Thursday, December 14, 2023

New Echo 84B revives the "Short Stick"

Those of you who followed me for two decades on Louisiana Sportsman magazine may recall,  I'm a huge fan of "Short Sticks" or "Bass Shorts".  These are fly rods of length 7'6" to 8'6" in the mid and upper weights from 6 through 10.  

There are advantages of these rods over the 9-foot and 10-foot rods that dominate the market.  Back in 2014, in my Fly Lines column, I wrote what the advantages and disadvantages were.

There are reasons why most fly rods are 9 feet long — and sometimes longer. Longer rods cast farther and allow for better line management on the water. For example, mending line on a moving stream.

But short rods have their advantages. In addition to lower swing weight, they give more casting control, can be used under tree canopies or docks, in tighter casting spaces, are easier to manage while fishing from a canoe or kayak, and have the ability to place a fly in tight spots."

And then there’s lifting power. When it comes to getting a big fish out of grass or timber, an 8-foot rod is a better lever than a 9-footer."

I own four graphite Short Sticks - Redington Predator, Ross FlyStik, Diamondback Backwater, and Mudfish Flyer - in weights 6, 7 and 8.  These have been great for my bass fishing and kayak fishing adventures.  In fact, I'd say that in numerous kayak bass tournaments, short sticks have delivered for me time and again where a longer rod might not have.  My two personal best bass - an 8.8 pounder (public water) and a 9.6 pounder (private water) were both landed on shorts.

Of the 10 models of  Bass Shorts available in 2014, only 3 remain.  The entire Redington Predator series has transitioned to 9-footers.  Sage replaced their Bass Series with the Payload.  The Payload shortest offering is 8'9"... so essentially another 9-footer.  The Mojo Bass is still around. It puts the "broom" back in "stick".  The Mudfish is a fine rod, but it's a 1-piece.  Forget travel use.  The White River Heat - like most of Bass Pros fly rods - has breakage issues.

Some will say, "What about fiberglass?".  There are a good number of fiberglass short sticks on the market.  With glass it needs to be the newer S-glass or S2-glass... in my opinion, your grandfather's E-glass rods are simply too slow and too heavy.  As much as I want to love glass, all but one of the glass short sticks I've tested have not met my high standard for these rods.

What the world needs is a good graphite Bass Short.  Echo (hopefully) to the rescue!

The new Echo 84B was developed by Tim Rajeff and Pat Ehlers with bass anglers in mind and tested extensively on smallies and largemouth. All rods in the series - which include 6, 7 and 8-weights come in length 8'4".  According to Echo, this length is the perfect compromise between accuracy, distance, and leverage.

The 84B was designed to cast big flies accurately in adverse conditions. The rod supposedly has a fast action (but not too fast) and works with floating, intermediate and sinking lines. It was designed for quick pickup and minimal false casting.  The 84B 6-weight weighs only 3.6 ounces, so I'm excited about that.  We'll need to see what the swing weight is before heaping great praise.

84B rods have a deep olive blank, a flared full wells grip, a fighting butt, aluminum anodized reel seat, and comes with a zippered cordura rod tube. MSRP is $299.  These rods also carry the acclaimed Echo lifetime warranty for the original owner of the rod.

While promoted as a bass rod, we're certain it could also be great for pike, pickerel, snook and redfish. And could be a great kayak fly rod as well.  I say "could" because, like with all rods, the proof is in our own testing. I hope to get one over the next month and do so. Then report my evaluation.