After several years of use, my faithful Cortland Pro Cast finally bit the dust. It was by far my favorite rod that I have ever owned and was responsible for helping me land some of the best fish I’ve ever caught in my life. What is a fly fisherman to do when one of the most important pieces of their arsenal is no longer in working in order? They are to head straight to walmart and pick up the best rod $2o can buy of course! Well, maybe that’s not the most ideal solution, but Chris and I were short on time and wanted to make it to the river at a decent hour. Carp were the species of choice, and not having my 8 wt was going to present a few more challenges than usual. I quickly browsed the selection and after looking at quite a few different rods, settled with an Eagle Claw, Black Eagle model, 8.5′ 5 wt. Far from what I would consider “good” for targeting carp, but it was better than nothing. With my newly purchased rod, we were now ready to hit the river and hopefully catch a few carp.
The Black Eagle
As we pulled up to the carp flat, it quickly became evident that we were going to have a pretty good chance at catching some early season carp. Mud lines were easily visible and the carp were jumping everywhere. Jumping carp aren’t really feeding, but it is a sign that there are other fish in the area that are sure to be feeding. With the Black Eagle in hand, I slowly made my way out to a promising looking mud line. A couple casts later and I was hooked up with my first carp of the day. To my surprise, the rod did not immediately snap in two. In fact, the rod handled the fish just fine and I was relieved to know I actually had the upper hand on these fish. If you want your gear to really get put through the ringer, just go fishing for carp. It’ll put any rod,line, or reel to the test. The fishing was steady enough to keep things interesting for the next couple of hours, and Chris and I continued to bring the occasional fish to hand.
Carp are Slippery Buggers
“Say hello to my little friend”
Half Goldfish-Half Carp?
The sun slowly began to set and in turn the water temps began to cool down again. The constant splashing of porpoising carp slowly lingered out, but not before Chris and I set into an awesome double. I immediately knew I had set in to a good fish when he shot straight to the waters surface upon being hooked. Chris also confirmed that he had latched into a dandy. Both carp made their runs and we eventually were able to corral them into a small outcropping. Before it got too dark to see anything, I was able to catch one more carp. We decided it was time to call it quits on the carp game and go look for some hungry trout.
Last Carp of the Day
The transition from from carp to trout went smoothly and it didn’t take long to hook into some feisty ‘bows. The $20 Eagle Claw had passed the test of handling every carp put against it, so I was curious how the rod would handle trout fishing. I had to make a few adjustments to the way I normally fight a trout, due to the lack of backbone in the rod, but overall it held it’s own just fine. The next few hours of darkness provided non stop action on small black and white streamers. The fish seem to hold nothing back once the sun goes down, and that is one of my favorite things about night fishing.
Another Colored Up Native
The Rare and Coveted Brown
Fly fishing often presents us with unexpected challenges, but isn’t that part of the draw? Who knew that a $20 fly rod from Walmart would save the day and make for such a memorable trip. I definitely did not have much faith in the rod when I purchased it, and in fact was expecting it to be broken by day’s end. In the end, it ended up helping me catch one of my biggest mirror carp to date, and also led to the most successful night fishing trip I have ever been on. So, next time you are in need of a new fly rod, just remember to ask yourself, What can Walmart do for you?