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

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

The Magic Stick's first field test

Glenn finally let me have the walking stick/bamboo fly rod combo he has been showing around the country. He imagined the idea, after thinking about how I often fish remote streams and lakes, which I must hike many wilderness miles to reach. It occurred to him that I could use a good walking stick. In that stick, he figured a bamboo fly rod might as well be present, so I could fish easily once reaching my destination. He did some mental creative design -- likely after a few beers, and pulled some bamboo sticks that were to become what I have named my "Magic Stick."

The same day he pulled the bamboo to make the rod, I was fishing a remote stream with native Redband trout, thinking I need a rod better suited to fishing that water. And I was limping after having turned my ankle on an unstable root mass. A walking stick would have been nice.

I called Dave at the shop to B.S. about my recent adventure and suggested maybe they make some tiny rods for the small streams I fish, and a few others appreciate. "Well, funny you should mention it," said Dave. "Glenn just pulled a bunch of strips to make you that exact rod!"

Something was going on in the world of bamboo...

Glenn finished the rod, took it on tour with fly fishing shows and talks at a variety of fishing clubs. Every place he went, people were amazed at such creativity. I was happy he made such a cool rod, but I wanted to see the frickin' thing for my self! Finally, it came in the mail. Thanks Dave and Glenn!!! A week later, and I was on the road filming a series of shows for Fish Whispering, a fly fishing TV show I'm working on for Comcast Sportsnet Northwest. Sweetgrass is a most wonderful sponsor. How would I fish without a Sweetgrass rod?

It had been a few months since fishing the stream where Glenn and I had concurrent thoughts on an ideal rod for native streams. My first venture with the rod would be back to the same river.

This stream has Mojo. Somehow, it contains mystic energy that spans from the Northwest to Twin Bridges, Montana, at the very least. Likely farther. At the very bottom of this canyon swim native Redband trout. Not reintroduced, stocked, hatched or otherwise. The real McCoy, Redband, perfectly fit for the surrounding Basalt geology and sagebrush banks.

Ariell and I developed our own cadence while hiking upstream. I paused slightly at every large boulder or stream crossing I bounded over. The walking stick kept pace, tapping gently on Basalt and thudding deeply in saturated Bentonite. It was sweet music that carried me miles upstream until I reached a spring creek tributary that I can not resist. I knew there were no big fish in the little stream, but the rings of fish rising in delicate riffles were too much to pass up. I released the Magic Stick from the eight-sided, bamboo walking-stick holster, pushed the ferrules together snugly and strung her up ready to deliver a fly to feeding fish.

It took longer than I thought, with many tiny fish smacking my two-fly offering, but unable to get the artificials ingested. I kept at it, trying to find slightly larger fish -- something big enough to eat a size 16 fly at any rate. A tight-looped roll cast seemed the ticket to get my next cast to the far bank, about 15 yards away. A couple quick twitches brought two palm-sized bullets to the flies, and I was able to set the hook to one. The fight was brief, but enjoyable. My reward for an hour's effort was a beautiful, Redband, about five inches long. A beauty that swam from my palm, ready to eat real bugs next, and put on a few more inches. Not long after, I headed upstream to seek something a bit bigger in the main channel.

Sometimes, water is just too much to pass up. This time it wasn't crystal-clear spring water. It was dirty, brown-green water still trying to clear from recent rain and melting snow. But two large boulders broke the strong current, that then tucked itself under both banks. I cast to the nearest current coming off the nearest boulder. The flies worked deep, hovering just above the substrate. I kept mending and stripping to keep constant contact with the flies. Suddenly the line stopped flowing downstream. I set the hook and the Magic Stick was doubled-over!

This fight took a while. After jumping, splashing and shuttering in the river's surface, the fat ol' Redband shot toward the bank at my feet. I was able to wedge her away from the many snags lining the bank, and brought her to swamped sedges just downstream from where I first cast. It was a fat, fat, fat Redband about 17 inches long. It was big and beautiful. A true compliment to the beauty and craftsmanship infused in the Magic Stick. A perfect pairing -- that native Redband and Glenn's wonderful Magic Stick walking-rod.

I didn't take any pictures, because I was busy being filmed for the TV show. It has been a while -- easily over a decade, since I last finished an art-piece, but I decided to sketch a picture of me fighting the big Redband. So, above is my pencil sketch of that amazing day -- the first day the Magic Stick saw fish slime. Not a bad day, eh.

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy

Exploring new water with the Magic Stick
Bamboo rod critique from Glenn


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