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Ultimate Performance (UP)
Fly Rods

Click on the picture above to watch a short video

Checkout the UltraWave UP Fly Rod Article

"The world of fly fishing thrives on ignorance.  That is why so many poor performing rod companies stay in business."

The picture above was copied out of a catalog.  It exemplifies how bad some production rods really cast.  If you count them, there are nine or ten guides on the rod in the picture.  To my way of thinking, if the rod was six feet long that might be okay.  I am quite certain that this rod is longer than that .... probably nine feet.  If your nine foot, medium to light weight rod has fewer than fifteen guides on it (including the tiptop guide) you are experiencing the same problem.  Every cast you are being cheated.  You are working too hard to get the distance you are getting and destroying your line at the same time.  Even when fighting a fish, a rod made with too few guides, is not loading properly, will break easier, and abuse your line again.  No wonder you and so many other fly fishers  are so tired after a days fishing.  Your poorly spaced and sized guides are dragging you down.

Line Belly occurs when the distance between any two consecutive guides is excessive.  This allows "sag" which creates "drag".  When "reach casting" (raising the rod and casting the line straight down below the tiptop as the fly travels away from the angler), line belly can hamper the "reach" at every attempt if the distance between the tiptop guide and the first guide down is extreme.  As you try to thrust the line out the tip of the rod, a loop is formed between the tiptop (G1) and the first guide (G2).  This kills the "reach" and must be pulled out before attempting another "reach" cast.  This ends up being a case of working real hard at getting nowhere.  Line belly can only be solved by putting more guides on the rod.  This decreases the distance between consecutive guides and improve the rod performance in every fishing scenario.

How do you know when you have enough guides on your rod?  The best way is to test a guide setup before making it permanently fixed.  Use three to five wrap of  three-eighths inch masking tape to position the guides ....  then try these simple tests.

Reach casting is the best test for the correct position of the first guide below the tiptop.  Make sure you reach cast the main body of the fly line as well, and most importantly, the running line.  If no loop is formed between the tiptop and next guide down the rod  while sternly reaching both the main body and/or the running line .... your setup has pasted the first test.  A distance of approximately 3 inches is adequate for line sizes 1 through 3, 3 1/2 inches line weights 4 through 6, and 4 inches for 7 through 9.

Hauling, either double or single, is a good test for the remainder of the running guides. When your line is shooting, it should feel as if a silk thread is being drawn through your rod guides.  If it feels like the line jerking, laboring, catching, or dragging .... increase the number of  guides and test again.  Continue to increase the number of guide until it feels as if the line is gliding through the guides effortlessly.

Shooting Mend test ... this test should be executed on water with a small fly (#12 weight nymph) and matching indicator( an indicator large enough to float the fly in calm water) or a medium head popper (about the size of a nickel).  Cast a good fishing distance cast (30 feet), let the fly and line settle, strip 3 yards of slack line off the reel.  Now mend the line in the direction that is easiest (to the right for right-handed or left for left-handed) shooting the excess line out the tip of the rod without moving the indicator or popper over 18 inches.  Practice until you execute the shooting mend proficiently  without moving the indicator or popper past the allowable closeness.  Once proficient with this technique, increase the amount of slack line off the reel until you can no longer keep the indicator or popper in the allowed expanse. If the distance you are able to shoot the excess line is 4 yards or less, your guide setup is grossly inefficient in the numbers and/or openings.  A good guide setup will allow a practiced angler to shoot 6 yards and more of excess line and still stay within the standards of the test.

