Epic makes high-end fly fishing rods for anglers as picky as a stubborn rainbow trout. We put its 5-weight to the test in this review.
As with other gear, you can often tell the quality of fly fishing gear when you first hold it in your hand. When I first opened up the Epic Graphite Rod ($795), I could tell this rod would be a solid addition to my quiver.
It’s a lightweight, handmade rod designed and built in New Zealand. I first rigged it up with my Galvan Torque Reel ($385) which had on a 5-weight Scientific Anglers MPX ($80) line. The MPX line runs a half size heavy, which I found after a day of casting to be a little too heavy for the rod.
Epic’s website suggests using an AFTMA #5 weight line, which is a “true to size line.” So I switched to my Bozeman Reel Company RS Reel ($410) and 406 Fly Lines Casting For Recovery line ($69), which is a lighter line manufactured for lighter rods.
Getting Into the Action
When I had my lines dialed in, I took the rod to some small streams in Paradise Valley, including the famed spring creeks. On these gin-clear waters, the presentation is key. Light tippet, small flies, and smart fish make these creeks challenging for even the best trout anglers. I brought the Epic Graphite Rod out to see how it held up in such a technical situation. The rod protects light tippet well and gives me the power and confidence to land fish.
I will admit it took me a while to figure out my casting speed with this rod. But once I got in the zone with it and spent some time getting to know it, it behaved and performed very well.
Once the rhythm kicked in, our famous Livingston, Mont., winds followed suit. The stiffer butt and midsection on this rod let me power through the winds no problem. A responsive tip paired with the powerful midsection and butt let the Epic rod cast delicately and present small dries to the fish without issue.
I tried fishing a nymphing rig on the rod at one point, which is made up of two flies and a strike indicator. But it didn’t load as smoothly with the added weight. However, with lighter line and flies, the action was beautiful. I could form nice loops in close and farther out, and I found that the sweet spot for this rod is definitely medium distances.
A Fly Fishing Rod Made to Play
The craftsmanship and attention to detail on this rod are second to none. A beautiful, classic-looking rod, it has all the aspects you would expect from a high-end rod. Thoughtful design combined with top-of-the-line technology and smooth action make this rod stand out.
It’s a lightweight yet stable design thanks to non-woven unidirectional material. Epic claims, “Non-woven unidirectional material is up to 40 percent stronger than traditional woven material commonly used by fly rod manufacturers.” The rod certainly is light, coming in at just 3.1 ounces.
The rod utilizes an internally reinforced ferrule system, which helps keep the taper of the rod consistent and makes for a more streamlined blank. The blank itself is finished with Epic’s signature SnakeBelly exterior finish and a nice gloss coating. The rod has an attractive look and boasts corrosion-proof guides.
I’ve always found the classic western-style grips to be more comfortable in hand. Luckily, Epic gives buyers the choice of grips between western, full wells, and full wells plus a fighting butt. The brand also gives buyers the choice of reel seat: black, titanium, cork, New Zealand Pohutukawa, or New Zealand Rewarewa. This makes the rod extremely customizable. With a nice grip combined with lightweight construction, the rod I used was very comfortable to cast all day.
Epic has a good warranty program in place. However, seeing that it’s based in New Zealand, it can get pricey. Shipping internationally from the U.S. to New Zealand can be around $50-100. And the repairs themselves cost NZ$80, which is around $53 U.S. Luckily, with the high-tech and durable construction and components, your rod should last you a long while.
In the case of a broken rod, the brand will either replace the broken section or the whole rod depending on what happened.
This Epic Graphite Rod is a great buy for someone in the market for a solid 5-weight rod. It won’t disappoint with its lightweight, durable construction and nice action.