It is currently 21 Sep 2021, 17:51


1, 2  Next New Topic Add Reply
Author Message
Post 09 Sep 2006, 02:59 • #1 
Master Guide
Joined: 07/05/05
Posts: 742
Location: US-VA
I have seen frequent comments that early Silaflexes were fine rods and then Browning bought the company (I think I have that right) and they were no longer so fine. When did that happen? Other than looking for the name "Browning", how can you tell which you are looking at?


Top
  
Quote
Post 09 Sep 2006, 09:32 • #2 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/09/05
Posts: 2277
Location: US-CO
Colston,

I have owned both Silaflex and Browning Silaflex rods. Here's my opinion FWIW. Sialflex was way ahead of their peers in the 60s and built blanks that were lighter and more elegant (generally) than their competitiors. The rods were comparatively expensive at the time ... running about $60-70, while a Fenwick cost half that much. The rods are graceful casters, well constructed and have, I believe, the best reel seats made at the time. I found the grips to be a bit fat for my liking. A friend who should probably know told me that the Silaflex rods and the Brownings that followed them were the first S-glass rods, but I am not sure. The Silaflex I had was an MF-75-2, also called a "Cutthroat" for a 5 wt, if I remember correctly. I found that rod to have more wobble in it than I wanted and after describing it well on eBay with nice pictures of a high quality, very early, light line trout rod--it sold for over $200. You can tell the Silaflex rods easily, they have a seahorse on the label. I also believe that the Silaflex rods had the guides that were two wraps of material ... like a small section of a spring, similar to many of the Phillipsons of the day. All the Brownings I have seen have normal snake guides on them. Both Silaflex and Browning rods will be clearly labeled if they are in good shape. Browninig-Silaflex rods do have a small seahorse on the label but Browning is clearly emphasized. The serial numbers as discussed here are another way to tell.

In the very early 70s Browning bought them out. They changed some things and they kept some things. The rods look very much the same. Same slow, near parabolic action, same great reel seat, same translucent brown blank, and same tan and brown wraps. I like them better than the Silaflex I had. They dampen better with the same classic slow action--probably an improvement in taper and construction materials as the industry marched through the 70s. In general, I find that I like the rods made between about 1970 and 1975--great materials for best performance but before the environmental limitations restricted the type of materials and waste that the companies were allowed to produce.

The earlier Brownings have serial numbers like 222960, and 222975 where the last two numbers describe the length of the rod, they are generally 5, 6, or 7 wt depending on the length. I have the 22970 (7 ft 5 wt) and 22980 (8 ft 6 wt). These rods have metal ferrules, both are great casting rods and they can be had for a reasonable price. The 7 ft 5 wt rod is a great small stream rod, and the 8 ft 6 wt rod is terrific for smallmouth whether wading or floating.

Still later, as glass ferrules came on, Browning incorporated them into their line and, I believe, the serial numbers for those rods changed the first 2 to a 3 to identify the series (322970, 322975). These are probably the most sought after of the Browning rods as they do not have a metal ferrule. The finish and appearance are nearly identical to the 2 series rods and remain almost identical to the original Silaflex finishing and wrapping. I do not own (nor have I cast) any of these later rods but would pick one up, given the chance, just for the glass ferrule feature.

I had purchased the Silaflex rod to fill the 7 1/2 ft hole between my 7 ft and 8 ft Brownings and did not find I liked it as well due to more wobble, less dampening, and slightly softer casting (even though I am a slooow rod guy). Make no mistake that the Silaflex is the more collectible rod, which is why I sold it to allow me to buy other rods I'd rather fish. They are harder to come by, less likely to be found in excellent condition, but they are a great piece of fly fishing history.

So, I guess I'd disagree with your friend. I think a great Silaflex is probably worth more--but a glass ferruled Browning from the mid-70s probably represents one of the best production rods from a top of the line fiberglass rod company at its prime. The metal ferruled rods are also terrific and can be had for a bit less cash.

If I could find a 7 1/2 ft Browning without a metal ferrule, it would be my next purchase. The best rod for your Virginia fishing environment would be the 322980 which would fish a 6 or 7 wt line.

Hope this helps.

