A friend of mine, who rarely fishes but loves the equipment, just bought a J.D. Wagner 276AQ 4/5wt bamboo fly rod and gave it to me to Tuesday evening to baptize. The rod is a wonderfully crafted piece that casts as well as it looks. It's a 7'6" two-piece Quad - four-sided - that with a 4-weight line, is relatively fast for a grass rod. The finish alone is a work of art - it has been flamed to a rich dark amber color and the hardware is beautiful.
Just after I got to the river Wednesday evening, Ben P. pulled up alongside of me as I was getting ready, and offered me a beer before we set out. Below is the Wagner showing up Ben's Hardy graphite rod (no slouch in the carbon rod dept at all), along with our pre-game libation - I declined the cancer sticks.
Shortly thereafter, I stepped into the river, which was somewhat high and still turbid, thanks to the previous day's heavy rains. The weather though was perfect - low 70's, clear and windless. It was still early, and few bugs were about, and even fewer rising trout. Ben pointed out a riser to me that came up just off a shrub on the opposite bank, and after a few casts to it with no results, Ben moved up stream out of sight, and I went down to a long, slow curving run that always holds plenty of fish.
As the sun began to make its way down to the horizon, the bug activity increased with the fading light. Across the river a few fish began to work on the surface, and before long, a well-placed cast with a sulphur cripple on the end of my 12ft leader tapered to 6X, brought this rainbow up from the depths. After a brief tussle I brought it to net and quickly shot the photo below before releasing it. The rod was christened.
That was it from this run, so I moved up to the deep riffle about 100 yards upstream, where I saw a number of fish taking flies from the choppy surface. After watching the activity for a bit, it seemed that the trout were primarily taking the size 12 Light Cahills that were coming off in good numbers amongst the dozen of so other species of bugs on the water and in the air.
I switched flies to one of my extended body, snowshoe rabbit foot, Light Cahill emergers and soon was into a fish. The trout were decent sized, and with the high water the Wagner was bent into a wide horseshoe shape much of the fight. The rod handled well both in casting and fighting fish.
Just as the sun dropped below the tree line, I hooked a rainbow whose take belied his size - my fly disappeared in a rain drop sized blip - and the rod was truly tested. The fish took line, jumped, and took line again. I'd gain a few yards, and off it would go, arching the rod like a dark rainbow in the fading light. Then it would jump - a long, curving shadow in the darkness. This went on for about ten minutes before it tired enough for me to slip the net under it and get a quick photo of its wide flanks and 20 inch or so length. After reviving it for a few minutes, it slid from my hand into the cool water. I called it a night, despite the continued sound of fish feeding on the plethora of insects that lay on the water and dropped from the night sky.
So now my task is to get Dave out on the water to enjoy his Wagner 276AQ as much as I did.
Let's go Davey. I'll supply the flies and whatever else you might need, and even sharpen your hook once in while.