 Noisy Guides test .... a general complaint of REC Titanium Single Foot Light Duty guides is, "They make noise". This is only true if your rod has a deficient number of guides.  There are many single foot guides that make noise for the same reason.  Even Fuji's Gold Cermet Titanium Frame Single Foot guides, of unquestionable quality, will sound off if the rod is under guided.  Depending on the guide's design and material, the sound can range from a low-pitched hum to a low whistle.  This clamor is caused by the excessive distance between consecutive guides, allowing the line to grossly wrap around the guide ring and cause enough friction to create a "stop-n-release" or "grab-n-go" situation that causes the guide to vibrate and resonate through the rod.  This racket will commonly occur when the rod is heavily loaded during retrieval of a hefty fish for the weight of the rod.  To test for this, take the weight of your and multiply it by 1.5, this is the number of pints of water that will be needed to test your particular weight of rod.  So for example: a one weight rod requires 1 1/2 pints; a two weight, 3 pints; a four weight, 6 pints; an eight weight, 12 pints.  Pour the water into a suitable container, attach it to your line, and retrieve it across a level area of dampened grass.  I use one gallon plastic milk jugs.  If your rod is making a clatter, increase the number of guides and test again.

Is it possible to have so many guides on a rod that it affect the rod's performance?  Yes, if the rod builder uses guides that are too heavy and too much epoxy on the guide wrappings, the added weight  will deaden the tip of the rod and make the rod feel heavy to the angler. However, the rod will most likely out cast your standard production rod anyway. Why? Force equals Mass times Acceleration, F=ma, Newton's second law of motion.  Using  titanium double-foot stripping guides and light titanium single-foot running guides,  placing a guide where a wrap has to be anyway, 3 or 4 light coats of high quality urethane varnish  will not hamper the blank's performance at all.  There are several makers of light efficient guides on the market today.  Remember this about fly rod guides .... because a fly rod's guides are on the under-side of the blank, the guides do not have to be exceptionally strong but must be well attached.  If you are using several light duty guides they will more than equal the strength of having a few heavy duty guides.

These UP Rods, No Sag - No Drag Rods are most sought after by nymph fishers because the line's movement in and out of the rod is so efficient.  However, these rods work exceptionally well for all types of fly fishing.  The increased number of guides on these rods will increase the life of a fly line two to three times.  Cracked and broken lines often go unnoticed until they reach the point of un-floatable sinking disasters.


Handles are the interface between the angler and the fly.  The more sensitive this connection, the more feedback that is given to the angler and the better he/she understand what is happening below the water's surface.  Handles made of hardwoods - like oak, walnut, and maple - were the first materials used in making handles.  Cork was first offered by Orvis for women's rods about 1890.  When the hardwoods were replaced by cork, something was lost.  That something was sensitivity.  Sensitivity has been thoroughly exploited by the rod builders of rubber-worm and spinner fishing.  In these two types of fishing, the more sensitive handle gives more feedback to the fisherman which translates into more control of the lure and more strikes realized.  This ultimately means more fish caught.  This is also true in flyfishing.  From the beginning of the back cast to the fish in the net, the more sensitivity handle tells the fly fisherman more about what is happening on the other end of the line.  In our search for the ultimate handle, we settled on a graphite handle designed by Bob McCamey.  This handle is as light as cork, unbreakable, and transmit the any tick, tug, scraped, or vibration right to the anglers hand.  They are always warm to the touch and never tarnishes or stains. Cork is soft and absorbs much of the information that are transmitted up the line and rod to the angler.  With this handle on your rod, you can catch minnows blindfolded.  You might say, "You can feel a whisper with this handle".    I believe that there is only one handle that could be more sensitive than this.  It is a handle that is made as part of the blank, which is now produced by one manufacture.

Reel Seats, cheap ones are like cheap whiskey - they both give you a headache.  Reel seats, in the past have been the heaviest and quickest to ware out addition to any rod.  I abhor wood inserts no matter what their quality.  If you leave them in the water long enough they all start to swell, so I favor the metal and graphite reel seats the most and on some of my personal rods, I have no reel seats at all.
Guides - Sorry we do not offer snake guides on our rods.  Why? Lot of reasons.  They require two thread wrappings. They are cheap.  They are not durable.  They hamper the bend of the rod.  They decrease casting distance.  They destroy your line finish.  They are a guide that the line can be touching the same guide at two points at the same time.  And that is just the beginning. 

