Dirty Dusting with a new dubbing

dirty duster 3 m.fauvet:tlchaving received some yummy new, just-out Emerger Dubbing from Lucian Vasies at Troutline the other day i thought i’d give it a try on a simple, hardcore classic, Bob Wyatt’s Dirty Duster generic emerger pattern.

in typical form, when i photographed the resultant flies i got carried away by the beauty of these hackles and completely forgot to clearly photograph the abdomen part so, this dubbing thing will have to be a two part affair…
but ! just for info, it’s lovely, comes in five colours, has very small flashy bits to it and its a dream to roll on the thread !
dirty duster 1 m.fauvet:tlc
Bob trims the lower half of the wound hackle (as in the top pic) but on some flies i like to leave a few fibres and bend them back with fine tweezers to represent legs flopping about under the surface. sometimes another trigger point to get the fish’s attention doesn’t hurt, besides it’s pretty.

tip- with this pattern it’s important to apply floatant only to the ‘winged’ hackle and wet the abdomen and legs with saliva or whatever goo to make sure they’re under the surface as soon as the fly lands on the water.

Review- Smith Creek ‘Trash Fish’ Spent Line Wrangler

trashfish 1 TLC reviews

“I see way too much fishing line on the riverbank and I got so tired of re-stuffing spent leaders and tippets back into my vest pocket that I finally designed a tool to make them stay put. And no, I didn’t want another tool hanging from my vest but something simple and slim, which easily fits into my pocket.”
Wayne Smith – Smith Creek

Wayne’s quote sums it up well. whether as a way to manage our own monofilament waste or someone else’s, this very cleverly conceived, rugged, well made and user/environment-friendly accessory is yet another top-notch item from Smith Creek.
teeny-tiny at just 75 x 29 x 9 mm and very light at just a few grams, it’s light enough to not even notice that it’s there.

using it and discarding the waste once home couldn’t be simpler. wrap, slide in the mono and slide it off.
trashfish how-to TLC reviews
as you can see on the how-to above, using it is a no-brainer which means we’ll take to it easily and use it every time and that’s good for our water systems and their inhabitants.
after using it for a while, i found a slightly different method of winding on mono and this allows me to easily make the separation between mono that’s to be trashed and mono that can still be used as when the fishing situation requires a tippet change but that tippet is still usable.
– for ‘junk’ mono, i’ll simply jam a tag end into the foam area and wind directly and somewhat tightly around the aluminium frame, jam the other tag end and slide the lot deeper into the foam.
– for ‘reusable’ mono, i follow Wayne’s recommendation. this leaves a bigger, discernible loop as we can see on the images.
as always, when trashing any line, be sure to clip it to tiny bits before discarding as all sorts of wild and domestic animals visit dumpsites.

TrashFish 2 TLC reviews

bottom line: i highly recommend the Trash Fish even if it’s name’s a little quirky !

click either image to access the Springforelle online shop.

 

© Marc Fauvet/The Limp Cobra 2014

Tackle Review: The Fly Tidy fly tying station

‘Something new, something different, something really cool. 

fly tidy w:vise & tools

Fly tying stations aren’t new but this one is a modernized, simplified and very practical and functional rework of the basic design.

Fair enough, at first sight it’s a little strange to get all excited about a piece of plastic but here are it’s features with some plus and minus notes along the way.

– Size
45 x  27,5 x 2,5 cm (or 17 3/4 x 10,8 x 1 inches)
The workspace recess, tool and accessory holes are 2 cm deep (0,8 inch)
The easily accessible tools stay where they’re put and materials don’t roll out of the workspace. Whether using the tool holders or workspace, hooks, beads and other materials stay within the tray and standard varnish bottles don’t tip over. Everything’s always at hand right where they should be and this even when placed on the lap or other less than usual and uneven places such as car hoods or trunks: Nice
The base of smaller sized fly clips also fit in the tool holes, giving the tier an easily accessible area to deposit flies to dry after varnishing or to compare them when tying series of the same pattern: Nice
fly tidy tool holes

