Behind the Brand: Rent This Rod

Behind the Brand: Rent This Rod thumbnail

Rent This Rod Online Fly Rod Rental offers customers to rent fly rods on their website and then they ship them straight to your door. The concept was created along the riverbanks, when two friends Brian Guengerich and David Moore realized they didn’t want to spend the money on a saltwater setup for an upcoming trip. Flylords was able to catch up with Dave and Brian to talk about the company and what they have in store for 2019. 

Flylords: Where does your passion for fly fishing come from?

Dave (Pictured Above): I grew up fly fishing with my dad, who’s a respected fly-tier and fisherman around western NC.  He taught me at an early age how to cast and he’d bring me along on overnight fishing trips with his buddies or on work outings where he’d pull over and fish on the way back home.  So I grew up with it being an enjoyable hobby and a way to connect with him. He and I still fish regularly together. His passion for collecting and then reselling fly rods has spilled over to me as well.  We’re always calling each other and telling about our latest and greatest find. As for the actual fishing, it’s lately been my go-to method of stress relief and a way to connect personally with the outdoors.  Brian and I live in a beautiful part of the country and there’s no better way to experience it than to stand waist-deep in one of our mountain streams or rivers and cast a line.

Brian (Pictured Above): I have been fishing all my life and had a passion for it as a kid. My family never had much money growing up so our vacations were always camping somewhere. There is actually a picture of me where I tied myself to a tree because I didn’t want to leave the campground. I only fished conventionally a child.  I never even held a fly rod until 2003 when my brother in law taught me how to fly fish in their neighborhood pond. I remember catching my first bass on an Orvis Clearwater 2 piece 5 weight. From that point on, fly fishing was all I could think about. It has always been my stress relief. I travel a lot for work and go from hotel to hotel.  There is no greater peace to me than having my feet in a river and a fly rod in my hand. I also love the fly fishing community and how this industry has introduced us to so many great people across the country.

Flylords: What inspired you to start this company?

Dave: It was born out of an idea that Brian and I had one day while fishing. Brian and I fish often enough together that we bounce ideas about life and business off each other constantly and this one just stuck! We ended up buying a high-end rod off ebay to add to our rental arsenal early on, to see if it would attract any clientele. It soon became apparent that we’d need to purchase a larger, more diverse inventory of rods. I had a very loose connection with Neville Orsmond, the CEO of Thomas & Thomas (actually through Facebook) so we reached out to him one day, on a whim, and pitched the idea. That led to a conference call to discuss further, and at the end of that call, we had a commitment for our first round of new inventory via T&T! Crazy. We’re forever indebted to the good people at T&T for their belief and support of this idea and our vision going forward.

Brian: Once upon a time, Dave and I were fishing together and we started talking about trying saltwater fly fishing. I was leaving for a trip to Florida the next week to fish with my uncles in Sarasota. I told Dave I had always wanted to try salt fly fishing but didn’t want to spend the money on a set up when I was only going for a week. We weren’t getting a guide and my uncles only fish with conventional gear. I remember telling Dave it would be cool if I could just rent a rod for a week. We talked about a rental concept for about an hour on the water that day while we fished. That night, Dave called me and told me he built a website. We then started renting our own gear to see if maybe there was something there. When that worked, we started talking to rod companies about the concept and had very positive responses. Dave and I love to fish and fish together. Rain, snow, wind and sun we love to fish. We also love the fly fishing industry and only want to see it grow. Create more access for people, help other companies grow their brands and develop opportunities for people to try new things on the water. Our inspiration comes from the pure joy we get out of fly fishing. The stories, the laughter, the stress relief, and taking care if this incredible creation we have been gifted to enjoy.

Flylords: Does anything like this exist in the industry?

Dave: Not that we’ve seen presently. There have been others who’ve tried what we’re doing with somewhat similar models but they’re no longer around. There’s no other entity that will ship a rented rod and reel to your door or your destination that we’re aware of. Many fly shops will be happy to rent you a fly rod and reel (and waders, etc) if you’re in their vicinity but it’s fair to say that the quality of this gear, while still good, is far less than premium.

Brian: Other shops rent gear here and there but none do what we do. We want to be as mobile as possible as well. We are not a brick and mortar store and we like it that way. With technology growing the way it is, we want to be at the forefront of that in this industry. We are always thinking outside the box and willing to try new and innovative things to get people on the water.  We would love to work with more guides, resorts, and shops and have plenty of fun options that are on the horizon. We have talked about memberships and are considering other partners in the industry as well. We also think this could be a great platform for rod companies that are trying to make a name for themselves and get their product in someone’s hand.

Flylords: What is the benefit of renting a rod vs. buying one?

Dave:  Many of our customers can attest that renting a rod and reel combo from us is the better option vs buying the same setup that they’ll only use once or twice per year, if that.  We’re a perfect option for someone who lives in the Midwest, for example, but who’s going on a tarpon or permit trip in Mexico, and who doesn’t want to drop a small fortune on a setup that they’ll not use regularly. The same can be said for coastal anglers who might want a trout setup for when they travel inland.

