Smooth as Glass
Getting my hands on a new rod is always a treat. I have a couple of favorites for sure, but I really enjoy trying something new. Matt on the other hand pretty much fishes one rod. Once he asked to borrow a rod, for a trip to the Keys, but that was stretching it for him. Even he agrees that five weights suck for Tarpon, but otherwise he doesn’t branch out much. I think he owns more than one rod, but I’m not actually sure.
Cameron Mortenson, of the Fiberglass Manifesto, was nice enough to send us a custom build Matt Leiderman rod, done on a fiberglass Epic 476 blank (no coincidence it’s 7’6″ 4 weight). I fished it for a week, and then while on a multi-day trip into the mountains, I asked Matt to cast it so I could shoot some images. This was the first time I have seen him readily pick up a new rod. He caught fish, I shot photos, and all was good.
Over a beer the other night, I asked Matt “you liked the rod, didn’t you?”
“I’ll admit I had low expectations” he said. “I figured, the industry didn’t shift everything to graphite by accident. The state of material science had probably just moved forward and left fiberglass behind. I knew folks were still into glass, but I assumed it was some sort of old-timey aesthetic fetish thing. People are into old trucks too, but that doesn’t mean I’m trading in my Tundra.
“Come on?” I replied
“That rod was sweet though.” he went on “It’s just so graceful. It turned over loop after silky loop with a completely natural rhythm. It just felt good. Then I come to realize it can totally huck line. I didn’t see that coming at all.”
Matt liked it. I loved it!
First off, the rod is gorgeous. It’s built on an orange (Epic calls it Salsa) blank, that is translucent and glows in the sunlight. With clear wraps, simple hand made hardware and friction based reel seat it has a utilitarian elegance that I couldn’t get enough of. The craftsmanship alone, was enough to make me love this rod.
The fishing took it to another level. Epic includes this blank in its “fast glass” series. So while its not fast like some recent graphite rods, it isn’t some antiquated noodle either. I found it to be medium in speed with great feel and a surprising amount of backbone. A combination that I want in a 4 weight.
All told, I fished it hard for a couple of weeks. Small streams, high mountain lakes, double nymph rigs, tiny dries, streamers, wind, no-wind, you name it. In the end I think it’s a great all around trout rod. Heavy wind and heavy bugs were not a problem. Mostly, I was shocked by how effortlessly it threw tight loops 50 to 60 feet. It made me look good.
In short, I didn’t want to send this rod back.
Postscript: If you want to try this rod specifically, or any number of incredible fiberglass rods being made today, take advantage of The Fiberglass Manifesto’s rod loaner program and be sure check out Leiderman Rods as well. Cameron and Matt are both fathers and anglers, who have other full time jobs. That makes them cool in our book.