Donny


Top
  
Quote
Post 09 Sep 2006, 10:18 • #3 
Master Guide
Joined: 07/05/05
Posts: 742
Location: US-VA
Thanks, Donnie. I didn't know much about them and wanted at least an idea of what I was looking at should I come across one.


Top
  
Quote
Post 09 Sep 2006, 15:03 • #4 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/23/05
Posts: 4575
Location: US-MT
WOW, what a lot of great info!
The only Browning/Siliflex rod I have ever had was a 8.5 2pc 7wt Browning with the tip over butt ferrule. OK, now I am wondering if it wasn't 8ft. Anyway, I didn't really care for it, seemed to wobble a bit, and the stripper was way too far away from the handle for my tastes. To be fair, I only fished it twice, once with a corky/splitshot/nymph set-up that would make ANY rod wobble a bit. Got a pretty price for it when I sold it.
Keith


Top
  
Quote
Post 09 Sep 2006, 15:58 • #5 
Administrator
Joined: 01/10/06
Posts: 7216
Location: Holly Springs, NC
I agreed with paveglass, the pre-Browning Silaflexes are slower, fuller flexing rods than the Browning models. I have a Silaflex MF-80 (8 foot, 6 weight) that is slow - almost soft. By comparison, I have a Browning model 322986 (8 1/2 foot, 7/8 weight) that is a cannon with an 8 weight line. Finally, I have a Browning model 022975 (7 1/2 foot, 5/6 weight) that is a beautifully crisp rod - a pleasure to cast. I suspect the 022xxx series came after the 322xxx rods.

You will see Browning "Medallion" rods with three digit model numbers on eBay . These are the later Browning rods with graphite blanks and foam grips.

Tom


Top
  
Quote
Post 10 Sep 2006, 23:37 • #6 
Master Guide
Joined: 01/03/06
Posts: 654
Location: US-VA
Paveglass,

Nice info - much appreciated ...

NB


Top
  
Quote
Post 11 Sep 2006, 05:32 • #7 
Guide
Joined: 06/08/05
Posts: 307
A couple of things to add ...

The guides referred to above by paveglass were the aetna foulproof guides popular at the time - a bit more wire to them than the double loops that Phillipson used on the deluxe and royal models.

A lot of early Silaflexes were sold as kits of second name stores, etc. They can usually be spotted by the red aluminum ferrules and reelseats marked "featherweight" on the bottom. On many this is the only writing to appear on the rod so take a lookup for these on eBay for words -featherweight-fly-rod. These were top line ferrules and reelseats back then.
The four piece 7'10" backpacker is the best trout pack rod I've used before fiberglass ferrules came around.

The Browning #2229XX and #3229XX are really nice casting rods, especially the 322980 marked for #6/7. It is one of those rods with odd guide spacing, with not many of them, so I'd expect someone looking at it to think they had gone cheap with the sellout.
But it casts very fluidly and smoothly and seems to keep very straight on track - all you need to do is get the distance right and you'll be landing your fly on leaves just because you can - instead of fishing. I also have the 322975, 322970, and 322960 and they are nice rods but didn't grab me the way the 8 footer does.

I also have a Browning Silaflex #99985, which definitely is evidence of a decline. It has a dark grey foam grip, black fiberglass and a white spigot ferrule, and does not feel to be any relation to Silaflexes. I only tried it once and couldn't do anything with it.

-Vinnie in Juneau


Top
  
Quote
Post 11 Sep 2006, 10:06 • #8 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/09/05
Posts: 2277
Location: US-CO
Vinnie,

Your post encourages me not to look for the 7 1/2 ft rod. I have the 7 ft 5 wt and the 8 ft 6/7 wt and they are both great. So, maybe I'll just stick with them.

paveglass


Top
  
Quote
Post 11 Sep 2006, 16:34 • #9 
Guide
Joined: 06/08/05
Posts: 307
Paveglass, if you let someone else get one that comes along, we'll have another convert, so that is a kind gesture.
-Vinnie in Juneau


Top
  
Quote
Post 12 Sep 2006, 04:46 • #10 
Master Guide
Joined: 06/08/05
Posts: 436
Location: US-IN
I'm going to be swimming against the current here. I have had a Silaflex MF 75-2 and a Browning 322980. Didn't like either of them. I loved the look of the Silaflex (foulproof guides and spiral wrappings, and 8 guides, if I remember correctly.) But it was slow and it did have what Paveglass called wobble. For me that translated to a deep sine-wave bend in the outgoing line. I think my casting style overpowered the rod and the tip flexed wobbled?) more than it should have when the forward power stopped in my casting stroke. I have thought since then that I should have tried the thing with a 6 wt line, but as I prefer 5 wts where I fish, and this one was supposed to be a 5 wt. . . .