So what do you get when you purchase an expensive mass production rod?  Well let's really look at it critically.  You get a blank that has about thirty dollars worth of graphite or fiberglass.  You get a cork handle that cost the manufacture around seven dollars, a reel seat that is in the neighborhood of fifteen  dollars and a set of guides (including the hook keeper) that cost less than five dollars.  It probably cost the manufacture less than ten dollars to get the rod put together.  So, if you paid six hundred dollars for the rod, what was the other five hundred thirty-five dollars for?  Well over half of it was advertisement for sure.  But notice that the cheapest component of the rod was the cost of the guides.  The major rod manufactures have been convincing the less experienced fly fishers for years that the blank is the most important component of the rod.  That's BULL-HOCKEY.  Blanks are a matter of personal choice and purpose.  You don't use a ten foot two weight to catch shark and a nine foot twelve weight to catch sunfish.  Some fly fishermen like noodles for one fish, sticks for other fish, and hammers for others.   Regardless of the length, line weight, or action of a rod, the most important component of that rod is the guides.  Let's face it, blanks just bend one way then the other, some faster and some slower than.  However the UltraWave Rod blank does it best, because of its ability to store the kinetic energy of the back cast and release it more aggressively in the forward cast.  So what makes a great rod?  Great guides, good guide placement, bigger guide openings, guides that carry the line away from the blank, and guide linings made of extremely hard material that reduces friction and increase durability.  How do you know if you are casting a great rod ?  When you shoot the line, you don't feel the line leave the rod, even if it is an old cracked line.  We offer different grades of guides on our rods to fit your pocket book.  T1 Fuji and American Tackle Third Generation Titanium guides are the best in the business for large weight rods.  Their titanium frames are 60% lighter than stainless steel and twice as strong.  Their rings are made  thinner, lighter, harder, and stronger than anything other guide rings.  Our third choice for guides are REC Heavy Duty Single Foot Wire guides, also for heavy weight rods.   The fourth choice of guides are REC Light Duty Single Foot Wire guides for medium and light line weight rods.

Blanks - We have several blanks sources to choose from.  If you want a specific blank we can probably provide it.  As we said before, "Blanks are a matter of personal choice and purpose."  If you don't know what you want in a blank, we will offer some suggestions.  We have our own personal preference of blank manufactures - we like Dorber blanks.  Why?  Because they can do what the other blank manufactures can't.  Blank manufactures buy their materials from the same suppliers.  They all use about the same type of machinery to produce basically the same blank.  However I think that Dorber is a step ahead of other blank builders and here are some examples of why.  How about a ten foot one weight?  Or how about their new ultra-weave graphite blanks that are the lightest, best casting, almost unbreakable, double backbone blanks ever made.   There D-Reach blanks are real parking lot and grass casters.  And lastly, the new UltraWave Rod, I think the greatest fly rod ever made.  What other blank builder offers those examples?

 Right, Left, and Neither-Handed Rods - Production rods are made Neither-Handed, they are neither right-handed nor left-handed.  At Willow Ford we make all three styles.  What makes a rod right-handed or left-handed?  The position of the last two or three butt guides on the rod.  We came upon the realization of right-handed and left-handed rods quite by accident.  One day when testing the guide placements on an unfinished rod, I went outside to test its casting abilities.  I had cast the rod several times, when I noticed that the  last two butt guides had moved toward my line hand.  I took the rod in my shop and cut off all of the guides and wrapped them back on the rod using a different guide placement setup.  Again I cast the rod several times and noticed again that the last two butt guides had repositioned themselves .... again.  Upon realizing that the guides were trying to tell me something, I continued to experiment with exactly how far the guides could or should be moved toward the line hand.  I think that right and left handed rods cast a little further and the fly line last a little longer.  If you add up all the "a littles" that happen in a lifetime of a rod .... they add up to a lot.

Custom Rods - To get a price one of our Innovative Custom Fly Fishing Instruments or thinking of purchasing a Custom UltraWave Fly Rod,  you need to call us at (870) 405-3912 or email us at foxstatler@willowford.net . We will need to get some information on exactly what you want.

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