When assessing a product like this I ask myself things like “would it be better if it was bigger, smaller, etc, etc ?”  and after a month of tying nothing came to mind meaning it’s size is just right, be it on my tying desk or anywhere else around the house or on the road. The compact yet ‘more than enough’ size  makes it very easy to pick it up and go tie a fly or two while doing dumb things like cooking or watching tv or whatever !
As an aside, it easily fits inside my Fishpond tying bag or other similar tying carrying systems making it all the more easier to bring along anywhere, whether on an extended fishing trip or at fly shows: Nice

-Weight
Is estimated at just under a kilo (2,2 pounds)
Not too heavy, not too light:  Just right

-Material
the Fly Tidy is made of a single, food-grade, recyclable, highly resistant plastic: the same stuff used to make professional, industry-grade kitchen cutting boards.
With the exception of the vise screw, it’s hidden support thread  and the four little rubber anti-slip feet, the whole board is machined from one solid piece and as such nothing could ever fall apart or become unglued. It’s not like we usually mistreat these kinds of objects, but I’m quite certain that even repeated hammer blows would hardly leave a dent on it’s surface: Nice
(The truly serious reviewer might resort to using an axe or chainsaw to thoroughly test this tool’s resistance to abuse but I guess I’m not serious enough !)

It’s white and as far as I’m concerned, white is best. It’s colour neutral and eliminates the need for a viewing plate behind the fly. Somewhere between shiny and matt, any object placed on the Tidy shows up right away regardless of the tying area’s light level. Locating and picking up the smallest of materials is simple and quick: Nice
Most of us have a lamp angled from above towards the fly and the white base reflects light back underneath our fly, evening out contrast, reducing eye strain and simply giving a better overall view: Nice
Having been told that it resists to varnishes, glues and UV resins I had a play with all of the above and confirm the claim. Simply let the gunk dry (or cure it with the UV light) and just chip  it away with the thumbnail and the board looks like new, as if nothing had ever adhered to it: Nice

fly tidy

-Vise Clamp
If your vise has a clamp, simply slide the stem in the board’s clamp and tighten the screw.
If you’re using a pedestal throw it away ! Once the vise stem is installed, the very stable contact area of the base makes that I can’t even make the Tidy rock or slide while purposely winding down hard on a big pike hook with 3/0 or GSP thread. Hooks where bent out of shape before anything moved. It’s like the stability of a clamp vise without having to work on the edge of a table, something the big fly tier might really appreciate: Nice

Now so far, there’s been nothing but ‘Nice‘ to sum up the Tidy’s features but as an assessor it’s my job to find what’s less than ideal so here goes:
As much as I like the vise clamp placement and board stability there’s one aspect here that left a minor frown however a quick, simple and cost-free solution took about one minute to fix this and in my opinion, made the vise connection even better.
The clamp hole’s diameter is a wee bit too wide for my Tiemco vise therefore it wobbles a little when tying even when the screw is tightened to the max. This vise is made in Japan and like any japanese product it’s in metric standards whereas almost every other vise on the market is in imperial (inches) making for a very small yet noticeable fitting difference. I don’t have access to a non-metric vise to measure it’s stem diameter but i’m pretty sure it’ll be just a tad wider than the metric. Others who have tried the Fly Tidy haven’t mentioned  this issue so I’m reasonably certain almost any other vise will fit perfectly.
As such, it’s neither a design or production fault but simply a proof that universal fits aren’t usually very universal and I needed to point this out.

So, as a remedy I cut a slim sleeve from a plastic sheet 3cm x 8mm x 1 mm and inserted it into the hole and wedged the vise stem inside. fly tidy vise-clamp space filler (The plastic sleeve was left intact for illustration purposes. My ‘permanent’ version has been trimmed flush at the base of the board. You wouldn’t know it’s there)

This makes for a non-wobly, very solid hold while enabling the rotation of the vise by simply twisting it towards or away from me to make sure dumbbell eyes are on straight or for weaving fly bodies or simply to view or work on a fly at an oblique angle: Perfect !

