The Golden Trout Bonanza: part two, the rods

Part Two, the rods.

When Dave contacted me about going to the Sierra’s to fish for Golden Trout I asked him what kind of water it would be. He said some open meadow fishing and some tight high gradient wooded pocket water. That gave me a good idea of what to expect to bring rod-wise.

As I mentioned before, back in July I went to fish with some friends in northern New Mexico. While there I fished some of the smallest, most technical water I’ve ever fished (for Rio Grand Cutthroat Trout). I used my 6’6”2wt Gila Special and felt like it did really well. But I couldn’t help thinking that something shorter, around 6’, would be even better. But with the same slightly funky taper. In talking with my blank maker, Mike McFarland, we came up with a plan for that little rod.

Meanwhile, swirling in my brain was the thought of changing my 6’8” 3wt Blue Ridge Special a little bit. I wanted to keep the same sweet, quick pinpoint accuracy taper but wanted it to be more portable. So I decided to change it to a 4 piece. Again, in conversation with Mike we figured out the way forward prototyping from the ground up.

Back to planning for the CA trip. I told Dave that I think I’ll be able to bring along a few prototypes to test but needed to check with Mike to see where we are on them. After talking with Mike, I knew I was cutting it close but really wanted to make it work. Then comes Labor Day morning. Not much going on but some yard work and rod work. I text Mike to check on blank status and he says they’re ready and will ship the next day, Tuesday. I look at the calendar and say out loud ‘D’oh!’ I need to start working on the rods Tuesday in order for me to be able to fish them the next Tuesday. Then I check in with the family and say, ‘do you mind if I go to Pennsylvania this afternoon? I think I need to get some blanks from Mike.’ Valerie looks at me like I’m crazy, the kids look at me like I’m normal. I call Mike and say that I’d like to come up there to pick them up from him. He says, ‘uh sure. Really?!” After a little going back and forth with Mike and my family, I’m on the road on a spontaneous 7 hour journey to pick up two prototype blanks that I’m not sure will be what I want or not. I thought, why not? I need the blanks sooner than later, I don’t want to be rushed later in the week when I should be packing and doing other stuff, might as well take a drive. I’ll see if a few of my friends can talk so I can catch up with them. To shorten this a little, I make the drive without any drama. Catch up with several good friends, think about stuff and listen to music. Not bad. Mike ends up being able to meet me an hour and a half closer to me somewhere in northern West Virginia at a gas station. I roll up next to him windows down, he says ‘hey’, I say ‘hey’ and we get out of our cars. He hands me the blanks, we small talk a little, I thank him and apologize for interrupting his day and within 5 minutes we’re both back on the road. I’m home by 2am and then up by 7am. I felt like I was in the Cannonball Run but in a Subaru and trying to get good gas mileage. By 7:30 I’ve sorted cork, chosen the reel seat wood and glued everything on the blanks. Over the next few hours I lay out guide size and spacing, spine orientation, look at pictures of golden trout to get inspiration for wrap schemes. By night time I have both rods wrapped with the first coat of finish on and curing. The rods are done by Thursday evening. Friday I try several lines, reels, casting styles and have determined these to be very close or maybe even exactly what I was looking for. Yee haw! 642.9 miles well worth it and completed with time to spare.

Once in California and on the water for the first time, and within minutes of catching my first golden trout I’m absolutely beaming. The 6’er is nailed. I couldn’t be happier. The first day Dave used my 6’6” 2wt but he wanted that old familiar feeling so he switched to the 68 prototype for the rest of the trip. He reported back to me that it worked as he expected and loved it. Although he did not give the rod up for me to use, I took that for a good sign. I’ll go out to one of my local haunts this week to give it a go. More later…

So, here’s before, during and after of the rods. The 6’er took a little getting used to being so short but once I did it was incredible and I couldn’t be happier. Perfect bend for ultra small water and easy to cast. Look for these this fall on my website.


Later this week I’ll write a little more to summarize the trip and will plan to catch up on adding some stories and pictures of some recent and distant past trips.

Thanks for coming along!