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Freshwater Rods
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Epic Reference 4-weight 476 FastGlass Fly Rod

Epic of New Zealand made a niche by making rods like no others. This small dry fly rod blends function with fun, very neatly, and very intuitively.
Kirk Deeter author.
Kirk Deeter
June 7, 2024
Epic | Reference 4-weight 476 FastGlass Fly Rod
product description
“Looking for a shorter fly rod to fish in tightly confined creeks but still want the backbone and pulling power of a larger rod? The 476 is a fast, lively, and extremely accurate fly rod perfect for small stream and spring creek fishing.” – Epic
company ethos
“We’re a fly rod company that’s obsessed with making the best fly rods on the planet, and we back it up with unbeatable customer service.” – Epic

I actually tested this Epic 7-foot 6-inch 4-weight FastGlass fly rod before we wrote the Reference 6-weight 686 FastGlass Fly Rod review. The 6-weight was more of a curiosity for me–the 4-weight realm is where I’d expect to play around with fiberglass, mostly on small streams. Little rod, smaller fish, shorter casts, dry flies–all that stuff is right in the fiberglass wheelhouse. So, it took a little while for me to really understand the unique attributes of this 4-weight.

I actually liked this rod from the onset, enough, believe it or not, to give it away to a good friend. But then I started missing it, so I ordered another exact same model from New Zealand, which surprisingly showed up within a week. And recently I took that rod on a trip to fish the chalk streams of southern England.

I actually packed four rods for that trip: a Winston PURE 7-foot 6-inch 3-weight, a Scott Centric 8-foot 6-inch 4-weight, the new generation Orvis Helios 9-foot 5-weight and this Epic 7-foot 6-inch 4-weight, which I admit was kind of a “what the heck” afterthought. I figured I might play around with it one afternoon, if things got slow, or I got bored.

The truth is, I ended up fishing this fiberglass rod more than all the other rods combined, probably 75 percent of the total trip. Actually, I should qualify that–I fished it for a few days until I handed it to my wife, and she commandeered it for the rest of the trip.

“Why can’t I have the rod back?” I asked her. “Because it’s more fun and less work,” she answered. She was right.

The FastGlass is burly enough, even at lighter line weights, to zip some clean, accurate casts, and it’s more fun to fight the fish with after you’ve hooked them–the sensitivity is tenfold that of graphite and you feel every move the fish makes.

If you’ve never fished the chalk streams, they’re interesting–not easy, spooky fish, tricky casting challenges (mostly from the banks), where you find yourself working around bushes and overhanging tree branches, roll casting and making bow-and-arrow casts. And you don’t get a lot of redos, so every cast counts.

In that context, in that setting, what Epic did to win me over was blend function with fun, very neatly, and very intuitively.

Yes, there were maybe two times when I had to punch a longer cast into the wind, and even though I can double-haul just fine, I probably would have gotten more line speed juice, which would have translated to better accuracy at longer distance, with one of the graphite rods. But for one or two fish I might have missed by not reaching out, I probably caught two or three with precise casts that dropped the fly on the water with a feather-soft landing. And I never broke any fish off, because, believe it or not, I fished 4X tippet, even in the famously “gin clear” (Bombay Sapphire is made with water from the River Test) chalk streams with large mayfly dry flies, all day, every day.

If you know what you’re doing when you cast dry flies, you cannot help but have a ball with this rod.

Pros 

Advanced, thoughtful rod design.

Superior workmanship and materials.

Durable, hard to break.

A welcome departure from super-stiff graphite, or super-slushy fiberglass–a very happy medium.

The clear wraps on the guides are very cool (also clean aesthetically), and not easy to pull off with a production rod.

Cons 

Not many, but slower rod actions require anglers to learn how to dial in a less “automatic” casting stroke. 

This is a dry-fly rod. You could throw nymphs (sight nymphing, no weight or bobber) or streamers with it, but added weight really defeats the action.

