The tradition continues at Sweetgrass Rods;
crafting fine bamboo fly fishing rods

   
Thanks for the wonderful craftsmanship. You guys are amazing.
Frank D.


Rob Koehn's first fish on bamboo

It is hard for me to believe that there are people who have not caught a fish on a bamboo fly rod. Yet, they are out there. When I heard that my friend Rob Koehn of Bozeman, Mont., fell in to this category of deprived anglers, I invited him to float with a few friends down a wild river and cast cane. 
 
 
Rob is a streamer-stripping maniac, and he did not even graduate from Orofino high school (mascot: the Maniacs, location: across the street from the Idaho state mental facility). So, as we boarded my wooden drift boat, I rigged up a Sweetgrass seven weight rod with a floating six weight, weight forward line. Then, Rob attached a sinking leader to get his huge streamers beneath the river's surface. The sun beat through sparse clouds and bounced up to burn our faces. We were concerned the fish might stay hidden in the harsh, revealing light. But, several black thunderheads rushed through the valley at odd intervals, and mixed up fish activity enough to allow some action. 
 
Rob got his timing down, waiting a bit longer on his back-cast, letting the rod load and do the work for him. As he smashed the banks over, and over, we grew more tense with each line-strip knowing a fish was going to take. But, it took a while. But, finally....
 
 
Rob was thrilled at this fish, as was I, as was Sammy, his Wiener dog, who we pretty much just call Wien. Wien is hidden mostly by the fish, but Wien is kinda small. He makes up for it with cuteness. Almost. 
 
The day continued with a few fish, many wind bursts, some rain, and great fun. A perfect fishing trip. I must get back to the river with Rob, Wien and the wooden boat.
 
 
One last fish presented itself for Rob! What a monster. A while later, the valley darkened, the wind hushed and lights punched cumulous clouds. The boat ramp finally appeared in a black notch in the bank, and we packed for home -- happy to have bamboo, wooden boats and great friends. 
 
 
In Wild Waters,
 
Zac Sexton
 
The Meandering Booboy
 
 
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Fishing when I was supposed to be doing something else

World-renound trout rivers flow a few miles down the road from where I live. However, sometimes it is not possible to wade inside them, and experience casting Sweetgrass bamboo upon them. Sometimes, in fact, I have to do things like, "work" -- a concept I am still trying to understand. During these "work" periods, I must settle for the little, unknown stream that flows a few feet from my back door. Sad story, I know, but stick with me. There is a happy ending.
 

 
It is a beautiful stream, certainly, however many people living on its banks, suck it near dry, come Summer's end. After all, what would we do without green, non-native grass on our lawns? But there are fish that make it through the Summer lows, and Winter freezes. These survivors intrigue my senses, and when I am supposed to be working, often I sneak away, and search for these durable trout.
 
 
This little guy is fat and healthy, and took a caddis emerger I cast with an eight and a half foot, four weight Sweetgrass prototype. I like longer rods, oftentimes, even on small streams, to keep my drifts direct. 
 
Though much of the water is fast and shallow, which helps dissolve oxygen, there are few holes where the fish can hide under Cottonwood shadows. It is in these shadows I found another survivor.
 
 
This one was about an inch longer, and a great discovery while taking a quick break from...whatever it was that seemed to be so important at the time.
 
 
 
In Wild Waters,
 
Zac Sexton
 
The Meandering Booboy
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When the lights go out on the river

Storm clouds dissipated, but the thundering winds still whirled snowflakes about my face. The western mountains were black, and the clouds seemed as shadows fleeing the valley. My hands were purdy cold and the fish had quit biting. But I kept fishing.

Sometimes the river keeps me. Who am I to fight it? I stepped cautiously over boulders, barely keeping my footing as my concentration beamed toward the back-eddy, black in front of me. The rhythm of cast - retrieve - lift rod tip - cast, in an almost waltz-like tempo was all that I felt -- besides my cold hands. My really cold hands. And just as it seemed the dance about boulders was about to end, my line went tight, and I set a deep bend in my Sweetgrass four weight hex.



The dance continued, this time fast circles and leaps in relentless and unforgiving timing -- a black night disco inferno. Yes I was alive in the 70s. Not old enough to really disco, though. 

Anyway, the last leap from a chubby Rainbow, ended as I escorted it to my hand.


A beautiful being and casting partner, in my hand and on the boulders:-)



In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Booboy

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Only a few minutes a-stream

I should have been helping Sarah move all our belongings in to our new home. She was working hard getting everything organized, and I was working equally hard -- tying a size 20 wire midge dropper to a size eight bead head stonefly nymph. I wanted just a few casts with the Sweetgrass four weight hex rod before the deep orange sun slid behind black Cottonwood silhouettes. The first pocket I tried did not produce. I was a little concerned. The valley grew darker, as light began to fade. A couple more casts, and these precious few, stolen minutes on this small stream would be over.

I hustled up to the next pool, cast to a riffle's tail, and let the flies slough to deep olive water. And I felt a tug!



Back to moving....

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Booboy
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Testing the four-piece wonder and five-sided whomper

I have not fished for three days during the past two weeks. And they were a sad few days. Ok, dry your tears and I'll continue to describe a couple days I got some fishing done.

A little while back, I got to float a river with Scott Anderson of Montana Fishing Company. He is the outfitter I will be guiding for this season, and being that we both love Sweetgrass bamboo and fish, we thought to spend a couple days testing rods and waters. I primarily fished the prototype four-piece, six weight rod that Glenn and I have been working on. It turned out to be a smooth-casting, powerful and sensitive rod. It will be the perfect traveling rod and available this season from Sweetgrass.


Getting ready to launch, and hanging loose. Or, that was the size fish Scott caught. 


Check the bend on my back-cast! As a rod designer and maker, I pay lots of attention to what the rod and line is doing most every cast. Fishing is as much enjoying the outdoors as it is enjoying your equipment. We hooked up with many fish on this day, primarily swinging wet flies. Once Glenn gets back from fishing this rod in the Bahamas, we will discuss any changes that we need to make, and get to the second round of prototypes. Might mess with the ferrules a bit...

And later that week, I made it to another great river, but waded around some islands. I used my three-piece pent with the five-weight tip, and had a great time fishing midges, and stoneflies. I had some luck in the surface, but most the fish were feeding on midge pupae just below the surface, so that's what I fed them!


Ariell watches as I show her how to catch fish on midge pupae. It was an over-cast day that varied from calm gray to blustery gray, that ripped whitecaps on the main channel. I stayed on a side channel, and fed flies to rising Rainbows most the afternoon.


"Look at this fine Rainbow trout! Can I eat it?"


Even though Ariell could have eaten this little beauty, we released it, hoping that it will grow a bit larger. I was not able to get to all the water I planned to fish, as we were surrounded by other anglers (weekends are not the best time to fish alone...), but I stayed on my side channel and landed around eight fish with the Sweetgrass pent, while none of the other six anglers that worked around me caught a thing, with their silly graphite sticks! It's all in the grass, eh. It's all in the sweet, sweet grass.

Then it rained really hard and blew harder and harder.

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Booboy
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