Good evening Gentlemen.
First let me say Ive built four or five rods based on Mike McFarlands blanks and am both impressed by their quality and their unique smoothness. Back quite a while ago we arranged to have a 7wt built and Mike expressed his problems with supply. Understanding exactly what his problem is that was the last time I asked about my blank, it will get here when he finds or makes his own blanks his way, I trust his judgement and skill, and mine is fully prepaid, so money or cost is not the issue, quality and the skill of the maker is the defining point.
Tom, I like your choices, mine are pretty much the same, I love some of the early rods of the 50s, the Silaflex MF-75 and MF-80 are both favorites of mine too. As is the altime slowest smoothest rod ive ever used in glass, the Narmco Conolon Fanwing, Ive four of them now, and just cant get over how slow and smooth they are. Another favorite is the earliest of the Phillipson Eponites, I think I like them best of all the Phillipsons, the early shorter X series, the X-66 X-70 come to mind, although the longer ones like the X-80 are great too. Along those lines a 1955-1960 Phillipson Aristo 8ft rated for a 6wt but its a special Dry Fly Taper and will excell with a DT5F, my current Phillipson apple of my eye.
60s wow, too many to list, the hayday in my opinon of really great glass, they were lighter, many designed for 5wts and even a few for 4wt lines.
The 70s, last of the line in really great glass rods, here production Fenwicks almost steal the whole show. True there were some outstanding Lami's I think I have ths same 4wt S glass rod you do Tom and a couple of others in E glass that are just outstanding. We have the FR2000 series, as well as the many many late Phillipsons to name just two and I didnt even mention the great Browning Silaflex rods. Fisher was still turning out spigot ferruled glass rods and so was the end of the line Gladding South Bend. Seems at this point 6wt was still King but many many really good 5wts were on the market.
Now to the question, my smoothest glass rod. Frankly its one of Rush Peaks earliest rods built for a personal friend and fishing buddy back in the early 50s, its based on a Silaflex F-75 blank, with Rush's magic using W&M NS mini ferrules, its so smooth casting. While his later Brownstone based on the early 60s Conolon blanks he rolled himself is smooth, and the example I have was made for a close personal friend, that rod is more of a Steelhead and Salmon rod, however that lighter trout rod (6wt but will cast a DT5W just fine) Silaflex F-75 is something when you consider is was made between 1948 and 1954. The skill of the rod maker and blank maker is the key thing in choosing and fishing glass rods. Many are pure dogs, but there are quite a few jewels out there in vintage rods, and quite a few cusotm makers are producing equally good blanks today only waiting for a skilled rod maker to finish them.
Of the late rods, I liked the Diamondglass rods, I have a 4wt and a 5wt, also of course lamiglass, fine blanks, and along those custom blank lines Im a fan of Mike McFarlands and Mark Steffens work. Havent tried alot of others well yes I just built a vintage Sage glass blank its a good one too, but point being Im still trying vintage glass.
Someone said something about cost. Well if you go with a really good bamboo rod maker thats not quite on top yet you can get a premium rod for a bit over $1000, thats a custom build, for a custom build in Glass lets call it $700, built your way, and for a custom build in right now high tech graphite, lets say $1000 Im not pricing factory rods, but custom rods, based in the case of Graphite on the current top of the line blanks. Sure you can buy last years close outs, nothing wrong with that, you could have bought last years closeouts on bamboo and glass had you been around at the time, at quite a discount too, but they were not state of the art builds, custom to your wants and desires, thats where the bucks go, otherwise the closeout barrel at Bass Pro Shops might be your best bargain.
At least my 2cents worth.