Michael D. Clark (South Creek Ltd.)
8 foot, 5 weight, 3 piece, 2 tip, Ruby taper “Uinta”
I love bamboo fly rods. I have a web page devoted to that infatuation HERE.
Over the last decade, I’ve collected and fished a number of bamboo fly rods. This rod represents the culmination of my bamboo fly rod collecting. It was the first custom rod I ordered, and the last custom rod I received. This is due to Mike’s very long wait list.
I was lucky enough to live very close to Mike’s shop when I ordered the rod. His shop is in Lyons, Colorado, which was just a 15 minute drive from where I lived for almost 16 years. Because of this, when I ordered my rod, I was able to make very sure that I was getting exactly what I wanted. Mike took me out to a grassy field near his shop and let me lawn cast a bunch of different tapers and configurations of rod. Ultimately, I ended up choosing a rod in what Mike refers to as his “Ruby” taper. It’s a softer, somewhat slower action 5 weight taper that gives terrific feedback and control.
After I chose the taper I wanted, we went back to his shop and I picked out the specifc piece of wood that I wanted for the reel seat. He put my name on it and set it aside for the day when he would finally make my rod.
I worked with Mike’s terrific assistant, Kathy, to choose the colors for wraps, agate guide, etc. I pretty much just followed her advice on these issues, figuring that she probably has a better eye than I do for what makes a beautiful rod. I commission my custom rods with a specific piece of water or area in mind. This rod was going to be my Flat Tops rod, for the Flat Tops Wilderness, one of my favorite places to fish in Colorado.
After that, there was nothing left to do but wait. So I waited. And waited, and waited. Mike’s rods are in extremely high demand, and he only makes about 40 rods a year. Because of this, his waiting list is long indeed. It requires a fair amount of patience to acquire a custom rod him. I’m normally not the patient type. I’m pretty much a poster boy for instant gratification. In this case, however, I really had no choice.
Years later, when I finally received the email from Mike that he was getting ready to start work on my rod, my situation had changed quite a bit. I had moved from Colorado to Utah, and was no longer fishing in the Flat Tops regularly. Instead, I was close to the Uintas, which is a beautiful mountain wilderness area full of great fishing opportunities. Like the Flat Tops, the Uintas has great fishing in both lakes, rivers, and small streams, so a 5 weight rod would provide the versatility needed to fish all of these conditions.
A couple of months after I got my e-mail, the rod arrived. It was beautiful, and I would have been really happy, except that it arrived in the dead of winter, when most of my favorite fishing venues were covered with snow and ice. I took it out to fish the Provo tailwaters a couple of times, but I had to wait for summer to give the rod a real test in its namesake Uinta Wilderness waters.
After numerous days of use, both close to home and in the Uintas, on lakes, creeks, and rivers, I can say with conviction that I love this rod. The softer action is terrific for the fishing I do. The rod has enough backbone to cast a good distance out on a lake when necessary. However, where the rod really shines is in short to mid-distance dry fly presentations. It’s great at helping me control the line for getting around weird obstacles and odd casting angles, trying to get the fly in under brush at just the right position to avoid branches that are blocking my cast. It’s great for mid-cast corrections which keep me out of troublesome spots.
With this rod, my bamboo collecting days have drawn to a close, and I’m no longer a bamboo collector, just a bamboo fisher. I’ve got eight bamboo rods I love to fish ranging from a 3 weight to a couple of 6 weights. These rods pretty much cover all the bases for me, and I can find a rod in my quiver to match any trout fishing that I want to do. Now, I’m just trying to make more time to fish so I can use all of these rods like they were meant to be used.