Sunday, May 28, 2023

Review: Lamson Velocity 7-weight fly rod

Yes, Virginia, there is a Summer Santa. He often comes disguised as a UPS delivery man. There's no celebratory anticipation.. no decorations.. no festivities and no fruitcake. But make no mistake, his gifts often bring joy to our hearts.

And boy, did I need some uplifting in my life. Ten days ago, I woke up from a short nap to a sharp pain radiating over my right abdomen. I felt pretty certain it was a kidneystone, having had one for the first time just 14 months ago.  My wife took me to the ER, where the diagnosis was confirmed. I was prescribed pain meds and told to see if it would pass over the weekend.

Well it didn't pass. And sometimes bad things can happen if you allow them to linger. A checkup on Monday revealed that my kidney was slightly swollen. So early Tuesday morning, I underwent something called "Lazer Lithotripsy". Rather than describe it, I suggest googling it. While this is considered a minimally invasive procedure, full recovery can take 2 to 4 weeks. During that time, body energy levels are low. Like taking a short walk can wear you out.

So here I was yesterday... feeling like Austin Powers after he lost his mojo. Donald Trump would describe me as a "low energy guy" and that would be optimistic. But then I heard the UPS truck pull up... I perked up and rushed outside. It was Summer Santa bringing me a brand new Lamson Velocity 7-weight fly rod, purchased from No Wake Outfitters in Metairie.

Some background here. At the New Orleans Fly Fishers annual Rio Rodeo in September, Tom Jindra told me of a new fly rod he thought I'd be excited about. Tom is a longtime friend and former president of Fly Fishers International, past chairman of the FFI's Casting Board of Directors, and someone long involved in the fly tackle industry.  He now reps for several brands. As with all reps, I tend to temper any such enthusiasm for new products.

But a few months later, at the NOFF biennial expo, I had the opportunity to test cast the Lamson Velocity - and I was blown away!  This was one of the best casting rods I'd ever put in my hand. I had a need at the time for a new 7-weight rod for bass fishing. But the need never presented itself... this has been a really bad Spring for me and fishing. Probably the fewest times I've fished in 40 years - and I live on a lake!

So for an early Father's Day present to myself, for putting up with pain and the lack of fishing time this year, I ordered the Velocity last week. When the package arrived, it took all of two minutes for me to setup. The paired reel was an Orvis Hydros I won in a gamblers draw at the FFI Gulf Coast Classic early this month. The reel already had backing and an Orvis Pro Taper textured fly line (one of the best lines on the market and worth $120!).

The only problem with the line was that it was a 6-weight. You'd think that might underpower a 7-weight on short casts (under 30 feet). WRONG! This combo casts like a dream. Whether the cast is 20 feet or 90 feet, everything was effortless. The rod balances with the reel so well, and there's little swing weight in the rod tip. After 30 minutes of casting - stopped short only because it was getting dark and mosquitos were joining the act - my impression was that this might be one of the very best rods I've ever owned!

So here's how Lamson describes the Velocity: These rods have a fast action and can punch tight loops into windy situations. The high modulus graphite gives a lightweight feel with enough power to throw large flies, cast heavy lines, and quickly fight the lunkers. The 7 and 8-weight models feature anodized aluminum seats with full wells grip and composite fighting butts. The flat-faced Lockdown Reel Seat is designed to ensure consistent locking of your reel and no rotational movement after a long day on the water. Velocity rods come with a tough cordura rod tube and rod sock, and lifetime warranty for defects. MSRP is $469. Repairs caused by misuse can be done for $50. Lamson offers a 2 week turnaround on repairs.

My thoughts on what Lamson says: I'd describe the action as slightly moderate than pure fast. As mentioned, it loads perfectly well at all ranges. That lockdown reel seat is one many of us rodbuilders are now using, and it's the cat's meow! As for price, at $469 it's in the lower end of the mid-priced rod range, nearly $100 less than our previous favorite, the Orvis Recon.

So the bass have had it easy this Spring without me around much to terrorize them. I've also missed out on several kayak bass tournaments. Those days are numbered!  Pretty soon, I'm going to attack the baskeens with a new weapon that will produce hundreds of sore lips. For now, the doctor says rest. I can patiently wait.

