Fly Fishing with Doug Macnair
A Product Update
The Stowaway 7
Back in 2001, about the time North Wind’s Train could be heard in the distance, I did a review of Cabela’s pack rod known as the Stowaway 7. I was impressed: not only was the rod’s performance more than satisfactory, the finishing touches far exceeded my expectations for a fly rod that was then around $130.00.
Since that 2001 review, I’ve had many inquiries about the rod. However, not so long Cabela’s did a major overhaul on the “7” and my comments were necessarily no longer valid. I figured a good rod had been made even better but to say that would have nothing more than a wild guess. I approached Cabela’s and suggested a re-look at the “7”. Obviously, Cabela’s agreed so here we are…
The Stowaway 7 is, as the name implies, a 7-piece rod. That make for a very small package, and that’s become something of importance in these days of high travel and high security concerns. The limiting factor to many-piece rods has historically been the resulting terrible action – an action so bad that it was hardly worth fishing. The 2001 version of the Stowaway 7 overcame the previous limitations and presented a many-piece rod with a more than acceptable action. However, it was a tad heavier than its counterparts of less pieces and more money. But if you needed a rod of many-pieces, it couldn’t be beat.
Now comes the new version of the “7”, a version that is so good I could live with it as the only fly rod I owned. For me, that’s a very big statement; however, in all candor it is a statement I mean. In my opinion, the new version of the “7” is quite a rod…
First off, it’s a pretty rod! That’s saying a lot for a rod that costs around $140.00 to $150.00 … The color is a lovely and unique golden bronze in the sun light. I was a bit surprised because I sort of figured we would be talking about the same old grey or black blank we have seen forever, and ever, and ever, and ever … I knew it was pretty when one of my critics, a youngster from the neighborhood, came up and said, “Gee, Mr. Doug, that’s a pretty rod.” How can a judge like this be incorrect?
The second thing that strikes your eye is the guides, two strippers of quality on this 8-weight and the remainder, titanium single-foot guides. Titanium guides on an inexpensive rod? This was unheard of a couple of years ago. Gone, too, are the spigot ferrules – they are nice but heavy – replaced by the tip-over-butt configuration that I prefer. The cork remains more than adequate – can you find better? You bet! Just buy a 500 to 700 dollar rod and you should get better cork; whether you do or not remains another question -- look closely… So, how about the reel seat? On the 7, 8, and 10-weight rods the reel seat is double uplocking anodized aluminum complete with fighting butt. On the remainder of the series, it’s cocobolo wood inserts and nickel silver hardware. Sound nice? It is. Fancy? No! Functional? You bet… Add on the hook-keeper and, more importantly, the built-in alignment guides and you end up with quite a package…
Just think for a moment that you get all this at a very inexpensive price, and it includes a nice rod sock and Cordura tube that easily hooks to your belt. Not only that but it breaks down into the meager dimensions shown. Put it all together and you have a rod that will range from 8 to 9-feet depending on the weight; in this case, Cabela’s selected an 8-weight for review, a 9-footer with fighting butt.
After all the accolades about the Stowaway 7, a simple question remains: does it cast worth a damn? The answer: This rod throws with the best of the best … Yes, there are a couple that I might prefer but these are in the very upper ranges for graphite rods. Ordinarily, you “gets” what you pay for, but not in this case … You “gets” much more. Just think about it: this is a rod that breaks down into a very small package that goes where you go and has a delightful action. No more driving along the coast as seeing something that calls for action
I tried this rod with multiple reels to change the balance and cast it side-by-side against its brethren costing twice to three times more. None of the rods used in this comparison surpassed the Stowaway 7 … and, they were 2, 3 or 4-piece rods that wisdom suggests should have had better actions. After the contest, I named this rod “7-Pieces.”
“7-Pieces” has a moderately fast action that will take it to the salt any day. Lifting power is “right-on” for an 8-weight. It also has a light tip enabling close-in casts. All in all, Cabela’s Stowaway7 is quite a rod. In my case, I’ve married it to an STH Lever drag reel loaded with a Scientific Anglers Mastery Bonefish shooting head backed by a slender woven braid running line … Launched from “7-Pieces”, as The Ancient Fish Gods say, “It just goes and goes…”
The Stowaway 7 is available in weights 4–10 and in lengths varying from 8 to 9.5-feet. Quite possibly, this is the best fly rod value in the industry. For you folks lucky enough to be heading for the High Country, carry along a “7” 4-weight … You won’t be sorry.
For more information about the Stowaway 7, contact: Cabela’s, One Cabela’s Drive, Sidney, Nebraska 69160. 1-(800) 237-4444 and/or Cabela's Official Website - Quality Hunting, Fishing, Camping and Outdoor Gear at competitive prices.
© Copyright: Douglas G. Macnair, 2005.