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Harnell 604
Post 04 Jul 2020, 11:58 • #1 
Guide
Joined: 04/20/17
Posts: 266
Location: Portland, OR
This is a Harnell 604, Pee Wee Fly, 5', one piece, 1 1/2 oz blank. Circa 1960. My scale shows 2.4 oz total. It's well appointed with Harnell classic gold Mylar over red wraps with yellow accents and the venerable one piece high density cork grip. Does not have the Harnells patented (angle cut bands) reel seat. Beautiful condition including original tapered sock and tube, which is in remarkable condition for a fibreboard tube (missing cap). Note the sock is labeled 601. The 601 was the same blank but with spinning hardware, so the sock may of been the same too.The rod shows no signs of use. All the guides still show original varnish drips. A scarce rod (I've never seen one before), particularly in this condition. I don't imagine millions were sold.

Some may consider this a novelty rod, or maybe a children's learning rod. I don't know what Harnell's target audience was for this rod. One could also think a small, heavily brushed creek needing a good short roll caster. While I've only lawn cast with a WF4, DT5 and WF6, it's a para taper that may be a good roll caster (and it's very parabolic, about as opposite of full, evenly flexing as you can get). Surprisingly powerful for 5' of glass. Comparing it to the Fenwick FF535, it's much more powerful and more parabolic. It liked the DT5 best with consistent overhead casts of 30'-40'. No more than that. Though, I've not tried a DT6 (HDH) yet as Harnell suggests. Ron wrote in a prior topic, "Harnell, especially in shorter rods is the most para I've found in vintage glass."

I'll try this rod on the water, but I didn't buy it necessarily to use, more for nostalgia, posterity and scarcity. I've been looking for the Harnell 605. The search continues. Credit Ron for catalog photo.

Interested in any conditions where this rod would be useful or if anyone has one of these to share thoughts, otherwise at least this site now has some info on this model.

Sandman





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Re: Harnell 604
Post 04 Jul 2020, 12:45 • #2 
Piscator
Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 16303
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
Congratulations on finding that rod in that condition.
Looking forward to a fishing report.


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Re: Harnell 604
Post 04 Jul 2020, 14:03 • #3 
Master Guide
Joined: 03/09/15
Posts: 401
Location: Arkansas
Very nice indeed. Take it out.


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Re: Harnell 604
Post 04 Jul 2020, 14:57 • #4 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 11/06/17
Posts: 1636
Location: South of Joplin
Very nice.


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Re: Harnell 604
Post 04 Jul 2020, 15:03 • #5 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/23/05
Posts: 4281
Location: US-MT
Beautiful! Love the grip

Useful.....IMHO not really. I had a 5'3" Fenwick and couldn't sell it fast enough after using it twice. Had a 5' REI Brush Creek 4pc (a neat rod, spigots) and kept that one for a while cause it was so cute, then sold it too. Had a neat 6' Herters, used it a couple/three times, then it sat for years before I sold it too.

Still, take it fishing and have fun with it. The cool factor is worth something here.


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Re: Harnell 604
Post 04 Jul 2020, 16:06 • #6 
Piscator
Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 16303
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
what does humility have to do with it?

Any way you look at it, this is a Very collectible rod.
I have an e-mail-me ebay search for Harnell 656 and 657, and never received that e-mail.


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Re: Harnell 604
Post 04 Jul 2020, 16:12 • #7 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 05/30/07
Posts: 2311
Location: Arlington, TX
Wow, congratulations- that's a great stick-
I would love to cast it side by side a Fenwick Feralite 535.

Les


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Re: Harnell 604
Post 04 Jul 2020, 16:23 • #8 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 11/06/17
Posts: 1636
Location: South of Joplin
Not a collector at all, but I'd think any of the Harnells in that nice of condition would be collectable, and that one has a reel seat that matches the catalog pictures, mine has the same rear hood but no sliding hood, in house manufacture no doubt, with changes every so often.
30-40' is plenty far to be used fishing, at one point in my learning stage I marked several lines at 35' just so I wouldn't be tempted to cast farther than the fish. I can't see longer casts being useful in running water.
The grip is the part I like least on the 650R, the sexy curves just don't fit my hand well.


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Re: Harnell 604
Post 05 Jul 2020, 15:19 • #9 
Guide
Joined: 08/23/19
Posts: 124
Location: North Central Oregon
Cool find! And nice looking rod!

