A tale of two five-weights

All five weights are not created equal. I should know. I’ve got four of them. You may ask why I need four of the same rod. The answer is that while they’re all five-weights in name, they could not be more different. Each is a specialist in its field. The two I want to talk about here are my 6’ Fenwick glass rod and my 9’ TFO TiCr.

This all started with a steelhead trip I had planned with my ten year-old. We had to cancel due to weather, and we were were both a little bummed about it. But I told Cam that since we weren’t making the drive to Pulaski, we could spend the day fishing closer to home. I gave him options: trout on the Farmington, stripers on the Hous, or wild brook trout over the hills and far away. Cam decided on brookies. I thought that was a fine choice.

I’ve had the Fenwick for many years now. It’s a sweet 2-½ ounce stick that flexes down to the handle. A five-weight line works just fine on it, and like bamboo it’s an exceptionally easy rod to cast. Cam told me he wanted to do a little more of his own fly casting this year, and this would be a good starter setup for him. Unfortunately, the first stream we hit was turbid with runoff. So we hopped in the truck and took a little drive north. The second stream was in fine fettle, medium high, and clear as an aquarium.

 It took us several tries to hook this fish. She kept whacking the microbugger, but we couldn’t seem to get a good hookset. Classic haloes and Fontinalis fin.


Cam got to work with on the surface with a size 14 Improved Sofa Pillow, but we had no takers, even over some confidence-is-high pools and runs. Undeterred, I tied on a blackish micro-bugger with a chartreuse bead head. That did the trick. Whereas the brookies were bashful about showing themselves on the surface, they were more than happy to nip and tug as soon as the fly settled beneath the surface. We landed four nice brook trout with glowing blue haloes and dropped a bunch more. It was a tired and hungry but happy hike out of the mid-April woods.

Eight hours later, I was swinging flatwings for stripers with my TFO TiCr five-weight. Where the Fenwick is a flexible birch sapling, the TFO is one of those redwoods you could drive your car through. I mate this rod with a 9-weight Rio Outbound floating line, and even with that night’s ten mile-per-hour crosswind, casting an eight inch fly was effortless – provided I found that sweet spot where the shooting head met the running line. Not easy on a moonless night.

I was mostly greased-line swinging, my favorite presentation with bigger flatwings. Sometimes the takes are nearly subliminal – instead of a tug, you feel a minute change in pressure that exponentially accelerates into mayhem. On this night it was different. The fish were taking the fly moments after I had completed my mends (I was fishing a narrows that only allowed two) and the takes were an adrenaline-produced amalgam of pull, boil, and surface thrash. I took three stripers on the greased-line swing; two of them in the double-digits pound class.

 31″ of pure pleasure on the five-weight. She fell for my Rock Island flatwing, tied about 8″ long.


Both of those larger fish were quickly played and landed. Both tried to run upstream when I attempted to coax them onto the sandbar I was standing on, and the side pressure I applied with the butt of the rod easily dissuaded both.

Miss Cow never showed up. But she’s out there, somewhere. And one night, on a moon tide, she and I and one of my trusty five-weights are going to go for one hell of a ride.