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

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

searching for rising trout

Things have finally slowed down a bit at the ol' Ranch, leaving us guides with some spare time. With that spare time, Joel Thompson and I decided to fish for an eventing using a couple Sweetgrass fly rods. The weather was wonderful, and Ron, the other guide had reported that fish were rising all over on a local pond. Since Ron was busy, we decided we better see if Ron was full of B.S. We dashed out the fly shop door, and rigged our rods like lightening sets fire to a forest.

Joel had never fished bamboo, and I really wanted to see him hook-up with the 7'6", 4/5 wt. pent. rod I handed him. Let's see how he did:

The trout were in fact rising everywhere, and we were giggling like kids as Mayflies went to Mayfly heaven every time a pig-trout swallowed them. I'm not really sure what Mayfly heaven is like, but I think it looks a lot like Montana!

Here is Joel making one of his first casts with cane. Nice loop, eh! The trout were rising all
around this corner of the pond.

After many casts, and a couple refusals, Joel got a hit, set the hook and...

...busted a fatty off! Cry We said what we needed to say to console each other at the missed opportunity. The 5x tippet just wasn't enough to hold such a toothy Brown trout. I decided I should go see if I could remember how to fish, and try a different little rod. The rod I wanted to use was an 8'3", 4 wt., hex rod. This is a bit longer than most 4 wt. bamboo rods, and I wanted to see what she could do. I enjoyed the extra length for casting, as it gave me more reach up the steep hillsides bordering the pond. After seeing Joel bust his fish off, I hoped the longish rod would give me more tippet protection on the hook-set. Quickly getting to work, but after switching flies a few times, a fish had pitty on me.

Oh, yes! A little side-pressure brings the Brownie in for a good look.

But, it doesn't like knowing I'm gonna kiss it if I catch it! I can't believe how these Browns
jump! Though I love it!!!

That's how it's done people. A big, fat Brown, fully intact tippet, and a beautiful, 4 wt.
Sweetgrass bamboo rod. Makes me happy every time -- mostly because now it's acceptable
to take a pull off the ol' flask full of 12 yr. old, single malt scotch...

See ya' later little buddy!

Well, Joel had a tough time talking fish in to biting his flies. Though fishing was tough, I managed a couple more Browns, and this little beautiful specimen below. Hopefully soon, I can get Joel in to a fish on caneInnocent.

Oh yes. A beautiful Westslope Cutthroat trout caught with a #18 dry fly, on a 4 wt. rod. This was a pleasant surprise, as Cutties
have a special place in my soul. Cutties and bamboo keep the World in balance.

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy

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the World's most extreme fly-fishing event!

The Cuttie-thon: a 26.5-mile fly-fishing event completed by daring anglers after they have waded and fished the entire route in one effort. It usually takes from 30-34 hours to complete, and this year it took my buddy Joe Larson and I just longer than 31.5 hours to complete. We started early on Aug. 21st, and ended in the afternoon on the 22nd. It was a tough course on a wild river with Snake River Cutties. We had wonderful assistance from my mother Tricia, father Tom and friends. Several dogs accompanied us during the event, including Ariell, Moriah, Meg and Tucker. The Cuttie-thon is a fund-raising event I've done for the last six years to raise money for Cutthroat restoration and to fund research to find a cure for diabetes. I am a type I diabetic, and my dad is a type II. I hope the images below are entertaining and give you a taste of what it's like to fish for two days straight! Special thanks to Sweetgrass Rods for letting Joe and I use some cane. Joe used a 7'9", 2 pc., five wt., hex rod, and I used a 7'6", 2 pc., 4/5wt., pent. rod. They were awesome!

Ariell and I wading up crick. Joe is a bit behind, likely casting to rising fish...

It took a while for fishing to warm up, but after about an hour, I caught
this little beauty of a Cuttie! Not a bad start.

A ways farther up-crick, and Ariell rests on a boulder. Joe continues up-crick...

