The fibreglass fly rod sector is expanding quickly with a number of new vendors entering recently with high quality blanks. I hope to include some of these new vendors after a detailed examination of their blanks.
Tom Morgan Rodsmiths
Made by Tom Morgan Rodsmiths, who produces some of the finest cane rods, these blanks are the very best! I cannot recommend these blanks too highly.
Tom Morgan who brought R L Winston to prominence, is well known as an innovator and perfectionist in rod design. Unfortunately, after a long illness, Tom died on 12th June 2017 but his company has passed to Matt Barber and Joel Doub who are committed to maintaining Tom's heritage of advanced proven design and superb quality - in short, great fishing rods.
The fibreglass blanks have spigot ferrules with a nickel silver reinforcement ring and are available in two and four piece. the blanks are available in the following sizes:
Please note that bringing a two-piece blank from the US can incur large extra freight charges!
Thomas & Thomas
Thomas & Thomas need no introduction as makers of quality fly rods in graphite and cane but less well-known is their range of Heritage fibreglass fly rods and blanks introduced in 2012. With an action described as 'subtle', rods built on these blanks are a pleasure to cast and are beautifully precise over short and medium distances.
The blanks are all 3 piece and dark olive or black in colour:
7'6" #3 7'6"#4
CTS New Zealand
CTS make high quality fly rods blanks in New Zealand. Their Crystalglass Quartz Uni-directional S-Glass blanks are available in lengths of 6'6" to 9'0" and in a wide range of colours at small additional cost. The Quartz blanks are available in 2, 3 and four piece with a slip-over ferrule as standard or with spigot ferrules available at extra cost. Blank colour can be selected from the wide range on the CTS web site.
Rods built on the Quartz blanks are very smooth in action and good to fish with.
Material Grade: Uni-directional S Glass
Core: VeroCore Carbon Helix
Swift New Zealand
Since their release the EPIC ‘Fastglass’ fibreglass blanks made by Swift NZ have become very popular. They use good quality unidirectional fibreglass with excellent tapers in some bright and attractive colours.
Their range includes:
Epic 376 - 7’6” #3 Epic 476 - 7’6” #4 Epic 480 - 8’ #4 Epic 580 - 8’ #5
Epic 686 - 8’6” #6 Epic 888 - 8’8” #8 Epic 990 - 9’ #9
Swift also make a rod particular for large fish in close cover, the Epic Bandit - 7’9” #10 which sounds ideal for Murray Cod and Barramundi in the dams up north, an 11’ #7-9 two-handed blank for spey casting and the Boca Grande 8’6” #12 for those targeting GTs and other big pelagics on the reefs (or you are rich enough to go to the Caribbean for the huge Tarpon).
Proof Fly Fishing
Mathew Draft now offers a range of fibreglass rod blanks at very reasonable prices. Mathew describes these blanks as:
"Our fiberglass blanks are custom rolled and are available in a range of sizes, colors, and lengths. All of our fiberglass blanks fall into the category of medium/fact action. They are smooth loading and have a responsive tip. The blanks are made from continuous filament E glass and offer great handling with quick and stable recovery."
Salamander 4wt. 7' three piece Vapor 3wt. 7' three piece
Chrysalis 4wt. 7' 6" three piece Luna 5wt. 8' three piece
Fulcrum 8' 4" 8wt. three piece Devon 8' 6" 5wt. three piece
Amarillo 7' 3wt. three piece Havana 7' 5" 4 wt. three piece
Olive 6' 2 wt. three piece new tip over ferrules
R.L. Winston, one of the oldest and most respected fly rod makers offer a range of blanks that meet all of my criteria - high quality, through action rods that cast effortlessly.
Are you interested in a Gary Loomis fly rod? Gary is now designing rods for North Fork Composites in Washington State and these are a sweet casting rod with a moderate action.
