The Rats Nest

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Echo Shadow PE 10-1/2' 3 Weight Rod, A Review Of Sorts

So I have been fishing the Echo Shadow PE for the better part of 6 weeks now and am as impressed now as the day I put my hands on it.  I have fished with both the 11 foot 4 weight and 10-1/2 foot 3 weight, and am very partial to the 3 as it is perfect for various reasons I will elaborate upon later.  If you are looking to make a plunge into the realm of "Euro-Nymphing", this in my opinion is a very good choice for a multi faceted "Euro-Nymphing" tool.

This rod was designed by a nationally known competitive angler, Pete Erickson a member of the Team USA fly fishing team, with insight from others in the competitive realm as well.  Couple that with  Tim Rajeff, and you have some great minds working to turn out a quality product.  A lot of R&D went into the construction of these rods.  Some concepts that were meddled with were affordability, fish-ability, lightness in hand, durability and a stealthy design.   All of these attributes were the foundation that Pete and Tim were looking for in building the perfect "Euro-Nymphing Tool".  After many prototypes, countless hours of testing and re-testing they finally produced what I believe to be a great rod to employ these deadly techniques while hitting on all of those key areas.

Lets start with the blank itself, although it may not be the prettiest rod on the market, reducing rod glare through the use of a matte black finish, hard finished black single foot guides, and black mesh reel seat this rod is about as stealthy as it gets, which is another bonus for those of you who fish on rivers with heavy angler pressure, or extremely wary wild trout.

The second attribute that was a big one especially with the competitive anglers was the lightness of the rod in hand.  When you fish with your arm extended for long periods of time, fatigue is a reality and making a light rod was a huge factor in the success of this rod.  After several trials the production rods are a mere 99(10-1/2') and 104(11') grams respectively.  Pretty darn light considering their lengths.  I will admit when I held a few of the prototypes in hand over the winter, I was very skeptical as they seemed very heavy and overly tip heavy.  But after some re-working the final product is much lighter and more angler friendly

The third attribute which in my opinion is probably one of the more important ones in the grand scheme of things is the fish ability factor.  This is a catch all phrase, one which encompasses a couple of topics, most importantly accuracy.  This has been a chief complaint of several anglers with some of the other longer nymph rods on the market.  Some rods do not seem to track well, especially some of the lower to mid range priced models on the market.  The main problem with many of these rods is they cause an anglers presentation to be skewed as the flies never seem to land exactly where the angler intended them to.  I have experienced this myself with several other rods that I have fished, where you want your flies to land in a specific location but instead they land either 1-2 feet to the left or right of the target.  This can be very problematic especially if the angler has a very small window in which to place their flies into.  I can say with an almost 100% degree of certainty that this rod is spot on.  I have been intentionally fishing in tight areas that require a great deal of concentration and precision and this rod places the flies exactly where I intend them to time and time again.

The second half to the fish ability equation is the ability to play large fish on lighter tippets without worrying about breaking them off.  This rod does it all, after landing several fish in the 18-20 + inch class over this time frame in a quick manner without any lost due to break offs had me sold.  As a guide on a rather pressured tail water fishery with 18+ inch fish very common, this is a very important attribute especially when guiding clients of all skill levels.  This rod leaves a greater room for error when playing larger fish without sacrificing cast ability.  Bottom line, it performs what it is meant to do.  The bottom 2/3 of this rod is fairly stiff making lobbing flies an easy task, but the upper 1/3 near the tip is very forgiving and will protect even the lightest of tippets making this rod a complete fish catching tool.