It looks like Epic is currently out of stock…

Pricing

At about $591 (USD), you’re paying a bit more than you would for a typical imported fiberglass rod, but you’re paying about half of what you’d pay for a premium graphite rod, and I’d stack this rod up against any graphite rod anyone has to offer. They’re not going to be the same, of course, and even fast fiberglass (FastGlass) is an acquired taste, but once you experiment with it for a bit, you’ll get the picture.

Craftsmanship

Hand-crafted, made-to-order rods with high-end components: FLOR grade Portuguese cork grips, anodized reel seats, Titnaium stripping guides, corrosion-proof, ion-plated snake guides etc. A beautiful fly rod to cast, fish and look at. Fiberglass rod tube also reduces weight and is highly packable.

Durability

Epic fiberglass rods are pretty tough (much more so than graphite counterparts) and can take the daily punishment of errant casts, dogs in the boat and big, head-shaking fish.  

A deeper breakdown on material durability from the manufacturer: “S2 FastGlass II has a far higher strength-to-weight ratio than Carbon fiber (graphite) rods. Epic FastGlass rods can endure more acute and severe bends than the equivalent Carbon fiber or even regular S2 glass, tip sections are stronger and far less susceptible to breakages due to high-sticking and problematic rod angles when pulling against load.”

  • Price: $590.99
  • Dimensions: 7-foot 6-inch 4-weight 4-piece fly rod
  • Weight: 3.7 ounces
  • Construction/Materials: FastGlass, modern S3 glass fiber
  • Guides: Premium quality Fuji titanium stripping guide, corrosion proof black Ion-plated snake guides
  • Rod action: Medium-fast
  • Rod tracking: Slight wobble
  • Rod recovery: Medium
  • Warranty information: Epic warranty program

Carl McNeil, the chief rod designer for Epic fly rods, explains slack line casts.

Epic’s warranty program.

“Every Epic fly rod that we produce is covered by our lifetime, original owner warranty. This warranty covers failure due to defects in material or workmanship of our product. 

This warranty is limited to repair and replacement of the rod or blank and does not cover direct, indirect, consequential, incidental or any other type of damage resulting from the use of the product. This warranty does not cover fire, theft, missing rod sections, intentional breakage, modification or customization of the finished rod, or damage during the assembly of a blank into a finished rod.

Additional information about how Epic is able to execute some of the fastest rod breakage returns in the industry: “SUREFIT™ Our ferrule system is so precise that breakages can be addressed by simply sending out the replacement part. Gone are the days of having to return a broken fly rod section and waiting months for a repair. We turn around repairs in days rather than weeks and there is no need to return sections to us. Epic fly rod ferrules are CNC ground to extremely high precision, so that all sections, within a rod model, fit perfectly. We can turn around a replacement section in the same day and there is no need to return (broken) sections to us.”

I took four of what could be fairly described as some of the “best-in-class” fly rods in the world today on a trip to England to fish the highly-technical chalk streams, and the one rod I ended up fishing 75 percent of the time was the fiberglass rod that cost about half as much as the others. The rod that intrigued the local guides, the rod my wife ended up stealing from me, was also the same rod. 

The cat’s out of the bag. Smart anglers with discerning tastes are digging Epic FastGlass rods, because they offer more power, accuracy and versatility than your grandpa’s fiberglass rods. At the same time, they afford more feel, responsiveness and fun than your cousin’s hot new graphite stick. For fun, value, versatility and dependability in real fishing situations, New Zealand-born Epic has put fiberglass back in vogue. 

If you want a novelty rod (this is more than mere novelty), go for it to complement the graphite 4-weight you already have. If you’re learning to cast and want to feel the stroke, this is a good way to hone a cast. And if you just want a cool 4-weight that will last a lifetime, so you can bomb around from creek to creek throwing dry flies, knock yourself out. You won’t be disappointed.

Find the Epic 7-foot 6-inch 4-weight FastGlass direct:

Man fighting fish with Epic Reference 4-weight 476 FastGlass Fly Rod
Man fighting fish with Epic Reference 4-weight 476 FastGlass Fly Rod
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