I love fly fishing equipment. I could easily play with it, admire it, evaluate it, and talk about it all day. As such, I have acquired a fair amount of it over the years. But unlike many afflicted with this passion, I don’t hoard equipment. In fact, I find it bothersome to have more rods, reels, lines, etc. than I can put to good use. Every piece of gear I have, I use, and use often. So while I have owned a lot of equipment in my lifetime, most of it simply passes through, and I keep only those pieces I absolutely love.
Being a specialist in my fly fishing pursuits, my equipment is also fairly specialized. Sure much of what I own (or have owned) could be used just as effectively for nymphs, wet flies, or streamers. But that’s beside the point. My equipment selections, and certainly the equipment that I have chosen to keep over the years, have all been based upon trout fishing with dry flies.
My propensity to “buy to try” has certainly contributed to the industry’s economy, and perhaps even my own “knowledge base,” but not much else. That being said, I know of no other way to truly evaluate a piece of equipment. An hour or two at a fly shop is simply not enough for me, and really neither is a day or two at home or on the water. I guess I suffer from the puppy syndrome. Everyone loves a puppy when it first comes home, but once the novelty wears off…
Many years ago, I happened upon a bamboo rod type known as a quad. As its name implies, a quad has four sides as opposed to the much more common six sided, or hex that most anglers associate with bamboo rods. For some, a rod with a square cross section seems unnatural. I mean really, what kind of pole is square? But for me, quads held a particular fascination, in part because of this novelty, and I was anxious to try one. But as you can probably guess, even more so, I was anxious to own one.
So I began in earnest to research quads and those making them, and continually found myself drawn to the work of Olaf Kundrus. Olaf’s rods are absolutely gorgeous, and for me aesthetics are an important aspect of the equipment I keep. Anyway, the years passed, and ultimately I began discussions with Olaf regarding the tapers he made and the kind of fishing that I do.
Communication with Olaf is a bit different than with most of the individuals I’ve worked with over the years, and some might even consider it problematic. Olaf is German with somewhat limited English skills, and at the time I was working with him he was living in Chile. I’m not fluent in German, and I don’t think my cellphone plan covers international long distance calls to Chile. So it isn’t like I’d just call Olaf up and chit-chat. Of course, if you speak German fluently, and can afford to chit-chat with someone in Chile, you’ll have nothing to work around. Irregardless of my limited communications skills, communication via email is really not a problem with Olaf, and he is truly wonderful to work with. So after exchanging numerous emails, taper recommendations were made and eventually selected, and Olaf was turned loose to make his magic.
I placed very few constraints upon Olaf, and really left all other decisions in his very capable hands. One thing I did request though, was to not receive any photographs or even descriptions of what he was making. I simply wanted the rod to be a complete surprise when it arrived. So beyond the taper, I really had no idea what he was up to. Occasionally I’d still hear from Olaf, as he would inquire about a preference I might have regarding some aspect of the rod he wanted input on (e.g., Do I prefer shorter or longer grip lengths?), or to give me a brief update on his progress (reel seat hardware is done). But beyond that, as per my request, I received no correspondence.
Sixteen months of patient waiting later, I became the proud owner of not one, but two rods. Siblings if you will, that Olaf crafted to resemble each other. The big sister is a seven footer for a four weight, and the little sister is a six footer for a three weight. Both rods are two tip, two piece, and they each have a gorgeous leather rod tube to reside in.
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but I will say, the main wraps are actually a light olive, and the tipping is claret. As you can see, these colors lend a very subtle, yet elegant feel to the rod, and perfectly compliment the Cambodian Burl insert, as well as the cane color, guides, and hardware Olaf has selected.
I could not love the aesthetics of these rods more, and even my wife (who has absolutely no appreciation for “fishing poles”) thinks they are too beautiful to fish with and should just be displayed. (Like that’s ever going to happen!)
Olaf’s rods aren’t inexpensive, and obviously they aren’t immediately available off a rack at your local fly shop. But the workmanship is absolutely impeccable, the aesthetics breathtaking, and the functionality on par or above any rod I’ve ever owned. They may be new puppies, but I know I love these rods and always will. They are long term (lifetime?) keepers that will relegate other rods to sitting in their tubes, as they cast and fish as fine as they look, and leave me wanting for absolutely nothing.
Are they the only rods out there worthy of such praise? Probably not. But they are the only two I currently own, and right now Olaf’s rods are a bargain compared to others I would put in the same class. Anyone looking for an heirloom quality rod would be foolish to not consider ordering a rod from Olaf, and I don’t think I can say it any clearer than that. Here’s a link: Olaf Kundrus