lot of work. Which is part of the fun about discovering new places. From scouring maps to driving on dead end private and forest service roads and bushwhacking. This area is in a known area of brook trout drainages off the Blue Ridge Parkway but I’ve not been able to find information about this particular stream. The beauty of autumn along the Blue Ridge Parkway is a definite bonus though and it's a perfect time to explore new water.

An old nondescript logging trail ended into a thicket of laurel and rhododendron.

I saw no signs of any recent human activity and there was no established trail though I did see old overgrown logging trails, fords and piles of stones that had a purpose at one time.

An old stone foundation or ambush point?

Saw some good sized brook trout and caught a bunch of sub 4”ers along with one accidental 8”er. I tried to stay out of the water and leave the larger fish alone as they looked to be starting to pair up for spawning. And though I didn’t see any redds, I didn’t want to disturb anything I could not see.

First signs of water

When I first reached the stream the first fish I saw was about a 10” brook trout. I was floored!  Not at all what I expected to see. The water was extremely clear and the sun was bright so he spooked quickly. He and a few other friends were in skinny and well protected water at the headwaters of this stream. I saw several more this size or smaller and all were feeding actively.

Clean and clear water

I bushwhacked downstream for about two miles and then walked up the stream bed, staying out of the low and clear water looking for fishy holds. The fish were everywhere they were supposed to be. I occasionally fished tail outs and riffles where the smaller fish would be to see what would be there. After one fish I’d stand up and look more carefully to see who else was there and would often see larger fish scatter. Usually every first cast produced a 2-4”er - barbless hooks and a little slack and I was usually able to release them quickly.

First fish on the mystery stretch

Walking around I saw that a recent rain washed a lot of the fallen leaves downstream, clearing out what I imagined would have been a lot of leaf jams.  Evidence of higher consistent water levels, plenty of holds and hides for the fish, and a healthy growing fish population with quality forage opportunities show promise for an excellent fishery.  

I brought along an old beat up Featherweight reel loaded with a WF3 from 406 Fly Lines and a rod I’m developing that I’ve nicknamed the Blue Ridge Special - a 6’8” 3wt. This place was an ideal test for it. Research and development indeed.

I accidentally left my main fly box at home but found a size 16 black ant imitation in the Jeep that I took along.  Simplicity at it's finest.

There was a healthy population of yearling brookies everywhere

It was a fantastic and totally exhausting day, especially given that I wasn’t sure what to expect. And now I can’t wait til I can go back to fish for real!


Thanks for reading! 

The Beauty of the Driftless

One of the reasons I love going to the Driftless area is the beauty I see there.  From my new home in North Carolina it's a much longer drive than it was from St. Louis, more than double.  As I was driving to get there I went through Chicago.  After I survived Chicago I was wondering aloud to Stella, 'why is this drive worth it??!!' remorseful of making the decision to make the drive in the first place.  After Madison, I saw it.  The rolling hills, the brief and sudden coulees.  Peace, fresh air and beauty happened all at once.  Then I said aloud with a deep breath of relief, 'oh yeah, this is why.'  There's nothing quite like long solo road trip to teach one the art of self conversation - I can say I'm talking to Stella but that's not exactly the truth although she does perk her ears to hear what I'm saying then when she determines that it's not applicable to her she goes back to sleep.  And as we drove deeper into the Driftless Region all the memories of exploring the coulees and hollows started to come back to me.  The fish caught, the flora and fauna and the people.  

My time in the Driftless this May was no different.  Though we had some very unusual weather and storms the beauty was still there. Fishing before, during and after the rains brought newness to everything.  Yeah it was surprisingly cold and miserable at times but the inherent beauty of it all supercedes that and is what I remember.  The bugs hatched, the fish ate, the flowers bloomed, the streamside mint filled the air when you stepped on it.  Oh man, the mint!! When you see a fish rising in the pool or run ahead and you crouch down to stay out of their senses and you get a lungfull of the mint you just stepped on - there is nothing in my imagination that compares with that.  It reminds me to take it slow and easy, not to rush - observe and enjoy that particular moment.  Check my fly, check my tippet, watch the fish and see if I can learn from it, then make my move to see if I can fool it.  

