Hoffhines - Smithwick "Fast 3wt" report

I fish about 50 days a year and 95% of those days are spent one of two ways: (1) swinging flies with a 13' spey rod or, (2) chasing little coastal cutthroats with a 3wt. This post is about the latter of the two.

For the streams I fish, I like long, light rods with a strong preference for 8' or longer 3wts. I'm borderline obsessive-compulsive about my fly fishing gear and I've owned/fished all the big names in light rods, Sage LL, T&T Paradigm, Winston WT, Winston IM6, Loomis Streamdance, Burkheimer, etc, etc. I currently own a Burkheimer 389 and what I always considered the ne plus ultra of light line rods, the Tom Morgan 386 graphite.

I also like bamboo rods but didn't feel I could go with bamboo in the long/light format just due to the nature of the material. Boy was I wrong... Ever since I got Robert Hoffhines interpretation of the Tom Smithwick "Fast 3" taper, my Morgan has been sleeping quietly in it's case. This is really a great taper for our sterile Cascade streams where the trout are small but the casts can be long and conditions windy.

There is a long, wordy write-up about my experience getting the rod including photos of the construction on my blog:

The Taper, the Rod, Its Maker and Human Beings...

Here's a teaser!

Nice review Thomas. I can understand why you like longer and slightly heavier rods for fishing the water in your pic. A 40-50' isn't always necessary but it's nice to have the rod for those time when it is.
Nice story, including the happy ending Tom. It really sounds like Rob created a great taper. Maybe if Kent and I bump into you again on the South Fork of the Snoqualmie you'll give us a few minutes each casting your new rod.


Tim Cottage

Formerly tbc1415
Great blog report.

About the hollowing; did Tom also use fluting on his original design or did he scallop? Not sure if it makes a noticeable difference but curious.
I do understand that the descision to flute is influenced by Rob's use of the handmill.



Tropical member
What a wonderful post!! Thomas

It makes my day! Thank you!
BTW, I agree, Mr. Morgan's rods are something special! Hope one day I will have a chance to cast this evenmore special bamboo!


Active Member
Thanks for sharing your story and your experience with a well respected rod maker.
This taper has been on my bucket list since I first saw it in 2009 (and I'm still meaning to get to it..).

Per Mr. Smethwick’s original posting regarding the rod design “The problem with a fast 8 foot three weight is weight. It's easy to come up with something that will cast the line, but I don't like the feel of casting a three weight line with a five weight rod. If you hollow build the butt, you can get away from that feeling." It sounds like Tom used Powell style scalloped hollowing but agreed that fluting would work well also.
I’m going to build this rod in the future but I doubt if mine will have the same mojo…
Best of luck to you,