Fast forward (I know not much of a fast forward) to around this time last year. That is when I discovered Swift Fly Fishing and their Epic blanks. After doing a little research and seeing a lot of photos, I knew I needed to get one. Two questions came to mind: what color and what size? If you have follow this blog, or my Facebook and Instagram pages/accounts than you know dear reader that I am a warm water junkie. Based upon that, I knew that I needed to get a blank in a size that would allow for my continued quest of those magnificent warm water fish on the fly rod. I decided that I would go with the 686. At first I wanted to get it in blue. However, I quickly learned that Cameron from The Fiberglass Manifesto was getting another Epic in that color. Well, I didn't want to appear as if I was stalking him (I was) so I decided to switch my color preference to salsa. Now, who would I get to build it? This would take some time to figure out... but that's ok, because I needed to save for it anyway.
As Beaver Island neared, gear was prepared. I had a rod coming from Steffen Brothers as well as two Blue Halo rods coming from Shane Gray of Graywolf Products and Services. I actually forgot about the Epic for a while. I mean, it's not like I could ask Melissa for another rod. No doubt that would have led to my untimely demise. Anyways, as I stated Cameron was getting an Epic 990 built. He and I had talked a few times about it. He told me it was being built by Zeb over at Snowman Custom Rod Works. I decided to look Zeb up and shoot him an email. Almost immediately I got a response back from him. Truthfully, I didn't expect to hear from him so soon. I explained that in the near future I may be in the market for an Epic and I wanted to check prices. Zeb and I talked for a while and I told him I would be back as soon as I got some money together. While at Beaver Island, I had the chance to cast Cameron's 686. As soon as I picked it up, I knew I needed to get one more than ever. The thing cast like a dream. It was amazing.
Upon my return, I contacted Zeb and we got to work on my rod. I gave him complete freedom on the build. Like all the others I have bought rods from, I only asked that it look nice/sharp. I have to admit that until very recently, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the fly rod itself. If it looked good and could get the fly where I needed it to go, it worked for me. In hindsight, I should have educated myself on the mechanics of fly rods many years ago. Oh well. Regardless, I told Zeb to just make it look nice. Who am I to tell an artist how to paint or what materials to use? That would be just pure silliness. Zeb is an artist and I certainly wasn't going to tell him what to do. I didn't do it with Shane Gray either. These guys know how to build rods. They know what works and what doesn't. Why should I tell them how to do their job? This is just my opinion, and how I prefer to do it. As a buyer though you should have the option of getting what you want, exactly what you want. I appreciated that I had the option of choosing everything with Zeb, I just chose to give him free reign. Zeb asked some more questions and then got to work.
Zeb kept me informed about the whole process. We kept in touch as the build progressed and he informed me of what he was doing. It didn't take long for him to finish and ship the rod to me. I couldn't wait to get it. Upon arrival, I ripped open the packaging like I was 6 and it was Christmas. Man-o-man was it stunning. I couldn't be happier with my decision to have Zeb build the rod for me. I am saddened though that I couldn't at least lawn cast the thing since my hand is still practically useless. I would highly recommend Zeb to anyone who is looking for a custom made rod. He does amazing work. Zeb does have a Facebook page which can be found here and a website (still under construction) which can be found here.
Blank: Swift Fly Fishing Epic 686 Salsa
Finished Weight: 3.72 Ounces
Reel to Balance: Mid 5 Ounces
Line Best Suited: Mid Long Belly AFTMA #6
Reel Seat: Lemke LC-10
Winding Check: Goldem Witch Broad/High Polish
Stripping Guide: Lowrider Agate Arch Frame 12mm
Snakes & Tip: Snake Brand Universal
Silks: YLI Orange/Pearsall Cardinal and Straw