The following review has been provided by one of our amazing guides, Rob Buhler. Rob has been fly fishing for 25 years and guiding for 3. He is also co-founder of Buhler Bros Custom Flies.
The Prodigy is a new 5wt fly rod package and the first signature rod for Guy Jeans and the Kern River Fly Shop. It's a medium-fast action rod that comes ready to fish with a reel, backing, line, and leader that all fit nicely into a protective carry case.
I've never really been a gearhead when it comes to fly fishing but since I've been guiding, I do have expectations and desires in the rods, reels and lines that either myself or my clients are using.
Since this is a Kern River Fly Shop rod, I'll discuss what I look for in a rod package to fish the Kern year-round and how I think the Prodigy package stacks up against others.
The first thing I look for in a rod for myself or a rod that a client wants to bring on a trip is the ability to roll cast a bobber with split shot or a heavy, wind-resistant dry fly with a tungsten dropper. The Kern is a large, powerful river and we aren't always able to wade close to the fish. A medium-action, shorter or lighter-weight rod just doesn't have the power for longer roll casts and the Prodigy does. I prefer the med-fast action rods over softer models for a quicker hookset as well. I am pleasantly surprised at how well the Prodigy performed with a bobber, split shot and two flies. I typically fish a fast action rod for this purpose and I feel like I don't have to add any extra effort to get the same performance.
If a rod performs well with an indicator while roll casting, it usually does the same while fishing a heavier sink tip line and streamer. The Prodigy is no exception. I have no problem casting a 200 grain, 24’ sink tip line, short or long distances (15-60’) with a small to medium sized streamer and the rod tip is sensitive enough to feel subtle takes and your fly bouncing along the river bottom.
I was also impressed with the Prodigy's ability to easily cast single or double dries 30-60’. The one place where I found this rod did not excel was with a dry fly at a shorter range of 10-20’. The rod properties that benefit the longer casts with heavier gear are the same properties that make it hard to load at short range with light flies. To overcome this you can upsize your line one weight to help “load” the rod at shorter distances. This will improve your distance casting as well.
The 9ft. 4 piece, med-fast action rod is finished in a bright, cobalt blue with the Kern River Fly Shop signature logo in white, giving it a clean, classy look.
The aluminum, die-cast reel has a matte black finish that pairs beautifully with the cobalt blue rod. It has a smooth, disc drag system that will handle the largest Kern River Rainbows with ease.
This is the one area where almost all economy combo packages fail. At $100 or more for a high-end line, the manufacturers are unable to provide a top line and keep the entry-level price point. Again, I was surprised at how well the line performed right out of the box with the Prodigy combo. It floated well, was easy to mend, and was slick enough to shoot line for distance casts. Cleaning and maintaining the line will help improve longevity, but this will be the one thing that you will look to upgrade as you enjoy the combo. Remember to consider upsizing that line to a 6-weight for better short-line casting and overall performance.
The 30” protective case is dark blue with the Kern River Fly Shop logo cleanly displayed in white on the reel case. The case is also outfitted with a convenient carry/shoulder strap.
At $249 this will now be the combo that I will recommend most for beginners or someone looking to upgrade their low-end gear. I feel that the Prodigy is one of the best multi-purpose rods that you will find in a combo at this low price point and it's as good or better than many single rods that are $200-250 alone.
Limited Time Deal
Get a FREE $100 beginner clinic with the purchase of the Prodigy Combo