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

LDWF reports results of red drum survey

At the January monthly meeting of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC), LDWF marine fisheries biologist Jason Adriance gave the most recent assessment on red drum stocks in the state.  The report summarized that, while spawning stocks of redfish are still above the conservation standard, the number has been declining since 2005 as fewer redfish escape to spawning size.  And unless management changes are initiated soon, we could see a situation where the fishery is unsustainable.

At the May meeting of the Commission, Adriance followed up with more details of the assessment as well as results of a public survey conducted among licensed anglers.

Stepping back for a moment, lets understand what's happening.  The reasons for redfish decline are much like those for the decline of speckled trout:
- loss of habitat (especially diverse habitat)
- decline of forage (yep, menhaden again)
- increased fishing pressure

Regarding the latter, it should be noted that the current regulations ( 5 fish per day, 16 to 27 inches only, with one exception over 27 inches)  were established 34 years ago in 1988.  The numbers of saltwater anglers in the state, the amount of fishing effort, and the expertise and technology to improve fishing success have all increased dramatically since then.

Red drum are unique in that the vast majority of harvest are juvenile fish.  These immature fish are typically under 4 to 5 years of age, under 27 inches in length, and under 10 pounds in weight.  When a redfish reaches 4 to 5 years of age, it usually migrates to nearshore or offshore waters to join the spawning population.  To protect these spawning stocks, recreational harvest of mature redfish in federal waters is not allowed and severely limited in state waters.  Current regulations for Louisiana are 5 fish per day, 16 to 27 inches only, with one exception over 27 inches.

At the January meeting, LDWF biologists offered a wide range of scenarios to bring both juvenile escapement and the spawning potential recruitment (SPR) back above the conservation standard. To accomplish this, the very minimum in harvest reduction would have to be 35 percent. Scenarios for 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 percent reduction were presented.  These findings and scenarios were then presented in a polling of saltwater anglers to learn what management changes would be most acceptable.

The Fly Fishers International (FFI) Gulf Coast Council (GCC) is actively engaged with LDWF biologists in results of the poll, with the idea of coming up with a recommendation to the Commission for new regulations. The GCC has stated they would like a 40 percent (or more) in harvest reduction, but with a plan that most anglers could support.

CCA Louisiana is also involved in this issue, and they've stated that the very first step should be to eliminate the oversize slot allotment. That alone would result in an average 10 percent reduction in harvest.  

What the poll results indicated is that most Louisiana saltwater anglers prefer to keep the smaller sized reds - typically 18" to 24" - compared to the larger slot sizes. That too would elevate the harvest reduction. There was strong support for reducing the daily harvest to 3 fish, but anything less than that was not well received.

We'll continue to track this issue as it unfolds.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Review: Olde Fly Shop 1-weight fly rod

It's not often I come across a rod so impressive that I have to buy after only casting a handful of times. But such was the case with the Olde Fly Shop 1-weight rod from Ye Olde English Fly Shop in Summerlin Key, Florida.

The shop is owned by Brian and Peggy Barnes. Originally from England, the pair relocated after vacationing in south Florida. I knew of their store from my good friend and fellow rod building enthusiast, Roger Breedlove. Roger has ordered blanks from Brian on several occasions and raved about their value.

However it was at the Atlanta Fly Fishing Show in February that I conversed with them for the first time. They were selling their line of finished rods and as is my ritual, I tested a few models. All cast very well, especially considering the price ($220-$260).  But one particular model grabbed my attention - a 6 foot, 6 inch 1-weight four piece. For convenience, I'll refer to this as the "661".

The detail on the 661 defies it's price. The cork grip is listed at AAAA grade, and unlike some makers who claim 4A grade, this cork truly is clean. The blank is IM8 graphite and it's ultra light in the hand and dampening is immediate. The blank has a lovely green finish, the burled wood reel seat is complemented by high-grade fittings, and the ferrules are marked not only with the guide alignment but with the model length and weight. It comes with a rod bag and a cordura-covered carrying case. According to Brian, their rods come with a replacement option if broken.

After testing for 10 minutes at the AFF Show casting pool, I knew I wanted this rod. While I have a 1-weight and a pair of 2-weight rods, they are all two piece. The idea of having a short, 4-piece rod that I could carry on flights was appealing enough. But in testing, I found this rod to be quite amazing. And not to mention what a beautiful rod it was as well!  And then there was the show discount - I picked it up for $180.