"Ladies, my name is Joe, and I'm a man of cricks and mountains."

Joe hooked fast to a feisty Cuttie! Look at that Sweetgrass sway.

Nice, Joe!

And then it got dark:-( This is a strange part of the 'thon, where we are never really sure
of what's reality and imaginary. Good thing we're not scared of Grizzlies in the dark... with
a full moon... Maybe we should have been more concerned about Warewolves...

The next day I was a little confused. I really have no idea what I'm
doing here, but I'm sure I'm doing a good job. I know I'm real happy
to be casting Sweetgrass!

Maybe if I change my fly I'll have better luck...

Yes sir! A self portrait with my biggest landed fish of the Cuttie-thon. I lost others that were
HUGE. But, I think that's how it works. I caught this 16-inch specimen on a #16 Parachute Adams.

That fine fish was the last I was to catch during the event. It was a great finale to a tough event. Joe and I made 'er to the finish line and met our support crew there. It was nice to sip a coldie, and sit down for a while. Turned out, I landed 29 fish and Joe got 17 -- which is a personal best for him during the 'Thon. He has finished it three other times in the event's 6-year history. Yay Joe. Thanks for being there so I didn't have to whine about being tired and sore alone;-)

Joe: "Where are we?"
Zac: "I don't know. Finish line maybe. I do know I like beer and bamboo!"

My wonderful mother and me at the finish.

My wonderful pops and me at the finish.

Every year I wonder how I fished for such a long time. I'm not sure how excited I am about next, but it will be good -- as long as I'm fishing cane with good friends, family and dogs!

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy

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a little bamboo before Brown U

One of the most rewarding occasions in guiding, is seeing a client improve greatly from the previous trip. Recently, I had the opportunity to take Gusty fishing on a local stream. The previous year, we worked on casting technique and fishing a pond. Since then, she has been on many more fishing adventures, and had just returned from several weeks of camping and fishing. Then she told me the unfortunate news, "Yeh, I've been fishing a 7 piece fly rod," said Gusty in a mournful tone. "It sucked so bad, that I really didn't feel like fishing. That's terrible, I know."

But, I didn't scorn her for fishing such things (well, maybe I did, only a little...). Instead, I offered her the chance to fish a 5 wt., Sweetgrass bamboo rod, with five fewer pieces than she was used to. The day was one both of us won't soon forget.

Gusty's first cast with cane. They were a little rough, as would be expected, after fishing a
lifeless, 7 pc. rod for the previous month.

And after working a few holes, Gusty catches her first fish on
a bamboo rod (which happens to be a Sweetgrass rod...). It's
hard to tell in this picture, but that's about a 12-inch Brown trout!
Nice first fish, eh!?

We worked on line management techniques and setting the hook like a bolt of lightening, for a spell. Then we moved to some more promising water, a ways upstream. I was impressed with how quickly Gusty fell in to the cadence of cane. Her casts became much more fluid and efficient. She seemed to smile a lot while casting.

Nice cast, Gusty!

"I think I got one! Sweetgrass bamboo fly rods are the greatest things on the planet!"

And thus, Gusty landed what I consider a trophy Brown trout from the little stream. Such
a rare gem should only be caught with bamboo, eh. Nice job!

Gusty kept at it for the evening. She told me she loved the rod. A new Sweetgrass fan for

And as the sun sank behind the surrounding canyon walls, Gusty found one last treasure to bite her fly:

One last Brown trout before Gusty heads to Brown University. Is it me, or does her jacket
perfectly match that fish's belly? Some things are just meant to be, I s'pose.

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy
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a peek inside the Sweetgrass shop

I often spend time in the Sweetgrass shop -- mostly harassing the Boo Boys. It is during these periods that I glean information on making bamboo rods, news in the Ruby Valley and how to waste a life by just fly-fishing. It's always a good time. I thought I'd share some moments from inside the new shop on the north end of Twin Bridges.

