In many places, trout season is coming to an end. Summer gives its last very nice days, and with Fall coming the predators will take the frontstage. September (in France anyway) is often quoted as the best month for seabass on the shores. After that come the chill and it will be pike season. At that point, the 8’6 4wt will be put to sleep, mostly. It’s time for bigger guns.
And this is when Stickman Rods offers a new cosmetics for the T8, in seasonal colors… The T8 is the 9′ 8wt I’m living with for a year now. THE perfect rod for seabass or pike on a light rig. THE ultimate 8 in my hand, the rod who made me forget about the One, the Radian, and especially Greg’s NRX…
So, come on, I’ll tell you about this rod. It’s gonna take a while, I’ve got much to say. Today we’ll start with the brand.
Stickman’s core is a duo: Ákos Szmutni and Alejandro Viñuales. The Hungarian and the Spaniard. Both passionate fly fishermen, both high level fly casters, IFFF Masters. Ákos is the boss, he’s got the vision. Alejandro is the carbon wizard. He learned the ropes at Modern Flies and CDL in Italy, and he’s the designer at Maxia, a well known brand of high reputation among euro-nymphers. They created Stickman in 2013 on a full-EU concepts: blanks are rolled in Spain, then shipped in Hungary to be built as rods.
I’ve spent precious hours talking with Akos. Besides being a perfect gentleman, he’s quite the wise guy when it comes to fly casting and rod building. You can convince yourself just looking at the way the rods are presented on the website. Everything is sound. No mix up of style and substance: blanks on one side, and cosmetics on the other. And for substance, I can’t tell you how pleasing it is to be spared the usual crap. No “technologies”, no “modulus”, no half baked notions and trademarked terms. Nothing is “Advanced”, or “Ultra” or “Professional”. I’ve spent more than twenty years learning about rods, following esoteric discussions and reading tech stuff. I love it. And let me tell you, in all humility, I’ve heard more than my share of bullshit. But what Ákos says of his rods, every choice from Stickman with respect to rod building, all this makes total sense. It’s just honey for my ears, and another opportunity to learn something.
That no-bullshit communication ethics, you’ll find it also in the way Stickman deals with rod sesries. That is : there are no rod series. Look, imagine you’re in a restaurant with a 10 pages menu where you’ve got sushi and T-bones, and lasagna and pekinese duck. You’d be suspicious. I mean, how can you be good at all that? Well, for rods I think it’s the same. A brand that issues two complete lines the same month, from a stream stick to a tarpon cannon, like twenty different rods at once, that leaves me wondering.
At Stickman, it’s more like the old school workshop. Rods are built by one guy, one after another. You can have all the customization you want. Each model have been carefully thought and designed individually. They come out slowly: in three years of existence, they’ve only got six rods (each in various cosmetics): anymphing 10′ 0wt, an 8′ 4wt, and four 94 in 5, 6, 7 and 8 weight. I only know that last one, but I take the whole process as a quality certificate.
Now, in the presentation page of their site, the guys at Stickman got a little excited and took some risk, claiming “Research and development gave birth to prototypes that we thought were better than any other rods out there.” It takes balls to say that in the very same paragraph you’ve mentioned some of the best reputed brands there is.
Well, you know what? I believe them. At least for the T8. The rest of this test is nothing more than my attempt to explain why.
Top photo credit: Julien Pouille, last one: Flavien Malemprée. Both during seabass hunts.