Recently I got the opportunity to test the Deerfield brand of graphite fly rods. Deerfield Fly Rods
They sent me five different rod models to test out, so for the past few months, I have been either casting in the front yard or taking them fishing while wading along the banks of the Green River in Wyoming or doing a little float fishing from the drift boat on both the Green and Grey Reef section of the North Platte. I don’t take too much stock in how a fly rod casts in the front yard, I also want to see how it fishes. In the past, I’ve been burnt on my Sage One, that rod is a cannon, it is an awesome rod to cast, but then I found out on the water, the tip is way to stiff for my tastes while fishing and I have lost way too many fish. I usually will only fish with one fly rod while wading, but in this case I wanted to see how these rods performed in different settings so I would bring two rods so I could try both nymphing and streamers or nymphing and dries depending on the water conditions. The Deerfield design is pretty unique in that each rod can be configured in a number of different lengths and/or weights, something I have never seen attempted before in a fly rod design.
When I first opened the box, it was a bit overwhelming, but then I discovered how well everything was labeled and laid-out making it super easy to configure the rod the way I wanted to either cast or go fishing with. Each rod comes with the standard 4/5 pieces plus one or two 9 inch inserts (their website describes the discovery and evolution of its unique Power Point system). The Deerfield concept is to offer a fly rod that you can change the configuration (in the field) by adding or subtracting the nine inch inserts. Using the inserts in this manner you can change the rod weight and/or length to suit the fishing situation. For example, say you hike into a back country lake expecting to throw tiny dry flies at willing cutthroats on a three or four weight rod, but when you finally get there, you find that the wind is howling, making dry fly fishing difficult at best, if not impossible. So with a simple addition of an insert, you can reconfigure the rod to a five-or six-weight and have the ability to cast into that heavy wind (of course you will have to carry in two different fly reels). Deerfield currently sells four different rod line ups:
Four-mode, 3 different models
Six-mode, 2 different models
Seven-mode, 2 different models
Eight-mode Switch, 2 different models
Note: When they say “four-mode,” they are referring to the fact that a single rod can be configured into four different configurations, “six mode”, the rod will configure into six configurations, and so on) See the cue card below and you will see what I’m talking about).
Each rod comes with a cue card label on the outside of the tube and a cue card inside with the rod sock. Below are the photos of the cue cards on the rods that I got a chance to cast and fish with.
Each rod is labeled with the Deerfield name and model number (in this case below is a 765454, see cue card above for the six different configurations in length and/or rod weight this rod will configure to).
I’ve included the cue cards from the other four rods that I got a chance to cast so you can see some of the full range of different configurations that Deerfield offers in their fly rod lineup:
Here is a photo of the cue card taped to the outside of the rod tube:
Below is a photo of one of their rod handles (they use a western style grip) with a beautiful wood reel seat and black up-locking hardware. The cork is of the same high quality that my Hardy/Sage/Orvis or Scott rods have.
All of the rods use black components and single foot guides with black thread wraps and a nice silver accent stripe on both ends. Note also that the rod finish is a natural graphite finish, very beautiful workmanship through out, I was very impressed with the quality of workmanship on each rod I that I tested.
Each rod section is labeled (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 2a, 3a, 4a) and each section has alignment dots for ease of assembly.
The bigger rods come with the option of installing fighting butts and the lower photo shows the quality of the wood reel seat and its finish as well as the cork that is used:
Here is a photo showing the rod sock and how well it is labeled in order to keep everything organized:
A photo of one of the nine-inch rod inserts:
Here is a close-up photo of the labeling (in this case “1A”):
As you can see from the photos above, these rods are beautifully finished. The craftsmanship is exceptional.
Something else to note: The brushed aluminum rod tubes are shorter than the normal four-piece rod tube that I’m used to, the Deerfield rod tubes measure 24 ¾” x 2 ½” making it easier to fit into a small suitcase or backpack, so if you do a lot of traveling; these rods would be worth a look. By comparison, my Orvis 4-piece Helios 6 wt rod tube measures 29 ¾” x 2 ¼”.
Deerfield also has two new rods in the works; they are still in the testing stage, but they are offering these rods as a price point, since they are two-mode rods, versus the 4-8 mode rods. I also got a chance to give these two rods a whirl and found them to be excellent fly rods as well, very light in hand with a wonderful feel while casting. Below are the cue cards for the two fly rods in the two-mode category that I got to cast and do some fishing with.
Here is a photo showing the rod handle, reel seat and fighting butt that comes with the Two-Mode Salmon fly rod. The reel seat doesn’t have quite the quality of wood that the 4-8 mode rods come with but they are still pretty nice. Also note that the rod handle is again constructed with some really nice quality cork using a full-wells design.
Here is a photo of the Two-Mode rods to show that again, they are constructed with quality components and the detail given to the guide wraps is very impressive (my photos don’t do them justice):
I found the Deerfield fly rods to be beautifully balanced, very light in weight with crisp, clean, medium-fast actions, with the one exception of their 8-Mode Switch 1210998777, that is definitely a fast action fly rod. I was very impressed with how these rods feel in hand and they have a very sweet mix between subtle finesse and ample power. I just love the way these rods cast delicately in close and extremely accurately, yet have the power to launch 70-ft loops with ease. The Deerfield rods have that special feel in your hand that gives you confidence to put the fly exactly where you want it with minimum effort. These rods have a nice flexible tip that gives terrific accuracy and has exceptional tracking with virtually no lateral movement. It seems like most anglers go to a fly shop or one of the fly fishing shows and when they pick up a rod off the rack, they are impressed by how light the rod feels. When they cast the rod, the first thing they want to see is how far it will cast compared to what they are now using. Stripping all the line off the reel and throwing 80-100 feet of line is pretty easy with a lot of today’s high end rods, but for me, I’m more concerned about how these rods perform at short to medium distances too - the distances most of us fish the majority of the time, especially with trout fishing. Short casts with the Deerfield rods require just a flick of the wrist, a wonderful feel and performance. Medium-range casts (say, out to 40 feet or so) are a real pleasure and deadly accurate forming effortless, tight loops. Kind of reminds me of the way my Hardy Zenith rods feel while casting. The Deefield rods also will zing a fly out to 70 feet with little effort and with very good accuracy. While fishing with the Deerfield rods, they really come into their own when you are fighting a big trout as the tip is very forgiving and break-offs are are. Craftsmanship is excellent as one would expect with any high end rod. The blank is a medium gray color (I believe the natural color of the graphite) with black wraps and silver accents on the guides. The wraps and epoxy coatings are top notch, as one would expect. A conventional stripping guide is used while the rest are the very light and unbreakable nickel/titanium single-foot guides. The up-locking reel seat is a very light and attractive black anodized aluminum design. The handle is a comfortable western style grip much like the Sage One or Z-Axis using cork of the finest quality.
If you’re looking for a high-end fly rod with exceptional performance and capabilities, I would definitely recommend giving the Deerfield rods a look. Also of note is that if you like to build your own fly rods, Deerfield sells blanks as well.
Deerfield Fly Rods