Part of this past trip to Viroqua was the wonder of the people there.  One morning when I was hanging out at the fly shop I decided to walk down the street to the new coffee shop.  On my way there I ran into -almost literally- a lady walking briskly up the street.  She was walking with some serious purpose and what seemed to be a little agitation.  Right before she reached me she paused and said in a high local dialect 'I sure hope you're goin home cuz the big storm's a comin!!' The night before there were some big storms in the area and I think she expected more.  Then she said hi to Stella as most people do, then she kept on.  I heard her say something in the distance but couldn't tell what it was.  When I stopped in at the coffee shop (newly opened Kickapoo Coffee Cafe) I saw a remotely familiar face that I later realized was someone I recognized from the Driftless Cafe from years past.  I ordered a coffee then was talked into a pastry (I'm not much on pastries).  But this thing, I think it's called a Pate Brisee, is savory, local and amazing.  It has all kinds of stuff in it that I would never put together - egg (I just recently started liking scrambled eggs, barely), spinach, ham, cream cheese, aioli all in a flakey croissant pastry shell.  It was truly incredible and addicting. I ended up wearing 1/3 of it. Every day after that I ate one - each day a little different with fresh local ingredients.  One night I even dreamt of them - once having a bonafide nightmare that they sold out before I could make it in town.  By the end of my week in Viroqua I felt like I had friends there at the coffee shop.  I would stop in once or twice a day, say hello, get my morning pastry goodness and coffee, and my afternoon coffee and treat, chat, show off fish and fauna pictures and talk about the day.  It was a great place to stop with my fishing buddies, look at maps and make plans.  I'm sure they were tired of stinky and wet fisherman, wearing their strange rubber pants and space boots, stopping in, but they didn't let on.  Always smiles as big and friendly as ever.  One day on the picnic table outside I noticed a pot of herbs - with a tall stem of mint in the middle.  Hospitality, food and feeling welcome is a beautiful thing.

If it's not obvious, I'm a sucker for plants.  I love running across wild plants that I recognize from other places - my childhood and recent gardens.  I saw some pink honeysuckle for the first time.  And I saw some columbine not yet in bloom.  Makes me want to go back when the columbine is in bloom.  Hmmm - now I'm thinking of when to go back....

The leaves of colummbine make me smile.

In his book Trout, Ernest Schwiebert says "I fish because of beauty".  I can't think of a better answer to give when someone asks me why I love fishing, why I build fly rods and why the Driftless area has such a hold on me.  

Coulee Conclave 2017 - Viroqua Wisconsin - pictures

A few days ago I returned from my trip to one of my most favorite places in the world. Viroqua, Wisconsin.  Every year I organize a gathering of fisherman and fiberglass fly rod enthusiasts to get together and enjoy the wonders of this special place.  This year I decided to give myself a few days ahead of time to get reoriented to the area, make plans and alternate plans in case inclement weather set in and changed our direction.  This gave me an opportunity to spend more time in town and getting to know a few of the people and businesses there.  I love the fishing there but the people make it even more wonderful.  

Here are a bunch of pictures from my time there; before, during and after the gathering.  I plan to write up some more about it soon.  




It's spring!! Kineya/Barclay Reels

Man, I truly am horrible at keeping this blog thing going.  I'm not going to give up though.  Here's to springtime fishing and keeping this blog interesting!  

On a positive note, the spring fishing is on fire!!  Here are a few pics... (all the good pics are by my friend Dave Fason).

Now that that is out of the way...I can't think of a better way to announce spring that this...

I've wanted to offer fly reels to go along with my rods for quite a while now. All along I wanted to offer Kineya reels but Mass stopped producing them a few years ago with no promise of reintroduction. Occasionally I would ask him to make reels for me and the only response would be laughter. After I moved to North Carolina, this past fall, I asked him again and he agreed. I was ecstatic! After waiting for what seemed like a lifetime they are here. 

I am initially offering the Kineya 300a, 300b, 301a and 301b reels. More styles will come, with patience. 

You can find more information here:  http://cbarclayflyrods.com/fly-reels/

The 70LS: Small water streamer rod coming soon

Hello everyone,
I'd like to announce a new rod I'll be doing very soon.  It's called the 70LS (Limited Series, or Little Stiffy). 
Some details: 
7' 6wt 3 piece black unsanded glass with tip over butt ferrules. I'll be making 10 of these on a custom basis. Pricing starts at $565, $200 deposit to secure a build. 
Here are some pictures of the final prototype which I made for Brandon Bailes (his flies were the inspiration behind this design).  This one has a downlocking seat, which is an option.  I will also make them with my brass cap and ring seat with wood or cork seat - buyer's choice.

Brandon with a small water streamer eating brown in Alabama.

Subtle translucent cinnamon wraps, Mildrum style stripping guides.

Strong progressive action suitable for small water streamers, hoppers, mice and other 'big fly' fishing.  

'#0' = the final prototype

Sensitive enough to feel smaller fish and make accurate casts, versatile enough to put on a dry when you see a hatch coming on.

I expect these to be available by late January '17.  Contact me for more info.
Thanks for looking!

As of January 4, I have 7 of these rods reserved, 3 are available.  

Alabama rainbow.

Alabama rainbow.

An early prototype in yellow glass with my darkened brass cap and ring seat and Osage orange partial wood seat.  Smallies on the French Broad.

Special Delivery in VA

This past weekend I had the opportunity to drive up to a mountain in Virginia to deliver a rod and do a little fishing. 
I left Saturday afternoon, drove 60 miles and arrived before sundown. I had enough time to find a few trees to hang my hammock from and do some exploring. 

Then next morning I woke up to nice crisp mountain air, dew on my face and pale sunlight peeking through the trees. I hiked back to my car for some coffee and oatmeal. 

Pretty soon Rob rolled up and after introductions I handed off his new rod and he handed me a few VA beers to sample. We geared up and started hiking. 

A killer ant-like pattern that Brandon Bailes ties.  

Pretty soon we our flies we're on the water and we were catching fish. 

