My first fishing rod I can remember, that wasn’t made from a willow branch, was in the late 60’s. My dad purchased a beautiful blue Holiday brand fishing rod for me from a Holiday gas station and paired it with a Zebco 202 spincast reel. To say I wore the reel out was not an exaggeration. My dad replaced it three times with the exact same reel. The fourth time it needed to be replaced, he learned his lesson and bought the much superior Johnson Century. As hard as I tried, I could never wear that reel out.
As I got older, I really wanted to fish with the gear my dad used. A fiberglass Berkley Cherrywood rod and a Mitchell 300 spinning reel was his favorite combination. As much as I begged, my dad didn’t think I was ready to use the the more intricate and complex spinning reel. However, his thinking changed when the hybrid, True Temper Uni-Spin came out. It was a surprise birthday gift in 1974.
The Uni-Spin was marketed as a “complete fishing machine”. It was just like a spinning reel without a bail. To cast, all you had to do was press down a “magic” thumb button on top of the handle and let your lure fly. It was kinda like a spinning reel with training wheels. With my very own Uni-Spin, I felt like I held the future in my hands. Well, we all know how the future unfolded and the “the complete fishing machine” did not stand the test of time.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked the Uni-Spin. However, after a few seasons, it was time to move on. The next rod I owned was an Ugly Stik. My dad said he’d buy me any rod I wanted if I lead my youth hockey team in scoring and that was what I wanted. After that came a Berkley Lightning Rod, Skyline Graphite, GLoomis, Kunan, Lamiglas, St. Croix, Ross, and now the latest, Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO). I still own many of these rods, and use them regularly.
Overall, GLoomis rods have been my favorite as an angler and as a guide. They are quality built with a great warranty. So, why the new TFO gear? Well, there is a GLoomis connection. Gary Loomis started GLoomis rods in the early eighties. Because of health reasons he sold his company to Shimano in 1995. He recovered from his health issues and started a new rod building business, North Fork Composites. Several years later he joined forces with Temple Fork Outfitters to share his knowledge and rod designing skills.
The Gary Loomis connection isn’t the only reason I’m adding TFO rods to my lineup in 2020. I need more fly rods for red salmon fishing. Well, I probably don’t need more fly rods, but I sure want to try more fly rods.
When I first started to guide on the Kenai River, I did not fish for red salmon with clients. However, in the last ten years, I’ve been doing more and more of it. Traditional fishing gear works fine for reds, but I find that fly rods are much better.
My first opportunity to try out the new TFO fly rods and reels will be early to mid June. The heavy usage will start a month later. I can’t wait to see how they perform.
See you next week.