Brian: I would also add that we want people to have a quality product in their hand. We are not renting a 50 dollar set up from Wal-Mart (not that there’s anything wrong with that ☺). Our goal is to create opportunities for people to try new high-end gear. We have also been hearing from guides that it’s nice when people show up with their own quality gear because it saves on the wear and tear on the guide’s gear.

Sometimes it’s also nice to get on the river and actually feel a rod and reel in your hand before you buy it.  Shop-casting or lawn-casting is by no means the same as time with a rod and reel on the water. We feel we can help customers get that valuable experience and then work with companies and local fly shops for the actual purchasing.

Flylords: How does the program work?

Dave:  If someone wants to rent a rod or rod/reel combo, they can visit us at www.rentthisrod.com to start the process.  Customers will submit an inquiry via our website or straight to rentthisrod@gmail.com if they prefer.  We will respond personally and make sure we know exactly what they want and when they need it by.  If we can accommodate the request, we send them an electronic invoice which secures the rental gear for the dates they need it.  Prior to shipping we also collect a security deposit on all the gear but it’s fully refunded once the equipment arrives back to us at the end of their trip and we can verify the condition.  Currently our rental prices are $180 for a rod/reel combo for 10 days of use with shipping charges included on the front end. Return shipping is at the buyer’s expense. Rod-only rentals are common as well and they are $150 for 10 days of use.  The 10-day rental windows exclude shipping transit times, so our clients can fully enjoy the gear for a solid 10 days before needing to ship back to us.

Flylords: What type of rods and reels do you carry?

Dave: We carry a full arsenal of fly rods, both fresh and saltwater-ready, from 3wt- 12wt. We’re proud to offer our clients premium fly rods by Thomas & Thomas Makers (MA) and Clutch Fly Rods (SC). We have also recently partnered with Tom Morgan Rodsmiths – and new owners, Matt and Joel.  We’ll soon have a couple of TMR rods in the rental quiver to appeal to ‘glass throwers out there in the world, and to be able to offer a great option to “try before you buy” for anyone considering putting down the money on a custom-built Morgan fly rod.

In the fall of 2018, we also created an exclusive partnership with Ross Reels (CO) to handle our reel needs. High-end, high-quality fly rods deserve to, and should, be paired with high-quality reels. Ross fits the bill perfectly and has been an incredible company to work with.

Our reels come pre-spooled with Scientific Anglers fly line, appropriate for the intended fishing environments

We’re excited about the brands we carry and we’re honored to be associated with these companies.

Flylords: What happens if someone breaks a rod?

Dave: They will ship it back to us and be assessed a fee of $100. If it happens on day one of the rental, we will be happy to ship the customer another rod but they will still be assessed that fee.

Flylords: If people want to rent a rod where should they go?

Dave: Folks can visit us on the web at www.rentthisrod.com and start there.  We’re also on Instagram and Facebook.  We ship virtually anywhere in the world but our pricing is based on shipments made within the continental US.  We can be flexible though if someone needs a rod shipped elsewhere.


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Gear Review: Yeti Panga Waterproof Backpack 28

WHAT IS IT?
Yeti Panga Waterproof Backpack 28

WHAT SETS IT APART?
Yeti expands its lineup of durable, submersible gear bags with the introduction of a spacious backpack built to protect your belongings from dunks and downpours. DryHaul Straps and QuckGrab Lash Points on the sides and top make for easy transportation, while a removable chest strap and waist belt offer added stability when you need it. Yeti’s high-density, puncture- and abrasion-resistant ThickSkin Shell and HydroLok Zipper fend off the elements, while an interior sleeve and mesh stowaway pocket allow for easy access and organization.

HOW DO I USE IT?
Measuring 12 1/2 inches long, 7 inches wide and 20 inches high, the Backpack 28 offers 1,700 cubic inches of storage space. The Backpack 28 sits upright, thanks to its flat bottom edge, while maintaining a streamlined shape. Both points promote convenient storage in your tackle room in the tow vehicle, along with a dependable and spill-free posture on your boat deck. The Backpack 28 has no exterior pockets or secondary compartments, but attaching the optional Yeti Sidekick Dry, which easily connects via hook-and-loop straps to the HitchPoint Grid, adds a dedicated waterproof space for valuables and smaller items — all protected by a magnetic Hydroshield Closure.

HOW MUCH?
$299.99

MORE INFORMATION:
Yeti.com

ANGLER’S INSIGHT:
Yeti proved its design prowess by blending a comfortable form with real-world function. From transporting tackle and graphs from the truck, to neatly storing foul weather gear and a change of clothes, to fishing on foot with a day’s stock of snacks and essentials; the backpack form made with Yeti’s dependable material will handle an array of fishing needs. This pack also makes a handy carry-on bag for flights to/from your angling destination.

