What’s the first thing most people do when they get a new fly rod? They go out to the lawn, or the pond, or the river, and see just how far they can cast a line with it. That’s fine, but it’s also fairly irrelevant in terms of assessing how a rod will actually fish.

I love the brand new series of “Upstream” fly rods by Douglas Outdoors for how SHORT they can cast. I’m not kidding. I like these rods because they load a line and drop a fly on the button at 15 feet or less, and sometimes, when I’m bushwhacking my way up little creeks in search of brook trout or cutthroats, that’s exactly the cast I must make.

Jim Murphy is the president of Douglas Outdoors, and he’s one of my favorite innovators in the fly industry. He started Redington, and ran the recent, successful incarnation of Hardy, among other things. He knows how to be just far enough off the beaten path to grab attention, and fill niches that the market offers.

The Upstream rod series has a super-light, ultra sensitive feel. There are only four models: one 2-weight, two 3-weights, and an 8′-8″ 4-weight that actually weighs an astounding 1.72 ounces (which is what I am fishing). They’re graphite, but not the common high-modulus action. They feel more like fiberglass, but with a little bit more oomph. What that ultimately translates to is excellent line control, and for my money, line control is the name of the game, especially when you’re pitching dry flies at tight targets on small water.

It takes a lot to get me excited about a fly rod. Sometimes the “less is more” approach is what does it. Upstream rods have a legitimately unique feel, and I like it. They cost $350.