70p, dry flies and mossy rocks

We hiked for a while, caught a bunch of beautiful fish and had great conversation. 

Stella grabbed my camp pillow out of the back and took herself a nap on the way home. Must've been a rough day for her.

Thanks for looking.

Appalachian Rock Crawling

It's been a little while since I was able to post a report on anything - uprooting in St. Louis and getting settled in here is NC is going well but very time consuming. Rods are being built and going out the door and I'm getting to learn the area a bit too. I miss my friends back in St. Louis but it's been a good and soft landing here - the people are very hospitable and the fishing is good!

Recently, just after we moved I was contacted by a local man who offered to take me fishing on some private waters near Mt. Mitchell, the highest point east of the Rockies. He explained to me how carefully the waters are managed resulting in top notch fishing and assured me that the company would be as good as the fishing. 
He just asked me to bring my fishing stuff and some beer. It sounded like an opportunity I should not miss.
It took me about 3 hours to get there and every second of the drive was worth it. Such beauty all around!
It rained on and off most for most of my time there and it rained 3.5" two days before I got there. Before the rain the water was dangerously low and warm. The fish were happy and eager to rise to most anything that was well presented one time. 

Here's a view from the front porch where I had my morning coffee. 

Mount Mitchell

As soon as I got there (before my host and most everyone else) I was told to get ready to fish while lunch was prepared. 
All the fish here are totally wild and self sustaining. There was a stocking of fish back in the 60's but nothing since. 

There are a variety of 'fishes' (or beats) that are suited for various skill levels. Some have huge fish and easier to cast and some are technical rhododendron tunnels. I love the little technical flows but chose to start out on one of the 'larger technical' fishes. 

My first trout as a resident of NC. 

In the two hour span before lunch I caught enough fish and had enough fun that I could have gone home fulfilled. 

baby rainbow!

After lunch I continued the rest of the 'fish' I started earlier on. 
It started off just how it left off. There were fish everywhere they should have been. They weren't huge - the biggest I caught was about a 12" rainbow. 
The fish were lightening fast when they struck and that was your ONLY chance to hook them as it would spook be entire pocket or pool. It took me a few minutes to get used to that. 
I was mostly using an elk hair caddis but also a Hippy Stomper and smallish yellow or orange stimulator. I was fishing my 70p. 


70p 'stout' color

Unfortunately my track record of somehow damaging myself the first day of a trip in this region came true here as well. In an effort to 'save the rod!' while falling off a slippery rock I landed on my right hand middle finger and dislocated it. I was able to reset it and keep going but it DID NOT feel good or right the rest of the time. 

Oh well. 

At the end of day one I caught roughly 75 fish. 

The morning of day two I fished with my host in some more technical higher elevation streams in search of brook trout. 

We took a 70p and 64p along to test out. 

the 64p and 70p in their natural environment

And we found some beautiful Appalachian natives. 

native brook trout!

A few rainbows and browns too. 

brown trout!

After lunch I went up a little further in a different stream in search of more natives and was not disappointed. 

Native brook trout

More rock crawling produced some absolutely amazing fish. After every boulder and rock field I'd find another beautiful pool with eager fish. 

Native brook trout

Overall I probably caught around 200 fish, met some incredible people and ate some wonderful food. 
I couldn't have asked for, or planned anything better. 

I'm now well rested and pleased, back in the shop and working on rods. I have very little to complain about, except for maybe my middle finger that looks like a hot dog. 
Thanks for looking!



Thanks for being here, and good fishing!


New contact info

Hello everyone,

As many of you know, I have recently moved to Winston Salem, North Carolina.  So I have new contact information!  

My new (temporary for July and August) mailing address is:

2024 Craig Street

Winston Salem, NC 27103


And my new phone number is: 336-745-9322 

(please note 314-724-1800 and 314-699-4359 are NO LONGER IN SERVICE)

So please update how you contact me so I don't miss out on anything!  

Thanks so much and if you're in the area please let me know!


The 70p has arrived

I'm very pleased to announce the arrival of the newest edition to my parabolic series of rods, the 70p.  This is an ultra smooth medium-fast semi-strong semi-parabolic 7' 3 or 4wt 4 piece small to medium water rod.  I designed this one to fit in with my sweet little 64p and the LTD 75p (coming to full production soon!), a rod for those that want something longer than the 64p and is another smaller sibling to the longer 75p.  It makes a great pack rod with a 22" section length.  I prefer this rod with a 406 Fly Lines DT4 and I know others have enjoyed it with a 3wt line.  I am offering this rod in both my sunny yellow as well as a deep 'stout' color.  

These blanks are available in either Stout and Sunny Yellow

These blanks are available in either Stout and Sunny Yellow

The 70p's will be the first rods to come out of my North Carolina shop and will be badged with the updated reel seat hardware from Kineya. 

The 70p's will be the first rods to come out of my North Carolina shop and will be badged with the updated reel seat hardware from Kineya. 

The pricing starts at $595 (shipping included) and these rods will be the first to emerge from my North Carolina shop in just a few weeks.  Please contact me for more details or to get on the build list.