Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Allen Heritage rods embody traditional action

Back in April, Allen did one of their BOGO discount offers: buy a Heritage rod, and get a second one of your choice for half price. At $189 suggested retail, we decided to jump on this offer and get a couple of these rods: a 7-foot, 6-inch, 3 weight (hereafter referred to as 763) and an 8-foot, 6-inch, 4 weight (or 864). We put both the 763 and 864 through our usual range of tests.

Background

Most of us began our fly fishing journey with moderate-action rods since most budget-priced models are of this action. Moderate rods allow beginners to develop their timing skills. But there's also a contingent of flycasters who enjoy them regardless of skill level. There's just something pleasing about making slower casts, and once a fish is hooked, seeing that rod bend and giving smaller fish more fight.

This "traditional action" - as it's sometimes called - is why so many of us were addicted to legacy models like Winston WT, the Sage LightLine, the Orvis Superfine, and the Thomas & Thomas LP. It was extremely rare to see good-quality traditional action rods in the Budget Category until the TFO Finesse and Redington Classic Trout came along.  While not to the level of those legacy models, they were still a joy to fish with!

Sadly, TFO has discontinued the Finesse. I'm told the similiar actions can be found on one of their newer models which I've not yet tested. The Classic Trout remains one of the best-selling Budget rods on the market.  I first tested the Heritage at ICAST six years ago and listed it as one of the "Best of Show". However, I've not a chance to give it a full review until now.

The Allen Heritage

Allen is based out of Southlake, Texas, and their rods are manufactured in China. They sell directly via their website. The company describes the Heritage series as "A classic trout rod action with modern refinements. The mid flex has been finely-tuned to.. cast small dries and nymphs with delicate presentation, and protect fine tippet...".  While it's advertised as "trout", it's actually an ideal rod series for panfish and even creek bass.

Because Allen doesn't sell through dealers, they offer a unique program called the "30 Day Rod Test Drive". Buy a rod and if you love it, you keep it. If not, send it back to them within 30 days. They will not refund your purchase, but rather give you store credit. Not a bad deal, considering Allen's reputation is based on their lineup of excellent fly reels.  

Price.  All important to the buyer working within a set budget.  Our current pricing division for fly rods goes as follows:

    Budget - up to $200
    Value - $200 - $400
    Midrange - $400 - $700
    Premium - $800 - $1200

At $189, the Heritage is clearly a Budget class rod. Competitors include the Redington Classic Trout, Orvis Encounter, Redington Path, Fenwick Aetos, Douglas ERA, Cabelas Bighorn, Echo Carbon XL, Echo Lift, and Maxxon Gorge. Only the Carbon XL and Classic Trout offer an action similiar to the Heritage, but both are outstanding rods - even among higher-priced Value models they shine.

As with all Allen rods, there's a lifetime warranty for the owner. The repair cost is $45 plus shipping. But here's a pleasant surprise: you don't have to send back the rod to file a claim. Just a few high quality pictures of the rod, the break, and the label section, along with the Order Number of the purchase you made.

Appearance.
  While most Value category rods have a basic all-aluminum seat, the Heritage has a wood insert. The cork grip has a few filled-in gaps, but is still very decent. Unlike some rods which have gone to shorter 6-inch grips, the Heritage retains the 7-inch size. Bully for them!  Alignment dots and high-grade guide wraps give the rod a quality appearance. The rod tube is triangular, so it doesn't roll around.

Taper Test. This involves tying off the leader to a post, locking the fly line/reel so no line comes off the reel, and then progressively pulling the rod back.  We look for the shape of the bend in the rod.

The 864 had more bend in the rod than the 763. This isn't unusual, as shorter rods have less blank to make the progression. The taper was very close to that of my Redington Classic Trout rod of the same length and weight, but just a tiny tad less smooth. This was confirmed when test casting.

Casting Performance.  We ran the 864 and the 763 through our usual four tests:  short cast (20 ft), medium cast (40-50 ft) and distance maximum, as well as our infamous "60D Test".  This is where we stand 35 feet center from a concrete basketball court,  cast to one corner which is 30 degrees left of center, and with only one backcast, cast to the opposite corner which is 30 degrees right of center.  Our line was a Mastery Trout Taper for the 864 and a Wulff Triangle Taper for the 763.

The 864 loaded easily for short casts and medium casts. Casts were fairly accurate as well, often within inches of the intended target. The maximum distance of five "long casts" was 78 feet. Not bad for a moderate action 4-weight. What was more impressive was that, for all five of the long casts, the leader layed out to within 5 inches of the tape!

The 763 also loaded easily for short and medium casts, with good accuracy.  As expected, it fell a bit shorter than the 864 on distance, although the last of the five casts hit out to 73 feet.  Like the 864, accuracy was superb.

The 60D test was decent. Again, this is the big reason you pay more for Mid-Range and Premium rods. In the 60D test, a rod tip has to have exceptional vibration reduction for the casts to lay out perfectly accurate and straight. Both the 864 and 763 had average results.

Final Verdict.

If you're looking for a budget rod to take out west, where the rivers are big and the wind is always a-blowing, the Heritage rods might not be your best choice. Just about anywhere else, it's hard to beat the Heritage series for performance and aesthetics at a value price. And when these rods are put on sale, they are the best bang for the buck - hands down! 

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Tenkara on Caddo public registration up

Tenkara on Caddo
Saturday, July 20, 2024

9:30 am to 4:00 pm
Registration required, limited to 15 students
No fee

The ArkLaTexOma Fly Tyers are hosting a Tenkara clinic on July 20th.  Keira Quam, Aquatic Ed Training Specialist with Texas Parks and Wildlife will instruct an all-inclusive class on this Japanese style of fly fishing.   Keira will cover Tenkara basics, casting, and flies that are most often used.

Registration has been limited to ALTO members up to June 11th, after which it is open to the public.  If you wish to attend, text message Jo Anne Woodard at 318.617.2912 and she will respond if a seat is still available.  As registration is limited, PLEASE make sure you can show up!  

Saturday, June 08, 2024

New redfish regulations in effect June 20th

New size and daily creel limits for redfish go into effect and will be enforced beginning Thursday, June 20, 2024.  Click on the image on left for a full-size version that you can print and trim for your gear bag.

The new regulations are as follows:

  • Daily Creel: 4-fish daily limit per angler
  • Slot size Limit: 18-inch minimum and 27-inch maximum total length
  • Bull Reds: keeping Red Drum over 27 inches is prohibited
  • The retention of Red Drum by captain and crew on charter or head boats while on a for-hire trip will be prohibited.
  • Charter captains and crew will still be allowed to engage in fishing on charter trips to demonstrate how to catch red drum, but will not be allowed to retain red drum towards any limit on the vessel.

Biologists have determined that red drum stocks are not meeting the required conservation standards for spawning potential ratio and stock recruitment in Louisiana, and that changes in creel and/or size limits were necessary.  For more info on the biologists stock assessment, go to  https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/hot-topic-red-drum.