Coffee and Rod Testing

As I walked up to the office yesterday morning, I saw the guys from the rod shop carting long cardboard boxes to the picnic table on the lawn. I knew that this could mean only one thing: a morning rod-testing session.

The product developers, others in the Rod & Tackle division, and the folks who actually fabricate the prototypes at the rod shop spend a lot of time tweaking the actions of Orvis rods to get them just right, and the quickest way to get a sense for how the various adjustments have worked out is to get together for some side-by-side comparisons. In this session, the main focus was on some new Frequent Flyer models, but there were also Helios and Access rods on hand for comparison.

This is where the rubber meets the road for any fly-rod design. If something doesn’t feel right in these impromptu sessions, then it’s back to the drawing board. If a rod passes muster on the line, then it will be subjected to extensive testing in the field–thousands of casts made, hundreds of fish landed, plus a host of stress and breakage tests.

But it all starts right outside my window.

Rod Testing 2

What better way to start a glorious June morning than a
fresh cup of Joe and a quiver of new fly rods?

photo by Phil Monahan

Rod Testing 3

There’s a fair amount of science and technology at work in every fly rod, as evidenced
by these rod-action charts. Steve Hemkens, Divisional Merchandising Manager
for Orvis Rod & Tackle, checks the numbers.

photo by Phil Monahan

Rod Testing 5

Every rod is marked with the date is was made, the model, the iteration, and
other data that help the testers make accurate comparisons.

photo by Tim Bronson

Rod Testing 4

Steve Hemkens goes over the test models with (from left) Jim Lepage, vice president
of Orvis Rod & Tackle; Dave Perkins, vice chairman of Sporting Traditions;
and Bill Reed, director of wholesale for Rod & Tackle.

photo by Phil Monahan

Rod Testing 6

Jim Lepage puts a test model through its paces.

photo by by Tim Bronson

Rod Testing 7

Dave Perkins and Lepage do some side-by-side comparison.

photo by Tim Bronson


Rod Testing 8

Our resident striped-bass fanatic, Paul Fersen, always goes straight for the saltwater sticks.

photo by Tim Bronson

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