In covering the IFTD show each year, I come across a huge variety of new rods. One thing the sales reps and pros always tell me is to head over to the casting pond and cast their latest and greatest offerings. I always say that I'll be back later, but typically never have the time. The show is a busy, busy time for me and I always work each day until my back and brain call it quits.
Unlike last year, this year I DID break away to the casting pond for five minutes on the final morning of the show. Any guesses as to what new rod I tried out? If you guessed the Douglas Upstream Plus 5-weight, you're correct. Said to be a little faster and more powerful than the standard Upstream series, this rod was anything but wimpy. I did want to spend more quality time with this stick, so I had the crew at Douglas send me one of these rods several weeks later for some actual fishing and testing.
Length: 9 feet
Line Weight: 5
Rod Weight: 2.7 ounces
Stripping Guides: Stainless frame/ceramic insert
Guides: Black-nickel snake guides
Reel Seat: Aluminum/cork
Rod Tube/Sock: Yes/Yes
I'm not sure everyone will love the color of the Upstream Plus, but I absolutely dig it. Finished in kind of an olive yellow/bamboo-ish color scheme, it's far from your standard black, blue, or green fly rod. What's also cool is that the wraps are all clear so the blank color shows through with just a slight contrast to be seen.
Speaking of contrast, the black-nickel snake guides look great against the light-colored blank. Each Upstream Plus gets just one stripping guide, and all rods also sport spigot-style ferulles with matte-grey male ends and alignment dots. Oh, you'll also find a circular forward-facing hook keeper just ahead of the grip.
The quality cork handle is snub-nosed with composite ends. Unlike the standard Upstream rods, these are outfitted with up-locking reel seats and dark aluminum hardware with cork inserts. I really liked that there's a gasket in the reel seat ring as well. It's a pretty minor detail but really gives the ring a nice, progressive locking feel when securing a reel.
Our tester showed excellent quality throughout—no crooked guides, warped ferrules, or epoxy drips here. This is simply a beautiful stick and I often found myself admiring it in between casts!
Conditions couldn't have been worse for testing the Upstream Plus 5904. Just after the rod arrived (and just when I had time to fish) an influx of tropical moisture moved in and sat over my region of Florida for days. Wind, rain, and severe flooding in areas made fly fishing local spots a tough proposition during the short test period.
Having never cast a standard Upstream fly rod before, I had no baseline to compare this rod to. What I can say, however, is that this rod felt fast and very capable to me. With a WF5F line, the rod was good at short range but woke up even more with additional line in the air. At typical fishing distances of 30–40ish feet it was quite nice and was also quite accurate. Can it throw long? You betcha, and it does so with relative ease.
One particularly miserable afternoon I up-lined the rod with a 6-weight line which it actually handled quite nicely for quick, short casts to weed edges. This rod seemed similar in overall performance and feel to my old Sage ONE 5-weight, but with that rod no longer in my possession, I'm just going off memory here.
I enjoyed casting and fishing the Plus, with one of the big reasons being its light weight. At just 2.7 ounces, it felt great throughout the casting stroke and exhibited nice crispness. As somebody who likes fast rods and takes weight into serious consideration, this rod suited me well.
Whether you're fighting a stiff breeze, casting streamers, or just like a little stouter rod for general duties, the Upstream Plus 5-weight is a worthy companion. Despite the cruddy conditions, I thoroughly enjoyed my brief time casting and fishing the 5904. I sure would've liked to hold onto it a bit longer in hopes of more friendly conditions, but with Hurricane Irma arriving in a few days and other reviews stacking up it was time get the rod shipped back. If a 5-weight isn't exactly what you're looking for, Douglas also currently offers Upstream Plus models in 4 and 6 weight sizes all priced at the same $495 price point. Check em out!
Link: Douglas Upstream Plus