Interview: Montana Brothers Rodworks’ Dan and Doug Daufel | Hatch Journal
For at the very least the final 30 years, the vast majority of fly rod producers have moved in the identical basic course. Fly rods have grown stiffer and sooner, which suggests they require extra power to bend and so they’re more durable to solid. On the identical time, the consensus amongst America’s high anglers appears clear. At the moment’s rods are usually not as a lot enjoyable to fish.
Whereas rod builders have often veered from the ‘quick motion’ path — softer fiberglass rods, for instance, have made a comeback in sure circles — a lot of the fly fishing business invariably returns to the identical design parameters and the identical ‘sooner is best’ advertising and marketing slogans. Which is why the overwhelming majority of high-end graphite fly rods are stiffer now than they was, and why so many fly fishers have by no means had the chance to solid average or sluggish motion graphite rods.
If there’s an upside to this infinite array of too-stiff fly rods, it’s that there’s loads of area for rod designers prepared to suppose outdoors the field. Enter Dan and Doug Daufel, twin brothers who’re constructing what are arguably the best graphite fly rods ever created.
I reached out to Dan and Doug, who personal Montana Brothers Rodworks, and requested if they’d be prepared to reply a couple of questions for Hatch Journal.
Right here, calmly edited for readability, is our dialog.
The place did the 2 of you develop up?
We grew up in Dayton, Ohio. It’s an unlikely location for 2 younger fly fishers. As children we fished for something that might chunk: sunfish, bass, carp, even chubs. As youngsters, we spent lots of our summers fishing the limestone and freestone streams of Pennsylvania.
How did you each find yourself working at Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone, Montana?
We had been very fortunate. We talked about to Barry and Cathy Beck that we wished to exit West for our summer time break from school. They instructed we ship our resumes to some fly outlets within the Yellowstone space. Blue Ribbon was fascinated about hiring us. They’d a spot for us to remain, which sealed the deal. Working for Craig & Jackie Mathews, and John Juracek, was most likely one of the best job we’ll ever have. We actually discovered rather a lot from them and the employees whereas we labored there. Lots of the shut friendships we now have right now are the results of our employment at Blue Ribbon. It modified our lives.
Who had been the most important influences in your fishing, and your casting?
We’ve been lucky to have some very gracious academics, mentors, and fishing associates. We’re merchandise of these relationships. We might go on and on, however we’ll attempt to slim it down. Early on, Barry and Cathy Beck had an awesome affect on us. We liked listening to Barry inform us tales about fishing the Letort with Vince Marinaro. We actually idolized them. One other sturdy affect was the late Jake Jaeger who we met at a fly fishing membership in Dayton, the Miami Valley Fly Fishers. Jake liked to fish, and we predict if he needed to crawl to the river, he would. We talked about earlier that working at Blue Ribbon (Craig & Jackie Mathews and crew) had a profound affect on us, however John Juracek, specifically, has most likely been our biggest single affect. We’ve discovered a lot from him about casting, rod design, fly tying, and fishing. He’s such an awesome instructor.
After which there’s the notorious Dave Shultz and the Island Park boys — Steve Mate, Bob Brooks, Tom Warren, the late Paul Brown, Dan Picaro, and Dom Traverso — all of whom we’ve been fortunate to name associates.
Rod constructing and design-wise, it could be the late Jim Inexperienced and Paul Brown, Mike McFarland, Bob Giannoni, Dave Shultz, Tim Anderson, and Jim Corbin from Ohio.
We also needs to point out a couple of of our fishing associates corresponding to Dale Spartas, Ken Takata, Yuki Bando, the late Donnie Bastian, and Fran Gough. And lastly, we should always credit score our mom, who was the one which took us fishing after we had been kids. See, we informed you this could possibly be lengthy! Once more, we now have been very fortunate to have these friendships and we wouldn’t be right here right now with out them.
What made you determine to construct fly rods?
We have already got full-time jobs, so it’s actually a labor of affection for us. Our rods are influenced by Paul Brown’s unique designs. Paul’s rods had such a profound affect on us, and added a lot enjoyment to our fishing, that we wished to share his legacy with different anglers. That’s why we do it. We’ve little interest in constructing different varieties of rods.
Why did you arrange store in Bozeman?
It’s one of many nearer cities to the Yellowstone space, and we completely fell in love with the world and the fishing. Being from Ohio, we might hardly imagine the mountains had been actual after we first noticed them. We at all times wished to dwell in a spot the place we might fish for trout after work and on the weekends.
You’re each severe fly tyers. What share of your flies do you tie yourselves, and what number do you buy?
Yep, we had been business fly tyers for 13 years. Previously, we’d hardly ever purchase flies. We each bear in mind Craig Mathews giving us a tough time for tying flies whereas we had been on a fishing journey as a result of it minimize into our fishing time. Shopping for flies was so international to us. Tying was simply a part of our day after we completed fishing. However that additionally meant a whole lot of late nights. These days, with our time extra restricted, we often purchase flies. We’ve additionally turn into excellent at recycling used flies.
What are you favourite fly patterns?