Rods can also be built using blanks from CTS, EPIC or Composite Developments in New Zealand. These companies produce very good blanks with a medium to medium-fast action suited to streams and lakes.
I have huge regard for R.L. Winston Boron fly rods and use and recommend their rods and blanks. Recently they have introduced an new line of carbon fibre rods that meet my ideal criteria for stream fishing.
The R.L. Winston PURE won the IFTD 2018 Best New Freshwater Rod Award and has also received excellent reviews.
Blanks are available for this rod and though expensive a superb rod can be put together for a good price.
For those wanting a faster action, the Freshwater Air blanks are excellent and available in a similar range of lengths and weights.
North Fork Composites
NFC have sent me the following announcement of a new series of fly rod blanks that should interest all the 'old' Loomis fans.
Gary Loomis introduced the GLX series of rods a number of years ago, today we are announcing the introducing our newest Fly Blank family - the LMX!
* LMX Fly Blanks are 40T and 50T carbon blends
* Ferrule Lite Joints (allows to replace sections without needed adjoining sections)
* Matte X-ray Finish on every blank
* Armor-Resin: Toughener added to pre-preg resin to prevent micro-cracks and crack propagation caused by accidental impacts to blanks
The older North Fork blanks are high quality at reasonable cost and the mid-action blanks are available in the following sizes:
9’6” #7 (medium-fast action)
These blanks are classic Gary Loomis designs and have a very good through action and a good reserve of power. Excellent all-round fly rods.
The CD XLS 11 4 piece rods have an excellent medium-fast action and are available in the following sizes:
9’ #4 9’ #5
9’ #6 9’ #7
10' #5 10' #6
Rods can be supplied with an extra tip section at additional cost.
CTS offer two ranges of mid-action blanks, the Affinity M medium and the Affinity MX medium-fast series. Both ranges provide blanks with a good balanced power delivery and are available in 2, 3 and 4 piece models in a wide range of length and line weights. CTS can provide blanks in over 45 colours. The extensive range of CTS Affinity carbon fibre blanks can be viewed on their link.
Proof Fly Fishing
Proof Fly Fishing is a new, progressive company in Grand Rapids Michigan run by Mathew Draft that decided to use the Web to bring together rod builders from all over the world for input to the design of a fly rod blank. Unlike the infamous ’designed by a committee’ process, this was very successful and the first outcome is the Aurora blank.
I am very impressed by all parts of the process, the people concerned, the constructive use of the Web to bring experienced folks together and the blank it produced. The blank is built by a good, experienced fabricator and the quality is very good. An excellent all-round blank in arguably the most popular configuration - 9’ #5. Mathew has now expanded his range of carbon fibre blanks
9' 5wt. four piece 7' 9" 3wt. four piece
10' 3/4wt. four piece "Czech Nymph" 9' 5wt. seven piece travel rod
Swift New Zealand
As well as their excellent fibreglass blanks, Swift are now supplying Epic ‘C Series’ Carbon Fibre blanks. Swift believe that these blanks are state of the art and my initial impression is they will make a very good ‘fishing’ rod and the quality & design of the blank is up with the very best. The blanks are currently available in:
590C 9’ #5 690C - 9’ #6.
890C - 9' #8 990C - 9' #9
1090 - 9' #10
For those who enjoy double-handed rods and underhand (spey) casting as I do, Swift have an excellent set of these rods in different casting weights.
DH13 carbon two handed Spey rod blank 13' in 6 pieces recommended Grain Windows:
5-6 Trout Spey: 250-460 grains. 16-30 grams
6-7 Large Trout & Steelhead: 350-510 grains. 19.5 - 33 grams
7-8 Salmon & large Steelhead: 420-620 grains. 23 - 40 grams
Swift have also introduced a new 'trout spey' (EPIC 411) rod in 11' #4 4 piece. This rod can be cast double handed or as it is so light, single handled like a switch rod. An example of my build on this blank can be seen in the gallery.