Conclusions
– The Fly Tidy is a very nice accessory that’s a pleasure to use.
– The term ‘Tidy’ seems to be what sums up this product best as it makes for a more compact, organized and freer working space.
– It’s one of those items you don’t necessarily think of before actually using one but it’s also one of those things you miss when it’s not around.
– It’s not a necessary item but simply makes tying easier and as such I can only wholeheartedly recommend it.

 

For more information-
www.theflytidy.wordpress.com

© Marc Fauvet/The Limp Cobra 2013

Tackle Review – Marc Petitjean MP-TT Bobbin Holder

Ingenious…

I’ve been using several other Petitjean tools over the years: the whip finisher, dubbing twister, cdc hackle pliers and the Magic Tool clips. They’re all faultless in design and of great quality so I was quite eager to do an extended test of the MP-TT bobbin holder. As expected, it’s a high level tool with two very interesting and unusual features and also has the particularity of being a dubbing loop twister as well.
a Swiss Army knife as it where, of  fly tying tools.

At first glance my first impression was “This tool isn’t finished, they must have sent me a factory error by mistake”, but after sitting down and turning it left and right and this way and that, all of a sudden the genius started to appear.

Every single aspect of it’s design and functions is extremely well thought out and expertly crafted. In a way, and to risk an analogy, it reminds me of the single-speed track bikes of the bicycle world where everything is reduced to an essential minimum and what’s left is functionality, simplicity and elegance.

Ok, enough with the romanticism and on to what makes it stand out from the crowd.

In the order of how the bobbin holder is used I’ll list it’s features.
Refer to the images below for a better understanding of the tool’s various parts.
At the bottom of the page you’ll also find a video where Marc Petitjean himself demonstrates and explains it’s features.

Bobbin-4

Bobbin cage
The spool nubs -as the whole bobbin holder- are made of stainless steel. These nubs hold any of the dozens of spools I’ve tried firmly yet very smoothly. There’s no squeaking noises due to corrosion as with some other higher-end bobbin holders that use brass nubs. A smooth spinning bobbin is always nice but it becomes critical when using finer and weaker threads. No problems here even with a range of threads from 3/0 to 17/0 or vintage natural silks that have been spooled on to contemporary-sized bobbins.
The cage itself is a ‘box’ design instead of the more usual ‘Y’ shaped arms. Because of this shape you can fit even the biggest of spools and the arms won’t rub against the spool’s lip. There’s no need for bending the tool to shape as it’s designed to adapt to all contemporary standard-sized thread spools via the Spool Tension system.

Threading
No need for wire threaders or sucking up the thread through the tube with this holder because there’s no tube ! Once the bobbin is inserted, one takes the tag end of the thread, passes it below the entrance guide and brings it towards the Head Ring/tip of the tool where there’s a small coil similar to the end of a wire spring and we simply push it down through the little groove and the job’s done. No fuss, no muss and the whole process takes about two seconds once we’ve done this a few times. Brilliant !
As you’ll hear Petitjean explain in the video, all sizes of threads and flosses easily fit through the Head Ring. The only variable is we’ll reduce pressure when inserting the thread with finer material and use a little more force with the thicker ones while extending it into the groove.
Depending on the thread type and because of the threading groove, we’ll hear a very little ‘click’ when winding but this doesn’t affect or catch or weaken the thread in any way.

Spool Tension
There are other bobbin holders that have a thread tension system but they rely on achieving that tension by applying force through a screw along the spool’s axis. They work quite well but changing spools requires removing the screw-end, not dropping or loosing the small parts… and then re-assembling it all and re-adjusting the tension by a trial and error method each time. The MP tool has a much simpler and in my opinion, much better approach. Once the spool is in place, tension is increased or reduced simply by sliding a coiled band up or down the tool which tightens or loosens the spool arms with equal force. Once again, Brilliant !

