And the Ugliest Fly Rod is…

In the fly fishing industry we have manufacturers of all manner of gear, each constantly striving to invent or reinvent that one product that will attract the attention of the masses and become a huge success. And of all the gear offered it seems as though rods garner the most attention, and every year new rods are rolled-out, and the public is told that they need to buy the latest offering.

And I’ll admit, sometimes these new rods sound almost too good to be true. And each new generation results in thinner, lighter, faster (or, lately, slower), more sensitive sticks that nearly cast themselves. But sometimes these new offerings are met with resistance from a segment of the audience for which they’re intended to appeal. On one occasion it may just be a poor color choice that draws groans from the marketplace, or the wrong style of grip. Sometimes the price turns customers away. Other times everything is acceptable but the name. It’s a very tough crowd out there. You can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Or, can you?

I’ve been giving this matter some serious thought and believe that the solution may be as simple as issuing forth a challenge to the industry: a call to arms for all players to design and produce the ugliest fly rod possible. Cosmetically, that is. The rod must otherwise be a fully functional, high-quality rod with a price tag of no more than $350.

This endeavor will be a dream come true for the design teams. The marketing departments may even forego pay to work on their campaign strategies. The press will eat it up. And the customers will wait with baited breath to see the results of the challenge.

Just how ugly will these rods be? They’ll be algebra ugly: so ugly that they’ll be things of beauty, with results can be nothing but positive. These rods will be like the homely, homeless puppy: so unsightly that everyone will want to take one home if not out of shear pity then to annoy others and be able to say, “My rod is uglier than your rod.” And given that brand loyalty runs rampant in the industry there’ll be something for just about everyone—any manufacturer that doesn’t participate may not survive to regret it.

Here, in no particular order, are just a few possible names of potential ugly rods to help get the lathes turning:


Sage DONE: First they brought us The ONE, now The DONE. One and done. Maybe not the result they’re hoping for but then again everyone is always in search of a good marketing schtick.

Orvis Fireball: The current Helios is named for the Greek word for Sun, which is essentially nothing more than a large ball of fire. Orvis has long-sought to shake the perception that they are the high-brow manufacturer of your grandfather’s fly rod. Think of the cross-marketing possibilities with the maker of Fireball whiskey? Nobody who wears tweed drinks Fireball.

Winston Moron: This one was just too easy.

Loomis Armored Transport: This baby will be bulletproof, heavy and will cost a truckload of money. And Loomis will pick up vast numbers of unintentional visitors to their website who came looking for something completely unrelated and wound up with a new fly rod.


Echo Echo: After all, what does an echo do? It repeats itself. Besides the other rhyming word, Gecko, is already in use. Do not hate on the Echo Gecko.

Redington Verktyg: This is the Swedish translation for “tool” which could be either a reference to the rod or the caster. Wonder what color the grip will be?
(Alternate name: Redington Stepchild)

 • Scott Baio: It’s inevitable that this rod will quickly be nicknamed “The Chachi” and the rod will be popular with the ladies who were teenage girls during the Happy Days era. Not so much with the guys, however. More and more women-specific gear is being offered; there’s no reason the ladies shouldn’t have ugly stuff as well.

St. Croix, Batman: Unless you habla French you probably didn’t realize that St. Croix translates to English as, “Holy Cross.” And anyone familiar with the old Batman TV series from the 60’s will recall the Boy Wonder’s tendency toward enthusiastic proclamations such as, “Holy priceless collection of Etruscan snoods, Batman!” Get it?

Allen Handsome: Not only is this name redundant (because the meaning of the name “Allen” is, in fact, “Handsome”) but given the nature of this ugly rod contest, it’s also an oxymoron. Seems rather fitting for a
butt-ugly rod, right?

Loop Not: This is an exceptionally clever play on words that should be self explanatory. If not, then you’re either a bit slow or it wasn’t nearly so exceptionally clever.


The challenge has been issued. Who will be the first to throw down the gauntlet? I hope the industry is listening—it’s time to get your ugly on.


  1. Howard Levett

    There is already a clear winner. It’s that company that is currently passing around a goofy looking rod with the red bicycle grip on the end.

    • Kirk Werner

      It’s a golf club grip, Howard. Not a bicycle grip. Pffft…I’m just so sure.

  2. Steve

    Redington. Hands down. 🙁 Love the Rod too so its hard to get the words out..

    • Kirk Werner

      Redington got people talking, didn’t they? Therein lies some measure of victory, I reckon…

  3. Owl Jones

    I actually “LOL’d ” at the TFO LOL and at the Scott B…I mean, ” The Chachi.” Only problem there is I think there’s already a Tenkara USA rod named The Cha-Chi.” Not sure though. Probably not.

    • Kirk Werner

      Yeah, probably not. Besides, this is a fly rod competition. Tenkara is just dapping, isn’t it? 😉

  4. Jay

    Funny stuff as always. I really hope they are listening.

    • Kirk Werner

      Well, the industry trade show is taking place in Vegas right now. I have to imagine that this very thing is being discussed as we speak.

  5. Gin Clear

    Well Shakespeare beat the industry to the punch with their Ugly Stik. They also went out of their way to make it next to impossible to find their fly rod offering on their website.

    Nice writeup, Kirk.

    • Kirk Werner

      Werd. According to their website, they have no fly rods, and yet when you click that selection the Ugly Stik Big Water rod appears.Given their lack of fly rods, I think there’s room in the industry for competition. Thanks for the comment.

  6. Nigel

    Or you could try:
    The Apple iRod – the world’s first no-flash fly rod

    • Kirk Werner

      But that would just be silly…we’re trying to keep it real, here 😉

  7. Jim Johnson

    Do not forget the Wright and Mcgillicutty!

    • Kirk Werner

      Damn, I knew I was forgetting something! Well played, sir!:)

  8. Mike G

    THE Cha-Chi is too easily confounded with the Cha-Ching Most manufacturers have a rod similar to the Cha-Ching-a $700 rod blinged up to sell for over a grand-since there is a throng who want to say they wave a 4 figure stick. In Japan and other far eastern countries such rods are referred to as Ugly Americans.

    • Kirk Werner

      Well, there’s bound to me some confusion but if the price point is kept somewhat reasonable, I think we can avoid any unsavory implications as noted.

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