The “F’ed” up was the first blank I attempted to make when me and Lee started the poor mans quad project. After making a myriad of mistakes, it sat on the top of my bookshelf while I made a little Banty for practice and then got distracted and never actually completed a proper rod. Recently, I decided I may as well finish it. I ordered some crap components off the net for under $20 delivered and did. It was a rough, quick job done in an afternoon between PhD work. The “F’ed” up is nothing if not consistent. Its dodgy from head to toe.
After giving it a little less than the recommended drying time I headed to give it a cast. To my surprise, it actually felt pretty good. The faults, the dodgy finishing didn’t seem to be having to much of an effect on its actual performance. I couldn’t wait to get it out on the water and see how it actually fished in the real world.
So with a few hours free on Sunday I rushed out to a couple of streams I had been meaning to check out for ages to give it a burl. The fishing trip was a bit of a fizzer really, a car rally was on and the road I wanted to drive up was closed. Instead I mucked around nearby. The streams I fished were pretty clapped out, lots of sand and sediment, not much food. They held trout, but they were tiny, proper tiny. Exquisite bonsais of “proper” trout. In the few hours I mucked around I landed 6-7 tiny little trout. It was good fun in the end, the fact I was fishing with a rod I had made myself being the real icing on the cake. On Wednesday I decided to head up to some better known water to see if I couldn’t find some better fish to test my new toy. Find them I did. The highlights were a 2.2lb brown and a 1.6lb bow both taken on dry flies from a tiny little creek. Those fish and the 20 or so smaller ones that came to hand made as the day went on, many of which were up to a pound, made for a very special day on the water. There is a special satisfaction with making something with your hands, using it successfully, from making something that works. The longer I fished, the more the flaws, the mistakes and the dodgy finish fell away and ceased to matter. What I was left with was a feeling of satisfaction, utility, fun.
Getting down to details, how did it fish? Bear in mind I’m biased, the likelihood of me being able to give an objective opinion of the “F’ed” up is low, very low. Its a bit like asking new parents if they think their new baby is “the cutest thing in the world”, the answer is going to be yes almost all of the time. That aside, I’ll try my best to be objective-ish. The taper is (very loosely given all the mistakes) based on the the Payne 97 (I think- I actually cant quite remember). Having never cast a Payne 97 or any other bamboo rod for that matter I have no idea whether it feels at all similar. Objectively, its ugly, the finish is terrible, the components low quality and the blank a bit wonky. On the water though most of that falls away and the “F’ed” up actually fishes quite nicely. It casts accurately to about 40ft, it casts just a 12ft leader well, it pulls off lovely soft landings and finesse presentations with ease. Its not the rod I’m going to run to when I plan on fishing double tungsten nymphs or streamers all day, or when there is a decent breeze. For that I’ll still be using my trusty Scott A4, the workhorse of my trout rods. Overall though its a lovely little dry fly weapon for small creeks and rivers that is really fun to fish. In the end fun is what fishings about and so far the “F’ed” up has delivered.
Does it do the job of fishing small creeks any better than my little Kabuto 3 weight or the Scott? Nah. All three rods have different strengths and weaknesses, they all need to be fished and coaxed slightly differently to get the best out of them, they all have things they love and things that they struggle with a little bit. They all do a great job. They each have situations where they excel and situations where one of the others does a better job. While the three rods are similar weights, in terms of “feel” they are really quite different. The Scott, being graphite and relatively fast feels crisp and attentive. Its quick, its responsive and its got a load of power. Its a 4 weight you can chase bonsai trout with in the morning and monster carp with on the way home, having a ball the whole time. The Kabuto slows things down a bit, its a bit more relaxed. Its light and despite the slower action surprisingly crisp and clean. It makes you feel light and energetic, its a rod that inspires enthusiasm. The “F’ed” up is the most relaxed of the three. Its the perfect rod for a lazy sunday morning on the river drinking a good strong cup of coffee while you wait for rising trout. A rod for when you aren’t rushed, when you just want to take things easy and enjoy the moment, for when sheer numbers matter less than the experience. It feels alive in your hand, it has an indefinable charisma and charm. Fishing it just feels satisfying. Disentangling my feelings about it from the “proud father effect” is impossible, which I think is part of the reasons its so enjoyable to fish. Its not just about what its does or how it does it, its more about how it makes me feel. Its may not be better than my other rods, it may indeed be a lot worse but I am glad I finished it and I will definitely be fishing it regularly. For less than $30 all up the “F’ed” up is an absolute bargain, to me anyway.
Now I’ve finally finished a rod for the poor mans quad project and experienced the joys of fishing something I crafted with my own hands, its high time I actually made a poor mans quad that isn’t quite so agricultural. A rod with workmanship that does justice to the feelings making and fishing the “F’ed” up elicits. I definitely have new found motivation to get back into the poor mans quad project, to make something a little more refined, something I can be proud of. The next rod may be that rod, it may be the 5th or the 10th, but one thing is for sure, I’ll definitely be making more… Now to chose a taper 🙂
Thanks for reading and good luck on the water