Over the weekend my club on the South Branch of the Raritan River did something a little different. We rolled back the clock 50 or 60 years. Fishing would be done with bamboo rods and the only flies that could be used were dry flies or wet flies. Fortunately I had recently taken possession of my first bamboo rod. This rod was built by a local rob builder and friend, Art Port. Art had fished with me last fall and at the end of the day he opened up his truck and let me look over the 30 or so rods he had in the vehicle. I was looking for a 5wt primarily for fishing wet flies. So we picked out a half a dozen rods, strung them up with some soft hackles and cast them in the "home pool" of our club. I stood in the river making a few casts and actually connecting with a few fish and Art stood on the bank handing me the different rods to try. It was a tough decision but I settled on a Garrison 209E, a 7'9", 5 wt designed by Everett Garrison and written about in Hoagy B. Carmichael's book, A Master's Guide to Building a Bamboo Fly Rod. Art built an identical rob for me with the only changes made being a flamed blank and blued hardware.
Yesterday was my first opportunity to fish this rod, and it performed wonderfully. Fishing wet flies is my favorite way to target fall trout here in New Jersey. I prefer a longer rod for this style of fishing and bamboo has some limitations when it comes to length especially if you want to keep the weight down.
But the softer action of bamboo is absolutely perfect for fishing wet flies. The action on this rod was perfect for fishing wet flies. Yesterday the fish preferred soft hackles on the swing. The fly patterns I picked up from Blue Ribbon Flies worked very well. These two patterns were the top producers of the day.
Full Dressed Red
This fly rod handled fish up to about 20" in length with ease and despite its softer feel had quite a bit of backbone which helped in bringing some of the larger fish to hand.
At the end of the day I had the opportunity to do a little dry fly fishing although my "dry fly" was a size 18 Starling and Purple fished in the film. The rod was a pleasure to fish dries with as well. We could never identify what the fish were taking but it did not matter since they eagerly gobbled up the small soft hackles on a dead drift.
I gave the rod to my buddy Lou from Fly and Fin at the end of the day and he did well picking up these surface feeders on small soft hackles, picking up a couple of fish in a few casts.
This could be the start of a very expensive addiction...