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Ard 04-24-2010 01:41 PM

About Your Rod;
I think I can shed a little more light on this subject by telling you how I handled the rod thing. When I came here in 1988 I only owned one good rod, an Orvis 7' 9" Far & Fine 5wt. The rod was my trout fishing rig and had a Hardy Feather Weight on it with as much backing as the spool would hold. I had carried that rod from Atlantic Salmon rivers in Newfoundland to the Landlocked Salmon rivers in Maine. Some times I had to break fish off least they would take the works but I was able to land many of them.


When I moved here for good I still brought that 5 wt. and caught many a nice Char, Rainbow, and even Silvers while using it with a Battenkill 3/4 spring & pawl reel on it. I did by then own a 9' 9wt. and adapted it to the business of salmon fishing out of common sense and necessity. Over the past six years I have added more specialty rods and they are the backbone of my fishing gear. I will list them and you may have just what you need already. The reel is by far more important than the rod in my estimation so I will list the reels I use also.

1. 9' 7wt. 4 pc Quarrow Drake with a Hardy Viscount Large Arbor Disc Drag Reel. Used for Sockeye, Silvers, and Pink Salmon. However you can catch Kings using a 7wt rod, below I am holding a 19 lb fish that I harvested using this 7wt.


2. A Sage VT2 9' 7wt. with a Lamson Velocity 3.5 reel. This rod seems more appropriate for Large trout / steelhead because it seems more sensitive than the Quarrow. It may be because I paid so much for the rig compared to the other 7wt set that I think of it as better suited to fishing my pretty flies for those pretty fish.

3. 8'10" Orvis Light Salmon with a Hardy Cascapedia 8/9 reel. This is a 1964 bamboo salmon rod and I use it for Silvers and light Kings. In some of the rivers of the interior the kings run on the small side. A 25 lb fish is a big one and average is around 18 - 20 lbs. I do not fear breaking the rod because the reel gives the best control I have ever seen. Below are a pair of Silver Salmon taken on the old wood rod. These are heavy fish; the reel is the Cascapedia 8/9. If you are not weight shy these reels are serious big game handlers. I would add, do not do what I did; I spent $300 more to get a Brit built model but I think the Korean ones are probably just as good.


4. Orvis 9' 9wt. Silver Label with an Orvis Odyssey IV reel. With this rig you can safely handle King Salmon up to 46 lbs. (My best) The reel is another true big game tool and it makes the difference when you get a big one on.

5. This year I plan to use a 13' 8wt. two hand rod purchased from LL Bean also using the Orvis Odyssey IV. (I have an extra spool) I have been practicing the casting and seem to be ready to go. I plan to use this huge rod on a river that offers little in the way of back cast room for Silvers and Trout / Steelhead. I'll keep you posted on this.

6. For a very special place I have a 6'3" graphite rod made for me by Hal James of Pennsylvania in 1994 I believe. I am not sure of the blank but is was modeled after the T&T 6'3" stealth that was marketed about then. I paid 120 for the rod and 25 for the tube. Great small water steelhead rod 5wt. but able to handle fish over two feet. (I don't weigh them) Trying to handle a long rod on some of the streams that I fish for large fish would be an exercise in futility. Below is shown the 6'3" with an average cattch. Take note of the Camo;


7. I fish with an 8' 6wt. Battenkill bamboo rod with a Hardy Princess on it for steelhead / trout on some medium size waters and have accidentally caught Silvers up to the 9 - 10 pound range while doing so. This would require finesse if you intend to bring cane rods. Watch where you cast.

8. When I know that there is little chance of a big fish being about I use a 6' 6" Orvis flea with a Hardy Feather Weight for Trout, Char, and an occasional Grayling.

If you own a 9' 5wt. trout rod don't be afraid to bring one along. I use an Orvis 9' 5wt. PM-10 with a CFO IV spring & pawl reel for general Trout and Char fishing on certain rivers.

So there you have it, you already have a rod that will catch fish here in Alaska so don't put off your trip because you think you need an extra $1000 just to gear up. I once was the guest of a man who had caught a huge Marlin on an 8' 6wt. fiber glass rod while fishing from a skiff. Any rod is far better than no rod, it's a matter of how you work the tackle that will land your fish.

As for me there are more rods and mor pictures but I think this will do for now.


jpbfly 04-24-2010 01:57 PM

Re: About Your Rod;
Great post Ard... far more interesting to see rods that have fished than in a catalogue.;)might take some pics of my rods too...we've got one in common...

mcnerney 04-24-2010 03:54 PM

Re: About Your Rod;
Ard: Great report, that should be real beneficial to anyone thinking about an Alaskan fishing trip. Now just where was that honey hole? LOL!


Ard 04-24-2010 09:34 PM

Re: About Your Rod;
Hey guys,

I may have other pictures of rods / reels and fish but many times I am fishing alone or it is poring rain................. so I don't get as many photos as I would like. I do have a nice collection of landscape photos and am going to put a thread in the General AK. Discussion forum with lots of pictures and captions. That will take some work just locating the files. Pictures do make a post better..................


Pocono 04-25-2010 06:22 AM

Re: About Your Rod;

Great post and good reality check on what's actually needed for gear to catch fish up there.

Makes me want to fish Alaska - soon!


racine 08-05-2010 04:23 PM

Re: About Your Rod;
This is a great post I wish I'd read 10 years ago when I started fishing the Pacific NW. Then a few local seasoned Fly fisherman in Puget Sound would tell me I needed to invest in a good #8/9 Sage and good Lamson to catch Steelhead. I debated whether to spend $700+ for a new outfit given the advice that I "...may not see or even feel a tug from one in a given 8 hour day on a rain/snow soaked river...maybe not even for the first 5 days I attempted..." I had a couple of 6 wts I now know I could have used. You're a great example of the old saying "'s not about the arrow as much as it is about the Indian..." Thanks for the great sage advice...

mojo 08-05-2010 06:31 PM

Re: About Your Rod;

Originally Posted by racine (Post 119920)
this is a great post i wish i'd read 10 years ago when i started fishing the pacific nw. Then a few local seasoned fly fisherman in puget sound would tell me i needed to invest in a good #8/9 sage and good lamson to catch steelhead. I debated whether to spend $700+ for a new outfit given the advice that i "...may not see or even feel a tug from one in a given 8 hour day on a rain/snow soaked river...maybe not even for the first 5 days i attempted..." i had a couple of 6 wts i now know i could have used. You're a great example of the old saying "'s not about the arrow as much as it is about the indian..." thanks for the great sage advice...


stoneyclove 07-20-2012 08:59 PM

Re: About Your Rod;
Great post Ard! I hear a lot about that "far and fine" Some think it is the best rod Orvis ever produced. I've never cast one though.

kayo 07-20-2012 09:54 PM

Re: About Your Rod;
Love it Ard, but for me, all I need is three rods. Small, Medium and Large:D

texastroutbum 07-21-2012 10:39 AM

Re: About Your Rod;
Nice report Ard,
Your report taught me again that it is the indian not the arrow.

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