Fly Rod Review | Orvis Superfine Touch Fly Rods
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by Captain Craig Crumbliss, Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide/Instructor
Last month I had the opportunity to do some trout fishing in Virginia and Tennessee and it proved to be the perfect opportunity to put some of the new Orvis Superfine Touch fly rods to the test. I've had the 6'6" 3 weight and 8' 4 weight rods now for a couple months and have mostly used them for casting small foam bugs and nymphs for panfish on local lakes, but they really excelled on the trout waters they were designed for.
In Virginia I fished Rose River Farms as well as several small brook trout streams in Shenandoah National Park. The farm is slightly larger than the brook trout streams but still registers as a small stream compared to most of my trout fishing which has been on larger rivers in Colorado. In Tennessee I spent three days fishing the South Holston River, which is home to a population of wild brown trout along with plenty of stocked rainbows. Make no mistake the South Holston is a large river but during the time I was there they were only generating a small pulse of water released from the dam for an hour in the morning and evening, so the water was generally very low, slow moving, and technical fishing.
Fishing the 6'6" 3 weight was a pleasure on the small brook trout streams on Virginia. A shorter rod is important to be able to weave cast through the tight casting lanes offered among the overhanging trees. The short rod handled any dry fly I needed to cast from a size
12 Elk Hair Caddis to a size 22 Adams, and it performed equally well with the smaller bead head nymphs needed to reach some of the larger fish in the deeper pools. Although these rods were designed for shorter cast I had no problem reaching out 35'-45' if I needed to place a cast in the next pool up before wading into a better position.
For most of my three days fishing in Tennessee the 8' 4 weight Superfine Touch was a constant companion. While I was there the Sulphur hatch was the primary bug of choice so I was usually fishing a size 14-16 Parachute Sulphur with a small Pheasant Tail or Sulphur nymph hanging beneath as a dropper. One morning there was a not-so-obvious Blue Wing Olive hatch and I changed my second fly to a size 20 Parachute Adams and went on to catch several fish that were keyed into the BWO hatch instead. I felt very comfortable fishing the dry-dropper and double dry rigs on the larger water where 40' cast were common. On the last afternoon of fishing I spent a couple hours fishing up the small side channel that was right behind the lodge where I was staying. Although everyone had seen a nice 15" brown swimming in the pool behind the lodge most of the fish through the stretch were smaller in size and hiding in little pockets of deeper water near the bank. As I worked my way up catching a releasing a few smaller fish I saw one particular trout rise four times very aggressively. I switched to a beetle pattern hoping I had made the right choice, I made a cast upstream of the area it was feeding in. As my fly drifted down another splashy rise and I set the hook and caught my best fish of the trip, a 17" wild brown trout.
The Superfine Touch rods were redesigned in 2010 and released in 2011 as a replacement for their predecessor the Superfine Trout Bum series. The major design change in the new Touch rods is that they are designed to load and cast very well at shorter distances. On most small streams a
30 foot cast is on the long end of the spectrum while the 15'-25' cast are most common. The older Trout Bum series didn't load as well at these short distances but the new Touch has great feel even without any fly line past the tip of the rod. The aesthetics of the new Touch series is nice as well. The first thing you'll notice is the unsanded rod blank. This goes back to some of the older Superfine rods and gives a nice traditional look to the new series. One of my personal favorite rods to fish is an Orvis Far and Fine 7'9" 5 weight from the mid 1980's. It has the same unsanded blank. The reel seat and guides are a nice gold color which matches the CFO reels perfectly.
If you enjoy fishing the small trout streams or just like the feel of a more traditional slower action rod I'd give the Superfine Touch rods a good test cast. While the 6'6" 3 weight is better suited to very small streams, the 8' 4 weight would be a great match for any smaller size rivers and streams, not to mention an excellent delicate dry fly rod even on larger rivers. I know I'm planning to add the 7'6" 3 weight and 9' 4 weight to my quiver before I make my next trip to the trout stream.
Comments are encouraged and appreciated!