High End, Old School: Fiberglass ‘Butterstick’ Fly Rod Has Retro Appeal

Is old the new cool? In the world of fly fishing, beautiful fiberglass fly rods that give the angler a gentle presentation and an old-school feeling from the first tug right into the net are turning some to setups that would look familiar to fishermen of the ’70s.

The Butter Stick from Redington ($250) is a high-modulus fiberglass rod that just screams “old days” right down to its yellow-orange color. In a few weeks of use, I’ve found that it does a few things quite well, namely get attention and catch fish.

Redington Butter Stick

At $250, the rod is moderately priced — certainly not cheap but still half the price of some of its competition. The three-piece, four-weight model I tested breaks down to a 32” package in its included fabric rod cloth and Cordura tube, short enough to easily strap outside a backpack. It has a lifetime warranty.

I used the Butter Stick coupled with Redington’s well-matched 3/4-weight, aluminum Drift clicker reel ($99) spooled with 4-weight RIO Gold fly line on the renowned water of Colorado’s Fryingpan River.

On this mid-size river, I had no problem reaching trout tucked 20 feet away near overhanging branches, even with my mediocre casting skills. Getting them to bite, well, that was another question.

The author with a little success on the Frying Pan

During a full day, I landed a couple rainbows in the 12” to 15” range, but none of the Frying Pan’s monsters that would have really tested the rod’s butt section. I landed the trout with no problem and found the rod lively and fun in the swift-moving water.

It is available in models from two- to five-weight that range from 6’ to 8’ respectively. It is well-suited for smaller water where anglers are happy to trade casting distance for a gentle and natural presentation.

A couple weeks later, I gave the Butter Stick a try on a small lake near Denver. It was a windy day and I had trouble getting as much distance as I wanted out of the slow action rod. I kept most of my casts down short and caught a couple fish on streamers, but felt a bit discouraged about my abilities.

The author playing a small rainbow

A curious angler eyeballed the short, bright-color rod with incredulity. “Looks like it’s made for a kid,” he said. “Interesting.”

Interesting indeed. 15 minutes later I hooked into a nice Brown on the Platte River in strong current. I was thankful for the soft rod sucking up the shock and protecting the #6 tippet that held a tiny nymph.

“Score one for the kid’s rod,” I thought as I released the beautiful fish.

A nice little brown pulled from the Platte River

A week later, I was back on the same lake. More familiar with the rod and with less wind I got some decent distance — maybe 50 feet — out of my casts. And again, I caught several small rainbows that danced and fought hard and caught a stranger eyeing the rod.

He made his way over as I landed a fish and inquired about the rod.

I offered him a few casts and I could tell immediately from his beautiful loops that this older gentleman knew a thing or two about fly fishing.

“Mmmm, nice rod. Fiberglass?” he inquired. “Haven’t seen one of these in a while.”

Yes, I told him, and explained what I knew about it. I don’t think he heard a word I said, eyes glued on the rod and reel in his hands.

“Nice,” he reiterated. “Good to see someone making a nice fiberglass rod.”

I tend to agree. —Sean McCoy is the managing editor of GearJunkie.com

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Managing Editor Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in Denver, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.