By Josh Allen
Pilot, Bear’s Den employee, and aspiring fly rob builder
For the last couple of years I’ve been intrigued by Courtney Boice and his fiberglass rod company Blue Halo. Like a child, I was drawn to the colorful works of art that his company pumps out at a rather mind blowing pace these days. If you can reach back into your memory….remember when you first got started in fly fishing? That first day you went to your local fly shop and looked at the bins and bins of flies and picked out the most gaudy, flashy, most ridiculous looking fly you could find and said: “This has to catch fish”? Then you dragged yourself to the local river and threw this monstrosity of a fly out there and not catch a darn thing? Well my first thought with Blue Halo was that same feeling I had looking back at my foolish selection of flies, it looks cool but does it actually fish?
Before I get too ahead of myself I should explain that I’m rather new to building rods. I started a few years ago with the suggestion of friend of mine. He decided to give me a bunch of spey rod blanks and said “go nuts”, and nuts I went. I started building grips, and wrapping guides like it was nobodies business. The problem was however, that I sucked at building rods, so I sucked up what little foolish pride I had and took a real course on rod building up in Maine from Eldredge Brothers. If anything Jim (who taught our class) taught me tons of patience, which was a god send. After a month or so I had completed a Winston Nexus 3wt…which I subsequently smashed into a few pieces whilst falling in the
woods of Maine last fall.
Fast forward to this winter, and a bunch of rods behind me I now had two Blue Halo blanks sitting on my desk. After fretting about which awesome colors to choose I decided to go with the “raw” which is essentially an opaque white for the 5wt, and the jade for the 7wt. Since I really wanted the personal touch you can’t find from a normal manufactured rod I designed my own handle with . inch and . inch cork rings of various colors, patterns etc… On the 5wt I went with this grey burl reel seat which complimented the matte gray hatch reel I was throwing on it. After a few hours of sanding down the cork to the exact size I wanted it was time to start doing some guide wraps. The measuring is all done prior to the handle being built so once that’s done it’s pretty much off to the races on wrapping. After much deliberation on which color combos I wanted to go with I settled on a dark blue and gun metal grayish color.
Wrapping the guides went by rather quickly with the exception of the tip section due to the crazy flex these fiberglass rods have while throwing down wraps. Once that was all completed to my inexperienced satisfaction I started cleaning up any imperfections and got down to finishing it off. This entails burning off any thread fuzz that might have popped up and making sure one last time that the guides are perfectly aligned. Lastly I applied the guide wrap finish, two coats worth. This part can be the most agonizing step, its usually when you realize your hand shakes way more than you thought and you start doubting how it’ll come out in the end. Needless to say it all came out just fine. The real test however, is getting it out on the water and giving it some good casts. I did manage to take it out to a local pond and do some “testing” as to how it performed, and to my amazement (for glass) it performed stronger than I expected. Working at a fly shop and getting to try out various glass rods, I found the Blue Halo’s to have a rather fast action to them, relatively speaking. They have more backbone than other rods (perhaps with the exception of the Echo Bad Ass Glass) I found that I was actually able to throw distance without having to slow my cast down too much.
Blue Halo has a bunch of exciting rods coming out shortly including a hybrid rod and some heavier weight rods (think stripers!) If you’re not into building rods yet they do sell completed rods in a plethora of colors. Next time you are at a show or you see me out on the water, give them a throw. I think you’ll be amazed at how well they perform.