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May 21, 2011 / flogginwater

Gear Corner – WW Grigg IM6 graphite 8′ 4wt Flyrod

Howdy again. In the last post, I talked about my WW Grigg Heritage Series 5/6 weight fiberglass fly rod. Now I’d like to share with you a review of my WW Grigg made 8′ 4 weight graphite fly rod. I must preface this by saying that the rod’s actual brand name is North X Northwest – this name used to be the house brand for the defunct GI Joes (aka Joe’s) sporting goods stores. GI Joes used to be huge – something like 40 stores all across the Pacific Northwest – they were one of the best all around sporting goods shops in existence until some poor management struck them down and they went bankrupt. Joe’s demise left a number of vendors reeling, as they were by far their largest customer. WW Grigg was one such vendor, most of the rods they made were for Joe’s. They were one of two vendors for house brand rods (the other was Wright & McGill) – and Grigg made the house brand fly rods.

I’ve had two of those house brand named Grigg rods – a 9′ 4 weight, and an 8′ 4 weight. I loved both – sold one during hard times – wish I’d kept it. I purchased my 8′ 4 weight back in 2004 from the GI Joes in Beaverton, OR. It is identical to the WW Grigg branded model IM800-4, which made from IM6 graphite. It’s a 2 piece rod, with a nice satin nickled reel seat hardware, rosewood reel seat insert, chrome snake guides and tip top, with two two-foot ceramic stripping guides and a slender, western style cork grip. This is a slow action rod well suited for not just a 4 weight line, but it will also readily down size to a #3 line, or you can go crazy and cast a #5 or 6 weight with it, if you want to really sloooooooow the action down. Below you can see the Grigg rod with my new Cabela’s Wind River 4 weight. The Grigg is obviously the one on top, with the dirty cork vs. the clean, virgin cork on the Wind River.

When I bought this rod, I was using the lovely Orvis Rocky Mountain standard arbor disc drag fly reel. I had two spools for that reel, one with an Orvis #3 Hy Flote double taper (made by Scientific Anglers) and a Scientific Anglers Mastery WF4 Floating line, and I would switch between them. I eventually wore out both lines, and replaced the Orvis line with a Cortland #3 double taper floating line, and hadn’t replaced the #4 since I fished the 3 weight with it way more often.

Then one fateful fishing trip, I broke the handle off my beloved Orvis reel, and had to retire it. I replaced it with a Ross Flywater #1 reel, which it has worn ever since.

The slow action of this rod really lends itself to roll casts, and close-in fishing situations I often face on the small streams I love. It does have enough back bone, however, to push out a 40 or 50 foot cast when needed (those are pretty rare on my favorite streams though).

Putting a #4 line on it slows the action a bit more, but allows for slightly heavier, wind resistant flies like big bushy hoppers, #8 poppers, or weighted nymphs.

This rod has been my faithful companion on many a fishing adventure – small streams and ponds to big lakes and rivers – but the small streams are what we love. Catching small, wild trout on dry flies is what the rod does best, and is the fishing I love to do the most with it. Second best is fishing for panfish, dry & dropper, or small poppers.

After so many years of hard fishing, there are a couple signs of wear – I’ve noticed the grip feels like the epoxy is starting to weaken, as I can feel the reel seat and rod blank twist slightly while casting. The rest of the rod is solid – the reel seat itself is still firmly epoxied to the blank – it’s just that the cork seems to be coming loose a bit. The guides are all still just fine – no cracking or loose threads. The tip top is still firmly attached. The rod blank has some surface scuffs, but otherwise is fine.

As much use (and maybe abuse – I know nussing!) as this rod has seen, it doesn’t surprise me that it’s wearing a bit. THIS is the fly rod I grab 90% of the time when I go fishing, unless I’m going fishing for salmon or steelhead. I’ll grab this 4 weight when fishing trout, panfish, bass, or trying to get a carp. Eventually I’m going to have to find a rod maker and have him re-do the grip for me. That probably also means cutting the guides off and re-wrapping them, which I hate to do since there’s nothing wrong with them, but there’s no other way to get the corks back on without it. I could simply retire this rod and put it up on the shelf over my desk – but I’d much rather keep fishing it, and pass it along to my son some day.

For the roughly $100 this rod cost me – I’ve more than gotten my money back out of it from pure enjoyment, smiles, number of fish caught, the level of fun had… I don’t think you can really put a price tag on that stuff. The folks at WW Grigg knew what they were doing when they built this rod, and I might just have to get another one. They still list the IM800-4 on their website, so I might just have to save up my pennies.

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