Ultralight Fly Fishing with
the Orvis Superfine 2011 Touch Series 1 weights.

article and images by Bill Byrd

Although I fish rods as heavy as my 9 foot 10-weight, I mostly fish 3 weight or lighter fly tackle. I began fishing ultralights more than 25 years ago, and I have had an INCREDIBLE time with them. With over four thousand forty hours fishing Triple ought- to 3-weight rods for most species, I have caught and released unharmed MORE fish and LARGER fish (like this Orvis Superfine 1 weight bass below right) with light/ultralight fly tackle!

In the beginning (mid 1980s) I fished the lightest rods then available. The primary rod was my original Orvis Superfine 1 weight. I fished it in many circumstances and caught thousands of fish, plus fish as large as the 6 pound largemouth bass (right), a 19 pound grass carp, and bass as large as 8.9 pounds on 4 pound tippet. I had an amazing run with my rod, logged over 1200 hours use on it, and find that many fly fishers still have and fish original Orvis Superfine 1 weights today.

In fact some of the earlier 1 weights are making a come back. They can still be found used, and if the manufacturer supports them, they may be very functional and inexpensive these days.

Amazingly, Orvis still supports its original Superfine rods. Jim West who runs the Orvis rod department can build ultralight enthusiasts original styled 7'6" Superfine 1 and 7'9" Superfine 2 weight rods from their remaining stock of components so long as the components remain in stock. Call Jim West at 802-366-8235 -- extension #31037640 Monday thru Friday 830AM to 330PM for the Orvis rod Building and Repair Department to find out what ultralights they can build or repair for you. The best time of year to contact the rod building department is during their less busy season -- August to early March. Please tell them Bill Byrd sent you.

Naturally I have to compare the Original Orvis Superfine 1 weight rod of the early 1980s with the 2011 Superfine Touch 1 weight 7 foot 6 inch fly rods.

(1) The length and finish are the same. The original was 2 sections, the Touch is 4 sections.
(2) The original had a short handle plus cork and ring reel seat. The Touch features a nice longer handle with uplocking reel seat (which I prefer much more).
(3) The original weighed 1 3/8 ounces, and the Touch weighs 2 1/8 ounces. Part of that weight difference is the longer handle and uplocking reel seat - which I much prefer.
(4) The original feels a hint slower to me than the Touch, but I couldn't quantify the difference.
(5) The long spigot ferrels on the Touch add much better strength to section connections.
(6) The Touch will travel and stowe better being a 4 section rod.

I prefer longer handles plus uplocking reel seats to shorter cork handle plus cork and ring reel seats. That is one more reason I prefer the design of the 2011 Superfine Touch 1 weight (pictured below image left) compared to its early 1980s predecessor (Pictured above, image left).

For 2011 the Orvis Superfine Touch Family of rods features two 1 weights: the 6 foot 3 section version and the 7 foot 6 inch 4 section version. The only 2 weight currently available is a 6 foot 3 section rod. The only other 2 weights available from Orvis this year will be the Helios Ion "one ounce" 2 weight 4 section, and the Helios Freshwater 8 foot 4 inch 2 weight 4 section rods.

After braving the cold weather and chilly water temps fishing my new Touch 1 weight, I like this new 7 foot Orvis Superfine Touch 1 weight VERY much. I fished it with #14 nymph and #14 sponge spider patterns and it cast them effortlessly. I'm looking foward to spending many hours tricking fish with it very soon. Come on spring!!

The other new name you'll see for Orvis this year is the Access family of rods introduced to replace the T3 family of rods. Rods in this family begin with a 3 weight.

Along with these rods, Orvis has dropped one of its previous 1 weight WF lines, but still offers WF Wonderline Trout lines 1-7 weight, and Superfine Trout Wonderline Generation 3 in weights 1-6. Standard double taper Wonderline Generation 3 lines begin with a 3 weight.

Conclusion: Orvis 1 weight rods in existance from the mid 1980s and including the latest Superfine Touch 1 weights can be suitably matched by one of the Orvis lines currently available. You also have new possibilities for lines for 1 weight rods regardless of the rod's manufacturer.

As long as Orvis still has proper materials in stock, they will support many of their 1 and 2 weight rods from the mid 1980s forward.

For more information on Orvis' new lines or to cast an Orvis Superfine Touch 1 weight, please drop by or call Orvis Atlanta, GA, at 404-841-0093 and ask for Shannon Ward, fly fishing manager, or any of his staff. He has the latest Orvis fly lines described above in stock. You can order by phone.

Shannon, himself an avid ultralighter, knows and fishes Orvis rods, lines, leaders, and tippets on true ultralights.

Have fun!

- Bill Byrd.