Product Reviews

Two New Lamiglas Graphite Blanks
by Thomas C. Duncan, Sr.


For those that still associate the Lamiglas brand with slow, heavy fibreglass rods, be prepared to have your perception changed as mine has been. Since casting their Ti2000 Titanium/IM700 rod, I have had to take a new look at this Woodland, WA company in a new light. Their two new products, although not as "radical" as the Ti2000 are just as significant, though, in that they present the flyfisher with graphite rods that are as high in quality as any of the top rods on the market.

I have had the opportunity to cast and fish these two new rods - the Perigee and the Esprit - and am quite pleased with both, and in many similar ways. Both are light weight and fast action. Both have cosmetic effects which set them apart. Both are quite powerful, yet economical.

The "Perigee" is unusual in many ways, from its marketing to its material. This line is only available in blank form - one of the only brand name lines from rod manufacturers of which I know that sells in this manner. Built rods are only available to the consumer from custom builders. This really makes sense as they have a truly "custom" personality.

Rolled from second/third generation graphite, the distribution of the material in the taper makes it not only quite fast in casting action, but light in the hand as well. There was no small amount of surprise on my behalf at the size of the blank diameter. Taking the 9'0" 5/6-wt. 3-pc. blank made me wonder if perhaps the wrong line size had been sent to me - it looked more like a Salmon-sized blank! I was assured, though, that this was the proper size, so I built on. (This is the first time I have ever had to find a #29 winding check for a 5-weight rod!) The light weight of the blank was a surprise given that large size, but it is my understanding that by wrapping the graphite material "wide," quite a bit of weight is saved. A blank of this size in this configuration weighing in at a hair over 1.5 oz. is nothing at which to sneeze!

It is remarkably easy to look past the bulk, though. Not only does the light-ness help, but the rod finish makes you enjoy the greater amount of visible material. Described by the Lamiglas factory as "rain forest green with a Midas touch of gold flake," it simply must be seen to be fully understood. Imagining the deepest green shade of olive possible with gold flecks almost too small to be individually perceived will give you only the slightest inclination of its high-gloss look. The effect is not dissimilar to automotive enamel that has a metallic tint - the first thing noticed is the sheen, but when observed closely, a speckling of quasi-molecular golden particles is found under the final clear finish. This blank ranks far higher on a visual scale than any other graphite blank I have ever reviewed!

The great benefit of having this offered as a blank is that the builder is completely at liberty to select components based on individual need and desire. For my personal usage, a 5/6 needs to handle Summer runs of immature Steelhead, so I will build this differently than a small-water fisher might, and I selected my components appropriately. A nickel silver and Zebrawood reelseat (with skeleton from Lamiglas,) and removeable fighting butt made up the main distinctions. Single-foot chrome guides, ceramic stripping guide, and dark green thread wraps with "Green Highlander" feather inlay completed the rod. I must say that these blanks would look fantastic with TiGold hardware due to the gold-flecked finish, and the darkest green thread available would be helpful. The point of selling blanks, though, is so you can build it the way you want it! Pick the configuration of your fishing tool, from economical aluminum to classic nickel silver to high-tech titanium, or anything in between.

With the rod built, it was time to cast. I found this rod had its best "standard" use with a WF5 line, although it is listed as a 5/6, and looks more like a 6. The 6-wt. line shoots wonderfully, but it is easier to control the line with the WF5. The lighter line weight takes the line off the tip section and throws tight loops, holding a good bit of a weight-forward in the air. There are benfits to fishing with either line weight, though.

  • As a 5-wt., the rod exhibits a more crisp feel combined with a delicate presentation. Anglers fishing medium-sized flies to picky fish will appreciate the way the Perigee handles the task. In particular I noticed that on stillwaters it gives you the casting distance needed to avoid being detected by fish in clearest waters, and the gentility of presentation to allow the fly to land in a natural manner.

  • As a 6-wt., the maximum strength of the rod is put into effect. A WF6 line causes the rod to flex more deeply, thus minimizing the line speed found with the WF5, but this is counteracted by the dynamic unloading of the line. If it is distance you want, you can easily acheive it with this line weight, as the line shoots dramatically farther and more easily.

Two words you do not frequently hear together regarding fly rod actions are "fast" and "smooth." Yet, the Perigee fits both qualifications accurately, delivering the line as gracefully as any, yet throwing slim, economical loops. It handled all the things I need a 5-wt. rod to do, plus a few more showing a desirable versatility. Large flies weren't an issue, and I assume this has to do with the heftily proportioned butt taper. By slowing down the stroke a bit, two-fly rigs, indicator setups, and bulky Trout flies were relegated to slightly wider loops helping prevent tangles and snags, but still making the most of the power aspect. Here again, this will help the fisher for picky trout with long, thin leaders to avoid hanging up on leader knots and the like.

