What is the Redington Butter Stick?
The Redington Butter Stick is a fiberglass fly rod with a slower action and retro styling designed to give fly fishers a trip down memory lane, taking them back to when fly rods were somewhat different from the fast action graphite rod you probably use today.
The Butter Stick, with its off-white black and black, yellow, and orange whippings, looks like it's stepped straight out of the 1970s. However, while it looks old-fashioned, it's a capable fly rod and an absolute hoot to cast and fight fish with.
Why use a slow action glass rod?
Fiberglass fly rods have been gaining in popularity with fly fishers in recent years, with various fly rod manufacturers include Epic, Echo, Vision, Scott, Sunray, and Redington all providing a classic glass fly rod made using more modern techniques and materials.
The retro cosmetics and slower action of these rods make them look and feel very different from the fast action carbon fiber rods we usually use, and they provide a different and fun casting experience that requires the fly fisher to slow down their casting stroke and, I think, improve their timing.
Everyone says that you need to improve your timing significantly when casting fast-actioned fly rods, but it's surprisingly easy to throw tailing loops on a soft and bendy glass rod, which would suggest that timing is equally important, if not more important with these fly rods.
Do modern glass fly rods have any benefits?
30 or 40 years ago, glass fly rods were the norm, until boron and carbon fiber rods came onto the fly fishing scene. Graphite fly rods were lighter and faster than glass and allowed anglers to cast further and fish with less of the fatigue they'd develop with the older and heavier glass rods.
With fly rod manufacturers now applying modern fly rod construction techniques to the creation of rods with glass fiber, lots of fly fishing enthusiasts are now starting to fish glass fly rods once again.
While modern glass rods might have a few benefits - such as being much stronger than carbon fiber fly rods, and capable of cushioning the lunges of larger fish and allowing you to fish lighter tippet - I think the main appeal is really just that they provide a different and enjoyable fly casting and fly fishing experience. You don't really need one over a graphite fly rod, but they're great fun to use.
How is the Redington Butter Stick fly rod made?
The Redington Butter Stick fly rod is built using what Redington describes as a T glass construction and a heritage taper. Effectively, it utilises modern glass rod construction techniques but uses a traditional fiberglass taper from Redington's class fiberglass fly fishing rods.
Glass fly rods are slightly thicker and slightly heavier than modern carbon fibre fly rods, but don't worry, this isn't as noticeable as you might imagine. The rods use modern lightweight chrome guides and stripper rings, and very lightweight anodized aluminium fixings, helping keep the weight down.
What sizes are available?
You might think that these fly rods would only be available in smaller sizes and lower line weights. However, while that's true in the UK, where we only seem to have suppliers stocking the new Butter Stick in the smaller sizes 2wt, 3wt, 4wt, and 5wt, fly fishers in the US can also get these rods in 6wt and 8wt versions, which are ideal for larger trout and carp.
What is the build quality like?
The Butter Stick is a beautifully constructed rod for the money. The blank is relatively thin and light, with a pale off-white blank finished in clear varnish, plus white whippings on the rings. Like modern carbon fibre rods, the blank is painted with alignment dots for easy rod set up, and there are some retro graphics and lettering on the butt section. The Butter Stick is one cool-looking rod.
There's a very simple cork grip with lightweight sliding rings to hold the fly reel in place, rather than the anodised aluminium reel seat found on most rods, which aids weight reduction and adds to the retro vibe.
The larger models in 6wt and 8wt feature saltwater-ready anodized fixings, including an anodized aluminium reel seat instead of the plain cork handle with slide rings used on the smaller models. Everything is very smartly finished and the rods look and feel excellent quality and are said to be tough and durable to fish with.
Which Butter Stick model do you have?
I've got the Redington Butter Stick for a #5 line weight. I was struggling to choose between the 2wt, 3wt, 4wt, and 5wt, as I could see all of them being fun to use in the various places we tend to fish. However, I opted for the 5wt because it's light enough to use for dry fly fishing on the river, and sturdy enough to be used to throw streamers at larger stillwater trout.
As this rod wouldn't look quite right with a modern fly reel, I've paired mine with a black Orvis Access III fly reel which fits nicely, and fits in with the whole 70s retro vibe. However, a heavier reel would suit this rod better and help it feel more balanced - the Access is definitely too light.
What's the Butter Stick like to cast?
The Redington Butter Stick has a very slow, soft, through-action and bends right down to the butt. It's not ridiculously floppy, but you will definitely need to slow down your casting stroke considerably in order to throw decent loops. You also need to have realistic expectations. It's a rod for close to medium range casting, so won't suit long-distance casting at all.
While glass rods are inherently thicker and heavier than graphite rods, the Butter Stick doesn't feel that much heavier than a comparable carbon fibre fly rod, although this is perhaps partly related to the shorter length and the use of such a lightweight reel seat and cork handle.
According to fellow Butter Stick owner and fly casting instructor Phil Ratcliffe, who definitely knows what he's talking about when it comes to casting, the perfect line for this is the Rio Tactical Trout, so that's what I opted for. It's a delicate line and suits the rod well.
Soft, bendy rods like this aren't designed for chucking out a team of flies to the horizon, chucking indicators, or heavy bead-headed flies, or making long-distance casts. Instead, this is a slow-action rod that will delicately present a small fly, like a dry or a nymph.
It's fun to cast, doesn't have a particularly high swing weight, and it bends really nicely. Hook a fish and it will bend all the way down to the butt - like no other rod I have used - yet it still has the power reserves you need to help fight larger fish and bring them to the net quickly. It definitely puts a smile on your face! However, compared to a faster-actioned carbon rod, it is arguably a bit more limited in its versatility.
Does the Butter Stick come with a rod tube?
Yes, the Butter Stick comes with a slender and durable Cordura rod tube with dividers to prevent the sections rattling around or getting scratched in transit. The rod tube is finished in a bright orange colour to fit in with the retro cosmetics.
How much does the Butter Stick cost?
The new Redington Butter Stick sells for £288 and comes with an impressive Lifetime Warranty, which I think makes it excellent value for money. If you're looking for a fun casting experience to make small or medium-sized trout even more fun to catch, and you're only going to cast small lightweight flies, you might like this rod. If you want an all-rounder, I suspect you'll prefer a regular carbon fibre design instead.