That slightly bewildered reaction you are experiencing right now, wondering where this blog post is going and what is a Hexa…. what did he say?
That’s how I felt two months ago when I stumbled upon the word Hexagraph during my search for a new fly rod. I recently got a going-away gift form my local TU chapter. They gave me some money for a rod or a guided trip. I wanted to do something special with the money. I wanted whatever I did or got to remind me of my time with Bill Wills TU in Virginia.
I struggled for a while. Of the days I could go on a guided trip, all the shops were booked and I was getting dizzy thinking of all the different rod options. Nothing really seemed special enough in the price point I was working with.
That’s when a member of our chapter mentioned the word Hexagraph.
You see, back in the 80s, this guy, Walton Powell was making fiber glass rods. Good ones. He was also really into bamboo. He and some Brits then came up with a plan to make foam filled graphite rods pieced together the same way you make a bamboo rod. What is the appeal of this? Precision casting. A rod that loads through the entire length. Essentially, bamboo delivery with improved power, durability, and a reduced cost.
Here is where things get interesting. Somehow, Jimmy Carter and Robert Redford start using these rods and redford gets Powell to paint some to look like bamboo. Why? Well it was too expensive to use actual bamboo rods in the movie “A River Runs Through It.” So next time you watch that young Brad Pitt smile as he makes his magic on the big river, remember it isn’t really him, and he isn’t using bamboo.
Well, Powell ran the company for a while and then sold it to a man named Harry Briscoe. I started looking for these rods online only to come to the Hexagaph website to find this….
“Effective December 31, 2014, Hexagraph Fly Rod Co. has ceased operations.”
WHAT?! I’m THREE months too late!?
Mr. Briscoe had his email address on the site, so I thought I would see what he had left in his inventory. He was awesome and informative, and we wrote and forth about his rods for several days. Ultimately, he didn’t have a rod left that would fit my needs. He had some blanks that would have worked, but I’m wasn’t looking to build something.
So I went to ebay. As good fortune would have it, there was a 1980’s original 8’6″ available. In mint condition. How is that possible? I asked the seller. He said he got the rod (and a few others) from the photographer for Walton Powell. The photographer had been given several rods as gifts, but he never used them. Well, long story short, I got the rod. It is gorgeous, and I know it is from the 80s because it came in a corduroy rod sock. It is awesome.
My old medalist fits right in with this new addition.
To some this might be a collector’s item. To me, this rod was made to be used 30 years ago, and now, it finally get’s its chance.