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Fly Logic makes its mark with the new Dec Hogan Signature Series

"I like a little faster, crisper rod that still casts nice and easy but  also cuts through the wind."

design            components            test cast

dec and friendDec Hogan needs no introduction to avid steelheaders. Widely recognized as one of the Northwest's top steelhead guides, Dec is also the author/photograper of the Skagit/Sauk River Journal published by Frank Amato Publications, as well as dozens of magazine articles. 
    One of the premier New World Spey casters, Dec is one of the vanguard anglers involved in the Spey casting renaissance that began on Pacific Northwest rivers over a decade ago. Over the years Dec has perfected his technique and shared his insights with countless anglers. Dec favours the shorter-bellied shooting head-style Spey lines and has been highly influential in establishing these as the lines of choice among western steelheaders.
    In the summer of 1999 Dec was approached by Fly Logic to design a series of double-handed fly rods that would draw on his years of experience and suit the casting and fishing styles of the Northwest. A year of design work and extensive testing on the West's premier steelhead waters have culminated in the Dec Hogan Signature Series, a trio Spey rods certain to attract the attention of metalhead junkies everywhere.
    

Design

    I would classify the Signature Series as traditional Spey rods with a strong New World influence. They have a medium progressive action: under increasing casting loads the rods flex progressively into the mid section where they firm up, providing bottom end power for lifting long lines and moving heavy fish. This makes for very smooth, easy casting and forgiving Spey rods. This is an ideal action for beginning Spey casters because it lets you feel the rod loading during the casting stroke, making it easier to judge the timing and power of the forward delivery. 
    The series features three 4-piece models: the 1307-4, (13ft 7 weight), the 1308-4 (13ft 8 weight), and the 1409-4, (14ft 9 weight), and great pains have been taken to ensure that the "feel" (action, responsiveness, overall casting qualities) have been maintained throughout the series. "I like a little faster, crisper rod that still casts nice and easy but also cuts through the wind," says Dec, and the Signature Series exemplifies these qualities. 
    The Signature Series were designed using the RIO Windcutter Spey lines, and Dec recommends the following lines for the rods:


            1307-4:   7/8/9 Windcutter
            1308-4:   8/9/10 Windcutter
            1409-4:   9/10/11 Windcutter

Components

    Everything about the Signature Series is high end and designed with the demands of Northwest steelheading in mind. The four-piece blank is smooth finished in black with green thread wraps, and easy-to-see section alignment marks are standard, great for those bleary-eyed early morning rig ups before the coffee kicks in. The silicon carbide stripping guides, stainless snakes and tip top are all oversized to facilitate line shooting and the larger diameter of modern Spey lines. Top quality cork handles have been intelligently designed to provided a comfortable, positive grip for both hands. Winter steelheaders will appreciate the extended bottom handle which keeps the thumb off the reel seat and provides a comfortable grip during casting and mending. I'm particularly fond of the distinctive reel seats, which are dual ringed uplocking and finished in a unique and eye-catching green and black tortoise shell-style anodize that compliments the blank colour and thread work. The rods come complete with a green cloth bag, black powder-finished aluminum rod tube, and lifetime warranty.

butt section
ergonomically designed handles and distinctive reel seat make the Signature Series pleasing to the hand and eye

Test Cast

lines:   RIO Windcutter, Scientific Anglers Mastery Spey, Spey-Driver
reel:    Loop Traditional, Loop Evotec LW, Hardy Marquis Salmon #1

    Test casts were conducted on the Skagit and Thompson Rivers, and at a local park. For the 1307-4 and the 1308-4 the RIO Windcutter7/8/9 & 8/9/10, SA Mastery Spey 8/9, and the Spey-Driver 8/9/10 were used. For the 1409-4, the Windcutter 9/10/11 and the Mastery Spey 10/11 were used.
    I particularly want to mention the conditions on the Thompson. Test days were very windy, but I found the rods very adaptable. With the Windcutter line the 8 and 9 weights were able to generate high line speed and tight loops to permit reasonable length fishing casts despite the adverse conditions.
    FLO+ 1307-4.   Dec's "little Deschutes stick", the 1370-4 is a classic floating line summer steelhead rod designed for medium sized rivers and summer steelhead in the 6 - 10 pound range. More powerful than the Sage 7136-4, the 1307-4 remains light and well balanced. Casts in the medium range (60-80ft) are a breeze, although the rod is capable of more. Dec designed this rod for the Windcutter 7/8/9, but also recommends the Windcutter 6/7/8. For long liners, I found the SA Mastery Spey 8/9 to be a nice match for this rod.
    FLO+ 1308-4.   This is my favourite of the series, light enough to cast all day without fatigue yet powerful enough to reach out with longer casts on big water. This rod is a real pleasure for medium to medium-long Spey casts (60-90ft) for larger summer steelhead, yet is powerful enough to double as a light line winter rod. It is ideal for early season greased line work on the Thompson or as your main rod on the Dean or Bulkley for both floating lines and lighter sink tips. The 8/9/10 Windcutter is the preferred line, but I found that the 7/8/9 also produced excellent results. For anglers favouring the Scandinavian Underhand techniques, the Loop Adapted 8/9 would be the line of choice. Long liners will find the SA Mastery Spey 8/9 the perfect complement for this rod, although I prefer the Spey-Driver 8/9/10.
    FLO+ 1409-4.    This is the "thunderstick" of the series, a powerful rod designed for the big runs of the Pacific Northwest's winter steelhead streams. The 1409-4 is an excellent choice for situations where long casts, heavy sink tips and winter fish are the order of the day on rivers like the Skagit/Sauk or the Skykomish, or for the trophy summer steelhead waters of the Skeena system in Northern British Columbia.  A smooth, easy casting Spey, with an action reminiscent of the Sage 9140-4, but much more powerful. Handles all Spey casts with authority, and is particularly responsive to the Snap-T and the Snake Roll. With long lines the butt section doesn't fold up, providing a powerful base for big water casts. The tip section is stout enough to handle wide changes of direction inherent in Spey casting, yet supple enough to execute short line tip casts. The 1409-4 feels a little quicker to my hand than the 7 & 8 weights, but it is not a rod to be rushed: by slowing down the casting stroke the rod is given the opportunity to work through its tapers, and this is particularly important on longer casts. 

special thanks to Dec Hogan and Rex Bledsoe for their assistance in preparing this review. 

images used by permission of Fly Logic

 

greg pearson illustration