Bruce


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Re: Harnell 604
Post 05 Jul 2020, 21:35 • #10 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 02/12/16
Posts: 3694
Location: USA-CO
That's a beauty, and I'd bet loads of fun on little creeks. Would love to hear how it fishes.


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Re: Harnell 604
Post 06 Jul 2020, 21:57 • #11 
Guide
Joined: 04/20/17
Posts: 266
Location: Portland, OR
All, thanks for the comments. Will be fun to get this rod on the water, though I won’t likely be able to do this until the fall. In the meantime I shipped it to Ron for a full eval, since he is a fellow Harnell fan.

Sandman


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Re: Harnell 604
Post 11 Jul 2020, 15:49 • #12 
New Member
Joined: 08/14/19
Posts: 2
Location: US-NY
My Harnell 7 foot 2pc of the same approx. vintage ( color & wraps look identical) lawn cast best with the higher rating 6 weight line. I've not actually fished it, lost a couple seasons to knee revision & broken leg rehabs, btu it's in the near future queue.


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Re: Harnell 604
Post 13 Jul 2020, 00:39 • #13 
Guide
Joined: 04/20/17
Posts: 266
Location: Portland, OR
Luke, what is the model # of your 7’ Harnell?


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Re: Harnell 604
Post 13 Jul 2020, 06:50 • #14 
Piscator
Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 16303
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
What a gorgeous diminutive one-piece rod - except for that little cork chip and sack wear, brand new.
Impossible to balance with a reel - my Hardy JLH Ultralite 234 feels like a brick on it - it does balance in the rear third of the cork.
This might be the rod to put your reel in your pocket, ala Chares Ritz.

I laid it out with two rods to compare. The Lami 605, a swoopy jewel with semi-para wet fly taper.
Not counting my 9' Sage RPLX-7, my first taste of para was the 6'9" 3-pc Fisher Sterling 6-wt that's part of a Fisher 5/6 combo, and was my small water hill country rod before I tried a couple of cane banties and settled into progressive venerable glass (short Phillipson and SA System 5). This is where dual rod rating has an actual meaning - the 8'11" progressive 4-pc in the Fisher Sterling combo is a 5-wt magic wand. Noteworthy, the Fisher IM6 6'9" 3-pc casts every bit the distance of 8'11" 4-pc.
Also noteworthy, I've owned an FF605, and fished that along with FF535 (friend's rod).

I don't really do a wiggle test, but look at and feel the rod curve as I'm making a real fly rod shoot line motion across my chest.
The 5' Harnell couldn't be anything but a para, and has the fastest tip of the 3 rods laid out. From there down, it's almost identical in taper with the Fisher IM6 para.
The Lami 605, well, it's oranges in this comparison, a swoopy rod that most lovers of light cane para would also love.

Construction - the mint block cork is the highest quality, and feels like a horse's nose. Of course no ferrule. Four snake guides plus mildrum stripper and tip top, and the wraps are excellent workmanship. The guides are tiny, and would not efficiently pass a modern floating line. Like my Harnell 652R of this vintage, the logo trademark vinyl transfer looks cheap and caught some air.
Don't know when I'll have time to test Teeny grain weights, but will try to get there this week (and don't plan to try it in 104 degrees).


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Re: Harnell 604
Post 13 Jul 2020, 11:23 • #15 
Guide
Joined: 04/20/17
Posts: 266
Location: Portland, OR
Thanks for the prelim report Ron.

I wondered about the guides, in terms of how much they were slowing down the modern lines I tried.

The lightest reel I have is a MG3...may give me good cause to look for a Hardy flyweight...I'd prefer to have a reel on it for battling large Rainbows.

Interested to hear which line works best.
Thanks again


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Re: Harnell 604
Post 13 Jul 2020, 12:16 • #16 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/23/05
Posts: 4281
Location: US-MT
I have never bought into the thought that small guides wont pass a modern line. I have an old Heddon 9ft 8wt with a ton of tiny guides and it shoots a LOT of line thru the guides. To each their own.


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Re: Harnell 604
Post 13 Jul 2020, 12:36 • #17 
Master Guide
Joined: 02/09/13
Posts: 600
Location: US-TX
That is a cool rod. I once had a 5'0" graphite. I think it was called a Brusnell iittle streamer or something like that. Purposefully had larger guides which were supposed to allow for shorter back cast (less line out anyway) and ability to shoot more line in the forward cast. It was a fun little rod and I am sure yours will be fun in the right conditions too.


