Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Red Stripe Rods by Joel Hubscher

For quite some time bamboo rod maker Joel Hubscher has been trying to get me to try out one of the rods that he builds. Joel's specialty is the custom creation of nodeless bamboo rods, a method of building a rod which removes the bamboo nodes that are common on many bamboo rods and makes it lighter. For greater detail on the process, I refer you to his website - http://www.redstriperod.com/

At last spring's Gulf Coast Council Expo in San Antonio, I spent some time casting a 7'6" 3wt on the Expo showroom floor. Joel offered to let me take a rod to my home on the Pecos River in New Mexico and test drive it. We made arrangements and he handed me a 7'6" 4wt rod at a nearby Starbucks and I spent the next 3 weeks giving it a test.

Since I have very little experience with casting or fishing a bamboo rod, I decided to buy a copy of John Geirach's "Fishing Bamboo" so I could know what I was supposed to be appreciating. It may be sacrilege to bamboo enthusiasts, but I was underwhelmed with the book (so much name dropping). I did learn what the proper care for a bamboo rod is, which made me extra careful to dry it after every use and not to store it in rod tube too soon.

I also included my wife and fishing partner Sandie in the test driving process -a good test because we have completely different casting and fishing styles. She is also without any biases.

We fished on a section of the Pecos that runs in front of our place just outside the Village of Pecos. There were plenty of the locally stocked rainbows, native browns and a few privately stocked rainbows that have migrated to our water. The fish ranged in size from about 6 - 16 inches. It was mid-June and there was plenty of bug activity on the water, ranging from stonefly nymphs to caddis adults. The catching wasn't hard so the rod got a work out. We had the chance to fish the rod with dries, dry dropper and nymphs under a Thingamabobber (actually a Scindicator).

Joel's rod performed very nicely, during one evening before sundown, I caught about 30 fish in a two hour span. Mostly fishing a dry dropper combination with caddis emergers getting most of the action. The rod has a nice delicate touch, but not so slow that I have to modify my casting style too dramatically to fish it on our small stream. While Joel encouraged me to try out the size 8 Barr's Tungstones I'd tied, I couldn't control things as nicely as I could with my carbon fiber rods and I abandoned the experiment quickly.

Sandie gave the rod a spin during the day that we took the pictures on this post and she liked fishing with it.

I wasn't converted to bamboo as a result of this experiment, but I don't think that was the goal. I'm a little tentative about all of the care that seems to be required after a day of fishing bamboo. Joel makes a great product and it is very well priced ($2000 as of this posting). I like the nodeless aspect of this rod; it cuts down on the weight compared to other bamboo rods that I've cast. Most important for a fishing rod, it performs well for its designed intent - Fishing. Certainly consider the Red Stripe Rod Company when you are looking at bamboo rods and don't be shy about asking for customizations in size and taper for the rod you order, Joel is very flexible.

If you're interested in learning fly fishing for trout, contact me - http://www.texasflyfishingschool.com/

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