We launched Henry Fly Rod & Reel as an online store January 1, 2021
All Henry Fly Rods are hand-built in Stuart, Florida, by David and Margarette Redington [South Fork Rods] and their craftspeople. Our selected fly lines are by OPST in Tukwila, Washington, and from RIO Products in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Our reels are currently GURU S by Waterworks-Lamson in Boise, Idaho.
By Skip Clement
My brother, Tom, asked me a reasonable question on Thanksgiving Day 2020 after our family devoured a bird
He asked why had I started a company to build fly rods at my age? He said:
“You said because of all that football in high school, college, pros, and amateur tournament tennis your shoulders and back can’t last a half hour casting a fly overhand and double hauling without wrenching pain?
Why didn’t you just stick with tenkara,” he said. “It’s fly fishing, no conventional casting required, and some fly tying, which you enjoy?”
I said, you’re right, that does make more sense, but I love fly casting – it’s the heart and soul of being out here. . . for me anyway. He responded, “But all that money and time?”
Yeah, I know, but I love it, and I just thought I should share what happened to me along the way. You remember my telling you about that soldier with a prosthetic on his offhand arm and his response to casting my Henry, don’t you?
“Yeah, I do – I guess that was pretty special,” Tom said.
It was a game-changer for me. Having a chance to help someone else enjoy fly fishing by casting better – maybe even ‘successfully’ introduce new people to fly fishing by making casting both intuitive and physically easy is very satisfying.
As it turns out, knowing for sure you’ll be helping someone besides yourself is such a feel-good thing. I can’t wait to get these Henry’s out there and into the hands of physically compromised fly fishers and watch their faces when they launch.
Funny, the Henry’s are not an invention. I just took a traditional old-timey English spey rod, chopped it in half – making it lighter along the way, and repurposing the Scandinavians underhanded casting to the short spey Henry, or as one fellow said. “These Henry’s are like a ‘sports car’ switch rod.”
So, how did this all evolve after arthritis took over and kicked you out of fly fishing?
I went from trying to roll cast one of my lighter glass rods. Then, utilizing my offhand and using the water as my anchor to create line tension – spey cast, sticking with and staying dedicated to the ‘underhanded Scandinavian method.’ It worked fine, but it was cumbersome. The rod needed to have a more extended upper handle and an extension butt handle.
“You mean like a fighting butt,” Tom said.
Yes, but not stubby and a little longer like on a spey rod, but even better on a shorter switch rod-like RB Meiser makes. And he’s the only one who makes excellent switch rods – he’s the inventor of switch rods. So, I bought one, a two-weight [5-weight line] 909 model at 9′ 9″ long and about $750 + shipping. It seemed perfect for a while but with my agility always in question, its length and weight got to me.
I was stuck, or was I?
I only knew of one guy in the industry who could figure out how to modify a fly rod to meet my ‘Special Needs,’ who didn’t work for the big corporations. It would be a switch rod, but lighter and shorter that could be rigged to chuck a fly a mile – cover a lot of water, and be perfectly capable of doing that with truly minimal physical effort – under handing and using the water as my anchor and resistance. And it’s mission impossible; a removable butt handle to offer inside tight fishing opportunities with accuracy.
That unique craftsperson would be David Redington, Stuart, Florida [South Fork Rods]. He has enjoyed a long and brilliant career designing and building fly rods from bamboo, glass, and every conceivable contrivance of high carbon fiber.
Making each Henry rod-weight two rods instead of one
I called Dave, and he took on the project. In less than six months he solved all my problems – even adding that sturdy removable butt handle. The latter, a removable handle, something the industry had long ago given up offering. It enables making those short casts of under 30-feet accurately and with little effort, especially in the lower weights.
The Henry’s are now available from 2-weight through 12 weight, with an additional single, short, +300 grain, bomb-proof fly rod for catching everything for crappie to 30-pound tarpon. And a series of short, deadly casting glass rods that will not fail you on mountain streams holding ‘painted’ brookies and native trouts – coming soon.
Buy a combo with top-of-the-line everything. Make getting a balanced setup easy
One of Henry’s best features is that it comes ready for the airport or opening the truck door and cast. How? Because they are all combo available – rod, reel, backing, fly line, and tube. Why? Every element perfectly matches the fly rod, ensuring max performance right out of the box – top of the line everything—your fly rod for a century.
How many times have we all bought a new rod, a new line, a new reel, and practiced casting one of the new pieces to the assemblage known as the rig – at the local park or backyard and feeling good about the marriage? Then, on the job in Costa Rica, in real-time, find out something is way off. Or being an hour away from home in Pittsburgh on Elk Creek swinging for steelhead in 16° weather and feeling something isn’t working, or can’t wait to try out the new 4-weight combo you put together and fish grandpa’s bass pond only to have every cast collapse in a pile.