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.