Costa Sunglasses Launches New Beach-Ready, Adventure-Ready Styles

Surf. Sand. Sun. These words provided the inspiration for Costa’s new lifestyle frames – CheecaPanga and Rinconcito. The new styles are perfect for adventures on and off the water and feature the latest on-trend colors and patterns.

 

Costa Cheeca

 

Costa Cheeca in Rose Tortoise with Copper Silver Mirror 580G lens

Cheeca is named for the historic sportfishing lodge that introduced past presidents, celebrities and foreign dignitaries to fishing and old Florida Keys charm. The new women’s frame offers a small fit and features sleek, styled temples and bio-resin nylon construction. The Cheeca frame is available in three color options – Rose Tortoise, Shiny Black and Matte Shadow Tortoise. These stylish sunglasses look and feel as good on the boat as they do sipping a key lime colada.

 

Costa Panga

Costa Panga Spring 2019
Costa Panga in Matte Seafoam Crystal with Gray Silver Mirror 580P lens.

The women’s Panga frame fits slightly larger than the Cheeca and is available in five distinctive colors – Matte Seafoam Crystal, Shiny Tortoise/White/Seafoam Crystal, Shiny Black/Crystal/Fuchsia, Shiny Taupe Crystal and Matte Seafoam Crystal. Light and versatile with deep, winding curves, like the beachfront boats of the Caribbean and Central America, Panga is the ultimate companion for sun-filled adventures in the sand and surf. The frame features tri-fusion bio-resin construction, integral hinge and CAM systems, combined with classic West Coast styling.

 

Costa Rinconcito

 

Costa Rinconcito Spring 2019
Costa Rinconcito in Matte Gray with Gray 580P lens

Rinconcito is the little brother to Costa’s popular Rincon frame and blends West Coast style lines with edgy curved temples. This new men’s medium-fit style is named for the iconic Southern California right point break. Featuring bio-resin construction, integral spring hinges, and Hydrolite® nose and temple pads, Rinconcito is a must-have for days spent chasing waves. The new style is available in four frame colors – Matte Atlantic Blue, Matte Black, Matte Tortoise and Matte Gray.

“We are constantly inspired by the beauty of our oceans and Costa’s latest lifestyle frames resemble everything we love about the water,” said John Sanchez, vice president of product development at Costa. “The new frames are thoughtfully designed for all adventure-seekers, providing both style and performance for activities on and off the water.”

The new styles features Costa’s patented color-enhancing 580 lens technology in both Lightwave® glass and impact-resistant polycarbonate. Costa’s 580® lens technology provides 100 percent UV protection and polarization and selectively filters out harsh yellow light for superior contrast and definition while absorbing high-energy blue light to cut haze and enhance sharpness. In addition, Costa’s lens technology reduces glare and eye fatigue, and its Lightwave glass is 20 percent thinner and 22 percent lighter than average polarized glass.

The new styles range in price from $179 to $259 depending on lens selection. For more information on the new frames and Costa’s full line of sunglasses, visit CostaSunglasses.com.

About Costa
As the first manufacturer of color-enhancing all-polarized sunglass lenses, Costa combines superior lens technology with unparalleled fit and durability. Still handcrafted in Florida, Costa has made the highest quality, best performing sunglasses and prescription sunglasses (Rx) for outdoor enthusiasts since 1983, and now its product portfolio includes optical frames. Costa’s growing cult-brand status ties directly to its mission to provide high quality products with a focus on sustainability and conservation as the company works hard to protect the waters it calls home. From the use of sustainable materials to its Kick Plasticinitiative, IndiFly Foundation and strong partnership with shark research organization OCEARCH, Costa encourages people to help protect the Earth’s natural resources in any way they can. Find out more on Costa’s website and join the conversation on FacebookInstagram or Twitter at @CostaSunglasses.

 

 

 

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Product Spotlight: ENO Hammock

Product Spotlight: ENO Hammock thumbnail

When I was tasked with writing an ENO hammock review for Fly Lords, I was skeptical. Who takes a hammock fishing? Seriously. Have you ever brought one along? It had never crossed my mind but, I was down to throw one into my bag to see how it fit into my fishing routine.

I shoved my doubt aside and brought the ENO DoubleNest on a recent float down the San Juan with my buddy Chris Eagan of Kokopelli Anglers. I was pleasantly surprised as the hammock made an already chill day even more enjoyable.

In my experience, fly fishing is a pretty damn mellow sport. Sure…there are sporadic moments of chaos and fury when I actually hook into a fish, and sometimes I burn a handful of calories when I have to hike into a spot but for the most part, fishing is chilling. Whether I’m wading a beautiful river in Wyoming or casually floating the San Juan in New Mexico there are glorious moments when I forget about the troubles and toils of regular life and can relax. With this in mind, I figure bringing a hammock along could actually be a good call.

Chris Eagan guides on the world-famous San Juan Quality Waters below Navajo Dam in northern New Mexico. The float is mellow. No rapids, minimal wind, abundant wildlife, beautiful landscapes, endless cottonwoods and thousands of trout. Hammock country for sure. Our float started out pretty slow.