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Re: Harnell 604
Post 13 Jul 2020, 12:48 • #18 
Piscator
Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 16303
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
Gee, let's see, I fish prewar Heddon, marked 1918 Thomas and c. 1915 Leonard rods with modern floating lines - the guides on this Harnell and also on my 652R are smaller than than those.
Image

Noteworthy, my 652R won't efficiently pass a modern floating line, but fishes great with a slime line.
Image

I'm going to specifically point out about magicwrench on this thread.
This is the second recent Harnell thread on which he posted, stating on both he had no interest in the rods nor had he ever handled one.
I hope his day (week, month, life) improves.


Last edited by bulldog1935 on 13 Jul 2020, 13:55, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Harnell 604
Post 13 Jul 2020, 13:18 • #19 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 11/06/17
Posts: 1636
Location: South of Joplin
@WestTex, Bob Brunsell Li’l Streamer; Global Dorber, made in Arkansas.
I've wanted one of those ever since I first read about them. Still haven't seen one.

Some modern lines are fatter than others, that might affect whether the small guides have an effect or not. I think it's harder to push a 1'' rod into a 1/4'' pipe than to push that same rod into a 2'' pipe. I think I see an effect when using some lines on my 7.5' rods with small guides. It would come from greater contact area between line and guide and doubling the contact has to increase the friction at least some. My Phillipson DFS sure likes skinny line better than fat line.


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Re: Harnell 604
Post 13 Jul 2020, 13:44 • #20 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/23/05
Posts: 4281
Location: US-MT
Ron, not sure what your point is. Can you find where I said I had no interest?? I find Harnell very interesting, mostly because I have never seen one!
Wishing you the best.


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Re: Harnell 604
Post 14 Jul 2020, 09:59 • #21 
Piscator
Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 16303
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
It's honestly too hot to try casting a rod. But don't need to go into the lab until Thurs, so going to get out this morning...
Here are the 3 rods I plan to directly compare

Fisher Sterling, Lami 605, Harnell 5' 604
Will use Teeny grain weights, because they're the most empirical and don't care about guide size.
I did look at the guides and learned the following:

The Harnell guides may not be too small after all, depending on the modern floating line (e.g., probably not salt rocket taper)
though they are much narrower than modern guides.
Interesting, the third guide down is restricted by a spurious glue deposit (varnish drip?) that you can't see without serious magnification (middle thumbnail).


Last edited by bulldog1935 on 14 Jul 2020, 17:39, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Harnell 604
Post 15 Jul 2020, 07:57 • #22 
Piscator
Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 16303
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
BS-100 (20' head)
The Fisher needs 4' of the shooting head (20 gr) to load the tip, loads beautifully on the full head, and of course shoots out the final 40'.
The Lami loads on the leader, goes right to work feeding line with wide timing forgiveness, and I have this rod because it's the perfect rod to fish this line in small water.
The 5' Harnell also needs 4' (20 gr) of the shooting head past the tip to register a load in the rod. It's completely unforgiving, but works efficiently with short arm movements and haul to shoot the full 60'.

T130 (24' head). Of course the Fisher dials in perfectly with this line, nothing is going to change about the initial load, and as I remember, this rod will shoot a good piece of the running line with a roll cast. Also know from experience it will shoot the full 82' line.
The full grain weight slows down the Lami and loads into the handle. It would fish, and roll-cast beautifully, but shoots better with the lighter BS-100.

The Harnell comes into its own with the 24' 130-gr shooting head out the tip. It loads deep into the rod and at a pace just about anyone could handle. I didn't try distance, but there should be nothing slowing it down, and I would expect it to shoot to 80' with good timing.

This leads me to a short-belly WF6F (Teeny first cast) - I just happen to have one spooled on a 3" Beaudex with 7' leader and a piece of yarn ready to lawn cast.
This line has a full 160 gr in a 24' belly.
10' of this line from the Harnell tip will cast a dry fly with aplomb. So I'll extrapolate to it's not going to fish a DT well inside of 20'.
Not surprising, the guides are hateful with the fat WF floater - 10' of line will not pull out any more line - you feel the line jam in the guides, and it won't feed more line without an aggressive roll cast (or dragging one in the grass). However, once you get 15+' of the belly out, the belly weight can pull the rest through the guides, and of course the guides let go into the thinner running line.
Just got back from 50+' casts into a 12-kt wind and my 2" of yarn on the end of the 7' leader.
This combo would be a joy to fish, and if I can make it to Cibolo Creek, will fish this over a Teeny BS-100.

