We got the first prototype 7’6 just prior to the Scottish Meet in Spain - 2014. Now the interesting thing, when I get a rod to develop is to A) work out what I have in hand and how it B) compares to what I want to have in hand and then C) work out what changes to make to go from A to B. B is easy for me because I know what I want. A is easy too because I put the rod through its paces and work out what it is. C is a bit more complicated and, for me anyway, is a combination of feel, trial and error, experience and also a bit of luck. Finally - it involves communicating these changes. This is how we do it anyway.
It would be different of course if I lived at the factory - then I’d be churning out rods rather quickly. But I like the way we are doing it. It involves fishing the prototypes, getting to know them, putting them through literally hundreds of angler’s hands, of all levels of ability. I’m sure you can imagine the vast number of anglers who have cast the prototypes that make up this particular rod when you consider it was with me at Bernd’s German Fly Fair, at a Romanian event, I fished it in Estonia after the world championships that were held there, it was at an Instructor testing event in Indonesia and so on and on and on - it’s been with me, in various versions, for six years, everywhere I’ve been.
And the interesting thing about it, is that everyone who cast it has loved it.
Now what is the purpose of a 7’6 3WT? For me this is a small stream trout rod. When I was a teenager my mother used to live in Edinburgh and for several years I would visit her for a month at a time to fish the Water of Leith and for this I used a 7’ 4WT B&W Hexagraph. These were my Ardleigh Reservoir days.
Another trip I would make would be a month long trip to fish the West County, living in the back of my Land Rover, to fish the moors. I made this trip a few times and had great times doing so!
For this sort of fishing the shortness of the rod is really for fishing tight overgrown places where a 9’ rod will bash every tree branch around. The 3WT line will allow you to fish tiny flies on the thinnest of tippets. Great fishing for spooky little wild brown trout. I have a real love for this sort of fly fishing. It’s like being enclosed within another world altogether. Most casts are only about 20’ distance! It is intense short range, enclosed, stealth fishing.
So when the Romanians encouraged me to put the 763 into a distance shootout I thought, “This will be interesting! I’d better try it first!” and sure enough, while trying to carry 90’ of DT4, the rod blew up! :D
It was probably a little bit ambitious but you have to try these things to be sure, if you know what I mean!
Next prototype I had for a very long time indeed. Every time I pulled it out for testing everyone said “oh we love this” and I’m like “well how can it be better?” “I don’t know!”
After long deliberation I decided to stiffen up the lower sections slightly. My thinking was that this will speed up the tip, which it most certainly did. Now something very interesting happened and I had two 763s to put into people’s hands. I thought “now they can decide”. That turned out to be thoroughly inconclusive because some people preferred one over the other and it was never the same rod that they preferred!!
In the end I decided to revert back to the second prototype and not the third speedier version. So in terms of numbers of prototypes handled my end, this has been very quick for us (I'm excluding prototypes that never left Spain). However in terms of actual time, if you exclude the 9’5WT from the list, it has taken the longest to develop. I guess we were pretty damned close when we started out with the first prototype!
As it has turned out, the final version is actually even better than the prototype and is exactly what I had in mind originally. The prototype 2 had single leg rings, the finished rod has Recoils. That has lifted this rod to become exactly what I want from a Hot Torpedo. It never ceases to amaze me how much difference a tiny amount of weight difference between rings makes to the feel and action of a rod. It turns out that the six-year delay would have been shortened considerably, only by changing the rings instead of developing a new blank! There is a lesson in that :)
With regards the rod tubes, I realise that despite the Cordura tubes being actually more expensive to manufacture than the current SL aluminium tubes, many people think they are cheaper! That’s unfortunate, because I think they are superiour in many ways. So in addition to the Cordura tubes that we have in abundance, I have also ordered some appropriate length aluminium tubes, that we have now in stock, to give you the choice. Soon I plan to buy some Cordura tubes again for the 9’ rods to give you an alternative in that length as well.
It’s been a long way around, but we have finally got there! For the record the rod I have here with me in Malaysia - HT763 no1 - is currently the only one of its kind in the world. Both my previous working prototypes are at the bottom of Lake Temenggor following an intense tropical storm that happened last year and won't be discovered for thousands of years. Because the blank is so thin, you have the choice of Hot Torpedo or Sexyloops logos on the blank and not both! However, as always, you can determine how you want this layout to appear.
When we have our initial flurry of orders out then I shall be replacing mine. I reckon it will be a spot-on Mahseer Rod.