As a fly fisher of many years, and as a writer, I am privileged to meet people and have experiences that sometimes, I would previously never have thought possible. Also over the past years, I have people and companies fluorish and disappear. It is part of the "life cycle" of so much.
When I began fly fishing in the late 1960s, there were primarily only big, heavy fly rods, built of fiberglass or cane. I was out of fly fishing for a few years, but in the late 1980s, I returned to fly fishing and it was a revelation. Those huge, heavy glass rods had been replaced with graphite rods that weighed ounces, with sensitivity I'd only imagined before. Lines had improved GREATLY, plus fly fishing gear and accessories were at an all-time technical high. It was mind boggling!
After much trial and error, and thousands of hours fly fishing I became an ultralight fly fishing enthusiast. My conversion brought the full joy of fly fishing to me. As I spoke with fly tackle equipment designers and manufacturers, I didn't find much enthusiasm for UL fly rods. The "party line" was against them. Then I got my hands on a Howard Steere - Jim West designed Orvis Superfine 2-weight, then a 1-weight and I was in! I have experienced a love affair with ultralight fly tackle ever since.
The next development came from Jerry Siem at Sage who created the SPL line of fly rods, balancing the perfect line co-developed with his SPL rods to produce THE best rod/line marriage to that point. Siem took us from the 1-weight to the new SPL ought weight, THE lightest fly rod made. It was a milestone. They featured an ought, one, and two weight with matching lines. The ought weight was still the next lightest fly rod in the world.
Then Jerry Siem released his next lightest ultralight design -- the Sage TXL Double ought weight fly rod that truly was one step lighter than the Sage SPL Ought weight. It was amazing. He followed that with his TXL Triple ought weight - a most amazing rod. That has remained THE lightest line weight fly rod available.
Over a period of 5 years, I spoke with most major manufacturers about their plans to build a broader selection of ultralight fly rods. Some felt there was no point. Then I noticed that Thomas and Thomas added a 1-weight to its line-up. I obtained one, and fished it immediately. It is a very nice rod, and was ground breaking for T&T given its line weight.
It seemed that the envelope had been pushed about as far as it could go. Gladly, there is always room for innovation in fly fishing.
When I first spoke with Harry Briscoe at Hexagraph fly rod company, I asked him just how light a Hexagraph rod was being built. At the time he considered his lightest rod to be a 3-weight. I decided to fish one of Hexagraph's 4-weight 8 1/2 foot rods, plus an 8 foot 3 weight rod. Both were two piece rods featuring beautiful craftsmanship with the look of fine cane with the strength of graphite. Being accustomed to ultralight tubular graphite rods, these rods seemed a little heavy. For my taste, the 8 foot, two piece 3-weight really would cast a WF2F line nicely, so I considered it a 2-3 weight, and began fishing it regularly.
I spent MANY hours fishing my Hexagraph 2-3 weight (left) catching bass, bluegills, trout, and giant copperhead bluegills in Florida. I even caught some juvenile snook and tarpon on it! The rod was strong and tamed all of those fish effortlessly.
Then I decided to see if we could push the envelope in Hexagraph rod design. I challenged Harry to have his rodmaker build to build me a lighter Hexagraph rod. I wanted to see just how light we could go. We found out! After two years of discussions about materials, accessories, handle, reel seat, and length, Jim Clarkson, master rod builder for Hexagraph rod company, and owner of Raptor Rod Works, a full service custom rod building/rod repair company in Chico, CA. shipped me the first Hexagraph to break the real 2 weight barrier -- the first Elk Meadow 1-2 weight.
He built me an amazing rod (right) that combines all of the ingredients I had hoped for. This 7 1/2 foot 2 piece Hexagraph weighs in at only 2.25 ounces. I pulled out my trusty postal scale and began weighing rods. My T&T LPS 762 weighs 2.5 ounces. My Sage SPL 1-weight weighs 2 ounces. Jim Clarkson had done it! He had built a solid graphite rod with full sized handle to typical Hexagraph standards, and kept its physical weight to that of tubular graphite rods. I felt like a father all over again!
Notice (below) the Hexagraph brown look, the full sized handle, plus cork and ring reel seat featuring aluminum rings and butt cap. I teamed this rod with an Orvis Battenkill disc bar stock #1 reel. It is a perfect match.
I took my new rod to the water immediately. It handled even my larger flies smoothly, and without difficulty on an Orvis WF2F Wonderline Trout line. Then I changed spools to a WF1F Sage Quiet Taper II line. The rod cast more delicately, but just fine.
The following Saturday, I drove to the mountains to try it out on trout. After catching and releasing a 2, then a 2 1/2 pound rainbow, I decided this rod would do!
As quickly as possible, I hit some water and caught my first bluegills and bass on my new rod. Now it is just a matter of time. This Hexagraph 1-2 weight and I have enjoyed many hours of catching fish together!
In all honesty, it is an amazing feeling to be fishing the only rod of this type in existance. The only two other fly fishers who have held my Elk Meadow 1-2 weight were amazed. I am convinced that if you like the classic look and feel of a cane rod with graphite's sensitivity plus solid core strength, you would love this rod!
However, after all of these great years, I have seen the Hexagraph rod company shut down. After many years Harry Briscoe Hexagraph's owner decided to "retire" and spend more time with friends and family and fish more.
If you are the fortunate owner of a Hexagraph rod you can still have your rods repaired so long as current parts and materials exist. Contact Jim Clarkson at Raptor Rod Works, Chico, CA., call 530-894-2062.
Harry indicates that there is interest in reviving Hexagraph in some form. We'll have to wait and see.
WARM WATERS |
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