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August 6, 2011 / flogginwater

Gear Corner – Cabela’s Wind River 4 Weight Fly Rod

I’ve liked Cabela’s house brand fly rods for a long time. I know some folks will get worked up because they’re made in China and Korea – and not here in the US of A – but unless those folks are tooling around in an oooold car made by one of the Big Three – then they’ve paid a lot more for foreign made goods than I did for all of my fly rods. Pick your battles.

My first taste of Cabela’s fly rods was with the excellent Three Forks 3 weight, 7 foot rod. I literally wore mine out, and had to obtain a new butt section for it after a number of years (I wore the reel seat out, the cork was fine, as was the rod blank). My second Cabela’s rod was a Fish Eagle fly rod, a 9 footer for a 5 or 6 weight line. It was either a 4 or 5 piece pack rod – I didn’t have that rod long – as I had to sell it when I needed cash. It was a fine rod, though.

The Wind River 4 weight is my 3rd Cabela’s rod purchase – and I should be getting a Three Forks 8 weight Monday or Tuesday of next week, which I will put to hard use and give another review of in the future.

I got the Wind River on a whim – I had been perusing the Cabela’s website, and noticed they were running a 50% off special on the Wind River rods – so I snatched up the 8’6″ 4 piece 4 weight for the princely sum of $49.99, figuring it would be hard to go wrong for the price.

I mated the rod up with my Argus 5/6 reel (Argus is made by WW Grigg, and is their reel brand) and originally paired the rod up with a Cortland Fairplay 4 weight rocket taper floating line.

My first few outings with the Wind River tickled me – it cast better than I honestly expected, and was lighter in hand than I figured an 8’6″ rod would be. At my typical fishing distances, I could hardly miss a casting target with this one. 15-40 feet is where I typically fish for panfish and stream trout – so this performance is what I really look for in a rod. I rarely need to boom out a 60+ foot cast. I’ve found that with the original combination – with that Fairplay fly line, I could hit the 50′ mark pretty easily, though much past that was a struggle with the 4 weight line. Lets face it though – the 4 weight is a light line, and never really intended for long distance fishing. This rod will cast just a leader as well as it does 30+ feet of line.

Wanting to push this rod and see what it would really do though, I set it up with a Scientific Anglers Air Cel shortened 6 weight WF floating line – the line is 53 feet long. I use a 2′ braided leader butt, and a 9 foot leader with this line. Using the 4 weight Wind River and the 6 weight line, I cast sizes 10 to 2 deer hair bass bugs 30-40 feet while wet wading. The bigger bugs took a bit more effort, but I did it.

Not pleased with the Fairplay line after some good use, I retired it and purchased another Air Cel line, in 5 weight WF floating flavor, since cash has been tight lately. Eventually when things pick up work wise for me – I’ll replace the Air Cel line with a Scientific Anglers Mastery line – probably a Double Taper #4 or 5. So far the Air Cel 5 has pleased me. I’ve been using it for a few weeks, and I’ve cast smaller deer hair bugs, big bushy dry flies w/ droppers, and some foam and deer hair hopper patterns with it. Most recently I was fishing a dry & dropper setup and took a wonderful 12″ wild cutthroat with it, with the assistance of my 4 month old son (okay, it was mostly moral support while daddy fished, but that’s still helping, right?) – and I could feel every beat of the fish’s tail in the water – which always puts a smile on my face. I think that’s the most important thing about a rod – does it please you to fish with? Does it make you smile when you hook and play a fish with it? Do you enjoy casting it? I can answer in the affirmative for each of those questions.

Aesthetically, the Wind River isn’t bad either. The blank is black, with black thread wraps, and black hardware with a darkly stained rosewood reel seat. That’s a bit too drab for my tastes – I would’ve loved to see some accent wraps, and lighter colored reel seat hardware (I prefer nickle reel seat hardware on most fly rods) – but the rod still doesn’t look bad – just a bit bland. The picture below is a nice comparison of my (well used) Grigg 4 weight and the Wind River 4 weight – the Grigg is the one that has the dirty, fish-mojo covered grip.

As nicely as the Wind River performs, it can look a little bland – consider it a wolf in sheep’s clothing, which is much better than a gorgeous rod that performs like crap.

The 4 piece design is nice from a packing stand point – if space is at a premium (like it was when packing for the camping trip back in June) having a rod that breaks down into sections only 26″ or so inches long is really nice. If space isn’t at such a premium, I can leave the two tip sections and the two butt sections together, and have myself a 2 piece rod. I don’t believe this rod suffers at all from being a multi piece, like some older rod designs did. Chalk one up to modern fly rod design.

It’s no Sage, or Winston, or G. Loomis – but it’s still a damn good rod, and would serve any beginning fisherman, or the fisherman on a budget very well. At $49.99 on sale, or even at the regular price of $99.00, it’s an excellent light line rod – perfectly at home on the panfish pond or the mountain trout stream. I will say though – that the rod really does seem to prefer a 5 weight line over the 4, and it can handle a 6 weight also – which leads me to believe that they intended this rod to be a fast action 4 weight, or it was originally to be a 5 weight, and someone in the marketing department said “we need an entry level 4 weight, right now” and they just changed the line rating (since line ratings can be a bit arbitrary, and at the whim of the designer of a particular blank). One of these days I’ll put this rod to the Common Cents test and see what it really rates out at.

In any case, I’m happy with the rod, and I’ll continue to beat the water to a froth with it until it wears out, I break it, or I break myself.

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