Back home, I didn't put it to the CCS test... don't really do that anymore since moving to central Louisiana. I simply take various weights of fly lines I have on several reels, and use each one to determine what weight line works best. While this rod can certainly cast a 1-weight, it worked much better with a Triangle Taper 2-weight line as well as a Mastery Trout 3-weight line. A couple of 4-weight lines overloaded this rod and even with short amount of line out, I was throwing tailing loops. So I'd say this is a 2-weight rod, not a 1-weight. But that's okay because it serves the same purpose.

Paired with a custom-made machined reel, this baby balanced perfectly in the hand. I did the usual test of casting short to mid-range to long range. It performed excellent at all distances, with the maximum distance being 84 feet! Yes, that required a double haul but it's still impressive. The 90-degree PULD cast delivered almost perfect efficiency... I suspect the IM8 blank made this possible. In my experience, IM8 is better for directional changes than the industry standard IM6 blanks often found at this price point.

Overall, this rod gets a 9.5 out of 10. The only deduction being that it's really a 2-weight. But if you're looking for a rod for ponds, small creeks, or to make casts under limbs or other cover, or just one to have fun with small panfish, the Olde Fly Shop 661 should be at the top of your list. 

Monday, March 06, 2023

Gulf Coast Classic website now up

2023 FFI Gulf Coast Classic
Friday-Saturday, May 5-6, 2023
Gulf State Park – Learning Campus
Gulf Shores, Alabama

The Gulf Coast Council of Fly Fishers International has announced that their inaugural  Gulf Coast Classic fly fishing festival now has its own website. On the website are complete details about the event including:  admissions, schedule, sponsors, exhibitors, workshops, demonstration fly tiers, speakers and instructors, the Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T) taking place Saturday evening, the Classic Mixed Bag fishing contest, a map of the Learning Campus, and much more!

There are special opportunities for volunteers, demo fly tiers, speakers and instructors. Registration will be live shortly and details for those interested in making our event a success will be detailed in emails to GCC members and others who have contacted us with interest.

Again, bookmark the Classic site at and visit often as updates will be posted routinely.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Make plans for Red Stick Day on March 4th

28th annual Red Stick Day fly fishing festival
Saturday, March 4, 2023

8:30am to 3:00pm
LDWF Waddill Outdoor Education Center
4141 North Flannery Rd, Baton Rouge, LA

Hosted by the Red Stick Fly Fishers of Baton Rouge, Red Stick Day is one of the longest-running fly fishing festivals in the South. There's seminars, fly tying demonstrations, casting instruction, food, loads of raffle items, and more.  And best of all, admission is free!

The event will again be held at the LDWF Waddill Outdoors Education Center off North Flannery Road.  The ponds on the premises are full of big bass and bluegill.  In addition, Masseys Outfitters will be on hand with a variety of kayaks from Hobie, Native and other brands for folks to test paddle/pedal.

This year, thanks to the FFI Gulf Coast Council, the headliners will include three of the nation's top casting instructors: Dave Barron of Wisconsin, Jeff Ferguson from Lafayette, and Jonathon Walter of Colorado. All three are also members of the FFI Casting Board of Governors.  If you've ever wanted to learn more about any type of casting, or improve your casting skills, this is a grand opportunity to learn from the best!  Also on the agenda are programs by Brian Roberts and Dave Barron.

Over a dozen of the region's top fly tiers will also be on hand to demonstrate their various flies, along with their favorite legacy patterns. There's also a giant raffle and silent auction featuring one-of-a-kind items, all to benefit the club's educational projects.

Details about the event, including speaker and tier bios, schedule of activities, and more can be found by going to and clicking on "Red Stick Day" in the menu.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Review: Sage R8 saltwater fly rod

Prior to the pandemic, I had tested out a brand new mid-priced saltwater-specific fly rod from Sage, the Maverick. I stated at the time on social media that this rod was a "game changer", knowing quite well that such a term is used often and loosely within the fly fishing industry.

What made the Maverick so special was that, like it's chief competitor the Orvis Recon 2, the Mav delivered performance at all levels of casting. A trait often found in premium rods, but at half the price. 

