Innovation / Achievement Kudos

Innovation / Achievement Kudos

Cortland's 444 is peachy keen.

  • By: Buzz Bryson
Cortland 444

Cortland 444

The percentage of new products that enjoy even a brief success is small, very small. Fewer still endure to reach iconic status. Anyone over the age of five or six knows that the hourglass-shape soda bottle is a “Coke bottle.” And virtually every fly fisherman knows that the peach-colored line seen so often on a trout stream is a Cortland 444.

Cortland’s 444 line was introduced in 1964. Think about that a minute. The 444 has earned star status with other class of 1964 products such as Diet Pepsi and Pop Tarts, the plastic milk carton and the Ford Mustang. We can’t know if Cortland’s design and marketing guru Leon Chandler (who passed away in 2004) knew how successful the 444 would be, but I suspect he had an idea. Leon was about as tuned into fly-fishing and casting as one can be, and the 444’s tapers were designed to best fit the rods and fishing conditions used at that time for fly-fishing. The fiberglass (and few cane) rods of the ‘60s have been almost entirely replaced by graphite rods, but trout, the streams and the way we fish for them remain virtually the same. Trout fishing is about accuracy and presentation and, if the angler does his job, the 444 will deliver the fly accurately and lightly, with suppleness to help deal with drag.

There are now many variations of the 444, including the popular Sylk series, Clear Creek and Clear Camo lines and, of course, the 444SL lines, made for longer-casting situations. But the original, peach 444 remains proudly, and popularly, constant.