Is this the coolest name for a fly rod or what? It's no secret that fiberglass has been gaining popularity in recent years. From diminutive trout rods to big water two-handers, it seems like every year there's new rods being introduced to quench the thirst of you fiberglass aficionados out there. I used to think of glass as more of a "trouty" material for smaller rods and more delicate fishing, but that notion has become obsolete these days. Echo's new Bad Ass Glass series of fly rods is one product lineup that's helping to squash that old way of thinking. These new sticks leap past the world of trout fishing straight into the realm of bigger, meaner, stronger fish where fiberglass rods typically don't play.
Length: 9 feet
Action: "Glass Fast"
Line Weight: 8
Rod Weight: 5.7 ounces
Stripping Guides: Stainless Frames
Guides: Chrome Snake Guides
Reel Seat: Black Aluminum
Rod Tube/Sock: Yes/Yes
If your preference is for dull or drab cosmetics, the Echo Bad Ass Glass (BAG) probably isn't for you. Finished in a unique translucent blue color, it always looks great but simply looks awesome when out in the sunlight. Aside from the attention-grabbing color scheme, the blank of my 8-weight tester is adorned with two stainless stripping guides, chrome snake guides, and a nicely-sized tip top that's large enough to pass the chunkiest of leader knots. The guides are secured with matching blue wraps that blend in nicely for a unified look, and the ferrules sport handy alignment dots. No errors in the finish or craftsmanship were noted.
Heading down to the handle, the cork appears to be of decent quality and the shape is comfortable for me to hold. The black aluminum reel seat sports an Echo logo on the top side and has alignment dots over the reel hood so you know exactly where to slip-in the reel foot—a useful feature I can't recall seeing before. To bind your reel down tight, there's double locking rings that spin smoothly and the sliding ring also has alignment dots to line-up the reel foot. While everything here worked fine, I didn't find the design of the locking rings to be the most comfortable on my fingers when tightening down my reel.
I had some different plans for the BAG which included a trip over to Florida's east coast to chase some canal critters like snakeheads and peacock bass—but that fell through. So, being a boat-less angler in the winter in Florida meant that local largemouth were the sole option. I spooled up with both RIO's WF8F General Purpose Tropical line then Airflo's WF8F Super-Dri Tropical, grabbed some bass bugs, and hit the water!
As expected when compared to a similar graphite rod, the BAG has both a thicker blank and carries much more heft. Echo advertises the weight as 5.7 ounces which may not seem too crazy, but the rod indeed feels quite heavy-in- hand so be prepared for that.
Additional weight aside, the actual casting performance of the rod was a lot of fun. This is not some 8-weight blank that was haphazardly designed and put on the market—it's apparent that some serious work went into tuning the action of this thing. Although the blank is softer than the graphite sticks I typically fish, it's not sloppy. The action is on the faster side for a glass rod and there is a nice "partnership" of both available power and that buttery-smooth feel. Once I slowed my stroke down accordingly, I was able to achieve consistent casts and some good distance, but I enjoyed its performance most at moderate ranges with the Airflo line. On the water it was effective at delivering my bulky bass bugs, but a faster rod and different line style would of course be the most optimal for this.
There's a lot of strength in the BAG 8-weight's blank for fighting pissed-off fish. Since this was a temporary loaner rod I wasn't about to test its limits like I've seen in pictures, but I did pull back relatively hard when hooked up to a stationary object and felt ample power. For me, the highlight of the "fiberglass experience" came when I hooked my first decent bass. The way the rod bounced, bucked, and bent deeply during the fight delivered a totally different sensation that's unique to this material.
You may have caught a thousand steelhead. A hundred tarpon. Two dozen taimen. But, have you caught any of those great fish (and others) on a glass rod? Even for someone who's supposedly "done it all," just changing up your tactics or tackle to something out-of-the-ordinary can provide a whole new thrill. The Echo Bad Ass Glass 8-weight definitely provides a fresh experience and is definitely a unique piece of equipment!
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