Shadow Fly Fishing Warrior Fly Rod
Shadow Fly Fishing's Warrior fly rod. Note the handle design.

Shadow Fly Fishing is a startup company out of northwestern Pennsylvania that feels that the prices customers are paying for high-end fly rods have traveled much too far from the manufacturers' costs in producing them. According to the company, the gap in these prices has growth much too large, leading most customers to the conclusion that they have to compromise in quality in order to be able to afford a new rod. Not so, says Shadow, and to prove it they've recently introduced what they call two of the world's lightest and highest quality fly rods at prices that are a fraction of the industry leading offerings.

In today's market, light and fast are the hallmarks of the most popular (and expensive) rods, and one Shadow Fly Fishing's initial offerings aims to offer both. Dubbed 'The Warrior', Shadow's fast-action offering weights in at 2.59 ounces and is initially available in two sizes, with a 5 and 7 weight available in 9 foot lengths. Shadow's medium-action offering, the Stalker, checks in at 2.58 ounces and is initially available in only one size, the universally popular 9 foot 5 weight.

While educated rod shoppers know that scale weight isn't everything -- the swing weight of a fly rod is much more important -- it is worth noting that the weight specs on The Warrior and The Stalker are in Sage ONE and Orvis Helios territory, which is surely nothing to sneeze at. Whether Shadow Fly Fishing's offerings feel as light in the hand and while casting and perform as well on the water remains to be seen. However, Shadow says initial feedback has been very encouraging, noting tales of guides leaving former go-to rods in their trucks and opting to fish Shadow's economical offerings instead.

Shadow is also touting their unique cork handle design which they call revolutionary. After describing the handles on many industry-leading rods as "massive, burly [and] uncomfortable", Shadow Fly Fishing's rod designer Mike Skibo said he was inspired to design a new style of cork handle. Characterized by a slimmer profile that has a consistent diameter the entire way across the cork, Skibo says Shadow's handle offers a "more satisfying fighting and fishing experience" that can't be accurately described and begs to be fished. Rod testers have reportedly claimed that the cork design alone "sells the rod" and prevents them from reaching for other rods.

The Pennsylvania-based startup's claims about their first-generation rods are lofty, to say the least, but their confidence that the rods will speak for themselves is made evident by their eagerness to get their rods into as many hands as possible.

Shadow Fly Fishing's first two rod models, The Warrior and The Stalker are now available for purchase via their website at the initial prices of $249 and $199, respectively.