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CABELA'S CAHILL FLY RODS
A MAINSTAY FOR A REASON
Cabela's, one of the largest outdoor hunting and fishing retailers, has sported the Cahill fly rod combination for several years. It is one of the least expensive combinations on the market selling for $59.95 as a standard price, but at times on sale for $39.99. It comes with rod, reel, line backing, and line - all prespooled. Your first question, is it worth the price? Answer: Yes, but only for the rod alone.
THE FLY ROD
I purchased a 5wt, 9 foot rod three years ago. My purpose was to keep it in the trunk of my car just in case a fly fishing opportunity presented itself. Being fortunate to live in a state were fishing is possible year around (except during hurricanes, lightning strikes, and gator mating season), I've used the rod about a dozen times each year. Under certain conditions (explained later), it has become my rod of choice.
The Good: The rod has some impressive features for the price. It has snake guide eyelets, a hook keeper, and a double ringed reel seat - all pleasant surprises for such an inexpensive rod. Snake guide eyelets are preferred over single foot eyelets because they more rugged. A hook keeper is not essential, but nice to have. Double rings on the reel seat allow the reel to remain snug on the fly rod. Cabela's could have cut corners with all three of these features, but chose to have a more serviceable fly rod. I have placed two different types of reels on this fly rod. Both have fit very well.
The Less Than Good The cork handle is soft and has started to show signs of wear. For the price, it is hard to quibble. Also, the epoxy on the female ends of the ferrules is starting to crack. The ferrule itself is solid and the cracking is not affecting rod performance.
The Bad There really isn't anything upsetting with this fly rod. I lacks a storage tube and rod sock, but at this price you really should not expect to get these items.
Performance: I liken fly rod performance to car performance; it all depends on the preferences of the driver. There are so many different cars on the market because there are so many drivers with different tastes. I mean, who would have thought that the AMC Gremlin would become a collector's item? The same holds true for fly rods. For durability, the Cahill is no slouch. It is also noticeably light. The rod is in four sections and all easily assemble together. They stay together while casting and disassemble easily. The rod is mid-flex or a mid-action rod. It feels stiffer than mid-flex, but not quite a fast action rod either. At the same time, it casts shorter than my Temple Fork Outfitters rod - one that has a slower action/more flexibility. In summary, it is a stiffer rod but lacks the casting distance somewhat. Still, the action is acceptable and catching fish with it is enjoyable. Being stiffer, it easy handles the two to three pound bass you can get with a stiff hook set. If I am targeting bass for the day and still want to use a 5wt rod, this is my rod of choice.
I cannot evaluate the reel because I never used it. It was entirely plastic and it really did not suite my taste. I took the line and backing off and placed it on another reel.
THE LINE AND BACKING
The fly line was weight forward and was too light for the fly rod. It did not load well initially and shot poorly through the eyelets. I usually like to overload a fly rod when it comes to forward tapered, floating line. This rod performed well with a six weight line. The backing was, well backing, and I used it on another fly line later.
Do I recommend the Cabela's Cahill combo? Yes and no. Yes if you are an experienced fly fisher and have another fly line or are willing to purchase a new one. This makes a great extra rod in your collection with minimal expense. I would not recommend the combo to a person starting out fly fishing. Newbies need all the help they can get and a poorly matched line with the rod is certain to frustrate. Perhaps the line could be used on a smaller rod. I do not know how this line performs with the other weight rods that Cabela's offers for their Cahill combos, perhaps they are a better matched. Unfortunately Cabela's only sells the rod as a combo. However, the rod itself is a terrific deal for the combination price. I would guess this to be a popular selling rod from Cabela's and would anticipate this rod to be offered for years to come.