The Silaflex was for my trout places, and the 322980 was for my smallmouth fishing. It was an absolute bust for that application. I fish smallies with streamers of at least 1/36 oz heads, and it wouldn't cast 'em. I just couldn't get the timing. Frankly, I don't think it was THERE. When I did 'get' it, the casts were invariably under-distanced. I don't consider my Fenwick FF-79 to be a 6 wt streamer rod, but it is a much better rod--for me!--than the 322980.

I'd go back and pick up another Silaflex MF 75 and put a 6 wt on it, but not the 322980.

Just another opinion!

-Peter


Top
  
Quote
Post 12 Sep 2006, 05:14 • #11 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 05/09/06
Posts: 2487
Location: US
Quote:
The guides referred to above by paveglass were the aetna foulproof guides popular at the time - a bit more wire to them than the double loops that Phillipson used on the deluxe and royal models.

Anyone have any feedback on those Phillipson guides? Just curious if anyone likes or dislikes them over the standard snake guides.


Top
  
Quote
Post 12 Sep 2006, 11:32 • #12 
Master Guide
Joined: 07/05/05
Posts: 742
Location: US-VA
I have one of those red seated and ferruled ones somewhere. Are they valuable paricularly? I'll dig it out and let you all have a look.


Top
  
Quote
Post 12 Sep 2006, 14:28 • #13 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/11/06
Posts: 2089
Location: Nature Coast Florida
One of the sweetest casting rods I've ever owned was early Browning Silaflex, 7 1/2' (5 wt I think).


Top
  
Quote
Post 12 Sep 2006, 18:43 • #14 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/09/05
Posts: 2070
Location: Monroe, WA
i've gotta put my two cents in regarding the 322980. a nice looking rod that seems to handle weighted nymphs and hopper-dropper rigs effortlessly. i'm certainly not a great caster, but i've managed to cast well enough to thick rainbows ... even on a windy day on the yakima river. the only thing i do hate about it is that it requires me to think long and hard about which 8' rod i'll be using on a given day. not the worst dilemma to have.


Top
  
Quote
Post 01 Jan 2010, 09:39 • #15 
New Member
Joined: 12/31/09
Posts: 1
I just received a Browning Silaflex Medallion 22990 (presentation) for Christmas, unfortunately without case. Can anyone provide info. I have found lots re other models, but not this one. It is 2 piece 9'1", 9 guides.


Top
  
Quote
Post 01 Jan 2010, 17:57 • #16 
Administrator
Joined: 01/10/06
Posts: 7216
Location: Holly Springs, NC
fishinalberta,

Welcome to the Fiberglass Flyrodders! And Happy New Year!

Your rod was built just after Browning bought Silaflex from Pacific Laminates. The 1963 Browning listed your rod as a model 22990. Within a couple of years Browning added an extra "2" to the model numbers, making your rod model a 222990. Your rod was designed as a big rod for big lines and big fish. The original Pacific Laminates designation was MF90SH-2, for Medallion Fly, 9 feet long, SteelHead, two piece. The suggested lines were #8 and #9, but you could use a #10 or #11 also. The rod would have had an aluminum rod case when it was originally sold.

Check out our Fiberglass Flyrodders Silaflex Wiki page for more info on the whole Silaflex family of rods. Your rod is listed in one of the tables about 1/2 way down the page.

Tom


Top
  
Quote
Post 02 Jan 2010, 12:57 • #17 
Master Guide
Joined: 06/08/05
Posts: 436
Location: US-IN
Tonemike,
It occurs to me now that I wanted a smallmouth rod then, and would have bought an 8 1/2' one, so it was the 322985 that I couldn't get.. Keith and I have different opinions on that one. Interestingly, I'm now looking again for the 7 1/2' pre-Browning MF-75. I suspect it would be a very sweet 6 weight.

