Monday, March 13, 2023
Review: Olde Fly Shop 1-weight fly rod
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".
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.
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.