Written By: Ryan Scavo
Fly fishing has been a passion of mine for well over a decade. From ditching classes in college to planning road trips just to chase different species, it’s become part of me. I have ridden bikes for miles along forgotten dirt roads to find them, traveled thousands of miles across the country for the opportunity to chase new and familiar species, and I’ve waded into and paddled on top of the waters of the Gulf and Laguna Madre, western high country lakes and rivers, back bays of the Chesapeake and warm water ponds across the east coast...just to find fish. Is it an addiction? Maybe. But it’s a healthy one, in my opinion. Like the morning pot of coffee that fills you up and preps you to take on the day, the feeling of a tight line after sight casting to a finned beauty beneath the surface fills my cup every time.
But what is it that fuels the chase? Is it that tight line? The thrill of seeing a fish and eventually bringing it to hand? The unexpected SMASH on a dry fly take? Or just the connection you make to outdoor spaces and the wildlife within them? To me, it’s “all of the above”. And to make “all of the above” happen, I found myself working through various rods and pieces of gear to fine-tune my take-almost-anywhere setup. And I think I’m there - on the rod front, anyway.
To me, rods are more than a tool we use to throw flies at fish. We form very real connections to these inanimate objects because of the experiences they give us. Too deep? Maybe...maybe not. All I know is I have experienced a lot of rods in my sixteen years on the water, but when I found out SaraBella Fishing and FisheWear were collaborating on a fly rod series, I knew the time had come to up my fishing game.
I first read about SaraBella while searching for rod companies in Colorado on a buy-local mission. Then, the company popped up on my Instagram feed. I decided to dig a little deeper and fell in love with everything SB! Woman-owned and run with a mission to empower other women?! The website reads, April (CEO of SB Fishing, rad woman and great caster!) “believes in women’s rights and the significance of empowering women to impact the world in smart, beautiful ways.” For me, a woman, mother, and passionate angler hoping to inspire other women to indulge in this amazing activity, I couldn't help but feel inspired to fish one of their rods.
And speaking of their rods (this is a review, afterall)...SaraBella & FisheWear launched their semi-custom collaboration with three rod weights (5, 7, 8) in 2019. Shortly after that launch, I had the opportunity to take this collaboration a step further with a full custom build featuring both of these amazing women-owned companies.
My rod is a 9’ 5 wt, Sparkly Purple beauty with gorgeous Copper, Metallic Aqua & Goldenrod threads, hand-wrapped by David McElwain - master fly tier, author, and male breast cancer survivor - and a Juniper reel seat below their Natural Curvy cork grip.
You think it’s a mouthful to read, but the simplicity of its feel and cast is where the beauty really lies. The moment I picked up my rod at the IFTD fly fishing event in Denver in October 2019, I felt a connection. As April shared so many details with me from the sewn-in-Colorado rod sleeve and built-in-Colorado rod tube to the “who and the what” when it came to the build process and person who built it, I knew that rod was something special. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention a full custom rod includes space for a personal touch?. For mine, I went with “DON’T PANIC”; a phrase that became truly meaningful to me in 2019 when we lost my brother.
Depending on the day, I use either a Ross Reels 5 wt. Gunnison (all black). or Abel Reels Vaya (northern lights, a.k.a. gorgeous purple fade) and both reels hold beautifully on this rod.
I’ve landed tiny creek fish and pig trout on the Rio Grande and this 5wt delivered every time. The action is spot-on, the finish is surprisingly durable (I’m not always easy on gear), and the bend you get when it’s “FISH ON!” is something to behold.
As I start another season on the Rio Grande, I’m looking forward to the warn-to-my-hand cork against my palm to connect me to the every-chasing tug from below the surface. Now to just get through the windy season…
If you want to learn more about these rods - and pick one up for yourself! - visit FisheWear.com!
Photo Provided By: Ryan Scavo
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