Head Ring
As mentioned above, the whole tool is made of stainless steel and where the tool tip is concerned, this takes it away from the current trend of ceramic tubed or tipped bobbin holders. Ceramic tubes are indeed very good but if you’ve ever dropped one on the floor you’ll know that they’re not indestructible and chip easily. Now, I haven’t actually thrown this tool to see if it breaks but I can’t see how it would.
The use of metal with it’s spring-like opening is what makes the easy threading feature possible but that doesn’t affect the smoothness of the ring against the thread. Careful material selection and processing has made it just as smooth as ceramic and even after tying many-many flies, no threads have abraded or broken.

As a side note to the metal/ceramic pros and cons I’ll add that in my opinion, the ceramic elements most probably wouldn’t have come to be the norm if the metal tubes had been of good quality and properly made in the first place.

Dubbing Loop Twister
Trying to explain this feature with words wouldn’t do it justice so I’ll refer you to Marc’s video below. Fast and extremely simple, once we’ve done it a few times to get the method down right, I find this feature to be a great help specially if I’m tying series of smaller flies because less tools means less distractions and I can stay in the ‘rhythm’ better. Subjective indeed.
Since I’ve been trying hard to find something about this tool I don’t like, I’m left with having to say that although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the twister feature and it works very well, I still have a strong preference for the MP dubbing twister because it gives me more possibilities and one of them being; as I don’t use the rotary function of my vise for wrapping materials around the hook shank and prefer to wrap them myself.
It’s still brilliant though !

Pros and Cons
Pros
I can’t find any negative aspects to this tool. As you might have gathered by the review it’s a fantastic design and it does exactly what it’s supposed to do and does it all very well.
Cons
Priced at about 45€  (or 37£ or 59 US $)  it can understandably be above some people’s budgets.
It’s an object for the person who enjoys cleverly designed and well made tools and doesn’t mind paying a little more for it but that’s not much of a ‘con’ I’ll admit. I have the strong impression that it will last a long, long time and won’t break. If we add the other features to this, that all brings the price down considerably.

Conclusions
As with my other reviews I’ll conclude with a few questions and answers.

Is it necessary ?
No, but it might become addictive so, in that case it just might become necessary…

Is it nice and would I recommend it ?
Very and Yes, highly.

If this was the only bobbin holder I could have would this one be it ?
As a main bobbin holder, yes.
I’ll for sure want to have at least another bobbin holder for times where I want to use two threads simultaneously or want to use wire or other less usual materials like chenille with it but it’s easy to say that the MP-TT would suffice for more than 95% of my needs.
Definitely one for the traveling kit or for tying at shows.

Bobbin-5

The MP-TT Bobbin Holder for this review was submitted by Peer Doering-Arjes of Springforelle  in Germany. Be sure to check out his online shop for a fine selection of exclusive fly fishing equipment, books, videos and courses by clicking the logo below.
Springforelle logo

Images and video provided by Petitjean Fishing Equipment SA

© Marc Fauvet/The Limp Cobra 2013

see ? i told you these threads where strong.

the best part is they’re not just strong, a quality tying thread needs other qualities. for those interested in knowing more about these new materials click here Review- Veevus Tying Threads and Tying Materials

Review- Veevus Tying Threads and Tying Materials

A thread is a thread is a thread, right ?
Well, no. Considering that in most cases, tying thread is what holds everything together when we’re tying flies, it’s quality and reliability are what ‘makes or breaks’ the tying experience and our results depend on it doing what we expect it to do.