We might say that we aren’t followers of specific patterns, however followers of sure varieties of supplies — people who introduce life into the imitation, are sturdy, fish nicely, and, within the case of dry flies, makes the fly simpler to see. For instance, we favor dubbing to the sterility of a quill physique. We like quite a lot of hairs like deer, elk, and caribou hair, as they float and fish nicely and may, in some instances, make the fly simpler to see. We additionally like sure synthetics like Antron, Zelon, Beck’s Poly Fluff, and EP fibers for winging supplies and shucks. Foam may also be an awesome addition to emergers and floating nymphs.
What’s the distinction between a mediocre fly rod and an awesome fly rod?
Boy, we might spend a whole lot of time right here, however in brief, it could be a conformance to the design parameters. However one high quality we do search for in each rod is smoothness. If there are sections of the rod which are softer or stiffer than the part previous or after it, it may make the bend really feel disjointed.
Are you able to clarify “conformance to the design parameters?”
Positive. It merely signifies that we now have to contemplate what the rod designer had in thoughts for the rod and whether or not or not these targets had been achieved.
In your web site, you describe your rods as both “sluggish motion” or “medium motion.” Why, when so many producers are targeted on advertising and marketing quick or very quick motion rods, have you ever focused on the opposite finish of the spectrum?
Effectively, these are actions we favor to fish for almost all of fishing conditions we encounter. Stiffness has been marketed as a fascinating high quality for fly rods. It’s a disgrace. Paul Brown used to say it’s the rod’s potential to bend that provides it its energy. And there’s a actual magnificence to feeling the rod bend.
Your rods are unbelievable casting instruments. What are the three most necessary belongings you take a look at while you’re attempting to create a clean?
It could be the quantity of bend (or static deflection) underneath a load, the way in which the rod bends or accepts the load, and the smoothness of the rod. All of those components will have an effect on how the rod feels. It’s fascinating you can take two rods with an analogous static deflection, however they’ll really feel completely totally different as they’re bending in several areas. One other necessary high quality we think about is the way in which the rod feels within the hand.
Provided that anglers break rods — and typically numerous rods — what are your ideas on rod warranties?
We hate them. In some respects, it encourages anglers to not handle their deal with. After we first began fishing, you took nice care of your deal with as that was all you had. For those who broke your rod, you had been out of luck. The considered somebody driving down the street with certainly one of our rods strapped to the hood of their automotive makes our blood stress rise. Apart from we wished to make rods, not be within the restore enterprise.
When are your heavier rods (5 weights and eight weights) going to be accessible?
The rod’s motion is our major concern, and it must be good. We’ve been fairly choosy in regards to the actions. Greatest case would possible be early fall of 2023 for the 5 weights. We began with the 4 weights as it’s the rod weight we fish probably the most, and we thought it could be simpler to transition to the three weights and the 5 weights from what we discovered from the 4 weights. For the 8 weights, most likely years away. We spent 10 years on the 4 weights, we hope it doesn’t take that lengthy.
You’ve got a months-long wait time to your Montana Brothers rods, which signifies that I can’t simply stroll right into a retailer and purchase certainly one of your rods. If I wanted a brand new trout rod right now, what would you advocate?
Off the shelf from the native store, we’d recommend the budget-friendly Redington Traditional Trout. We truly favor them over lots of our previous treasured Winstons and Orvis Superfines. They’re good rods.
What are your favourite traditional reels and your favourite fashionable reels?
We’re massive followers of previous Hardy reels. As well as, their present lineup of conventional reels are very, very good. For giant arbor, our favourite reels are from Lamson and Sage. You would possibly argue that you simply don’t want a disc drag for trout fishing, however the sealed disc drags are actually simpler to keep up. We used to spend a morning or two annually cleansing and greasing our reels, however we simply don’t have that form of time anymore. The choices from Sage and Lamson are additionally a few of the lightest giant arbor reels available on the market. For a very long time we prevented giant arbor reels as many had been too heavy. Many graphite rods will really feel higher in hand with a lighter reel. In some instances, the rod may also really feel somewhat tippier than it truly is with a heavier reel. We additionally just like the numbering system on the drag knob with a few of the Sage reels. It makes it very straightforward to inform the place the drag is ready.
With regards to trout, do you favor WF or DT fly strains?
Our favourite trout strains are the Rio Technical Trout and the Rio LightLine in double taper. Each are true to weight. We favor double tapers for trout fishing for quite a lot of causes. John Juracek wrote an awesome article about double taper strains, Whither the Double Taper?. It’s price studying.
For those who might solely fish three totally different rivers in 2023, which of them would you choose?
Effectively, we might most likely spend day-after-day fishing the Ranch part of the Henry’s Fork. However provided that there are three selections, it could be the Firehole, the Madison, and the Henry’s Fork. We might be completely joyful simply fishing these three rivers for the remainder of our lives.
In some ways, the Montana Brothers Rodworks story is a traditional American story. Two distinctive anglers determined that the business wasn’t assembly their wants, in order that they spent a decade perfecting their very own rod designs. To one of the best of my data, their 904 and 904L rods are distinctive. They don’t solid, or fish, like every other rods I’ve ever used. And whereas rod motion and rod design are inherently subjective — all of us view our fly rods via our personal distinctive lens — it’s onerous to argue with the Montana Brothers Rodworks outcomes. The Daufel brothers have created the best fly rods I’ve ever fished, and will probably be fascinating to seek out out if their future fashions proceed that pattern.