I may get to one more line - Airflo Ridgeline WF5F ("supple Trout") - this thin line is really well-behaved in all my cane and glass...

...I'm back and found perfection. The WF5F Ridgeline with a 9' braided-butt leader goes fishing with 4' of front taper past the tip.
It will do anything you want, dries, any distance, moderately forgiving, and no friction in the guides.
The longer front taper of this line, long leader butt, with a short length of belly is all the DT you need for close fishing, and should work the same on a furled leader.
This is also the best reel I have to match the rod (the poor man's CFO), though it's about the same weight as the JLH.


A third line comes to mind, BPS 10-m DT5, my preferred floating line on the Lami 605. I put that reel in my fishing bag in case I get to the creek. But I expect to only test my extrapolation, that the little Harnell won't fish with less than half of this line out - hope to post again with the result. Noteworthy, my '60 Harnell catalog lists this rod as a 5-wt (HEH).

Anyway, it's not surprising this little rod is actually a distance rod.
It's a powerful 5/6-wt para taper in a compact package.
The surprising part is that it wants to dry fly fish well, if you work out the right parameters on line and leader.
Anxious to find out how it roll casts, but I'm betting well.
Comparison with FF605 and FF535: between these two, I found the latter to be a better roll-caster - you expect both to be good close-fishing dry fly rods, but don't expect them to be good distance rods.


Last edited by bulldog1935 on 16 Jul 2020, 06:50, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Harnell 604
Post 15 Jul 2020, 17:04 • #23 
Guide
Joined: 04/20/17
Posts: 266
Location: Portland, OR
Ron, thank you so much for taking the time to conduct such a thorough review of this rod (especially in the 100 degree temps). Your work has certainly saved me an immense amount of underqualified experimenting to find the best line combo...not to mention the dollars in doing so...it's acts like this from the highly qualified members of this board that make this site so beneficial, and of course, retains and leads to attracting members...

I'm happy to hear this rod can perform on the water and can be useful under a number of conditions. I could tell it had plenty of power, but couldn't figure out how to harness it well. The dry fly aspect of it surprised me, and it's great to know, as I can use it this way.

Looks like while the WF6F, 160gr, short belly (15'+) will work, the Airflo Ridgeline WF5F ("supple Trout") is the way to go...most versatility...

What is the name of that CFO copy (M234)? Can't read it...

Again, really appreciate the evaluation...I hope you get it on the water...now I'm excited to fish it, after getting a Ridgeline for it..

Sandman


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Re: Harnell 604
Post 16 Jul 2020, 06:41 • #24 
Piscator
Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 16303
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
Hi Chris, I'm enjoying the rod and very much enjoyed the casting comparison.
I was really happy to discover my initial evaluation of the rod tapers played out in the casting.
Also recognized the Fisher hadn't been out of the tube since 2003 on Quartz Creek in Cooper, and it was a joy to cast.

Using a Teeny for this comparison is perfect, because every foot is 5 grains. Of course they no longer turn over when you get to the end of the head, but comparing how they handle 100 gr v. 130 gr in the air is still a great comparison.
Also hoping I'll be proved wrong about the BPS 10-m DT5, and will keep you posted...

And no, I specifically didn't get out at 100 degrees, but low 80s in the morning before the sun got tall, and I had everything organized to beat the heat.

The choice reel from my gang is the Browning Strada MZ34, aka Martin LM45 - we dubbed these the poor man's CFO.
I've had 3 new boxed reels, but sold one, and will never part with either of the other two - they're just too perfect on short glass rods, especially with a WF5F.


You could improve on this with an even lighter reel (small JAF Avon, Hardy Flyweight) - the problem, though, is fitting a line in the reel - could always cut off some of the running line behind a WF.


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Re: Harnell 604
Post 16 Jul 2020, 10:41 • #25 
Guide
Joined: 04/20/17
Posts: 266
Location: Portland, OR
Thanks Ron, I see the issue with the small reels. I have a 1492 1/2 I may try. Not as light as some, but on the lighter side and will hold more line.


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