“The choice of tying thread for a particular application in fly dressing is probably one of the most important decisions a tier will make. It is as important as the choice of materials used for the flies themselves. 
Thread choice can be a very subjective issue, many tiers will have love/hate relationships with different threads from time to time, and this can be the result of incorrect thread selection in the first place.”
quote from Dr. Paul Little / Fly Dresser – The Journal of the FlyDresser’s Guild 2011

A few months back, I discovered and saw tying videos of  these new threads and wrote Emir Veevus, the founder of the company to ask for some samples to review. A few days later I received a nice little box with 12 spools comprised of:

Threads-
6/0 F02 White
8/0 E01 Black
8/0 E02 White
8/0 E04 Red
8/0 E06 Pink
10/0 D04 Light (Almond) Green
12/0 C05 Burgundy/Claret
14/0 B02 White
14/0 B05 Brown
M11 M Stomach
(Yup, Stomach does sound a bit ‘medical’ but Emir tells me that it was the result of  the translation of ‘abdomen’ or ‘body’ and the word stayed. I think it’s cool and yet another item that sets this company apart !)

Tinsel & Wire-
T12 S Holo-Tinsel
W01 S Steel Wire

From the Veevus site we see that these threads are stronger than all non-gsp type threads (gel spun polyethylete) which is a wonderful quality because it’s enormously frustrating to have a thread break before we’re finished with the fly… but is that what makes a good thread ?
Not really, or at least it needs some other qualities on top of strength.
If strength was the major criteria we could just hand out a considerable amount more money at the shop and buy the gsp threads mentioned above and happily live with the knowledge that our thread is strong enough to bend almost any hook in the vise without breaking.
Ok, that might sound pretty good but it doesn’t sound pretty good to me. What we find out when we buy the gsp threads is they slip on or around materials, need to be kept under a constant pressure because they don’t stretch and in the case of tying in foam or deer hair or similar, they often cut right through the materials (Add your favorite cuss-words here) because the thread is very thin and the buyer was told by the advertisers that they could tug down like a brute, so they tug like brutes…

Enough with the strength, let’s look at other aspects.

Stretch-

When a thread stretches it will later retract when tension is reduced. This holds our materials better than a thread that won’t stretch.
All of the Veevus threads stretch a little. Just enough and in an easily controllable and predictable manner.
Just right.

Twisting / Splitting-
Their non-bound multi-filament construction allows full and easy control. Sure, all threads can be twisted tighter but not all can be untwisted easily. Untwisting is yet another key element in thread management as it allows us to either lay a smooth and flat layer of thread for its appearance or for reducing bulk but also to use that extra width to bind down certain materials with that wider surface contact.
Splitting the threads to insert dubbing is as easy as it gets.
While the other threads have a many multi-filament construction, the 6/0 is a two-strand making this extremely easy, fast and a very strong for inserting bigger materials needed for the construction of streamers, pike or saltwater flies. I don’t even need a dubbing needle to split this thread. Just unwind it a bit, give it some slack and it opens up on it’s own.
Just right.

Resistance-
Or more specifically, abrasion resistance. Number one here is the dreaded ‘hook-point tick’ of the thread while winding around the shank. Although this occurs less and less as time goes by, I won’t say that it never happens to me but here I did a few tests on purpose to see how they hold up. Some threads tear right away. The Veevus threads don’t.
Just right.

Colors-
Available in a vast array of colors as you’ll see here, if you need to add your own color because you want a special tone or just want a different color without tying off and changing spools, they take permanent marker’s inks very well and fast and the color stays on.
Just right.

Spools-
Rarely mentioned yet a very important aspect is the spools themselves and how the thread was wound on them. You won’t find any loose ‘starter’ ends coming off the side lip of the spool like it’s quite common with Benecchis’… All of the threads have been wound cleanly and evenly with just the right amount of tension leading to very smooth tying.
It would be very hard to say exactly if this is the reason why, but after two fly-tying fairs, several tying courses and the subsequent traveling and bag-throwing, not a single spool has unwound which usually results in the thread crossing itself, blocking up while tying and ending up flying through the air with frustration… Just right.
And before I stop with the smooth bit, some of the spools seem (my guess) to be made of Rilsan, a low-friction plastic often used as washers or in other mechanical parts. They’re slightly translucent. When placed in bobbin holders there is a strong marked difference in rotational smoothness from any other type of spool I’ve ever seen, once again making tying very precise, predictable and smooth.
I hope they extend the use of these spools throughout the whole range.
Just right.

