Instead of inches, I watched yards of line fly off the reel. The drag screamed for 10 seconds as he swam directly downstream before I seen the line loosen and the fly being spit out by a monster trout. My guide, Herb, sat there looking dazed and confused, wondering how I just managed to do that. He gave me a pat on the back with a few words of encouragement and walked back upstream to the others.
The others I speak of were the rest of my coworkers on the trip. We went up to North Park Fishing Club in Walden, Colo., two weeks ago for a company trip to test new fly gear for 2008. We had several new rods and reels to try out and we were urged to provide feedback on them.
I already knew what reel I wanted to use, so I decided that I was going to test out some rods. The first rod I picked up was the Traditional II, 9 ft. 5-weight. One thing I noticed was the sheer beauty of it. The olive green color and gold writing give the rod a fancy, high-dollar look. Once the reel was on, I gave the rod a few false casts and I could tell casting was going to be easy. It felt smooth and forgiving and my cast went much farther than I expected. We were fishing a lake on the first night and there was quite a bit of moss around the edges, requiring longer-distance casts to reach clear water. Casting was effortless and the action of the rod was just right. The fast action complemented my compact cast and quick tempo perfectly. Not once did I have to look at my back cast to check the line. This rod allowed me to feel when it was properly loaded and unloaded.
My favorite thing about this rod had to be its overall feel and sensitivity. I was amazed by how easy it was to cast, but once I was able to feel the bite of the rainbows, I was really hooked. I was fishing a size 20 pheasant tail nymph, holding the rod about and inch off the water and stripping the line one inch at a time. I felt the trout take my fly on the first hit. Once the fish was on the fly, I really felt that I was in control. The rod held its ground and allowed me to maneuver the fish as I wanted. I used this rod for the remainder of the night and caught five, decent-sized trout on it, all ranging from 15" to 20".
I spent the next two days of the trip fishing the moving water of the North Platte. We were using a little different technique with a "Thingamabobber" and a two-fly setup below it. A "Thingamabobber" is a small plastic strike indicator, almost like a little balloon, that you tie to your leader at a depth you want your flies to be presented.
The space for my backcast was limited and that is when I really appreciated the fast action. The rod allowed me to make short, fast casts with precision. Now I knew that wasn't the greatest at casting, but with this rod, I seriously felt like I was pro. The guides were actually complimenting me on my cast, which was really unusual for me because normally I feel awkward.
I was fishing a size 14 stonefly on the top with a hare's ear below. Because we were dead-drifting, mending the line up- and downstream was very easy with just a flip of the rod. I caught a couple really nice rainbows that put up a good fight and I felt comfortable and confident in the rod while finessing the fish in.
On the third and final day, we went up to Cowdrey, Colo., and fished another piece of moving water. We fished most of the morning without ever getting a bite. I mean, we were throwing everything at them and nothing was working. Then Nate came over and told me to switch to a weighted olive green streamer. It was like someone went into the water and turned on the "bite" switch. I caught two, 17" plus fish in two casts. The next thing I know, Sam, a fellow copywriter and Kent, my boss, are both hooked up. The fast action of the rod again had no problem casting, even with a weighted streamer and a grassy bank right behind me. We continued to fish the area for about and hour, with each of us catching some nice fish.
Based on my experience with this rod, while both lake and moving-water fly-fishing, I would rate it a 4 out of 5. It performed better than I could have ever expected.
Click this link to purchase the Traditional II Fly Rod