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November 28, 2019
Rod test – Hends CSR 904/ 104 in 2 and 3 weights
A compromise rod may soon become an essential to the keen river angler. What is a compromise rod? It’s a fairly well known fact that longer rods are better nymphing rods and slightly shorter rods are superior for casting and accuracy. This is primarily because modern euro nymphing techniques are fished at close range often under the rod tip itself, and a longer rod gives a longer drift with the nymphs and better close control during that drift. Ultimately this will lead to a higher catch rate. These longer nymphing rods are typically 10-12 feet weighted 2-4 AFTMA and often with offset guides in order to accommodate a French Leader. Shorter dry fly rods are best at between 8 – 9 and a half feet in length and typically feature snake guides best suited for casting a fly line.
Really nice reel seat cosmetics!
These subtle but real world differences mean that many of us full time river anglers have both a nymphing and a dry fly rod! This is the reason for a compromise rod that can achieve both tasks either well or adequately. And obviously there will be a compromise, so what is the advantage? Well if I’m fishing for England in a Rivers International there is none. I have a referee who will carry a spare rod. Or if I’m out for a couple of hours and I know fish are rising or I’m fishing a nymphing run, I will purposely take a single rod. Because of this fact I have found myself with my 10 and a half foot Marryat pro nymph 3 Weight , kitted with French leader and nymphs, when a good fish moved just ahead of me to take a surface fly. This is the worse compromise. I have also found myself with my dry fly wand the Sage 389 LL with a spectacular boulder strewn nymphing stretch from heaven ahead of me. This is also the worse compromise. So carry two rods. I have done this and spent many hours back treading wondering where I left the other rod. I am sure some of you have even more terrible tales of woe?
Extension piece with eye solves a problem
And, yes you can fish a dry fly on a French leader and catch rising fish. But sweet, easy and smooth it is not. It’s like riding a bike in waders. It is possible, but not comfortable or ideal. And when we started using these short line nymphing techniques we all used our “standard” 9 feet 5 weight fly rods back in the early 1990’s. It must have worked because we all caught a lot of fish but would you go back to that after using a French leader on a longer more sensitive rod? So today seamed an ideal compromise test rod day. Near the end of October on a rare soft weather day ( 7 Celsius and sunny with no wind) and I expected to be nymphing. So I set up the Hends CSR 9042/1042 (9 foot 4 inches or 10 foot 4inches two weight) in its 10 foot 4 inches 2 weight Czech nymph format. In other words with the foot extension piece fitted and with a French leader.
Autumn perfect conditions for a 2 in 1 rod
The 10 foot 4 inch nymphing version of the rod is superb and barely indistinguishable from my top end nymphing rod. The fitted extension piece contains a whipped eye and other compromise rods I have examined are merely foot extensions leading to a large gap to the first eye. This rod eliminates that fault. The cork fits nicely in my hands, but I tend to have a relaxed grip so this can be personal. The most important aspect of the rod was its response when catching fish and that always had me smiling. Wild British UK trout and grayling are not big fish and 8-10 inches would be an average size on most wild rivers. So a 2 weight rod is an ideal target for these small but worthy targets. The fact that I’d chose to set up the nymphing version of this rod first was soon tested as on the nymphing run a grayling promptly rose on the other side of the stream- no problem at all, change to a dry fly rod. This was the purpose of the rod test after all.
A few seconds to bring in the French leader and remove the extension section. This was the first practical problem I encountered. I didn’t have a small tube to put the extension piece away safely in. This wasn’t a serious problem as the extension piece is a very strong relatively short piece of carbon and fitted neatly in the rear of my Simms vest, where my Lamson litespeed with my Cortland 2 weight double taper Sylk fly line was. I would advise making or adapting a short tube to store the extension piece safely when not in use. On the end of the fly line was an Onstream guide furled leader to which I added about 5 feet 0.16 (4X) tippet and a Soft Hackle dry fly. The whole switch operation took under two minutes and I now had a 9 feet 4 inch 2 weight dry fly rod ready for action. The rod cast beautifully in a tight situation and first cover a pretty 10 inch grayling snaffled the dry fly.
Playing smaller and typical sized river fish is an absolute delight on a light progressive wand. I feared it might lack backbone for longer range casts but these were false fears and the rod handled 40-50 feet casts with great aplomb. And there are few occasions on a river when you need to fish longer distances. In terms of accuracy the rod was superb. Ok it didn’t feel quite as butter smooth as the Sage 389 LL but it by no means felt inferior. It is a truly progressive rod and I was able to keep very tight control with the line under bushes and around trees. Overall I was very impressed and converted the two more rising fish I saw with ease.
The soft hackle dry fly: accepted at a stream near you
Ok so the rod handles smaller fish no problem but will it let you down when you hook that beast? The short answer is no and the rod has already landed good quality brown trout. The overall finish of the rod is also pleasing and while not having the Cinderella looks of a top end Sage she is no ugly sister either. The overall finish and look of the blank is superb. The rod has earned itself a place in my weaponry for two important reasons. One it is the best designed compromise rod that performs admirably both as a nymphing rod and a dry fly wand. Secondly it is the lightest and best equipped rod for smaller and more typical wild fish in most UK streams. Overall it is an excellent fishing tool. Given that a top end nymphing rod like the Marryat I mentioned and one of the new Sage LL’s in 389 format will set you back about 1500 notes the fact that this rod can even compete against them for less than 20% of the cost is remarkable. On sale 2020 from Onstream-guide.
I have one unused 2 weight and one unused 3 weight in stock available at a subscriber price of £259 which includes a free Hends Camo French and Onstream-guide furled leader. This might be ideal as a Christmas present? Only 2 available at the moment- email me Christmasrod2 for the 2 weight or Christmasrod3 for the 3 weight. Other stock arriving soon. See me at Bffi 2020 and pre-order your rod by e-mail complete with free furled/French leader and free fly selection for the same price (Collect from me at the Bffi in February 2020).
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