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Thursday, September 02, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Getting in Gear: Cabela's FT Combo for fly fishing

By Dan A. Nelson
Special to The Seattle Times

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NWsource: Outdoors
Over the years, fly fishing earned a reputation as a sport for the well-heeled. With hand-tooled carbon-fiber rods frequently costing $800 or more, and high-end reels equaling that high price, the reputation was well earned.

But fly fishing truly is a sport for anyone who wants to enjoy the poetry of casting a tiny fly to a rising trout, and catalogue-retailer Cabela's has reemphasized that fact by offering a series of high-quality fly-fishing combos that include rod, reel and line for less than half the cost of one of those overpriced rods.

The Cabela's FT Combos boast the FT Series rods coupled with a variety of reels. The least expensive of the Combos is the FT Drake Combo, which matches Cabela's FT rods with their own Drake reel.

The graphite construction of the FT rods creates a smooth-loading, moderate-fast action that delivers accurate casts with enough power to cut through stiff winds.

During a canoe excursion on the Black River near Olympia, I used the 6-weight FT to cast midges to rising cutthroats. Despite the steady 8-10 mph north wind, I was able to push the fly out into some lee-side coves where fish were dimpling the water while feeding on small bugs.

Later I used a four-piece version of the 5-weight FT rod during a hike into a remote alpine lake. The four-piece packed small enough to fit on my daypack, but suffered no loss of action despite the extra joints in the rod. It was as smooth and graceful as the two-piece version.

The Drake reel proved an efficient line tender, though the operation was a bit choppy when reeling in. The crank seemed a bit less fluid than I'd expect in a simple fly reel. The drag also seemed a bit finicky, and seemed to "creep" a bit — that is, once or twice, the drag seemed to tighten somewhat on its own.

The next step up on the pricing ladder in the combo selection puts a Ross Cimarron Reel on the FT rod. This reel was exceptionally smooth and graceful, with a fluid crank and fine-tuned drag. The FT/Cimarron combo felt graceful yet powerful when casting and when playing fish.

The FT rods in all the combos come with a 25-year unconditional guarantee (i.e., you break it in any way, and Cabela's will repair or replace it).

The Cabela's FT/Drake combos, available in 2 weight to 7 weight, sell for $330-$405, while the FT/Cimarron combos, same sizes, run $405-$485, with a lifetime guarantee on the reel.

Both outfits come with Mastery weight-forward floating fly line and Prestige backing, as well as Cordura-covered rod tube.
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Dan A. Nelson is a regular contributor to Backpacker magazine, and an author of outdoor guides with The Mountaineers Books. He lives in Puyallup.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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