Stomach Thread-
As mentioned above, it’s initial purpose is for building abdomens and bodies but it’s a lot more versatile than that. It’s construction is a cross between a floss and a thread which means it can also be used for tags, tails, hot-spots, wings and heads. It is easily twisted tight or loose and split to insert whatever dubbing-type material you might want to bind down. The spool I received is a bright fluorescent yellow/green and by inserting darker dubbing in the split-thread,  was able to get a much more ‘natural’ color of the body on the outside while getting a glow from the thread from underneath, specially visible when wet. Cool and Just right.

Holo Tinsel & Steel Wire
Both are excellent products.  What greatly sets these apart from many others is once again their strength and flexibility. Once mounted on a bobbin holder they can easily replace tying thread: Including tying on, binding on materials, dubbing and whip finishing. This opens up quite a lot of creative possibilities, helps reduce thread bulk, makes tying easier and more precise and there’s no waste.
Just right.

Steel Wire abdomen on ‘Silver and Gold’

Conclusion-
After using these products several months there isn’t a single negative aspect I could add here. That’s quite impressive considering how much I like to critique and criticize…
I’m using the smaller 10/0, 12/0 and 14/0 sizes almost exclusively and with complete confidence for trout-type flies and my technique and general ‘tying tidiness’ has gone up a notch, maybe several.

As in my other reviews, this is a two part question and answer affair.

– Do I like these products and would I recommend them ? Most definitely yes.

– If I where to have only one brand of tying threads would the Veevus be it ?
Again, most definitely yes and quite happily. They’re that good and are exactly what i expect from a versatile top-end product.
Just right.

You’ll find all these products and more tying goodies on the Veevus site.

Review – Imago IPT-IM 9’ 5wt Medium and Fast Action Rods

The final series of the Imago IPT (Imago Performance Tools) have been out on the international market for a few months and I’ve had the pleasure of being able to test and fish these two models since last summer. I had no intention whatsoever of doing anyone the disservice of writing a rushed review so I took my time and this review might be a little long-winded but i feel it’s a necessity if I’m to give an in-depth review.

High-end rods are something we normally keep for a long time, sometimes making the decision a difficult one and first impressions, while sometimes favorable at first cast aren’t always there the next time we pick up the rod.

Well, my initial reaction hasn’t changed a bit and the ‘wow’ factor is still there. They’re just as pleasant and easy to get the casts I want out of them as when they where first pulled from the box.

I’ll venture a little bit about myself before carrying on. I’m a Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructor with the Master level certificate as a goal for sometime next year. My point here isn’t to talk about myself but I just wanted to get across that I don’t take fly fishing and fly casting lightly. I study and teach it, it’s what I love to do and I do it a lot and I do it all as seriously as possible. It’s both a passion and a quest.

When I initially tried out these rods last year at a small fly fair in southern Sweden, one of the first thoughts that crossed my mind was “This is a rod I would use to test with” (the fast model). This statement implies a level of confidence in the equipment chosen. In a casting test situation every piece of equipment  has to feel ‘just right’, there’s no room second-guessing or “maybe I should have used this or that instead”. It has to be the all too often touted ‘extension of the arm’ and the IPTs brings this expression to life.

As a testing basis for both rods I took the FFF Master Instructor exam as it encompasses just about any task one might want to do with a fly rod except having a fish on the end. To sum it up briefly, the casting portion of the test involves casting from near to far, in different planes, varying loop sizes, change of direction casts, accuracy casts at different distances, curves and mends, salt water flats and boat fishing methods, rolls and spey casts, a distance cast and displaying tailing loops and other casting errors on demand.