A snowstorm was expected to roll in from the south, and I presumed the pressure change had the fish flustered. They were picky and fickle. Unamused and lazy. But finally, they started to smack our olive leaches and bend our rods.

The caffeine buzz from our morning coffee started to wane and we pulled to shore to set up the hammock, devour some sandwiches, sip some beers and chill. Prior to this float, I had never set up an ENO hammock.

Luckily the set up is intuitive, easy, and literally takes maybe only a minute. We suspended the hammock between two towering cottonwood branches and crawled in. The river boiled with rising trout as blue herons gracefully glided down the run and time slipped away.

Thankfully, these ENO hammocks are just as easy to take down as they are to set up and we were back slaying fish in no time.  We floated into the afternoon and had a great day on the water.

I am no longer a skeptic when it comes to hammocks and if someday, I finally get myself a freakin drift boat, I will undoubtedly throw one in my boat bag. I mean why not? They pack small, are easy to set up, durable and make for super extra chill and relaxing lunch breaks on the river. To purchase an Eno Hammock and check out the full line of different products, check out this link.


 


The Salmon Fly Hatch

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Lodge Spotlight: Tailwater Lodge, Altmar NY

AN AFTERNOON WITH THE NEW DOUGLAS 11’-3 WEIGHT EURO ROD

Walked into UpCountry in New Hartford CT, my home shop as a guide, and Grady Allen the owner, walked over. “I have a new rod for you (here we go again, the wife is gonna kill me if I try to sneak home another rod). “It’s a Douglas SKY, a euro style 11′- 3wt. and before you say anything, take it out for the afternoon, see what you think”.Well, ok.

The rod taper and flex felt right, even with a few soft snaps at the rod rack. My regular euro rod was also in the rack, so I grabbed it to feel it out against the SKY. It felt heavier. The Douglas was light, very light, with backbone, but I was also using 6x on my droppers. Lets go see…

It was my day off and river intel was that a good brown was holed up under a lesser known bank snag. It was a tricky spot that could grab fly rigs, so I warmed up on the riffles before hitting the root ball. My regular rod (named after an herb) has had steady use, so, new rods usually take some time for me to get use to. A couple of casts into the riffle and a 14” brown went to net quickly. I felt right at home with the SKY, no adjustments – so far – but that was an easy fish.There was some white water just before the snag that demanded a heavier anchor fly.The SKY had very little recoil bouncing of the rod tip – accurate – even with a heavier anchor fly. As I was leading the flies thru the drift, feeling bottom, the rod felt spot-on and my sighter stopped. I hooked a rainbow, a feisty 16″ pain, that did not stop flipping around, even into the net. Rainbows, ya gotta love em! The rod handled the jumps and the quick flexing turns of the fight without that jittery-rod-shake rainbows can put into a rod.

Good butt strength, when I need it, to show who was boss. Nice! The snag was next. I cast, inched out line, measured, cast again, inching out more line, not wanting to make a donation.Good drifts, under and back into the bank. Nutin’ but Cheerios. No one home. But I liked the line control.

Making lemonade, I moved into the small lee downstream of the snag and set the hook into a good brown. He moved directly into the fast water and immediately felt bigger, heavier. Hoping my knots and 6x held, I lead the fish into slower water, coaxing it upstream, letting him think it was his idea. As he went by me, it was not the 20 I was looking for but a dark, butter brown that looked like a 17 or 18.With net in my left hand, I tugged slightly on the rod and found the fish still full of piss-and-vinegar… and flew right past me, just barely avoiding the net, back into white water. Damn. I carefully muscled the fish out of fast water again, into the slower water, back upstream.That rod was fully bent, fully loaded – but I felt completely in charge. This is the time when you need help from your rod, on those dicey second chances. This time I schmoozed him upstream, and then walked him right into the net as he passed by me. Textbook.

BYW, I carried an extra spool with a dry fly rig.While the length of the 11-footer took me a minute to get back into dry fly casting, I quickly was intent on the fishing, not the rod, and did not notice any performance issues casting drys to risers as it got dark. So, I did not have to carry two rods. Nymphing and drys with one rod – Nice again!

There are three points of reference when a rod actually talks to me when euro fishing. The cast, drift and how it lands fish. A cast has to be accurate, especially near wood, with as little rebound as possible for accuracy. On the drift, you need to lift slightly, keeping the anchor fly from snagging, differentiating between bottom and a take. Setting the hook and playing/controlling the fish to net is all about feel.You need the rod to transmit what the fish is doing, especially with small flies.Your sixth sense comes into play and your rod must help you with that “anticipation”.

