I’ve recently had the urge to have a fly rod that was mostly dedicated to trout fishing. I have several outfits geared towards Salmon and Steelhead that are largely overkill for trout. And lately my 5wt has taken over as my primary warm water and streamer rod. This leaves a hole in the arsenal on the lighter end of the spectrum. With more trout fishing in my plans for this summer I quickly talked myself into getting a new fly rod. After some thought and questionable personal accounting practices to make the numbers work, the Epic rod building kit was on its way from New Zealand!
The primary intended use for this rod is throwing dry flies on smaller rivers. Fiberglass seems to be all the rage right now, and I was intrigued by the softer action. I settled on Swift Fly Fishing’s Epic Fast Glass rods for a few reasons. First, the Epic rod building kits seem to be an easy way to build your first fly rod. This is a skill that I have wanted to learn for a while, as rod blanks can be had for so cheap, and the customization options are endless. Secondly, Epic’s Fast Glass has a reputation of having a slightly faster action compared to some of the more traditional fiberglass rods. This could be a good or bad thing depending on what you are looking for, but for me I think it adds some functionality to the rod. A rod with a little more backbone will come in handy throwing bigger flies when needed. And lastly, getting the building kit and doing it yourself cuts the price tag for these rods almost in half.
Next I had to decide which taper/length I wanted to go with. I decided on the 476 model, a 7’6″ 4wt. Again this came down to versatility. A 3wt might have been a better match for strictly dry fly fishing, but the 4wt will be able to throw larger terrestrials. Being able to throw a small dry/dropper rig on is definitely a possibility, and it is only a matter of time before I decide to tie on some smaller streamers.
The folks at Swift are quick to respond to any questions you may have, and I have to point out that my package shipped from New Zealand on Wednesday and was delivered to Metro Detroit on Friday. Two day shipping from the other side of the world is pretty impressive. That may be more of a testament to DHL’s service I guess, but I was very happy with the entire experience. If you want to read more about the Epic Rod Building Kits, just go to swiftflyfishing.com
Getting Started w/ the Epic Rod Building Kit:
The included instructions that come with the Epic rod building kit are incredibly thorough. You can tell these guys build rods, lots of useful hints and tips that come in handy throughout the process. Everything you need to build your rod is included. The only exceptions to this that I found were, a bobbin (for holding the thread), denatured alcohol, masking tape, a razor blade, and lint free rags. They also highly recommend a rod dryer. I totally agree with this. They are $40 on mudhole.com and totally worth it. Get the one that turns at 9 rotations per minute (the slower one). Here are a couple more tips from my experience that weren’t mentioned in the book. This is a short list because the included instructions are so good!
- Denatured alcohol was hard to find. They say to get it from a pharmacy, but none of the ones around my house had it. Your local paint shop will almost always have it! Make sure it is the clear version, not dyed
- $40 for a rod turner is super worth the extra money. Also consider a cheap rod wrapping station. I bought a $10 from mudhole.com at the same time as the turner. It is made of cardboard, much like the makeshift one included in the Epic rod building kit, but it does include a thread tension system which reduces the need for a bobbin.
- 1″ masking tape works great for making the reel seat arbor.
Putting the rod together was actually much easier than I thought it was going to be. If you are handy at all, or better yet, if you tie your own flies, this is very doable. It is a little daunting using a $400 kit for your first build. If you have the luxury of being able to start with a cheaper blank then I think that is a good idea. I figured I could get the rod done without screwing it up too much, and was willing to accept some minor aesthetic blemishes. Really it turned out better than I would have thought. The most difficult part for me, and arguably the most important as far as functionality, was aligning the guides before the first epoxy layer. Getting this right is paramount as guides that are too far out of line will effect how the fly line shoots when casting. Mine didn’t turn out quite perfect, but once I put a spool and line on its really hard to see the imperfections. And there doesn’t appear to be any detriment to how it shoots line because my initial test casting has been great.
Here are a few pictures of the building process.
Overall I couldn’t have been happier with the Epic rod building kit. I’ll have more of a review on the rod itself and how it performs as I get it out on the water. Check back for updates as I will be putting this rod through its paces over the next couple of weeks! If you happen to be interested in getting one of these rods, but don’t want to put it together yourself, shoot me an email. I am not a master rod builder by any means, but mine turned out great and I am interested in building more.