Traveling with fly rods can be such a pain. Oh, on flights they’re mostly fine, packing down into small hard tubes, stashing easily into overhead bins. But trying to fish multiple spots in one day while hiking or driving around, looking at different stretches of water, assembling the rod segments and threading line through the eyelets each time you try a new spot, then disassembling when time to pack up and move on to another piece of water—not a lot of fun. Not a dealbreaker or anything, but a small headache.
On a recent trip to Montana, I brought along a rod designed specifically to minimize that sort of hassle. A telescoping rod with an internally-routed line, so, in theory, you can just show up at the water, extend the segments, and start casting.
Made by Reyr Gear, the “First Cast” rod ($280) is an 8’6” rod that comes with a small, CNC-milled aluminum reel. Line runs from the reel through a small slot in the base of the rod, and out through the telescoping sections emerging from a hole in tip of the rod. To fish it, you pull some line through the rod, extend the segments all the way, tie on a fly, and start casting. With a fly already tied on your line, you could go from standing and staring at the water with a collapsed rod to fishing in less than 45 seconds. The whole thing collapses down to a tiny 17 inches, stores rigged and ready to go, easily fits in a daypack, under the seat of a car, in a carry-on bag for an airplane, or, in my recent case, in a saddle bag on the back of a horse
Pretty cool idea.
So does it work? Yeah, In practice, the system works pretty well. The line runs smoothly through the center of the rod, doesn’t seem to get hung up on anything, and reels in just as it should. It won’t cast as far as a traditional rod where the line runs friction-free through eyelets, and shooting line can be difficult since the line has to run through the inside of the rod, but it casts nicely for as thick as the rod is. It’s stiff, but not too stiff, and is lightweight, snappy, and feels well balanced. Making a few false casts I could get enough line out of the tip to throw line close to 45 feet or so, plenty of distance for most fly rod applications.
I’ve caught a handful of fish on it, from little 6-inch rainbows to 12-inch cutthroat, and it’s a fun little rod to land a fish with. I’d feel confident that I’d be able to bring in fish twice that length too, the rod’s plenty thick enough.
The only hiccup I’ve experienced so far with the rod was letting the end of the line fall back into the tip of the rod, to where I couldn’t get it out again. Reyr Gear has a little video on their website of how to fix that, and it’s an easy fix, but I hadn’t watched it yet, and instead was frustrated while watching trout rise at a mountain lake just outside of Yellowstone. But that’s been the only issue. A reel-less tenkara rod is often a better, simpler travel choice, and I’ll be reviewing my new favorite tenkara setup soon, but tenkara isn’t everybody’s bag. For anglers who anglers who insist on using a reel, this Reyr Gear rod is a blast to travel with, and a great little rod to keep in the car for impromptu sessions.
Top photo: Margaret Donoghue