Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Two-Weight Conundrum

Ever since I got my little St. Croix Imperial/Sage 3200 three-weight outfit a few years back, I've been smitten with ultralight flyfishing on small waters. In fact, if the fishing gods decreed that I could no longer fish with anything larger than a three-weight, ever, I'd probably just shrug my shoulders and go on fishing. It's just so much fun, and so much more in line with my personal flyfishing ideal  (no offense to all you 12-weight-slinging saltwater guys and gals...).

Anyway, some time back, in pursuit of going ever lighter, I came into possession of a sweet little Redington Drift fly reel in size "Holy Shit That's One Tiny Sumbitch!" which, for non-Okies, roughly translates into a size 2/3. My idea was, and is, to pair it up with a short (seven-foot or under), cheap, moderate-action one or two-weight fly rod, and then give it a name like "The Bluegill Bomber" or maybe "The Panfish Prowler" or some other equally hoaky, alliteratively-strained nickname. Because I'm stupid that way.

The problem, however, is that I can't seem to find a rod for it. There are plenty of one and two-weights out there, but most of them are either too long (I really want one in the six-foot range), too expensive, (it's perch in a creek we're talking about here) or too long and expensive.

There are a number of very nice custom and semi-custom right-sized glass rods being made, but again, virtually all of them are beyond my means. Such is the life of the terminally broke.

Enter the Cabela's CGT fiberglass fly rods. Normally, at $150 they'd be out of my price range, too, but as it turns out they're on sale right now for $79. All of them. Even the 6'2", two-piece, two-weight model that would fill my bill perfectly.

But here's the catch: the CGT rods have gotten somewhat mixed reviews from the fiberglass fly rod crowd, with the main complaint being that, though nice, they fish a bit too much like a graphite rod. When Cabela's first introduced the original CGR fiberglass rods in 2011, they received almost universal praise, including a good review in Field & Stream from the late John Merwin. They were also only $99. I, of course, didn't buy one back then, and by the time Cabela's updated the line with the CGTs, the original rods were long-since sold out.

Also, I have to admit, I've never been a huge fan of house-brand rods and reels. Don't get me wrong: by and large I like Cabela's and own a lot of Cabela's-branded stuff. Much of it is great (for example, their waders) while some of it (for example, some of their bird-hunting gear) is sort of meh. Just like any other retailer. But when it comes to rods and reels I've always preferred companies that actually make rods and reels rather than retailers that re-brand or outsource their own lines. OK, I admit it, I'm a rod and reel snob.

But for 79 bucks, especially for a rod that will be plying the depths of the piscatorial low-rent district, perhaps I should tell my innate snobbishness to go get stuffed? On the other hand, I'll also be using the rod for fishing small trout waters (must keep up appearances, you know...), so maybe I should just keep using the three-weight for now, save up a few more pennies, and get a custom fiberglass rod built just for me?

Here's where my flyfishing noobishness comes in. Considering my casting skill (which I describe as "Flailing Stork") would I even be able to tell the difference between a $79 dollar Chinese-made rod and a (roughly) $300-400 custom job? Aesthetically, sure. Custom rods are prettier, and nicer. But what's also nice is actually being able to go fishing now rather than waiting while you sell 27 pints of plasma  to pay for a new custom or high-end rod.

Any suggestions or advice, oh flyfishing brethren?


  1. I say go for it. The rod looks nice cosmetically. For seventy-nine bucks it's a deal. I use their 9'6" CZK as a spring creek/dry fly rod and am quite happy with it.

  2. Ultimately it's a value proposition and with that in mind here are 3 thoughts (in no particular order):

    1. Is a glass rod that casts like graphite a bad thing? I know there are purists who would have my head for this statement, but both of my rods are graphite and they take care of business quite well.

    2. How into the bream experience are you? If it's what gets you out of bed every day, sell that plasma (or boat, or kids or ...) and go bamboo, or at least step up to a Helios. Otherwise, get the CGT and go fishing.

    3. Beware that step into the forbidden land of 1 and 2 weights. I've heard it's a lot like shooting a 28 ga and once you do, you'll never be able to go back.

  3. The woman who said "money cant buy you happiness" never bought herself a good fly rod. You deserve the best rod you can find on Craig's List, you and I wernt meant to buy new, the bargain hunting is all part of the fun.


  4. I'd say you won't be able to tell the difference until you cast it. Buy it, invest in a DT line, and do a little yard casting. If it doesn't feel good, send it back. If it works, you got a deal. Some of the low end rods have very different actions-my dad and I got identical 8 weights, one quite a bit slower than the other. Fortunately, we each like a slightly different action so we each found a rod to suit. If you can get to a Cabelas and cast several, you might find one you really like.

  5. What Mark said. I picked up a sweet little 2wt last year on fleabay, and none of my three 3wts have left the house since I goi it!

  6. Dude, casting a 2-3wt to perch shouldn't have any pull on how nice of a rod it is. You're not bombing 60 foot+ casts (maybe you are, and I want to see that in a fantastic video montage) so you don't need much. You can get those 7ft floppy fiberglass yellow eagle claw fly rods at sportsmans warehouse for like 20 bucks and they cast a fly line great. That's the only thing a buddy of mine uses for creek fishing. He bought several at once just in case he broke one, but he's still using the first rod a few years in.
    This dude does a good write up on them.

    I only spend $$$ on my now unavailable Sage ZXL 9' 5wts (best dry fly trout rod, IMHO, and my steelhead stuff.
    I use a cheap Redington CPX 10' 7wt broomstick for single hand streamers and nymphing large rivers and that thing kills.

    I guess all I'm saying is I wouldn't sell the plasma for a perch rod.

  7. On further inspection they only go down to 3wt.. But still what's upping a line size? Not much.

  8. So the consensus is go cheap, which is good because I sure as hell can't go spendy...

    Mark, I've resisted the 28s for awhile now, probably solely because I haven't stumbled upon a decent one I can afford, but the UL fly rodding already hooked me...

    SBW, you have no idea how true you are. Like you, I'm a scrounger at heart, whether it's books, guns or fishing tackle. Just more fun that way. Retail mostly bores me even of I could afford it.

    Mdmnm, unfortunately no Cabelas near me to try out(think the closest one is in Wichita, which is a three-hour drive). I could, however, send it back if I didn't like it I suppose...

    Phil, I'm actively scanning the 'bay as we speak.

    Larry, oh I'm bombing casts alright, right into the trees behind me....I've actually had my eye on the Eagle Claw rods, specifically the 6'6" 3/4 weight. They've gotten good reviews, only thing I worry about is the fact that the reel already has a brand-new Rio Gold 2-weight line on it, and I'm wondering that it may not be enough to load that rod. But damn the price is right.

    The other two options I have: I could just go ahead and get another St. Croix, they make a 6' 2-weight Imperial that I can get a decent pro-form price on, or a one-weight TFO Finesse, also a decent price with the pro-form discount. Both would be around the same price or a little higher than the Cabela's rod, and I'm a huge St. Croix fan anyway...

    1. Those Imperial rods by St. Croix are awesome btw.

  9. BTW,Larry, I checked out that Lehigh Valley Limestoner blog. Good stuff.

  10. yes love st croix rods, made in the usa (park falls, wisconsin) as well