Long time no see, I guess. It’s good to be back.
So, I got the opportunity to lay my hands on a kit to build a Batson/Rainshadow rod for pike on the fly. That was a month ago, with just the perfect timing: ten days later, I was going to Ireland with Simon to explore the waters around Corofin, Co Clare, which I understand are haunted by some fat boys.
Writing on Le Mouching with Jérôme Servonnat, I’ve learned a lot about pike on the fly. And in particular that fast rods are not what you want to wave around when there’s a foot-long streamer on the business end of the line. You need power in the butt because you’re going to shoot a lot of line, but you need a smooth delivery, or you’re going to wreck your arm after a day of fishing. Another valuable point is the grip configuration. It’s a good idea to have it long, so the fighting butt rests low on the forearm. It helps to get power on the backcast, and gives you stability when you fight the fish.
When the kit got home, the first thing I noticed about the blank was its wall thickness. There’s a lot of carbon in there. My guess is that the Batson guys are primarily salmon fishermen, and that thing is designed to deal with serious chinooks. Just from gut feeling and a little wiggle test, I thought there’s no way a pike will push this stick to its limits. Which is cool: you fish with confidence, and fight them hard. And that makes the fight much more fun.
The blank I received was quite straight, with a beautiful silky finish that’s pleasing to the eye and to the touch. It is on the heavy side, but then it’s designed for big fish. Batson advertise it at 71g (2.5 oz) and that’s exactly what my scales says. The wiggle test suggests lots of power and not much rebound (excellent!). I cannot wait to cast it.
For the layout, I went for single foot guides in sizes 4 4 4 4 5 5 6. I just don’t see the point of snakes. Then (concession to the Batson style) three insert guides (Alps XBMXNLG) in size 12 16 20. I think it’s huge, but I reasoned that maybe the guys at Batson’s know their jobs and it really works better. At any rate, given the kind of power in the lower half of the blank, a couple of extra grams won’t make much of a difference. And since I’ll be flying a Depthfinder Big Game 400gr I probably won’t notice much in action.
Reel seat and cork grips are Alps products, and so is the fighting butt. This guy was too short for my taste, so I cut it in half, turned a cork ring to size, and glued back the butt with this extra cork in the middle.the result is a grip that works like intended. It looks a little like a switch rod, and I promised myself to try it with double handed speys sometimes.
The building process went without problem, except for the goddamn sticker. Stickers hate us. They secretly plot against our sanity. The thing is: you don’t want to touch the glue side, and you dont want to reposition the thing because of major risks of borders lifting while the finish is curing. Which translates as: almost without touching it, land that bastard straight at first shot. In plain English: a miracle. That’s why Batson generously gives you two of those, so you can totally screw up the first and have a chance to learn with the second. As I’m particularly gifted in such exercices, I think I could easily wreck ten of those before getting one right. So, after a first try and spectacular fail, I got the second and last to land flat, but askew, then decided that askew is the new straight and left it like that.
I went for an unassuming black on black look, bastard child of my less-is-more taste and the lack of time before my Ireland trip. But mainly, because it looks good. Wrapping a black thread on a black blank tends to be taxing on the eyes, and I would have suffered a lot if I hadn’t made the single best investment in my rodbuilding life: a big magnifying glass with lights on it. With this thing on my desk, I’m seeing things as never before. Are you half blind? Do you ever feel you’re goggling so hard at your wrap your eyeballs are about to pop out from your skull? Get the glass. You won’t be sorry.
A note about the reel seat. My kit included a RA801L2TR-B from Alps. The looks of the RA801 is less plain than the former RA8, which I deplore. I loved the extreme simplicity of the old design. Nevertheless, this one is clearly very good. Double nut, as it should, holds steadily any reel foot I tried on it (Sage 2210, Okuma Airframe, Loop Opti Speedrunner).
Stay tuned: next time, casting and fishing results.
measures (for the rod)
weight = 174g (6.14 oz)
weight (grip) = 122g (4.3 oz)
AA = 63°
IP = 2963 gr.
ERN = 9,55