Lines used for the casting and fishing assessment-
-Scientific Anglers Sharkskin Ultimate Trout in 4 and 5 wt
Nymph 5 wt
Stillwater Intermediate 5 wt
Expert Distance 4, 5 and 6 wt
-Piam- DT 5 wt
-Rio- LT 5wt
-Terenzio Sandri  –  hand made silk DT 6 wt
And a few homemade shooting heads in various floating/sinking configurations.
All performed equally well within their inherent capacities.

Casting Properties– Blank design and product development for these rods was handled by Jason Borger. I have the greatest respect for everything he’s done (past, present and future) in the fly casting world and his contribution to their development is what raised my interest in them in the first place. I wasn’t let down.
Made in the USA yet Swedish owned, Imago is one of the few companies that use the C.C.S. * method of designating line weight ratings and rod actions through flexion curves and this is a welcome treat for someone who’s searching for a rod comparable to one they are already familiar with. Of course, one needs to go out and try them with the lines they plan too use to have an in-depth idea of their performances so… the fun begins !

What really sums up these rods is they are both easy to cast, meaning that they are easy to get the desired result while casting. They’re both equally at home doing aerial casts of any sort or rolls and speys. Placing the fly accurately in the proverbial teacup is no chore with either one. They are also easy to recover from casting inefficiencies during false casts to set things right before the presentation/delivery cast. The blanks are smooth, powerful, predictable, stable and sensitive. They do what I ‘tell’ them to do without any unexpected flexion or excessive rebound (counter-flex). In fact, rebound or rather the lack of it is a sign of a very well designed and constructed blank. When a rod doesn’t bounce unnecessarily we can not only be very precise in the way we create loop shapes or control the line path but it’s also essential to create creative line layouts as when performing presentation casts.

These rods are light and this helps control the cast. A light object is a lot easier to speed up and stop than a heavier one. My not-so accurate scales have them at approximately 95 grams each but more importantly, at least to me, is they feel light in the hand, specially the tip. Nothing’s more unpleasant to cast than a tip-heavy rod.

In order to have a sensible comparison between the two rods, I made comparison tests side by side using the same lines with the same amount of line (length) while trying to duplicate the casting strokes identically. Being pretty much ambidextrous casting-wise, one of the more interesting experiments i hadn’t thought of before occurred while casting them simultaneously, one in each hand, then swapping sides. This was as close to some sort of ‘comparative casting machine’ test as i could imagine.
Medium Action- CCS rating ERN 5,5   AA  62
This rod does feel a little heavier in the tip than the faster model but that’s normal and has nothing to do with the rod’s actual weight. I’ll use this unscientific image to explain: If compared to the faster rod, the ‘tip’ isn’t relatively speaking in the same place as it’s not meant to bend there but further down the blank, meaning there’s more blank mass bending on a longer distance. I was able to use this ‘heavier’ aspect to very easily cast just a long leader, having reeled in the line to the rod tip to cast to fish that where very close to me in a northern Swedish stream last summer. The same can be done with a faster rod but it doesn’t ‘feel’ as comfortable to do.
Smooth and Delicate are the words here and if you like it like butter then look no more.
If you like a rod with more authority read below.
Fast Action- CCS rating ERN 5,6 AA 66
This one I’ll call ‘Direct-Drive’, a rod characteristic that’s quite important to me because I spend more time trying to make curves and multiple curve line configurations than straight line-layouts whether I’m just casting or fishing and I need a rod that I can accelerate and decelerate very rapidly with as little delay time as possible.
I’m hoping the reader won’t deduct that it’s made for circus-casts. I’m just trying to describe how easily it performs in complex casting situations. Rest assured that it shines no matter what line configuration one wants and as an example I find it a lot easier to smoothly cast very tight loops with dry flies in tight corners or under obstacles with this rod, a non-negligable aspect for stream or river fishing.
Side note- I’m not a distance caster in the competitive sense but I do strive to consistently throw full standard 90′ / 27m lines with a nice clean turnover of line, leader and fly. The farthest I cast with each rod with the same S.A Expert Distance 5 wt line was 32,9m with the Medium Action rod and 34,0 with the Fast Action. Not a big difference but I know that a little more time spent with the Medium would have given the same result as the Fast.

