Five months ago I was given the opportunity to test and review a custom rod made in Clinton, Montana. Derek Stewart, owner at Stewtana Rod Company, hand assembled a Blue Halo glass rod and put it in my hands in January.
I am very accustomed to medium to fast action rods so this was a new experience. The 8-foot-6-inch five weight had the slowest action I have ever casted. I gradually adjusted as I casted the Stewtana rod for the first time on the Clark Fork River in the dead of winter. The turquoise rod finally bent towards the seem and a shimmering-golden brown trout was at the end of my line. Fighting a fish on a glass rod is a completely different experience, it’s a lot of fun. In winter I usually nymph or streamer fish and found that a slower-action rod for those purposes didn’t fit my casting style. You can adjust the action with a size up or down in weight on your line. Most anglers prefer a slow-action rod for delicate presentation and casting dries on smaller streams. I figured I’d wait for some dries to start popping before I broke out the Stewtana rod again.
Stewtana Rod Company owner, Derek Stewart, is a hard-working young man with a vision to help veterans and conservation through his love for fly fishing and rod building. He aims for low costs with high quality products for his customers and gives away two rods to veterans every year. His upcoming giveaway will happen after runoff.
The snow started melting and spring was underway. Warmer days led to small hatches of skwalas and march browns along the Bitterroot River. The Blue Halo custom rod from Stewtana was light in my grip. I was poised and ready with a skwala and a sub-surface dropper. Casting the duo with the slow action of the Blue Halo glass became rhythmic and they were landing in the seams. The delicate and reliable presentation was consistent. My second cast landed a healthy trout with broad shoulders and vibrant markings. The Stewtana rod kept me confidently in control of the 24-inch brown trout for several minutes as I fought it into my net.
The Blue Halo wrangled impressive browns all day. While fighting the last brown of the day, the tip guide came off the rod. According to Stewart, there was an issue with the epoxy that he used on my rod. This was discussed upon receiving the rod, he told me there were irregular bubbles in the finished product and wasn’t sure if the bond was completely secure, but fish it anyway. So I did.
An easy fix with some ZAP-A-GAP or a hot-glue gun and the tip was replaced.
Notable fly-fishing enthusiasts around the United States and Canada are Stewtana customers. Big fish and smiles surround Stewtana‘s online presence and the veterans receiving his rods have happily cried. For more information about Stewtana Rod Company, click one of the highlighted hyperlinks in this feature.