Now, to the downsides, of which are very limited in my opinion and can be taken with a grain of salt.  If you are looking for a multi-purpose fishing tool, these aren't the rods for you.  You aren't going to transition from nymphing to throwing dries with accuracy or a grained line and big streamers with these particular rods.  This particular series of rods was made for one thing and one thing only, long or short leader nymph fishing, period.  Keep this in mind before taking the plunge.  Secondly, if balance is an issue, then you may not particularly like this rod as the only complaint from anglers that I have experienced is that they are tip heavy.  If this is important to you, then you can add the new Ross Balance ArmNymphing with a distinct emphasis on the longer Spanish and French styles, this rod is aces in my book.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Weekend Out Of Town And Some Great Things To Report

Well, as usual we made the trek to our families cottages on Cape Cod this past weekend in hopes of some fun and relaxation.  Well, although we did have a good time, my wife and I are thoroughly exhausted as a result of it, her more so than I.  We came to a very abrupt realization that traveling with two kids is a monumental task,  especially when our youngest has some difficulty while in the car.  A 6 hour drive home with two screaming daughters is no picnic, but, in hindsight it was worth it as we did get to spend some quality time with family and watch our oldest run around chasing her 5 other cousins all weekend.  (priceless).
Ok, I know enough of the small talk and ooey gooey nonsense about my family and on to the fishing right?   The striper fishing is on at the Cape, albeit depending on where you go, the direction of the wind and what you are looking to get out of it, there are literally fish everywhere.  Every place we fished this weekend, beach, flat etc, produced fish.  No real monsters, I think the biggest fish landed was just over 30 inches, with countless schoolies in the 12-26 inch range, it was a success and a fun weekend.  Once again my thumbs are trashed and am not looking forward to all the tying thread I will probably ruin this week tying flies.

Day 1 on an unnamed flat was picture perfect, no wind, ya that's right you read it, not an ounce of wind, glassy conditions big tides as a result of the full moon and many fish caught.  Chris once again stole the show with his pictured catch, a solid striper that was tailing in inches of water, totally cool.  Gear update #1, really really liking my new Scott S4S 9 weight.  I will write a full review on this rod at a later date, but for all intensive purposes, this rod didn't win best in the recent Retailers show for nothing.  This rod performs at all levels, consistently going for distance at the drop of a hat, and not an un-castable pool cue preventing you from hitting that short shot on a group of chasing fish at a short range.  I have casted a bunch of saltwater rods over the years, and I can honestly say this is hands down the nicest 9 weight I have ever thrown, period.

Day 2 on the same unnamed flat was a completely different scenario, heavy southwest wind, no fish to speak of with the exception of one small schoolie and loads of anglers.  It was good exercise to say the least, but that was about it.  Chris introduced me to some new tying materials, and the Airflo Poly Leader.  I was wondering how I could stop line dump on my longer casts as a result of the large head on my Airflo 40 + Striper line.  Well the poly leader takes care of that problem as the but section is made of the same material as the clear intermediate section of the fly line giving the angler a nice even taper at the end of the line.  Bingo!  And with loops on either end, it can be taken off or put on with ease. 

Day 3, decided to fish a beach one of my favorites for that matter too, and one that changes immensely every season.  The last few years it had changed for the worse, not this season, definitely for the better. Although we didn't land big numbers we managed to see loads of big to larger fish fresh with sea lice coming up the beach making their way onto the cape.  As evident by their passengers, these fish were fresh from making their northern migration, some eager to eat, others eager to get into a summer home.   I still up to this period of time haven't landed a keeper bass mind you, but have had several schoolies.  Gear update #2, the Ross Momentum LT is working fantastic as is expected of any Ross Product.  I must say, they hit the nail on the head with this one, as this reels predecessor was an anchor in my opinion, ridiculously heavy.  This badboy as seen in the picture is machined more, and significantly lighter, with the same carbon fiber drag.  (money) 

Day 4, decided to get up early and hike out with my father to one of our favorite spots.  Dad wanted to rake clams, and I of course wanted to rip some lips.  Well I had a great morning that topped off the trip in a big way, and I managed to fish an area all by my lonesome for the most part.  3 hours, 13 bass later and 2 keepers at just over 30 and 31 inches and my weekend was complete.  Sorry for the lame photo, but a timed picture off of a stripping basket was the best I could render.  A pile of blitzes within my casting range, birds working and then my dad walking back with a full bucket of little-necks made for a great ending to a well needed get away weekend.  Sorry for the delay folks, but this months newsletter and fly promo's will be a few days late.   See you on the water soon......

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