ECHO Pro Staffer Akasha Bopp reminds us why fiberglass rods can be so darn fun to fish. These aren’t the heavy, unresponsive E-glass rods of yore, but incredible fishing tools that retain the ‘glass soul that kept the 70’s interesting. Cover photo: Josh Nugent.
Not long ago, I had the opportunity to fish Echo Glass single-handed rods for the fist time, and felt compelled to share some thoughts about these rods with you.
I had not used fiberglass since replacing my very first rod given to me when I was just 9 years old (that was “several” years ago). That rod was heavy, slow, and soft from the tip to the butt section. I used it and enjoyed it because the rod was the only option for me at the time. At twelve years of age, my parents could see that the fly fishing thing was not just a passing fad, so they took me to the local fly shop and bought me a graphite rod for my birthday. After that day, my poor fiberglass rod only collected dust and was never again picked up (for all I know it is still in my parents’ basement).
My first impression of the 7’4, 4 weight and the 7’10, 5 weight was that the rods looked “retro” in my hand as their color closely matched that of traditional bamboo rods, but they actually felt very light in the hand and somehow modern. When doing the highly scientific “wiggle test” that we all seem to do when we pick up a rod for the first time I noticed that, unlike the much faster Echo 3, these rods flex deeply through their entire length. I knew I was in for a bit of a learning curve when I first fished the glass!
The maiden voyage of the 7’10, 5 wt was on a mountain stream that is known for good sized but picky cutthroat trout. It didn’t take much time for me to spot a nice fish that was feeding on the surface. Without thinking I stripped enough line to cover the distance and started casting. The line puddled in a pile long before it reached the fish. I shook my head and started casting again and the result was another pile of fly line – this time close enough to the fish that it decided that when strange things come crashing in the water nearby that it may want to disappear for a while. Since the fish was no longer feeding, I stopped for a minute and thought about what had just happened. Clearly my usual casting stroke was not the ticket for fishing with the Echo Glass. It didn’t take long for me to slow down my casting stroke, open my loops a little and start to let the rod do the work of casting. My casts became smooth and effortless (as is possible with a hack like me!). With my casting lesson complete I was able to turn my attention back to fishing. The next feeding fish stood no change. I let the rod do the work and the fly landed where it needed to be and the fish was hooked. Man, was it fun fighting that first fish on the Echo Glass! I could feel the head shakes all the way down into the cork. My initial fear that the rod would be underpowered when fighting a nice fish was clearly unfounded. The fish came to hand just as quick as it would have on a graphite rod. In fact, I was able to apply more pressure than usual to the fish, as I wasn’t worried about protecting the tippet. The soft bend of the rod provided all the protection needed. This also applied to the hook set. For the next several hours I had a blast and I noticed that my accuracy and distance control was better than it had ever been with fiberglass.
The next few months were spent fishing the Echo Glass almost exclusively. Between the 4 and the 5 wt I was able to fish just about any small stream and river in my area. The rods really excelled at dry fly fishing, but I also used them effectively with nymphs and small streamers. Too much weight added to tippet made casting a little awkward, but still possible. When the wind started to blow (as it often does in my part of the Canada) casting became more difficult. The Echo Glass is probably not the best tool for fishing in heavy wind.
An unexpected area that the Echo Glass really excelled was as a teaching tool for new fly casters. Because of the feedback that the deep bend and soft action gives, I found that learners could easily feel the rod load and unload. The glass seemed to accelerate their learning curve and helped new casters with their timing and power application. The shorter length of the glass rods also made them more manageable for kids to learn on – I put them into the hands of a seven, an eleven and a thirteen year old with great results.
I can guarantee you though is that, unlike my very first fiberglass rod, my new Echo Glass rods will only be put away until next trout season (it’s here!). They will not have time to collect dust before they are back in action and you certainly will not find them neglected in a corner any time soon.