Cosmetics and Rod Components- Here’s an aspect that goes straight to my heart:
No Bling ! The whole series has matt black unvarnished/epoxied blanks, non-chromed titanium line guides and discreet reel seat components. I have an extreme dislike of shiny fishing components because a lot of my fishing is done close up and flashing streaks of light, that are the result of moving or casting on a sunny day are not natural and they either put off fish or downright scare them away. It’s a refreshing treat to see a company who thinks outside the box and understands what a fishing tool should be like: Something to be used to stalk wild fish and not something to impress the crowds on High Street.
Besides, the unvarnished graphite takes on a smooth-silky aspect that’s totally obliterated when epoxy is applied. Nothing to do with the common ‘plastic look’ normally associated to graphite. Who knows, maybe even the bamboo purists might think twice about using them !

The line guides are titanium REC from tip-top to stripping guides (and fly keeper) with round single foot guides in-between. They work perfectly so there isn’t much more to add other than it’s quite fun to squeeze them and bend them out of shape and watch them always come back to their initial position ! I’ve bent a few hard-chrome guides by accident in the past and it’s nice to know this won’t happen with these.

Guide wrappings are black, kept to a minimum and discreet. Again, no frills is good frills.

The grip is made of super-smooth, highest-grade, hard to find Portuguese cork. It makes me feel sexy when I cast, something non-neglidgable for a 51 year old…

Reel seats are discreet blueish pewter colored anodized aluminum with a single locking ring that tightens down easily and holds well all day.
The Imago name is engraved in the dark wood spacer, the companies’ logo etched on the cap.

The matt black aluminum rod tubes and pewter colored caps follow the same aesthetics as the rods, simple and elegant. A feature I appreciate is the larger-than-most inner diameter making it easy to slide in the rod when going home. They’re a bit on the heavy side compared to some others but they seem very strong and I guess that’s what we want from a rod tube. I hope I never have to test this but I’m pretty sure they’d be up to the task to whacking an angry bear if it got in the way to the river.

The rod sock follows with the same attention to detail and is made of soft, rather luxurious plush micro-fleece that not only dries very quickly if a wet rod is inserted but it can turn into a warm scarf if one (I…) forgot the Buff at home.

Pros and Cons-

Pro– You’ve already noticed that I really like these rods a lot so apart from copying and pasting the whole review back here I’ll summarize what I find to be the most important in two words and they are: Easy and Fun. Easy to control and Fun to cast and catch fish.
Con– Just for the sake of trying find something that i don’t find ideal, here are two rather insignificant points.
– I question the necessity of having a second stripping guide in this line class. Even though I’m rather positive that no-one could actually tell the difference in a blindfolded casting test, it just seems a little strange to me to include these as otherwise every single gram that was possible to remove from the rod was removed.
– Ok, my eyes aren’t what they used to be but even with the new glasses i just got, the rod model and line class descriptions are rather hard to read on the reel locking screw, specially if there’s any kind of light glare on the ring. I guess the only reason I really noticed this inconvenience is because I had two visually completely identical rods to evaluate.
As noted, I had to try to find something. Sorry, that’s the best I could do.

Conclusion– I asked myself the following question: “If you where to have just one 9′ 5wt would one of these rods be your choice ?” and the answer was yes. I do prefer the fast model but that’s only because i have a preference for faster rods. Both perform flawlessly and in an ideal world I’d have both !

Regardless of your preferred action, medium or fast, if you’re looking for a high-end, very fine, well made, out of the box and easy fishing/casting tool, give these two Imago rods a try.

* More information on the CCS (Common Cents System) rod-rating method can be found here.

© Marc Fauvet/The Limp Cobra 2011