The Fikkes Fly Hiker

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Walking trout streams in central Oregon, I find myself carrying more rods these days. I set them up the night before, so I don’t have to waste time on the river. One is rigged for dry fly fishing, another for streamers and another for nymphs and indicator. When I pack the truck, I can choose from an Orvis 10-foot 4-weight, an old G. Loomis, a 6-weight Cabela’s LSi, a 7-weight Beulah, and lately, a G. Loomis 6-weight built around a hiking staff.

That's right. Called the Fly Hiker, this lightweight cork-handled staff converts to a three-piece, eight-foot 6-weight fly rod in just a few moves. In less than a minute, the Fly Hiker is ready to cast.

How does it cast? The carbon fiber butt section, which is part of the staff, is necessarily stiff. To compensate, rod designer Gary Loomis crafted a slower graphite mid-section and tip. I find that the casting stroke requires a slower move for the rod to load. After that the soft-action can be powered for a tight loop.

On a recent trip, I cast the rod with a large beadhead Woolly Bugger and found it capable of running a lot of line and pinpoint casting to pocket water.

We have two Fly Hikers and ordered a spinning rod handle for one, in case the rod should see duty on a backpack trip. Built for fly-fishing, the rod is better suited to flies, but is capable of throwing lighter baits and lures. The rod also comes in a 3-weight version for smaller trout and other pan fish.

My analysis: the Fly Hiker comes into its own on the trail, pursuing mountain trout in freestone streams and high lakes. The reel is mounted to a retro clamping reel seat for a positive lock that means you’re not going to lose it. The hiking staff protects the rod until you are ready to fish. Another option is a fork that screws into the butt of the staff to the staff into a steady rest for birding optics or a monopod for shooting a rifle. Yes, I have put the Fly Hiker to those purposes – both here in North America and in the South Pacific. And my biggest Fly Hiker trout to date was a 16-inch rainbow.

For information, visit www.fikkes.com.

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