Peter


Top
  
Quote
Post 02 Jan 2010, 15:37 • #18 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 03/16/08
Posts: 3434
Location: Upstate-NY
paveglass wrote:
Your post encourages me not to look for the 7 1/2 ft rod.
FWIW Donny,

I had the glass ferruled 7'6" rod, and found it to be very similar in feel to the Fenwick FF756 - a rod that I'm pretty sure that you're familiar with?
The tip on the Browning was not quite as soft as the Fenwick, but overall very similar ...

Just another opinion to add.


Top
  
Quote
Post 05 Jan 2010, 09:56 • #19 
Master Guide
Joined: 01/03/06
Posts: 654
Location: US-VA

Great info, only could add that (if my memory serves me correctly - a big if) Tom Morgan talked of using a Silaflex 4 piecer glass with a Medalist in his youth on those beautiful waters. I know of the respect for Mr.Morgan here. So I keep a mint Sila-Flex Backpacker (4 piece- 7'10") solely for those western meadow streams - makes for a great walk in those meadows when I can get out thataway ...



Last edited by nativebrownie on 05 Jan 2010, 10:19, edited 1 time in total.

Top
  
Quote
Post 14 Dec 2020, 09:08 • #20 
Guide
Joined: 12/11/20
Posts: 265
Location: Dallas, TX
I just scored a Browning Silaflex 322980 on eBay at what thought was a reasonable price based on what I’ve read here and elsewhere. I received it last week and it is in fantastic shape from what I can tell. The glass ferrules are tight and clean, the cork grip is smooth and reel seat free of major dings; the rod is in great condition. One thing I notice, however, is the single stripping guide seems to be somewhat “corroded.” Is the best way to describe it. Or maybe oxidized? It’s rough not smooth. I tried to post photos but I guess I need admin permission (new to the forum). I was thinking I’ll try 0000 steel wool on it. I want to line it up and cast it but don’t want to damage my fly lines. Any suggestions?


Top
  
Quote
Post 14 Dec 2020, 09:54 • #21 
Master Guide
Joined: 08/03/14
Posts: 836
Location: central AR
Dave,
I cleaned up a couple of oxidized guides ( a stripper and a tiptop) with polishing compound and a fiber gun cleaning tip. I put the tip in a cordless drill to smooth out the inside of the guides, and used masking tape to protect the wraps.
That rod is one of my favorites, well worth the effort.

Tim


Top
  
Quote
Post 14 Dec 2020, 09:57 • #22 
Master Guide
Joined: 02/04/12
Posts: 642
Location: SE Pa
If it appears just discolored, it might be a carboloy guide - which is a good thing. Run some fine fabric or silk thru it and if it doesn't snag and appears light grey in color, it might be carboloy. Is it actually rough or just not chrome in color?


Top
  
Quote
Post 14 Dec 2020, 11:10 • #23 
Global Moderator
Joined: 04/20/07
Posts: 8207
Location: US-ME
Sometimes you can polish them up, unless you find a flaking chrome coating. It does no harm to try, starting with the mildest abrasive you have, such as toothpaste, auto rubbing compound, jeweler's rouge, or even a 3m type rubbing cloth. And before even doing that, try a soft cloth with WD40 or a similar aerosal penetrant, or a CLP lubricant. Worst case scenario, you have to remove and replace that guide--very easy and with a search easy to learn here, or from instructions on rodbuilding supply websites. Be sure to check all the other guides as well.


Top
  
Quote
Post 14 Dec 2020, 11:13 • #24 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 10/18/12
Posts: 1507
Location: Bozeman, MT
I would find yourself a copy of the following book. It will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about SilaFlex and more. :)



Top
  
Quote
Post 14 Dec 2020, 18:49 • #25 
Guide
Joined: 12/11/20
Posts: 265
Location: Dallas, TX
Good question! I will do as you suggest and update. Thank you.


Top
  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  

1, 2  Next New Topic Add Reply



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Jump to:  
Google
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group