Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Fly Rod's Greatest Hits


In memoriam...

The favorite fly rod I have ever owned recently met an untimely end. In a bit of nostalgia, I went back into the archive to relive my Loop AEG 696-4's greatest hits...



The rod was purchased in late 2007, with the intention of using it on an upcoming trip to the Outer Banks. I wanted something with a little more back bone for some saltwater species and unnaturally decided that a 6 wt. would be an ideal choice. I don't know what I was thinking, but I think I remember telling my brother something about increased versatility and use. At the time, Loop's marketing approach was at a fever pitch by sponsoring AEG's video series and I was a sucker for that hype machine. I paired it with a Multi 3/6 reel and couldn't wait for its arrival. I had no idea I'd like the rod so much or that it would become such a beast in targeting and landing the following species: trout, carp, steelhead, atlantic salmon, king salmon, coho salmon, pickerel, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, speckled trout, flounder, needlefish, puppy drum, schoolie stripers, bonefish, permit, bar jacks, horse eyes, baby tarpon, barracuda, ladyfish, and a smattering of small sharks. I liked it so much, I bought more Loop rods and the rest was history. The following are three fish that I had absolutely no business landing with a 6 wt, but the rod never faltered, nor seemed over matched by any fish it latched onto, tamed, and saw swim away.


The birthday permit...

For the first part of the trip, I went everywhere with two rods because I didn't want to be outgunned incase a large shark, barracuda, or permit showed up out of nowhere. After a few days, I just brought the 6 weight. Since it was my first time walking a sandy saltwater flat, there was no way I was going to actually hook a permit, let alone see one with my unseasoned eyes. Turns out, a few years of carping has a way of training one for the saltwater game.

I instantly knew two permit were coming my way when I saw their black dorsal fins zig zagging on the horizon. I tied on a lead eyed crab pattern and began slowly getting into position. Several casts went unnoticed before one turned on my fly. I popped the crab and dropped it onto the sandy bottom. The image of a permit meandering over and plucking the fly off the bottom will probably be forever ingrained in my mind. The 6 wt. buckled, as line tore through my fingers & straight into my backing. I don't think I said a word during the entire fight as I was incredibly nervous. My knees were shaking and I was breathing heavy. It was the sweetest tail grab ever







I've since been schooled by every permit I've seen...


"Dad, I've got a big fish..."


Many a bass were caught before I saw this particularly fish beneath the choppy surface. It looked like a golden keg with fins in several feet of water. When the blurry golden mass lurched forward and paused in the general vicinity of my fly, my sixth sense told me that it was about to go down. I emptied my pockets and uttered six simple words to my Dad. This particular fully scaled mirror carp should have broken me off twice. Once in lily pads and again when it ran straight towards me and into to several overhanging branches on the side of the pond. The 6wt. was stressed to the limit on two backing runs but even more so when I beached him in the shallows. Moldy Chum called it the "one of the sexiest brownlining's ever," but it registered like two votes during slab of the month voting. It's still number one in my heart. 







Got girth?




Happy...


Bonefish with my bro...

A dark grey mass of clouds hovered over the island blocking the late afternoon sun and rendering visibility over the mottled bottom obsolete. My brother and I reversed course to call it a day and headed back to the rental. We were having a brotherly heart to heart about the trip when a ray of sunshine pierced through the clouds illuminating the battlefield before us. A large solitary bone was headed our way and took my kwabbit on the first strip. I remember running and maneuvering my fly line around mangroves before eventually taming this bonefish. It is still one of the larger ones I have ever caught. 






Fly rods are tools allowing anglers to catch the fish of their dreams. However, not all fly rods are created equal. There are different strokes for different folks and the Loop AEG 696-4 was my ticket to ride. I am hoping for a replacement, but deep down, I think it may be the end. Retirement and a permanent spot on my mantel will always bring these three fish to mind. 

4 comments:

RM Lytle said...

Any 6 weight that can survive those three deserves high praise!

Gregg said...

Well said! Hope you do get a replacement though it may not hold the reverence the old one did. That carp, by the way, was to die for.

Gregg

Scott in PA said...

I don't know what you paid for that rod, but the memories look priceless.

Thibault Donnet said...

Totally agree with your article, this AEG 696 is an incredible rod. I start flyfishing with it and allow me to catch more than 15 different warm water species. Every time I use it, I feel both enjoyed and afraid to brake it at the same time. When my AEG is going to die, I will be a different man, for sure.