As I've stated for over 25 years, on this website and in my Louisiana Sportsman column, you don't need a premium saltwater rod for fishing the Louisiana marsh. Making a 100+ foot cast on target is not necessary when 90 percent of the targets can be approached within 20-60 feet. But you DO NEED a rod that is very accurate and casts efficiently at all ranges, has low swing weight, and has the power to move a big fish.

Many rods have come and gone that didn't meet those simple criteria. There were great casting rods that had high swing weight... those wore you down after a few hours of casting, resulting in open loops. There were light rods (like the BVK) that just didn't have sufficient backbone to land big reds without a prolonged fight. And while the premium Sage Salt HD was a great distance casting rod, it didn't cast very "efficiently" at close-in ranges.  The Sage reps were quite honest about their assessment of the HD, and that the Maverick was a better buy for most saltwater applications.  What they said was that Sage needed a better premium offering.

In December, at the annual Fishing Tackle Unlimited Expo in Houston, I had the opportunity to test cast the new Sage R8 - the replacement for the Salt HD. This rod just became available this week in retailers everywhere. Like nearly all premium fly rods these days, the price tag is over $1,000.

Sage advertises that the R8 uses their new R8 graphite, which adds 25 percent more strength per weight, more durability, and more power when needed. As I've said many times, the recent advances in nano-resins allow rod designers to use more advanced, lighter graphites that otherwise might be too brittle or not suitable for fishing rods. Sage also claims the R8 has better casting accuracy at all distances, and greater distance when needed than the Salt HD.

In my testing, I found all this to be true. The test where I hit an aluminum can at 40 feet, than in one false cast, hit a can 60 degrees to the right but at 50 feet, was as good a result as I've seen in any rod ever tested. For the distance cast, I boomed out over 100 feet easily and very much in straight line... consistently "tagging" a white SUV in the distance. Loops were nice and super tight. I found near zero reverberation on the shake test. There is simply nothing this rod can't do well!

Little things matter as well.  The reel seat was firm and tight. And at a time when rod manufacturers are putting shorter cork grips on their rods, WHAT A JOY it is to have a nice long grip. You truly appreciate this when casting for hours... your hand will thank you!

So why spend over one grand on a fly rod?  First, there may be a few times when wind and distance to a redfish may require that extra power in your cast. But second, if you travel to fish, there are species and locales where an accurate 100+ foot cast is a necessity. I can't tell all the number of times in my early fly years when that bonefish, permit or tarpon was right at the 80-100 foot range and my cast was only 70 feet. Becoming a better caster (which I did) certainly helped. But you can be a world-class flycaster and still fail unless you've got a really good weapon. That's why I have two premium saltwater rods in my arsenal.

I love my Sage Xi3. Would I replace it with a Sage R8? Don't think so, but it's not because the R8 is the lesser rod. In fact, after testing, the R8 might be the best saltwater rod I've ever cast.  To learn more about the R8, go to

As always, click on the images for a larger view.

Tuesday, January 03, 2023

NOFFC releases Expo flyer

2023 New Orleans Fly Fishing Expo
Saturday, January 21st

8:00am to 3:30pm
St. Christopher the Martyr School Gymnasium
3900 Derbigny St, Metairie, LA
Free admission!

For a full size Expo Flyer, CLICK HERE

Hosted by the New Orleans Fly Fishers Club, this biennial event (every odd year) is a celebration of fly fishing, featuring all aspects of our sport. Whether you’re wanting to get into fly fishing, or a seasoned veteran, there’s a program or activity certainly to be of interest.

Activities will include fly casting seminars and demonstrations, fly tying instruction and demos, seminars and destination seminars, Sports Writers Roundtable, Iron Fly Tyer competition, auctions and raffles of top end products and flies, artists and vendors, and Kids Fly Fishing Casting and programs. Proceeds go to benefit the club’s educational and philantrophic initiatives.

In preparation for the biennial expo, NOFFC has unveiled a new website. The domain remains the same, but there’s new content. Webmaster Wayne Schnell is still putting the final pieces together, but in addition to the latest club news and a more detailed “Calendar of Events”, the site will also include articles of interest to all fly anglers. Check it out at