There are a lot of buzz words going around like high modulus, carbon matrix, boron, and so on. But what is is that makes a good fly-rod? More than anything else, its having the right tool for the job.
The biggest thing I see is people buying rods that are too fast for the job at hand or for their own casting skill. Now we all need to take the time to honestly evaluate our casting style and ability, Let me be honest with you guys, I will likely never get the performance out of a Scott S4S to validate buying the rod. And honestly I don’t think that I would enjoy casting it.
More often than not when we end up buying a rod that’s too fast for us we end up over-lining it to make up for our lack of feel or the lack of distance that we can achieve with the rod. I mean how often are we casting 60 feet to a fish? Not too often and at that distance setting the hook can be very hard.
But by that same token if I need to take a crazy charlie into the wind at a bone fish 70 ft. away, a full flex trout rod won’t cut it. Add a stiff wind and that deal is min finito.
I think the first thing is to understand is what the weights of fly rods are really made for. Weights 1-6 are for presentation. This would be for taking light flys and presenting them to spooky fish. If you are insane and are fishing spooky fish in the flats you might fish a 6 wt.. If you are working drys in a spring creek you are likely to go for a 4wt. with a long tippet.
Weights 8-10 are made for transportation.These are the rods that you pick up when you want to deliver that fly a good distance. These are commonly used for bass or inshore fishing. The idea is that you have rod that can handle a fly line that is casting a large and air resistant fly like a bass bug or tarpon toad.
After a 10 weight, all the other rods are made as a crane. They aren’t much as far as casters, but they are great for fighting fish like tuna or sail fish.
Now the 7 wt. is sort of a niche rod. To me it is the river bass rod and to other people it is a streamer rod for trout. It is one of those rods that refuses to be holed up as one sort or the other. I think they are very fun to fish with.
So when you are looking at the action of a rod you can basically divide them into 4 categories, full flex, mid flex. tip flex and does it flex. Or slow, moderate, fast and super fast. Each one has a place with the full flex and super fast being limited in their most effective range of use.
Full flex rods are a most often used as creek rod for brookies or bream. These rods are made form materials like bamboo or fiber glass and are done in weights 0-5 most of the time. They are very rarely used in casting situations over say 20-40 feet.
And what makes these rods so good for this application is the tip bounce. In other words when you lay out a fly line the rod acts like a shock absorber. What this does is to keep you line from crashing onto the water and spooking fish. All you need to do is add a double taper fly line and for many people you have the perfect traditional trout rod.
The moderate fly rod are for most people the perfect rod. It has the butt section to load the rod deeply and deliver a weighted fly with a faster action. What this translates to is a rod that loads fairly deep and recovers quickly. If you are getting into fly casting, this is likely the one you might want to go with first.
Now depending on your personality and casting ability you might enjoy a fast action rod. I think though that a lot of people get into these rods by mistake. Most folks don’t need it and can’t honestly use the rod well. The dead give away for these folks is when they over line the rod. By doing this they slow down the rod so that they can handle it and have basically made it into a moderate action.
But if you put in the time and actually do that unknown thing, I understand that it is called casting practice, you can take your casting to a new level. That is really what that action of rod is made for, and to get that out of you have to put in the time. Yes you can cast farther, yes the rod is often lighter but it will also show the whole world any flaws in your casting. The same is true of super fast rods but to the nth degree.
So when you’re buying a new rod, stop and take the time to determine the style of fishing that you’ll be doing, the size fly, the distance you are planning on casting and finally the action of rod that you enjoy casting the most. Once you do this then you can really begin to enjoy a great fly-rod.