Getting your first fly rod is an intensely personal moment. Mine was a one-piece fiberglass model handmade with care and patience by my grandfather.
It was a beautiful thing – a tawny blank of indeterminate weight with black wraps or maybe brown and a wooden handle. Matched to a 7 weight floating line, it seemed to do a great job of casting. I was just getting into fly fishing and was being tutored by one of my best friends.
Although it was undoubtedly a great rod, I remember most of all being embarrassed that my friends all had two-piece rods that could fit easily in the trunk of the car – mine stuck out the window! To their credit, not one of them made any comments – those were good friends.
I went on to own many other rods but I don’t think I will ever forget that first fly rod.
So, I wanted it to be that way for my son – his first fly rod needed to be something memorable, something that he would want to fish. There were, of course, some practical considerations too: as a nine-year-old, he has a shorter reach than most adults; as a first time fly fisher, he needed a rod that is forgiving of imperfections in the cast; at the same time, the rod needed to load easily and cast a good distance without too much effort. There was also a very real need to have a rod that would fit easily in the suitcase – we were Yellowstone-bound and coming from Australia, we needed every spare piece of space we could find.
There were a couple of rods that fit the description and I read through some great comparison shootouts. In the end, I settled on the Redington Classic Trout in a 4 weight 8-foot four-piece.
Most of the fly rods that I own are not top of the range; certainly, none have come with an unconditional warranty. I have thankfully not broken too many rods but at least one rod has had a broken tip section at least twice and I have not replaced the tip a second time.
Redington for me fills a sweet spot between a good quality product and a price point that won’t have me cringing every time he lays the rod down on a gravel surface or absently walks through brushy undergrowth – fact is few fly rods are designed to be kid-proof. I also knew from friends that have never had a problem with Redington honoring their warranty.
Where I live there are very few shops that stock fly fishing tackle and I only know of one dedicated fly fishing shop in the whole state of Queensland. This presented a real challenge in that we could not get to test the rod before we purchased it, but I was relying on my experience and of course a little good luck.
There was a bewildering number of online fly fishing shops offering the Classic Trout at a range of prices. I discovered the AvidMax site more by chance than anything else. Something about the site resonated with me, I may be not your typical online shopper but ordering a product from a business in the USA and having them ship it to Australia in time for me to get a chance to test the rod before its return trip to the USA was critical so I took the time to read the About Us section of the website and really liked what I read.
I quickly added the rod to my cart together with a matching RIO Gold Trout line and a few other essentials.
Thanks to great customer service, the rod and line arrived and we were soon out front practicing with a piece of wool for a fly on Dad’s new fly rod (don’t tell my son, but it’s a surprise for his birthday next month).
From the get-go, I knew it was the right choice. What a pleasure to cast, forgiving of some of those wide loops that beginners invariably cast and capable of putting out a long length of line when it needs to. It is also a light rod which means that it won’t tire a new caster the way some heavier rods do. In fact, the more I cast the rod, the more I was wishing that I had ordered two of them!
The big day dawned and we headed across the Pacific with two fly rods and other assorted gear safely packed in our luggage. This was a big trip for us, two kids and two bigger kids hitting Disneyland for the first time. Our trip took in the theme parks of California but also a weekend at Big Bear Lake, a magical trip through Yellowstone National Park and a few days in Yosemite National Park.
Along the way, Matt caught his first trout at Big Bear Lake – a perfect four-pound bar of chrome and crimson. For fly fishing purists, look away now! I have to confess that the first fish on the Classic Trout came to spin fishing gear and PowerBait. When on the road, one makes a plan, and a very happy fisherman is all the reward needed.
I am happy to report that every other fish caught on that trip came to the fly, we fished the Gardner River near the northern entrance to Yellowstone where we shared the water with garter snakes and found brightly colored browns. A challenging session on the Snake River at the southern end of the park resulted in a few Snake River Cutthroats landed and many others hooked and lost. There were even some mountain whitefish in the mix. Fishing with bison grazing in the background was a first, and just knowing that there are still wild places to discover was a much-needed transfusion for the soul.
I watched my son transform as a flyfisher – technically his casting improved, mentally he began to think and read the water, and now he is hooked. I hope it’s a lifelong journey, but I know enough not to push him or his sister down a course that may not be theirs to follow.
I do know that I have shown him something of the passion that drives me, and I am pretty sure that his first fly rod is going to be a memorable one. Thank you, AvidMax, for helping make this happen.
Written by Len Olyott
Born in South Africa, Len has fished for trout on four different continents and chased many different species in both fresh and saltwater. A trained fisheries biologist, Len has written numerous scientific articles on fisheries biology as well as several magazine articles and book chapters on fly fishing. Len lives with his wife and two kids in Brisbane, Australia. Twitter: @lenolyott1
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8 thoughts on “That First Fly Rod & A Boy’s Journey To Fly Fishing”
Enjoyed the post. An angler’s first fly rod is something sacred! If you are into fly fishing blogs, check out my blog PA Rod and Reel: parodandreel.wordpress.com
Keep up the good work!
Thank you, we are glad you enjoyed it. Yes, it sure is, and yes we will check it out!
Great post! My first fly rod was also made by my grandfather. It was a nine foot for a 7 made of a Silex blank. I still have it along with all of my parents’ and grandparents’ rods. I’m guessing that I am a bit older as my first lines were handmade of silk.
Thanks, Allen! Yes, we agree! Len did an amazing job! Oh really? What a precious item to have! Wow, hand made of silk, that is very cool.
Hi Allen, thanks for the kind words and sorry I have been remiss in answering. I think that one of the core components of flyfishing is the heritage that we get to pass on to future generations. Sure the gear changes a lot but the traditions and good habits are timeless.
Cortland fiberglass 6-weight… That was many, many, many rods ago. Funny the things we remember. JD
Hi Jack, thanks for the comment. Nice! Life’s firsts are always more prominent in our memories I think. Especially, when there aren’t many fiberglass rods around these days! 🙂 We do have a number of our customers that love Redington’s Butter Stick rod. It’s cool they decided to make it for that niche. Thanks for reading!
Hi Jack, glad you enjoyed the article (and sorry for the tardiness in replying). I can still see that rod every time I close my eyes and the first fish that I caught on it.