The casting of the Douglas SKY 11’-3 wt. was very accurate, even with heavier anchor flies. The rod’s recoil was very quick to recover, – noticeably so. This was evident even when dry fly casting. With lighter anchor flies, there was still very good feel and control on shorter upstream casts. During the drift, when the line is hammocked in the guides, the rod bends, ever so slightly, enhancing feel and sensitivity for the bottom. The single foot guides are a great improvement- a difference you can feel and learn to depend on. The tip to mid-section is very sensitive, a Stradivarius violin with a nano touch, resulting in swift clean contact to fish. Hook setting was positive with good solid contact into the butt section when called upon. No noodling or over-flexing sensations at all. The rod felt light all afternoon, my shoulder told me that. I loved the appointments – exotic wood reel seat, single foot guides built with a unique wire that bends all the way over without breaking, right sized front stripper guide, fluor cork handle, a hook keeper correctly placed underneath (so you you can point your finger on casts), and the color was a prestigious satin grey-blue (not shiny) – a really beautiful color, not gaudy, something you can have pride in when meeting up on-stream.

Guiding success is earned by time on the water and experience with what works and what doesn’t. Once you are in the right position, it all comes down to feel. The cast has to be accurate, the drift has to have touch with feel for the bite. The bite is just a moments hesitation of the sighter with a lightning fast response to set the hook. Lotsa moving parts that need to sync up, to get it right, to produce.

Douglas SKY 11’- 3wt. works, it produces. It is lighter and more responsive than my “herb” named rod. This will change the euro rod leader board – and the best news – they are priced less! They out fish the name rod at a better price. Bingo. Get one. I want three, two for my clients and one for my day off. This rod will be one your kids will treasure and will be sought after on eBay, many years from now.“But honey, I just gotta have this new rod… “ Silence. I smell couch.

Mark Swenson
Swenson Northwest Connecticut Guide Services
203-632-0206

Rods on Rooftops: A Conversation with Riversmith

At riverside pull-offs, in fly shop parking lots, and online, we’ve all seen fly rod tubes affixed to vehicle roof racks. Guides use them out of necessity. Hardcore anglers have them for convenience. But are they something that the common, weekend warrior fly fisher needs?

Recently, I asked someone who knows a lot about them. Luke Winkler is the product manager for Riversmith. Based out of Boulder, Colorado, Riversmith is one of a handful of companies making rooftop rod holders. I asked Luke some legitimate questions I have had about products like this. Also, I played the devil’s advocate and raised some concerns I’ve heard thrown around by skeptical anglers.

***

Aren’t rooftop rod holders only for guides and trout bums in their 20’s?

Not at all. We see applications for all kinds of different fly fishers. For example, time is one of the most valuable things we all have. Using a rod holder lets us stop and hit a few more holes more without taking that extra time to tie on tippet, tie on flies, and rig it up all over again. You might think that a spot might not be worth stopping and re-rigging. But if your rods are ready to go, you might get into fish when you wouldn’t have stopped otherwise.

Is there an advantage to putting something on the roof of my car over how I’ve always done things?

It much more protective than keeping an assembled rod in your car. Especially when there are multiple people in the car or rods are bent up against the windshield. It is also much more effective than breaking down your rod while it is rigged up and putting it in the car. That can work, but it usually leads to knots, tangles, and snagged flies. And another easy reason is that there are some really sweet one-piece rods, with manufacturers making more every year.

Can’t someone just bust into it and steal my stuff?

Really, the Riversmith River Quiver is as secure as keeping it in your backseat. You can’t shatter the lock or housing with a hammer. Someone would really have to work to get into it, and at that point they’d just as easily break a car window.

Will my rods, reels, and lines bake inside a rod holder?

Our rod holder gets about as hot as it gets in the cabin of your car. So just like I wouldn’t leave gear in a hot car for multiple days, I wouldn’t leave them in the holder. But the device is vented. It allows gear to get airflow from the tip to the tail.

What makes Riversmith unique among similar products?

First of all, we wanted to make it affordable and available. It was also important to make it very durable and friendlier to the rods being stored. We worked with a large team of engineers to come up with a unique joining method that minimizes flex and vibration while driving and experiencing wind. Our holders also utilize a custom extrusion method that eliminates the internal seams that could potentially catch and damage guides.

At Riversmith, we really want to support the fly shops. So, we designed our model to primarily sell our rod holders through local fly shops. People can see them and buy them locally. Currently we’re in over 80 shops in 8 states. And we’re growing. Of course, you can always order one online if you’re in an area where we don’t have a dealer yet. If you want to see one, we should have dealers at most of this season’s fly fishing shows.

***

Here’s my take:

I appreciate Luke taking the time to talk and share why he is a believer in his product and the entire concept. I’m also a big fan of Riversmith’s plan to utilize local fly shops and put their product in front of the customer.

Since I’ve had to get a new vehicle, I can’t safely keep assembled rods inside the cabin of my car anymore. Having multiple rods, rigged and ready to fish, was incredibly convenient. From my perspective a rooftop rod holder allows you to use the gear you already have more efficiently and effectively. I agree with Luke: time is valuable. Even if you’re only taking one trip a month or simply hitting local ponds for a few hours here and there, being able to just pull up and fish is important.