One thing that matters in Montana: Bamboo!

The main entrance to the new Sweetgrass shop. This fancy building is specifically designed to help the Boo
Boys make some of the best rods available today!

Wow, they boys are actually working for once! Jerry Kustich is cutting blanks to length, while Dave works reel
seat inserts to size, and Mike fits hardware on blanks, in the background.

Dave sands a reel seat insert, and Mike keeps on keepin' on. Note the importance of a desk lamp to the art
of making cane rods!

"Wow, Zac -- you really caught a fish that big?!" Well, that's at least what
I think Jerry is thinking. What he is doing, however, is scoring the inside of
a ferrule to prepare it for glueing to a blank. I don't know why, but Jerry
never seems to believe any of my fishing stories...

While wandering around the shop to let the Boys finish working on rods, I found a pile of bamboo strips ready
to be rough-tapered to shape. The marks at the butt ends of the strips denote what culm of bamboo they
came from. They are paired up according to node spacing, so each blank is lively and durable.

The mill in foreground with forms in the background on the rack. The mill cuts each strip to the final taper, then
they are glued and bound to form the blank.

Pictured in the foreground and to the right, is a Sweetgrass quad blank
I'm currently working on. I shaped the grip, attached the reel seat and
hung the rod in the drying cabinet with Sweetgrass rods, in the background.
The cabinet is heated and sealed to help the varnish dry quickly and keep
dust from attaching to the blank. To the left of my rod, is a reel seat insert
I am also working on. I will eventually attach the hardware to the insert,
so I can reel in all my really big fish that I always catch every time I go fishing.
Just don't ask Jerry about it....

Sweetgrass Mantra rods awaiting adoption. These fly-flinging sweethearts are wonderful works of art for pitching
flies to a trout's nose. Mantra and other collectable rods can be found in the front room of the new shop. It is
a veritable rod museum, believe me!

Every Sweetgrass rod is custom-designed to help every angler land beauties like this one below!

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy
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when a friend wants to catch fish with cane

One of the unfortunate parts of being a fishing guide, is that most your friends end up being fishing guides. And what that means is you have to share all the fish with someone else when you go fishing. That sucks for me because that also means I'll probably get out-fished. Things could be worse I suppose. O.K. It's not such a bad deal. This season I got to meet Scott Anderson, a guide based in Missoula, and previously mentioned in one of my earlier blogs. Scott is a craftsman and enjoys working with wood. I just used one of his laminated landing nets today, and it worked on 15 fish for a client!

Anyway, Scott has caught the bamboo bug after fishing some Sweetgrass cane on our first trip floating a river. The only problem is that Scott lost several fish with bamboo rods on that trip. The hooks on my hand-tied flies bent out on two fat fish. That tends to leave a guy a bit fwustwated. Recently however, we got the chance to even the score. Below are the details.

Scott Anderson fighting a huge trout on a local river at the take-out a month or so ago.
This was the second time he hooked up on a cane rod, but was deeply depressed when
the hook straightened, and the fish giggled its way back to the river's depths.

Let's jump forward a few weeks, and see how Scott does on a pond while researching fishing conditions with a Sweetgrass 7' 9", 5 weight.

Well, it looks like Scott is hooked-up again! But can he land this one? Hard to tell. These
trout fight like freight trains.

Oh my goodness. It looks like that Brown is bowing to the bend
in Sweetgrass 'boo!

"Hey guys, look what I got! Sweetgrass cane and a big ol' Brown trout!"

The sun shines so much more brightly after landing fish with Sweetgrass cane.

Well, buddy, go back and get bigger, eh. You are beautiful.

In Wild Waters,

Zac Sexton

The Meandering Boo Boy

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Sweetgrass Rods ~~ P.O. Box 486 ~~ 121 West Galena ~~ Butte, Montana 59703
406.782.5552 ~~
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