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By Skip Clement

Reilly Rod Crafters / Chuck Kraft Series 5-weight

Steve Hudson on the "Hootch" with a nice rainbow. Hudson photo.

Professor Steve Hudson on the “Hootch” with a nice rainbow. Hudson photo.

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his new fly rod from Reilly Rods falls into the second tier pricing of fly rods. That would be those rods that run in the $350 to $500 range. This stick performs really quite well relative to other rods in that range and price point.

That was the consensus according to those who we asked to review the Reilly Rod Crafters’ Chuck Kraft Series (currently available in 4-weight to 8-weight).

Who did we choose, or rather who accepted the challenge to cast and comment on the RRC 5-weight? Guides, of course, would be naturals as would fly shop owners, but the inherent problem there is that many of the top guides, anywhere, have decided to sign on with a rod company and get called endorsed, ambassador, and other such assigned loyalist names.

Shop owners, the other natural authority, have big-time capital tied up in their chosen fly rod inventories, so it would be a biased situation to ask one to comment on RRC’s non-stocked fly rods. All of that said, one sponsored guide did comment, anonymously, as did an “off-duty” fly shop guy with whom I frequently fish.

Who was the authority worthy to comment independently on a fly rod we picked?

Steve Hudson

Steve is the publisher of Chattahoochee Media, a published author of over 20 books that have regional significance (Georgia and Southeast) about walk-in accesses to rivers, still waters, and back country trails… far from the madding crowd.

His more universal tomes cover fly tying; probably the best book ever on written for the beginners to intermediate level fly tyers, fly fishing; trouts and basses how-to, where to, when to for those species… it stays in my truck 24/7.

His explanations of “how-to” are not always new, but the subtleties of how to employ them are not lost in his telling. Too, there are new techniques so well explained that “stingy with words” best describes his text (he teaches college English).

Steve’s casting level is an expert. The test rod maximum cast distance cast was 103-feet (prompted by Fly Life Magazine and measured).

As a Man For All Seasons, Steve is also a rod builder, so his overview of anything put together and called a fly rod gets punished for the slightest infractions. He did not hold back on that, at all.


Chad fishes his clients out of a Hyde Power Drifter Jet Sled with a 40 HP Mercury. This trophy size brown was caught on a fly in the “Hootch.” Chad fishes in the jet boat in Alaska during the summer and fall months. Bryson photo.

Chad Bryson

Bryson is a full-time guide with an expert casting level. The test rod maximum cast distance was well over 100-feet (without prompt and not measured).

In much of North Georgia, guides, as in many such trout coordinates in the U. S. and Canada are walk-in only or canoe/kayak capable, and usually part time, or they are skiff able with portability. That does not automatically follow that some part-timers are not expert.

Chad Bryson is full time fly fishing and fly tying. His admirers say he can catch trophy trout in a puddle.

We can assure you, although a tad on the serious business side, he is fun to be with, and knows what he’s talking about. Without trying, even an accomplished angler marvels at his skills. Too, Bryson can wing a line on the money in as many ways as can be imagined. Impressive.

BTW: Bryson has a two-handed casting school, and there are no other two-handed casting instructors in GA or NC (Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Instructors). If you’re curious about switch rods, spey rods and how to gain an advantage casting them, jump in here.

Reilly Rod Crafters' Chuck Kraft Series - 4- thru 8-weight. RRC image. Made in the United States.

Reilly Rod Crafters’ Chuck Kraft Series – 4- thru 8-weight. RRC image. All RRC rod are made in the United States.

Chris Reilly Rod Crafters 5-weight PROS

Steve Hudson:

For casting short, 20- to 40-feet, where all the trouts, panfish, and bass are caught, this five is superior.

While I do not recall ever casting 100-feet to anything here in North Georgia, the rod delivers that distance with a forward vault that is both unusual and unexpected.

The rod load is felt to hand, so I’m going to call it a full-flex rod.”

Equipage used was Reilly Rod Crafters’ Chuck Kraft Series 5-weight. Fly Line was RIO Gold Trout. The reel 3Tand TF 50 Trout Reel.

Chad Bryson:

The rod loads beautifully.

It’s a perfect fish catching rod. Fish catching here in Georgia and Alaska is done in less than 50-feet. Some of my clients own super fast rods that they should not own. Casting short, 30-to 40-feet is very difficult with a super fast rod, especially so when there’s not too much casting talent at the fisherman end. This kind of action (RRC action) is the kind I always carry on board.

I like that it is sturdily built. Even though most fly rods are “guaranteed,” a broken rod, while I’m fishing clients, is not good. I prefer high performance and sturdy. They can take a beating and keep on ticking – like this one.

The equipage used was Reilly Rod Crafters’ Chuck Kraft Series 5-weight. The fly Line ARC 5-6 weight. The reel 3Tand TF 50 Trout Reel.

Chris Reilly Rod Crafters 5-weight CONS

Steve Hudson:

As a rod builder and rod building teacher for several decades, I think there are a few very minor finish issues. There are some tiny bubbles in the finish coat around the butt.

In some areas around the ferrules, the finish is too thinned out.

I think the stripping guide is too small as are the next two guides.

This rod is slightly heavier than average for a 5-weight.

Chad Bryson:

This rod (Chris Reilly Rod Crafters 5-weight) slightly heavy for a 5-weight, so it is not in the $700- to $800 class because of that. However, a lighter version would belong there.

Wrapping Up

 Matt Reilly, the owner's son, is an accomplished angler and budding outdoor scribe. Here, he fishes a small stream in his native Virginia waters with 4-weight.

Matt Reilly, the owner’s son, is an accomplished angler and budding outdoor scribe. Here, he fishes a small stream in his native Virginia waters with 4-weight.

The RRC Chuck Kraft Series 5-weight fly rod is as good as it gets for anglers of any competency fishing where the trout are; 25- to 40-feet.

Its manageability is its feel of line loading the rod. No, it is not a slow action. As tested by highly skilled anglers/casters, the RRC CK five hit over 100-feet for all who handled the rod. A slow action rod could not manage that.

The luxury of this five is that it fishes all day comfortably… if you let the rod do its job.

You can learn on this rod and you will not retire it once you become competent. That is a big deal.

It was agreed that the RRC Chuck Kraft Series 5-weight fly rod could take a beating and keep on ticking. For any angler, saltwater or fresh, that has real significant relevance.

The single call-out was being a little on the heavy side. The vote on that was four, yes, and one no. The “no” is primarily a saltwater angler.

Click here or more information about Chris Reilly Rod Crafters products and services . . .


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