Washington state is not Wisconsin. Our rivers are built to a scale suited to angling legends. (The drift on the cover of this year's Sage catalog is only a moderate-sized specimen.) For several years I used a Thomas & Thomas DH 1511-3. It's a howitzer, but after a while, its fast action and appetite for 12-weight lines began to seem too industrial-strength. Several other 15-footers were better fits, but...
After reading Dana's review of the Daiwa Alltmor AMF 15 (see Rod Reviews in the Spey Pages), I decided that I needed one. A used one was listed at John Norris of Penrith (www.johnnorris.co.uk
) for Lb.195, but it turned out to have been sold. But on their Closeouts was listed Alltmor AMF 16 rods, regularly Lb.470, now Lb.235. It seemed a reasonable bet that it would have similar virtues, so I ordered one. Without the VAT, it was Lb. 200, but the shipping was a pricy Lb. 26.31. At present exchange rates, that's about $330.
Two weeks later it was here, and today I put it to work, or play. Despite its brand name, this 16-footer is entirely a product of the land of my ancestors, as Scottish as a second helping of haggis. It's 3-piece, with Scott-style internal ferrules, and a nice tartan bag, but surprisingly, no tube. The blank and wraps are the color of a dark Bing cherry. The guides are small full-circle stainless casting guides and the side-braced ceramic tip would look in place on a plug rod for muskies. The guides are big enough for my loop connections, and since my preferred casting style is pick up-and-recast, rather than strip-and-shoot, they're ok by me. The handle is an excellent size and shape for a big rod. It's listed as 12.9 ounces, but weighs 12 oz. even on my little scale. Wouldn't want it heavier, don't need it to be lighter. The rod is rated for 10-12 lines. Using sink tips (the Skagit is high with melting snow), the rod performed very well with a Cortland 444 DT10/11 spey line, and as I'd hoped, perfectly with a 444 DT11 spey line. An Orvis DT12 spey line was useable but ponderous.
For a description of its performance, you need only to read Dana's review of the AMF 15. As he says, it doesn't pay to force the forward stroke; just let the rod do the work. You won't see me demonstrating technique in Jim Vincent's next tape; I cast 110 feet with one of Way Yin's experimental lines, but that's another story. If I warm up for several hours, bite my tongue, and make Haines-ripping efforts, I can cast to 90 feet and beyond. Today, bundled in a heavy coat, I didn't make a maximum effort. But the bottom line is this: with my normal semi-attention to technique, the Alltmor AMF-16 made 90-foot double spey casts, easily and routinely, hour after hour. Clearly, it's capable of more.
This rod is just as hoped: a perfect match for the big rivers that I love. I tend to give nicknames to favorite fly rods. This one is The Caber.