The following is a completely unsolicited review of my 64p 6'4" 4wt 4 piece fly rod. Ed is a client-turned-friend who lives and fishes in the Western North Carolina area.
About a month ago a very nice USPS lady dropped off my new Barclay 64p. I opened it immediately and drooled over the fine craftsmanship, but had not fished or even lawn cast it until today. Since this rod is a new offering from Chris, I thought I'd share my thoughts. Disclaimer: I consider Chris a good friend, but I can honestly say that has absolutely no bearing on my very positive/gushing review.
For those who haven't heard about the rod, the 64p is a semi-parabolic 6'4" 4 piece 4 wt that Chris developed (the little brother to his fantastic 75p).
The first thing that jumps out is how small the tube is. It really shouldn't be surprising (do the math, a 76" rod built in 4 pieces), but it is still amazing to see a rod tube the length of a pop-up umbrella. The short tube can easily fit in a backpack for hike-in fishing or as carry-on luggage.
I paired the rod with a Hardy JLH 2/3/4 and a 406 4 wt. The reel weighs 3.2 ounces empty and I thought the pairing was just about perfect. If anything, I'd suggest a tad lighter. I know Chris fishes his with a Ross RR-1, which weighs 3.1 ounces.
I decided to go to a nearby river that I thought it would be representative of the types of waters I will use the rod on. I love the river because it's close, easy to wade and gets very little pressure, but I've never had a great numbers day there, although it is known for its browns and I've caught several in the 14" range.
Looking downstream. In most places the river/stream is much narrower, often no more than 10' wide.
I hadn't been to this river in about 6 months and it's amazing how much it has changed in that time. There were so many fallen trees -- not a bad thing if fishing for trout.
Since the purpose of the outing was to try out the rod for the first time, I intended to fish dries, nymphs and streamers. I decided to start fishing upstream. It was around 9:30 and only 31 degrees (so nothing was hatching), so I decided to start out nymphing. My rig consisted of a size 8 or 10 Girdle Bug and a size 16 caddis pattern. I chose the Girdle Bug because I wanted to see how the rod would handle a fairly good-sized nymph and, more importantly, it's a fly that has worked well there in the past.
I started out at the run below.
I worked out a little bit of line and cast upstream just short of the fallen tree. Since it was my first cast, I was still settling in and wasn't entirely focused on watching my drift. Wait, did my indicator pause? Probably hung up on the bottom, but might as well set. Ah, rocks don't wiggle!
A fish on the first cast! What a way to break in a new rod. It was about 10" and I'm thinking that this may be the largest Rainbow I've caught at this river. But it wasn't. Because a little later I landed this guy...
Between 11-12". Definitely the largest Rainbow I've caught there. This new rod has some serious mojo!
It was all Rainbows today.
It was great to catch some nice fish, but the focus was to put the rod through its paces. And boy did it ever perform.
Nymphing: The rod handled the nymph rig great, with easy turnover. It roll cast great. Most of my casts were short, probably no more than 15-20'. It certainly could have cast farther, but that is a normal distance for me when nymphing, particularly on smaller waters. What was really impressive to me was how well the rod cast at very short distances with almost no line out. While it's nice to be able to bomb out long casts, if I'm grabbing a 6'4" rod I'm probably casting in tight quarters and so what matters most is how it loads for short casts.
Streamers: I cast a tunghead Muddler and Slumpbuster and the rod performed great with each of them, with most casts in the 30-40' range but also some at 10-15'. Both of these streamers are on the smaller side (I chose them based on the water I was fishing) but fairly weighty for something of that size, and based on the easy turnover I'm sure the rod can handle something larger/heavier. For a warm water outing I could easily see putting on a popper without hesitation.
Dries: I only cast a dry briefly (nothing was hatching and I had seen no surface activity), but again the rod performed just great at distances from 10' to 40'.
More Casting Thoughts: I'm not a great caster by any means, but I was just amazed at how accurate my casts were. Maybe it's because the rod is so short that it really feels like an extension of your arm, but whatever the reason the rod is incredibly accurate. Right at the end I came to a stretch that had some overhanging shrubs on the far bank, leaving maybe 2' of clearance between the water's surface and the bottom branches. I made several side arm casts of about 35' feet that put the fly under the branches right near the bank, certainly impressive for me.
Parabolic Action: Although most of my rods have a progressive action and would probably be best described as medium fast, I had no trouble adjusting to the rod's action. I found the key is to simply slow things down and make sure I let the rod load and do the work. And does it ever -- the softer feel does not equate to a loss of power. And it's really neat to see the rod double over with a fish on!
Final Thoughts: This is just a terrific rod and is something I will use for hike-in outings during the Spring and Summer in particular. While I think anyone would enjoy this rod, I think it may be particularly desirable for people like me who already have more rods than they really need but still like to try out new things. I mean, I guess you could convince yourself that you need a 7'9" 4 wt to fill that glaring gap between your 7'6" and 8', but for most people I suspect this rod is truly something very different than just about any other rod you have. It's just an exceptional, special rod that is a blast to fish. What more could someone ask for.
Well done Chris!