We have been writing quite a bit in the Fly Rod Forum of late about where rods are built and by what kind of companies. While plying the isles of Somerset recently I came upon a both with a rod brand new to me; "CLUTCH - Tactical Fly Rods". Clutch Fly Rods | Home
Chatting with the two young men at the both, I learned that they were from "trout central USA...Ohio". Long time fly fishers, one has a background in manufacturing and the other in art and they shared a passion to build the best fly rod possible. As I examined a rod, they quickly and eagerly pointed out that not only had they designed every bit of it but at was 100% American made. Then one looked at the other and turned to me and said, "well, except for the cork, its from Portugal...but we are planing on planting some cork trees in Ohio!" This company is one year old and has taken an unusual path. No, they don't have a comprehensive line from #3 to 12-weight; they design each rod's taper one at a time to optimally suite the specific type of fishing it is intended for. Thus far they have developed a 9'/#5 & 6 for fresh water, a 9'/#6, 8 & 9 for the salt, have a steelhead 10'/#7 and an 8 1/2'/#4 small stream rod almost ready. A #10 & 12 soon too. There multi-high modulus blanks are sanded flat grey with thread wraps of paler grey with black thread inlays, understatedly elegant. Fresh water reel seats are stabilized grey wood with "Clutch" subtly laser engraved upon its dorsal side. Quality components and materials all around at a price in the mid $600's.
Over the three day course of the Show I found myself out on the side lawn with these fellows as I introduced friends to them and cast several of their rods a number of times. Often we had rods from other makers out with us that, when a like line-weight was present, we wound up comparing. While outside with a Montauk friend and his newly acquired 9-weight, we cast it side by side with the Clutch. We all know that when we get a new rod we are biased toward our decision having been brilliant. We both agreed that the Clutch blew this more famous rod makers rod away. Powerful but communicative it flexed in all the right places, cast authoritatively both short and as long as you could handle! My friend rushed back inside to try and return his new rod and then went to the Clutch booth. The #6 was a stand-out as well.
So here is a small, dedicated and friendly company, designing and building by themselves, quality casting, good looking rods capable of going toe to toe and perhaps beyond established brands. It is my intent to have one in my quiver by the time buds turn green on the stream-side oaks.