Good things come . . . from small places? Certainly! In a small town in
Oregon, some very talented rodmakers are putting together blanks under
the name "Five Rivers." Building high quality graphite blanks is their goal,
and in that they are doing well.
I recently received two blanks from Dan Craft, the retailer of the Five Rivers
products, to build and test. These were of the Signature IV multi-piece series,
a 6-piece 4 weight, and a 5-piece 5 weight, both 9'0" blanks. I have cast a few
of the multi-piece rods available on the market today, but have not been terribly
impressed with them for any of a number of reasons. Most of these rods have
added weight because of the extra ferrules, and as a result of weight and taper
issues, the action becomes too soft for my liking. Technology is changing these
aspects of design, though, and improvements are always being made.
The key element of this 57 million-modulus series is, in my opinion, its lightness!
When I pulled the blanks out of the shipping tube I could not believe the light
weight of the material I held in my hand! With my hands full of graphite (11
pieces worth for both rods!) it became clear that extra weight was not going
to be an issue! To complement this facet, I selected Powell ultrafine reelseats
and single-foot guides for both and headed to the bench.
I was warned prior to wrapping that the high modulus of these blanks made
for a thinner wall, and care must therefore be taken in the wrapping
process - particularly on the ferrules. Thread tension set too tightly might
cut through the graphite, so it is recommended that the tip-over-butt ferrules
be wrapped for an inch-and-a-half, and that blanks for larger line weights be
double-wrapped at the same points. Fortunately their advice was heeded,
and my blanks experienced no such problems. This is no criticism of the
blanks - it is the character of graphite, and is something with which builders
of any high-modulus graphite rods will have to contend. Be sure to wax those
ferrules to get the best use of these blanks!
The blanks are sanded grey, currently a very popular colour because it allows
for a great deal of versatility in selecting parts for the finished product. To
demonstrate this point, I selected blue thread and chrome hardware for the
4-weight, and green thread tipped with silver metallic to go with black hardware
for the 5-weight. (Both reelseats have Redwood burl inserts.) After some
epoxy, masking tape, squinty eyes, and U-40 rod finish, the rods both looked
as different as they could be, both turning out handsomely in my opinion.
No wonder matte grey is so popular!
Upon finishing the rods, I was still impressed with how light they were, and took
them fishing to see how this would play out on the water. The verdict: very pleasing.
Both rods were fitted with matching WF lines and initiated under the demanding
conditions of Henry's Fork in St. Anthony, ID. Henry's Fork trout are notoriously
demanding, and while good technique is critical, good equipment gives you less
frustration by allowing easier concentration on the fish rather than trying to get
your tackle to work correctly.
Both rods cast very comfortably, evidencing a medium-fast action which flexed
the rod slightly into the middle sections. I was pleased by the fact that it loaded
deeply and still gave a loop narrow enough to be easily controlled. Loading at
close distances was easy, and I could get the distance I needed to fish standard
dry and nymph tactics. This gave me the ability to present even a #12 Elk Hair
Caddis without that "plop" which can send cautious fish scurrying for cover.
In particular, I found the 4-weight to lay the line down as gently as a spiderweb,
giving you the ultimate in fishing stealth. I was able to lay out #32 dries on 8x
tippet on that 4-weight, keeping control the whole time. The 5-weight gave me
the opportunity to fish small dries up to some bushy #10 Wulffs and Gold Ribbed
Hares Ears, and even some #8 streamers. ( I didn't try larger as I don't need
a 5-weight to do this.)
The Signature IV blanks feature "balanced wall graphite," which allowed for an
accurate presentation, as well. Near to far, putting the fly where you want it is
not an issue. Nickel and dime spots are no problem - you just cast it where you
want it. (Operator error may occur leading to tippet being wrapped around
branches. A good rod is no excuse to be lazy. If anyone finds the #20 BWO
wrapped around the oak branch with two feet of 6X tippet, that's mine.) This
probably also accounts for the smoothness of the cast. The line speed is fairly
high, but you don't feel like you're rushing through the cast to get the fly down.
There is some distance that can be had on these rods, as well. I like the fact
that good 4-weights are now available in longer lengths to permit casting small
flies at better distances. A 4-weight is a rod to be used when you need a more
subtle presentation, generally of small flies, and while a 7'0" or 8'0" rod is good
for a narrow riffle or in tight brushy spots, it is not ideal for wide flats. If you
want to put line out on the 4-weight, you can send that tiny dry far enough to
be impractical. The 5-weight generally works under a slightly different set of
conditions, but it too has the potential to let a line see some sky. I like to use
5-weights on Trout to deliver larger flies more accurately, and to give added
strength when fishing deep pools and heavy pocket water. This 5-weight will
also cast too far for practical Trout fishing, but gives you great flexibility
between the up-close hole and the far-distant run.
The only drawback? It will take you longer to assemble the rod. By my count,
it takes me four seconds to assemble a three-piece rod, and a full 10 seconds
to assemble the six-piece. Needless to say, if you can't live with this "disadvantage,"
you might be a bit too picky! It is fantastic to see what is now being done with
multi-multi-piece rods, even to six-piecers like the 4-weight. Absolutely no
action is compromised whatsoever by the additional pieces, and the portability
speaks for itself.
The best part? Maybe that these blanks are only about $50.00 to $75.00 apiece!
Comparable blanks are selling at more than $250.00, so these really are a bargain
without sacrifice. They come in an extremely wide variety of weights, lengths,
and number of pieces complete with a limited lifetime warranty. For more
information or to purchase any blanks from Five Rivers, email Dan Craft,
or call him at 1(541) 782-4404.
Three Rivers Blanks are available only from Dan Craft Enterprises.
For more information visit the
DanCraft Sponsor page here on FAOL. ~ Thomas C. Duncan, Sr.
Dan Craft Enterprises
48354 W. Oak Road
West Fir, Oregon