Of course, there is a cost involved. But in the world of fly fishing gear, it isn’t that much. For the same price as a mid-range fly rod you can get a Riversmith River Quiver ($345 for their 2-rod case, $549 for the 4-rod model). I’d encourage you to head to their website and check them out for yourself.

Review: Redington GRANDE fly reel

After over a year of testing, our thoughts on Redington’s newest big game stopper

by Chad Shmukler

I can still remember my first “real” fly reel. As a brand new fly angler, I had dumped almost every penny I had into a rod—a handsome, noodley 5-weight Diamondback that I still break out of the basement every few years when I’m feeling a bit nostalgic and know that I’m going to spend the day mostly throwing dry flies. Because virtually every dollar I had went into that rod, the reel that I paired it with was unimpressive to say the very most. It was some generic, non-brand hybrid of plastic and graphite whose mere availability, looking back on things, gives me considerable doubt about the shop where I bought my first kit. The drag was junk (not that I really needed it) and it regularly seized up or free spooled. And so, before my first season on the water was out, I was selling old CDs, hoarding away couch change, and stashing away what tips didn’t need to go to rent in the hopes of upgrading to something more respectable.

Around the time winter set in, I found myself in a local fly shop (a different one), ready to turn months of saving into a reel I could be proud of. Staring into the glass case full of reels as the shop manager guided me through the options, I was dispirited. Though the case was full of beautiful reels, there was what seemed at the time like an enormous gap between the “budget” or “beginner” models—which weren’t much of an upgrade over my existing reel—and even the most modest of choices that weren’t. The reels I wanted to take home were all adorned by price tags scribbled with numbers that were at least double what I had expected to spend.

Determined, I swallowed my good judgment and walked out of the shop with the reel that was the most affordable of the choices that, for lack of a better term, actually did something for me. Though the reel was a dandy and one that, like that old Diamondback, is still with me, the joy of going home with it was diminished by the knowledge that I had spent irresponsibly in order to make it mine. Oh, and by the fact that I had some considerable work ahead of me in order to make rent by the 15th.

For quite some time now, Redington has been making fly reels that are designed to fill that gap I saw as I stared into that felt-lined glass case. Some years ago, that focus was mainly on building functional, dependable and desirable reels for trout anglers that offered what they needed, not stuff they didn’t, and which came with the same or similar price tags as junky “budget” products. More recently, however, Redington seems to have refined that focus to redefining what anglers should expect from affordable gear by offering high-performance products that can serve the needs of all anglers—even those chasing the biggest of fly-targeted quarry—and that can be had without pilfering the rent money. Starting with its particularly price-friendly BEHEMOTH in 2015, Redington brought big-game angling to an entire new group of anglers. Three years later, Redington is continuing the trend by offering its new GRANDE, another big-game targeted reel that aims to offer all of the menu options found on some of fly fishing’s priciest offerings, that is, except for the price.

WHAT WORKS
Price
In a typical review, price, whether cited as a pro or a con, is commonly listed as an afterthought. In the case of the GRANDE, however, price sets the tone of the entire conversation. That’s because the GRANDE, though it is available in sizes that anglers would commonly use to chase trout, smallmouth bass and the like, is a big game reel targeted at the worlds of saltwater and big, anadromous fish. That’s a world where high performance reels are must and where price tags of $700 to $1000 are common. And that’s a world where the GRANDE’s price tag of $299 to $349 stands out. Big time.

Performance
With a big game reel, performance is everything. Or at least it’s supposed to be. Certainly all anglers are influenced by cosmetics and by marketing that highlights new technology or features, but when it comes down to it, all that really matters to a big game angler is how well a reel performs. And how well a reel performs comes down almost exclusively to its drag—can that drag provide the stopping power I want (hint: yes, it can), protect tippets when I need it to and dissipate heat efficiently enough so that it doesn’t junk the whole works in the middle of fighting the fish of a lifetime. To be clear, if you’re chasing bonefish or steelhead or the like, you’re not worried about heat dissipation. But, in the game in which the GRANDE aims to play via it’s enormous 14+ model, it can be a valid concern.

For the GRANDE, the answer to all of those questions is a definitive yes. During over a year of putting the GRANDE through its paces chasing Great Lakes steelhead, Bahamas bonefish, sea-run brown trout in Tierra del Fuego, Florida-brand false albacore and even bearing witness to the GRANDE slogging through almost an hour-long battle with a 200-pound lemon shark without overheating—the GRANDE has never failed to perform.

Given the above report card, it’s likely clear that the drag is up to the task of fighting almost anything you can throw at it. But good drags are ubiquitous these days, so it’s more important to note that the GRANDE’s drag is smooth and good at protecting tippets—a trait that mostly comes down to startup inertia. In that regard, the GRANDE starts up and engages smoothly, a performance trait that is crucial when chasing quarry like permit and bonefish which make powerful runs but often require fine, stealthy tippets.