The smoothness of this blank is something you might expect to find with more traditional (slow) actions, but it just isn't the case here. Although the action is crisp, the material used allows the angler to "feel" the line, and does not compromise the ability to set a dry fly on the water with the gentility of the natural.

The Perigee blank is available at costs ranging between $100.00 and $150.00 in sizes from 2/3-wt. to 12/13- wt., configured in both 2- and 3-piece models. Two models that caught my eye were the 5'9" 3/4, and the 9'6" 7/8. As good a mender as the blank is, the latter would be quite a tool for Fall Steelhead and for high-stick nymphing in heavy water.

The XMG50, Lamiglas' very newest offering of blanks has many of the same qualities as the Perigee, but in differing ways. The most distinguishing aspect of this new line is that it casts like some of the highest priced rods on the market, but at a significantly lower price.

Instead of being a stout rod, this speedster boasts a narrow profile -- very narrow, in fact. The model I cast is a 9'0" 8-wt. in 2-pc. configuration, but thinner than the Perigee 5/6. Use of a very high modulus graphite material allows not only for an expected increase in line speed, but the reduction in size as well. These powerhouses are lightweight, again like the Perigee, but with a deep burgundy finish that is new and different than most blanks on the market. Not dissimilar to their discontinued "plum" coloured LHS blanks, but more rich in hue, this finish is a perfect match for translucent Garnet wraps, and is truly beautiful in its own respect.

I built this rod from a blank, but it is available as a finished rod from Lamiglas using the revolutionary new Fuji "Concept" guide system. These SiC/Alconite single-foot guides that rest close to the blank have a light weight, and are super slick to promote easier shooting. The look of the Concept guides with their frames and rings take some getting used to, and I'll admit that my eyes have not accustomed to them. The factory rods also come with a graphite barrel reelseat -- no, not the grey "plastic" spin-rod type. They have a classy Nickel Silver skeleton and the barrel is finished in the same colour as the blank. Larger line weights feature anodized aluminum seats with fighting butts.

How does it cast? This is the best part. I'll admit that I like fast rods, and the faster the better. This is a very fast, very comfortable rod, living up to all the expectations one has of a high-modulus tool. This action casts from the very tip, with the lower end of the rod providing a good, solid punch to the cast. You feel the action with just a few feet of line out, making 20 foot "nickel and dime" casts as accurately as you can place them. At 30 feet you are still able to control the exact placement of the fly without effort, basically just casting off the tip. Then you strip all the line off the reel, snap a good double haul, and watch this rod go to work. Suddenly, the butt section roars into gear and powers the line into action like the cannon it is.

The XMG50 naturally inclines itself toward saltwater or Salmon/Steelhead fly fishing due to its design. Namely, it is intended to make long casts and has the power to handle large flies. During my model's inital voyage into the fishing world, it handled "Alaskabou" speys, spun-hair bugs, 3 1/2" Clousers, and other tough-casting flies without issue. The design is intended to pick up these nightmares and make them work for you, and that is just what it does. It is easy to see this rod at home on Pacific Northwest Steelhead rivers, Eastern Canadian Atlantic Salmon waters, or chasing Bones, Blues, or any number of other species where distance and power are so critical. In lighter weights it will also give you an edge when blindcasting streamers on stillwaters for tricky Trout, or where you might have to cast a long leader a long ways. It makes one wonder what the 9'0" 2-wt. model will do in a wide, flat spring creek?

Stiff? Yes, a little, but with your backing in your guides, (which is easier than it sounds in this case,) you don't want the rod tip wobbling around, and when a heavy-duty, double-figure fish has a bee in its bonnet and a fly in its jaw, it is even less desirable. The tip is not prone to a great deal of "wiggle," which keep the loops narrow and the cast straight. Not only this, but that upper rod power combined with the gutsy butt section makes it easier to turn large fish.

Final evaluation of the XMG50 is that it is not a rod for the faint of heart. These are high performance, no-nonsense, no-holds-barred tools for serious fishing. They are fast, tough, and durable, and will take what is dished out to them.

The XMG50 blanks and Esprit line of fly rods are available in 9'0" 2-pc. configurations from 2-wt. to 10-wt, and longer 3-pc. models from 5- to 8-wt., and average about $375.00. Blanks are available at about $130.00 each. More variety will soon be available including 4-pc. models.

Both the Perigee and XMG50 blanks come with a limited lifetime warrantee, and may be purchased through local retailers. More information can be found at the Lamiglas, Inc. website , or by emailing Lamiglas directly. While you are at the site, check out their closeouts on rods and blanks of many different models and sizes.

Lamiglas, Inc.
1400 Atlantic Avenue
Woodland, WA 98674
USA
Phone: 360-225-9436
Email link: fishon@lamiglas.com

You can also check out their Sponsor page here on Fly Anglers OnLine. ~ Thomas C. Duncan, Sr.



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