On the Road & the River

Photos and Meditations on Fly Fishing in Southwest Montana and wherever.....

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Posted by on in On the Road Blog

When Glenn and I started Sweetgrass in 2006, it was meant to be a modest venture intended to do our part in keeping the tradition of bamboo rod making alive and well in Twin Bridges. Our goals were simple. We wanted to craft a very nice rod and offer it for a very reasonable price. We also desired to provide impeccable service to our clients while educating the general public to the joys of fishing with bamboo.

It didn’t take long, however, to realize that a modification of this original business plan was in order. Within months of our inception we received so many orders of support from dedicated anglers around the world that it necessitated hiring a few capable individuals to help accomplish our goal. But the orders kept on coming, even through the difficult economic times of the past five years. During that period we moved three times until we finally settled into a very fine facility that was built for us on Main Street by our friend Bill White. And thanks to the help of several employees we ultimately delivered to everyone who stood by us patiently waiting over the years the rod that it was our honor to have built for each of them. During that time frame we also realized that our company had transformed into a limited custom production shop much like some of the high-end production shops of a bygone era. Again we saw this as an opportunity to keep that tradition alive as well.

It has been my privilege to work with Glenn Brackett for 30 years. Beyond being the master craftsman that he is widely known to be, more importantly, Glenn is the best friend anyone could have. For the past eight years together we worked extreme hours to establish a company of which we both can be proud. Perhaps the real story though is that throughout this entire period we both endured extreme emotional hardships within each of our lives, but still we persevered in our shared goal.

Personally every day spent with Sweetgrass was done under the shadow of my wife’s illness and eventual death. Debra was diagnosed with ALS in 2006. She passed away in 2009. Her dying hope was that I had something to do after she died, and she saw Sweetgrass as my salvation. To honor her life I did the best I could to fulfill her wish for me. Thanks to Glenn, his wife Chris, my friends at Sweetgrass and in Twin Bridges along with fellow anglers and clients from around the world, I was able to move on- but not without their support.

Since Sweetgrass Rods is now on solid ground with a bright future, the time has come for me to look forward and reconnect with life. I will still be involved in many ways with the company, but my time at the bench will be limited and yet to be defined. I will be around doing Sweetgrass things here and there. Thank you to everyone, and I hope to see you all along the way.

 

Posted by on in On the Road Blog
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
 
 
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

Posted by on in On the Road Blog
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

Posted by on in On the Road Blog
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



Sweetgrass Rods ~~ P.O. Box 415 ~~ 501 North Main Street ~~ Twin Bridges, Montana 59754
406.684.5440 ~~ booboys@3rivers.net

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