Fully Sealed
The GRANDE’s drag is fully-sealed and maintenance free. A very desirable feature for anglers that tangle with fish in muddy, sandy or otherwise messy environments—otherwise, a nice upgrade for lazy folks that can’t be bothered to wash their reels properly after a day of fishing.

Spool and Frame Design
It’s undeniable that the GRANDE takes design queues from it’s little brother, the BEHEMOTH. But the GRANDE’s design feels considerably more substantial. The result is big palming surfaces and a sturdy, stout-feeling frame and spool. The concerns of frames bending, twisting and cracking are heavily overplayed by folks in the business of selling fly reels but, that said, reels that are constructed with an eye on reducing weight truly can present problems in this regard. The GRANDE’s construction will give you confidence that it can stand up to any abuse (mistreatment) you plan to throw at it.

Fully Anodized CNC Machined T-6061 Aluminum
If, after lauding the BEHEMOTH for its excellent design and highlighting the virtues of modern die cast construction, we were to cite the GRANDE’s T-6061 construction as a must-have, you’d be right to call us full of it. The truth is, modern die cast reels are excellent. Does that mean that machined aluminum doesn’t continue to offer advantages in construction and durability? Or that machined aluminum reels aren’t simply considered by most to be more desirable? No. For it’s part, the GRANDE is beautifully machined and constructed. Bravo. What’s most noteworthy, however, about the GRANDE’s fully machined aluminum construction is the fact that it’s paired with the rest of the GRANDE’s package at its affordable price.

redington grande fly reel
Photo: Chad Shmukler
Appearance
Yes, it matters. Why? Because unless you’re in an infinitesimally small minority, how much you like the looks of your reel impacts how happy you are with it. And the things you spend money on are supposed to make you happy. The GRANDE, as mentioned, takes design queues from Redington’s BEHEMOTH, but tones down some of that design’s more aggressive cues for a more classic look. The GRANDE’s available in black, if that’s your thing, but man the blue and gold versions are head-turners without being ostentatious.

Drag Knob
Not too much to say here, but the new knob made out of Delrin—You know what Delrin is, right? No? Of course you don’t. But now you do: it’s a pliable thermoplastic that can be machined in a manner similar to aluminum—is a nice upgrade over the often line-grabbing, polymer-coated handles Redington likes to put on many of its other models (including the BEHEMOTH).

Weight
We’ve heard some other folks knock the GRANDE for being heavier than some of its competitors. We won’t. As mentioned, we take the GRANDE’s substantial construction to be a feather in its proverbial cap. It certainly was never noticeably heavy during over a year of fishing the GRANDE in multiple sizes. So, unless you’re impossibly frail, or just like the idea of saying your reel is oh-so feathery light, then we’re just as happy to take the GRANDE’s sturdy, slightly-heaver construction that will keep us from babying it.

WHAT DOESN’T
Price
Yes, price can be both a pro and a con. And no, not because you’ll buy too many of them (let’s be serious, they’re not that affordable).

The GRANDE’s price puts it entirely in a league of its own in the world of big-game capable, machined, premium fly reels. In that context, given the reel’s quality and performance in all other aspects, the GRANDE’s price alone is a justification for buying it.

That said, in the world of trout, where the “Super Torque” drag and other high-performance features simply aren’t needed for the vast majority of anglers, the $299 price tag is harder to justify. To be clear, there is a veritable army of trout reels with price tags that double or even triple that of the GRANDE. But trout anglers don’t need those reels either. If you’re a trout fisherman, buy the GRANDE (or those other reels) because you want them, not because you think you need them.

FINAL WORD
Redington again set out to redefine what fly anglers can expect from affordable fly gear and, by our estimation, they succeeded. The GRANDE is a true performer that stacks up to—and in some cases bests—reels that cost double or triple what it does. Thanks to the BEHEMOTH, to several other Redington products (like its well-loved Hydrogen rod) and now to the GRANDE—anglers may not just be redefining their expectations, but what the term “affordable” means to them in general. If they are, chances are that new definition won’t include making compromises.

Behind the Brand: Denver Outfitters

Denver Outfitters is a Colorado based company, that is known across the fly fishing industry for their flagship product the Rod Vault. The Rod Vault is a game-changing accessory for anglers across the globe, allowing easy access and storage for fly rods. This past year, Denver Outfitters was purchased and the with new ownership the company has not only improved the product line but has also emphasized first class customer service. In this feature we sat down with the Denver Outfitters team to learn more about the company, and what they have planned for 2019. We will be publishing part II of this feature later this week when the Flylords team has a chance to use the rod vault in the field.

