Sunday, November 1, 2015

Two Hands, Please


Above, a park on the Kalamazoo river near Douglas, MI. Picture on the public domain site describing the park.

One of the Amber Anglers has a wonderful vacation home in Douglas and was gracious to extend an invitation to fish the Kalamazoo this Halloween weekend. We were ten minutes from his door to this site.

It gave me an excuse to use a new gem: an Echo Glass #3 10'6" Switch rod. Handle below (borrowed from Echo site ...probably won't mind).

It's a lovely rod. I've used it a couple times and unintentionally hooked a little bass (year round catch-immediate-release restrictions) on the Huron down the hill from my house.  This outing was a chance to really open-up.

The Kalamazoo river is some 200 to 300 feet wide.  The depth runs a pretty uniform three-to-four feet at this stretch. There are a few sand holes but one can wade out pretty far. The current was moderate and the steelhead come up this section. We went after a rain, had three nice chrome fish jump around us, and enjoyed a great session on the water.

The season is pretty young with few moving in the channel, if you ask the fish.

Kevin used a proper two-handed beast: a Sage One outfitted with a beautiful Ross reel. Nice rod. Nearly 12 or 13 feet (cannot remember precisely).  Much different action. Certainly enough rod to handle anything he'd hook.

My little switch rod really isn't entirely suitable for the steelhead. I was just practicing my casts in a stretch too warm for year-round trout.

I intend to use this rod through the fall and spring for some tight-line high-stick nymphing. It allows me good control (well, not with the Ambush line I've re-purposed but it will with something else I put to the test). I can cast seventy or eighty feet, swing, and get some utility out of that style of big water fishing as well.

It is light enough to swing soft-hackles in teams of two and three come spring.

The aim of my two-handed outfit is to compensate for some wading I cannot do to places just out of reach. Also, I want to build up a little experience with something inexpensive before spending most of a grand on something larger for more serious steelhead pursuit.

Do I want to be out in sleet casting for the elusive steelhead? I think so. I'm not sure. I'm certainly not yet $1000 sure.

I re-used some Ambush line I had, a System One clicker, and bought the rod. I'll probably change to a larger reel this week and have a gently used Lamson Konic 2.0 here on my desk. It'll do fine.

Big line winds poorly on tight reels. Give it room to breathe. The Konic is just big enough considering the line is a 5 wt 215 grain head for the 3wt rod.

I'm into the set-up for under $300 out the door remembering that I only had to buy the rod. My outfitter had it on hand and I always like to help by taking stock they have rather than stock they order.

The two hand fishing is a blast. The 3wt switch is light enough in action that a 10" brown will be a lot of fun. His 25" Grand Daddy will not cause problems should he make the trip, either.

The Echo gear is nice, durable, well polished, and comfortable. The price point is great. Kevin's Sage is a nicer rod - it just is. However, it isn't a low entry-cost outfit. If I knew that I'd do five or six outings a year: well. I'd have something a little bigger.

I'm sold on the Echo right now, though. I'd give them more business. The cork is nice. The machined parts are superb. The glass is a great feel. The guides and strippers are large enough and much nicer than you'd expect on a inexpensive rod.

This is professional gear. It isn't something a brother-in-law whipped out in a garage over a six-pack.

The rod is fun. Two handed is fun. Seventy feet on a single Spey roll is just a blast. Big arc swings and huge reach mends are just a joy.

Hope the steelhead are laughing at you. too. Big water is great - when the bitch won't try to drown you.

Watch out for the Muskegon. She's a different girlfriend entirely.



  1. Perfect rod for UC trouting, the glass Echo #3, not 'entry level' but a just-right prince in suitable environment.

    Check out the new Orvis mark IV & V Battenkill switch & spey reels. Sweet, classic look, click-pawl reels at the introductory price. The IV matches the Echo. Price is gonna go up on these as they catch on.

  2. Wow - Good to know it isn't. .

    I thought it might be too light given the pictures. It handles a 5/5+ SH line so it ought to be fairly tough. I'm going to put one of my Joan Wulff 5+ TT lines on it and try some beaded flymphs on Saturday if the snow holds off. It's an on/off again forecast and it is early in the season for anything too heavy. Meh - I might go anyway. 3-5 is all that's in the NWFC prediction model.

    Spokane is a cheap flight from Detroit and several Amber Anglers are from Washington State. Could be a good outing.

  3. Spike, an (AFTMA) 8wt DT might work well with it as a trout line. Though, as you know, there's a lot of ways you could line it, depending. The DT is good for delivering small soft-hackles. Versatile & makes a less invasive entry than SH spey heads.

    The idea of an outing is intriguing. If that is something you'd like to put together, send me an email & we'll discuss it.