The other day I took my youngest, Audrey – who’s nine going on twenty-something – fly fishing for the first time. Being highly independent (and a little bit scary), she wouldn’t really let me help her with casting so I had to just stand back and watch while she slammed the little glass rod in an arc from a foot below ground level behind to just above water level out front.
I was feeling half guilty about the clearly inadequate amount of time I’ve spent teaching her to cast, half relieved she wasn’t using one of my favourite little not so cheap American twigs and half impressed at how well the fly was getting out despite the rod being tortured. No, glass is not dead, but without some intervention, it’s not long for this world.
After some gentle casting advice from the side lines, and a quick chat about the structural integrity of a fly rod vs the cost of a fly rod, she soon tightened up her casting stroke and set off confidently upstream suggesting I could follow if I wanted.
In truth though, the Ambush rod is not all that expensive at $250 and probably the perfect small stream companion for someone new to fly fishing or needing a cheap rod option for very tight water.
In testing the Ambush, I also spent a windy day with my oldest son Edward on a favourite Snowy Mountains creek that’s a classic bouldery fast-water with both tight, treed over sections and some more open stretches.
On stream, the Ambush has a very interesting feel being, as expected, a slow glass blank, but a very short one. I found it to be both quite precise and very very good for short work and simple flicking of flies around through the pocket water. It also roll casts like a little beast as long as you’re not trying to flip over too much line and if you keep things inside 20 feet and it sings.
Overhead casting is crisp (ish) for glass, again probably down to the length, and I really like the rod inside around thirty feet where it felt completely sorted with my RIO Perception WF 3-weight line.
The down side of all this glassy good for the soul feel is, of course, when you need to lean on the rod and I found it well and truly maxed out for control at around forty five to fifty feet. That said, it’s obviously not a rod for distance casting or water where the trout are always seventy five feet away. Keep things short and within the rods design brief, and you could be forgiven for thinking you were casting a far more exclusive carbon stick, but push it to far and be tickled by the reality it’s a very short three weight glass rod.
In regards to the build quality, it’s good given the price and I think the completely in-your-face bright white blank with it’s dull grey wraps is pretty cool. If nothing else, it certainly looks good in photos. There’s also a nice up-locking alloy reel seat, spiffy wood insert, titanium coated single foot guides and hook keeper and a silicone carbide stripping guide.
Regrets? My only comment would be the 5-weight size reel seat hardware seems a bit much on such a lovely little rod and I think an all cork sliding band set-up would be far more twiggy.
That said, being designed in New Zealand the rod is probably more about ten pound rather than ten inch fish and the security of the up-locking seat might be more to their liking.
Whatever the fish size, the little Ambush is a lot of fun, cheap as chups and a great little tight water twig.
There’s only two models in the Ambush range, the 6’6 3-weight and the 7’2 4-weight. Both are 3 piece and come with a soft cloth rod bag in a solid Cordura tube.