Photo by Swift Fly Fishing via Instagram
Given the popularity of the “take-and-bake” pizza, I figured it was only a matter of time before some fly rod companies embraced the concept. Sure, rod builders have always been able to order custom components and make their own creations. And some companies, like Scott, offer a custom shop where you can pick your own parts and the factory will build the rod for you. But now Swift Performance Fly Fishing, a New Zealand-based manufacturer of some of the world’s best fiberglass rods, is actually taking that up another level.
They’re offering anglers three options: you can pick your pieces and they’ll build it and ship it to you; you can pick your blanks and components and they’ll ship them in a kit so you build the rod yourself; or you can pick the parts and they’ll ship them to a master rod builder in your country to have them build it for you.
I have always valued the personal flair of custom rods above all (including a very sweet stick Fly Talker Koldkut made for me to chase steelhead and pike with), but I have never made the jump to making a rod myself. I guess I don’t trust my skills or resolve to do the job as well as I would like. I imagine a half-wrapped mess of parts littering my work bench for months, and a finished product that looks beyond amateur. Perhaps the kits from Swift are the answer — they’re easy to follow. Tim Romano has embarked on a test build. I will see how he fares and then maybe follow his lead.
As for performance, the Swift blanks are aesthetically pleasing, and remarkably smooth to cast, at least according to the most serious fiberglass aficionados I know. If you’re craving that custom look, having a pro put together a handsome signature rod is a safer bet.
Pricing varies, of course, depending on the parts you choose and how you plan to have it built. A kit I priced out costs approximately $421 (495 NZD) for the build-yourself option, and about $750 for a built-to-spec rod, which includes a titanium finish reel seat from the factory (delivery time is four to six weeks).
In either regard, I see this as a possible trend in fly fishing, where we might expect to see more flexibility in picking different options and finishes — more “just-in-time” spec manufacturing of high-end models — and less of the “stock” options that change as new models are introduced every year or so.
What do you think?