By Sam Larson
I spend my own money on the stuff that I review here and would tell you if I was given a specific product for free or for testing. Everything below is my personal opinion and experience with the gear in question.
The first thing I noticed once I got to the river is that stringing up a nymphing rod is harder than stringing up my seven and a half foot three weight. With the three weight I can just set the butt on the ground and string the rod where I stand. With the Farglory I had to set the butt on the ground and walk along the length of the rod to get the line through all of the guides. This was worsened by the fact that I had decided to set the rod up with the twelve inch extension section, resulting in a ten and a half foot rod. And walking through the brush with it is like carrying an extended tenkara rod through the willows. I spent the better part of the summer fishing a very short, light fly rod and the change to a long nymphing rod meant some fast and dirty changes to how I approached a bank of leafless willows along Clear Creek.
I had spent the day dithering around over nymphing leaders, reading all of the Euro blogs and trying to understand the nuances. I suddenly found that I had opinions about leader length, sighters versus floating indicators, how nymphs were rigged to the tippet, and so on. My old nymphing habits, uncouth, DIY, and, let it be said, thoroughly successful, just didn’t seem up to the task any longer. Before leaving home I had put together a new nymphing system for myself. Not a rig, or a line or a leader. A system. I had all the justifications on the world for it and that lasted until approximately the fourth cast when I was still trying to figure out how to use the rod and I hooked something at the bottom of the creek. Long lever arms being what they are I snapped off everything at the top triple surgeon’s knot and had to start over. I approached the water with a complicated series of knots and sighters, and I fished with a simple two feet of tippet below the leader, a Copper John, and a size 20 WD-40 dropped below that, the same setup that I had used successfully all summer long. Back to square one, so to speak, I settled in to try and catch some fish.
The rod, not to rush through the build up and suspense, worked great, far better than I thought it would. I am used to fishing glass rods so the relative snappiness and power of a graphite rod took a minute to get used to. But once I learned that I didn’t need to put a lot of shoulder into the roll casts and could just flick my wrist with my elbow held by my side it became very easy to cast. The ten and a half foot length was a big change for me. When I started fly fishing again I did so by way of Tenkara. I have many, many hours under my belt using a thirteen-foot Tenkara rod. But of late I’ve transitioned almost entirely to my seven and a half foot 3-weight. I fish small water most of the time, I rarely tie into a fish longer than about sixteen inches, and I appreciate the simplicity of the setup. Stepping back up to a more than ten foot-long rod threw me for a loop for a god hour or so.
All bumps in the learning process aside, tight line nymphing with a long rod is a joy. The straight line from the rod tip down to the water offers great control and the lack of loose line means you feel every nibble and strike. I have done a great deal of nymphing with my tenkara rods and the primary difference between using them and the Farglory is that the nymphing rod will actually throw shot and a couple of beadheads easily where my tenkara rods just won't do it.
I started catching fish almost immediately, all on the chocolate WD-40 midges hung from my Copper John. I had two pieces of shot pinched onto the leader above the Copper John and the rod cast all the extra weight easily and cleanly. Clear Creek in the lower stretches is not a broad piece of water and with a ten and a half foot rod I could reach almost anywhere I wanted or needed. There were some learning experiences regarding the total length of my reach where I cast all my flies straight into a few bushes across the river, but aside from that it felt intuitive and straightforward. I actually credit the days I spent using tenkara rods with this since they got me in the habit of using a long rod and relatively short leader.
The rod is very fun to catch fish on. A ten inch brown trout put a deep bend in the rod and I had to let several trout run a bit more than I am used to. I missed more than a handful of strikes, but the rod’s reach and the lack of line on the water kept fish consistently in my net despite the low, clear water and relative chill of late autumn.
As a final test of the rod I clipped off all the weight and beadheads and tied on a wet fly. On the way back to my car I found a long flat section without overhanging trees. One of the concerns that I had with the rod, and one of the first thing that a couple of friends had asked about when I told them about this purchase, was whether or not the rod would cast well, or if it would simply be suitable for throwing weight around. I stripped off about ten feet of line and false cast a few times. The rod felt quite smooth, loading predictably in the backcast and shooting line smoothly when I false cast. The first few casts laid out line easily, with nice turnover from the furled leader I had on. I started stripping more and more line, trying to find a maximum limit to the rod’s effectiveness and power. I stopped trying at about fifty feet. The rod didn’t show any signs of slowing down and I know that beyond fifty or sixty feet the issues in the cast come from my technique and not necessarily the equipment. I experimented casting with and without the extension section and the rod feels much nicer to cast without the extension. With the extension the rod feels stiffer and doesn’t flex into the cast as easily. The only quirk that I found in the rod is that, compared to several other higher-end nymphing rods, the Farglory has significantly higher line speed and an extra "kick" in the rod on the forecast. It's manageable, and doesn't affect my casting now that I account for it, but doing back-to-back A/B tests with a friends Redington Hydrogen made it very apparent.
I went home quite pleased with the rod. The finish is much nicer than I had anticipated and the rod looks very nice. It casts smoothly and easily which means that it could do double duty on sunny winter days when we get sporadic midge hatches in the early afternoon and I might need to tie on a dry fly instead of beadhead nymphs. The rod handles very well with fish on the line and plays average sized trout well. I’m curious to see how it responds with a larger fish on the line but that may have to wait until summer or a mid-winter trip to one of the local tailwaters. In the end the rod was well worth the $95 and left me feeling like I had actually come out ahead on the deal. The rod is more than I expected and I look forward to fishing it often throughout the winter.
After that first trip out I noticed that one of the ceramic stripping guides on the second rod section was cracked. Not broken and shattered, but cracked and chipped a bit. I did a mental inventory of what I had done with the rod so far and couldn’t think of how it would have been broken in the day and a half that I had owned it. I chalked it up to a manufacturing defect. On a whim I sent a quick note to Maxcatch through Amazon and mentioned the cracked stripping guide. Less than twenty-four hours later I had an email back apologizing for the defect and requesting photographs of the damage. When I had provided a couple of pictures they told me that a replacement rod section was being prepped and shipped and I could expect it within a week. Sure enough, within a week I received a replacement rod section, expertly packed in a clear plastic rod tube and braced with heavy duty foam throughout. And all of this at no additional cost to me and for no more hassle than writing them a note.
I really appreciated the level of customer service that this company gave me. They anticipated my needs, owned the issue, and offered me a resolution without my having to pressure them. A quick glance through the customer reviews left on Amazon showed a consistent interest on the company’s part is working with customers and resolving their concerns.