I attended the Denver Fly Fishing Show early in January and had the opportunity to see firsthand all the new products that that will be hitting the market this year. I casted a bunch of new rods, both graphite and bamboo, as I enjoy to feel how the different companies rods compare. The rod that got me the most excited was from a small midwest rod builder, Clutch Tactical Fly Rods. I only had a couple minutes to cast both the 5wt and 6wt rods, but in that limited amount of time, I felt a rod that was super powerful, capable of making perfect loops at every distance. It felt so good in my hands! I spent some time talking with Jeff Clyma, of Clutch, about the philosophy behind their rods. They wanted to build a lineup of rods that they themselves built with their own hands. They wanted to work the tapers until they acted exactly like they wanted them too. I felt a lot of passion and commitment in the way that Jeff talked about Clutch, and I left the fly show thinking about ways I could get my hands on one to see if it performed as well in the river as it did on a casting pond.
I emailed Jeff about an upcoming trip to the San Juan River, and expressed an interest in an opportunity to get my hands on a 5wt rod to put through the ringers on the one of the West's most famous tailwaters. I wanted to really see how the rod handled all types of fishing situations, situations I knew would encounter on the Juan. I wanted to throw double nymph rigs, large, meaty streamers, and tiny dry midges to sipping trout to really see how this rod would do as a everyday trout stick. Five minutes after my email to Jeff, he called me and said a Clutch TTx 905 was making its way to Denver. WOW! I was super excited for this San Juan trip now.
The rod came in a real nice aluminum rod case with the Clutch logo on the side. I pulled the rod sock out of the tube, and starting pulling pieces out. The workmanship on the rod was top notch. The black color of the rod made it very nice looking, and the smoke anodized Snake Brand guides were an addition that really made it sharp. The feature that I found really cool was the Clutch logo engraved in the wood spacer. The cork handle looked very high grade, and after putting the rod together, I could feel the same power just waving it around in my living room as I did at the Denver Fly Show.
I took the rod to the park to cast, and the same feeling that I had at the fly show immediately came back to me. I would describe this rod as effortlessly powerful. If you just make good casting stokes with it, it will form perfect loops for you everytime. The wind even picked at the park, but the 5wt would still punch out enough line to power through it. Probably the best part about casting the Clutch TTx905 is that you can feel it load at all distances. Sometimes with my other rods, you can find it harder to really feel the rod load in the shorter distances. They still cast fine, but it just doesn't feel the same as when you get a really nice, responsive rod like the Clutch. Having this rod in my hand made me a better cast. I could make the fly line do anything I wanted to. But this is in the park, so I still needed to see how it would do where it counted: the river.
I fished the Clutch on the San Juan with a Lamson Konic reel loaded with a Scientific Anglers Sharkskin WF-5-F line. Mainly I was fishing a double nymph rig with tiny midge flies, requiring a perfect dead drift to a trouts mouth to induce a strike. The rod roll casts and mends like a dream. It would help me cast my line exactly to where I wanted it, and help me to keep a perfect drift through the numerous deep pools that the San Juan offers. Once I did hook a big trout, the rod tip was sensitive enough to protect the fragile 6x tippet and small flies, and greatly enhance the chances of bringing these large trout to the net. I tied on some larger streamer patterns to see how the rod would handle casting a bigger fly, and also swinging and stripping them. Again, I had no problem casting any size streamer across the river to start a swing. The sensitivity of the tip allowed me to feel even the smallest of strikes. With bigger flies and 3x tippet, you could really lean on the fish, allowing the backbone of the rod to steer the trout to your will.
The only thing that I did not like on the rod was the lack of a hook holder on the rod. When I move around from hole to hole, it's nice to just place your fly on the hook holder and reel in tight, and move. Not a big deal, just takes a little bit more time to make sure your hook is secure before you start moving.
A gorgeous rod that is worth the $655.00 price tag. It will handle most of the fishing situations that you would encounter on a typical western trout stream, and more. The company is filled with super passionate people like Jeff that are excited to be making rods they love. The rods are made right here in the USA, with skill and precision. Clutch will be producing a 4wt and 7wt rod in the near future. The 4wt would be perfect on some of the smaller Colorado waters, making a perfect little dry fly stick. I'm sure the 7wt Clutch would a phenomenal carp stick, giving you plenty of backbone to land some Golden Bones. All in all, I am very impressed with Clutch Fly Rods, and look forward to the day when I own my own. Time to start saving every penny so I can get my hands on my very own!!