O95A8430Flylords: Tell us a little about Denver Outfitters
Denver Outfitters: We’re a small company working to build Denver Outfitters into a premium outdoors brand. We’re dedicated to making high-quality products that let people spend more time doing what they love. Our core product is the Rod Vault, which lets anglers spend more time fishing because they arrive rigged and ready and can move from spot to spot more easily. We’re working hard on more offerings across the outdoors category.
O95A2559Flylords: Can you tell us a little about the history of the Rod Vault. What makes this product so unique?
Denver Outfitters: The Rod Vault was one of the first fly rod carriers that were commercially available. It was developed and in 2010 by a Colorado fisherman with the input of local guides and others. It really was a game changer and got patent protection as a result. The great thing about it is it makes a huge difference for all kinds of anglers—guides, hardcore recreational people, and the casual fly fisherman. We’re definitely proud of the quality and construction of the product. We’ve got a bunch of pictures of people that have rolled vehicles and even had trees fall on top of their vehicles. Thankfully they were safe and their rods also lived to fish another day because of the quality of the Rod Vault.

DJI_0031Flylords: In the past, I know you struggled with fulfilling back ordered product, what happened, and how has your company learned from these challenges.
Denver Outfitters: The last owners of Denver Outfitters did a really good job spreading the word about the Rod Vault. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to keep up with the demand that was generated and ended up keeping people waiting for way too long on a pre-sale list. Compounding the issue, there was really poor communication about when the product would be shipped or dealing with people’s frustrations. The biggest lesson we learned from going through that was an absolute dedication to doing what’s right for our customers. It starts with communication and honesty and ends with making sure they have a great experience. Our whole team answers calls, chats, and emails from the office in Denver every day to make sure we’re regaining trust and building a reputation as a great brand going forward.

O95A2493Flylords: Can you tell us a little about the new ownership within Denver Outfitters? How has this change in management influenced your product line and customer service?
Denver Outfitters: We purchased the business in February of this year because we believed in the product and the opportunity to make Denver Outfitters a great brand. The first thing we did was fulfill all the pre-orders. We had all of those shipped by the end of April. From there, we put processes in place to make sure that we would never put our customers in that position again. We’ve made sure we have ample inventory. We’ve shipped next day since May of this year and will continue to do so. We also got to work on giving customers what they’ve been asking for in the product. We launched the 2- and 4- rod versions in October which people had been looking for and improved the materials and overall quality along the way. We’ve made sure the team we have is passionate about the customer first, and also the products and becoming a great outdoors company. We give people time off to explore in the outdoors and enjoy doing what they love. We want them to stay connected to the core purpose of the business and hopefully find inspiration for new product ideas. We’ve worked hard to engage with the angling community which hadn’t been done in the past. We certainly haven’t done everything right in the past 10 months but we work every day to make this a better company for our customers and I believe we’re on the right path.O95A2033Flylords: With the new ownership I know you have made some changes to the actual product. Can you tell us a little about these changes?
Denver Outfitters: We’ve looked for places where we can improve quality. The first was upgrading the quality of the plastics used in the reel housing and making more rugged mounting hardware. We’ve made a significant improvement there. The two and the four accommodate larger reels and some of the smaller fighting butts. We also included a “lean strap” with the 2-rod version and are going to be including it soon with the 4-rod version. It’s a magnetic strap that you can use to secure your rods when you lean them against the vehicle while you’re getting geared up before or after loading them in the Rod Vault. We’re continuing to work on other improvements based on our own ideas but primarily customer feedback. There are a lot of people out there that have Rod Vaults that are 6 or 7 years old and going strong. With that foundation as a product, a lot of what we do isn’t necessarily apparent to the customer but we’re constantly working to improve quality.O95A8897Flylords: Why do you think anglers should invest in a Denver Rod Vault.
Denver Outfitters: It really comes down to time. The most valuable thing we all have is time to spend doing what we love. That’s the core of the Rod Vault. It gives you more time on the river fishing and less by your vehicle or on the side rigging. Having those extra hours over the course of a year doing what you love with the people you enjoy is the biggest value of all. People have told us all kinds of great stories– of the product making the difference in getting their kids into angling, of helping their marriage by giving them the chance to make a quick stop at the river on the way home to decompress and be more present once they arrived home, and of course a ton of stories and pics of what they’ve landed with the extra time. The Rod Vault is not an inexpensive product but in that context I think it’s a huge value. O95A8450Flylords: In addition to the Rod Vault, I know Denver Outfitters offers other products, can you tell us a little about these products, and what you have in the works for 2019?
Denver Outfitters: One of the coolest things I don’t think enough people are aware of are the vinyl wraps we have for the Rod Vaults. We have a bunch of really cool designs ranging from topo maps, to fish patterns, to artist-designed fly patterns. We even have an American flag wrap we use for our work with Project Healing Waters . We can install or send for people to install. We’re also launching some really cool topo design rain jackets this week. For 2019 we have some more core products that can work along with the Rod Vault that fulfills that mission of giving people more time they love both. We’re really excited to show people a bigger breadth of outdoors products starting this spring.

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This article was made possible by Denver Outfitters with photos from the talented Landon Ecker, check out their website at https://denveroutfitters.com/shop/ or follow them on Instagram at @denveroutfitters.

Use code “THEFLYLORDS” for 10% off any Rod Vault through the Holiday.

Flylords Holiday Gift Guide 2018