How to Select a Fly Rod
Before jumping too far into the gory details about fly rods, let's talk
about the function of a fly rod. A fly rod, at the end of the day, has
three purposes. These are:
- Casting - Like a spin rod, the fly rod allows for the fly line to
be casted with power and accuracy. A good fly rod, in combination with
good fly casting skills, also allows the fly and fly line to be placed
on the water in such a way so as to not spook all the fish into scurrying
- Line Control - Once you have your fly out on the
water and it is floating away, the next function of a fly rod is to
provide for line
control. A fly
rod allows you to have much control over the line that is out on the water
- at least
once you figure out how to do it.
- Striking and Landing Fish - The fly rod is used
to both set the hook on a fish and to fight and land the fish. As such,
fly rod needs
to be flexible and strong enough to bend, sometimes under great pressure,
without breaking or snapping.
What Are You Fishing For?
Now that we know what the purpose of the fly rod is, it is time to be
honest and ask ourself a question - exactly what types of fish will I
be fishing for? You must answer this question honestly - since the answer
to this question determines everything else that follows it!
For example, you need a different type of fly rod to fish for trout
than you do for huge bass or small panfish. Likewise, a freshwater fly
rod is a lousy choice for saltwater fishing.
Thus, think things through and decide what fish species you will actually
be going for the most. If you plan on coming to Montana, that answer
is most likely trout with some bass thrown in for good measure.
Fly Rod Action Explained
There are few things more confusing in the sport of fly fishing than
fly rod action. So let's explain things - its actually quite simple.
The action of a fly rod refers to how flexible the fly rod is. If you
forget everything else, try to remember this. The action
of a fly rod is simply a fancy measure of how flexible the fly rod is.
Pretty simple, huh?
With that in mind, essentially, there are three different types of fly
rods that a beginning angler should concern themselves with. The three
different types of fly rods are differentiated by the amount of flex
in the fly rod (or the action if you just forgot).
So, how is the amount of flex in a fly rod measured? Simple, it is measured
on the backcast. The more the rod bends on the backcast, the more flexible
the fly rod is.
The Three Types of Fly Rod Action
If you would like to spare yourself some reading, I've listed some quick
recommendations below on features most beginner anglers will want to
look for when shopping for a fly rod.
Fast Action or Tip-Flex Fly Rods
A tip flex fly rod is also just what the name implies. At the end of the
backcast, the tip of the fly rod will be slightly bent but the rest of
the rod will be virtually straight as an arrow. This has benefits in
the following circumstances:
- Need to make long cast. The stiffness of the rod allows for more power
in the case.
- Fishing on windy days. The stiffness of the rod allows easier casing
on windy days since the rod is more powerful.
- Somewhat less physically demanding. Due to the power inherent in fast
action fly rods, the angler has to work less to cast the same distance
as they would if using a slower, more flexible rod.
The disadvantages of fast-action fly rods are:
- Real fast-action fly rods can be hard to learn on for beginners. The
sheer power in the rods makes "getting a feel" of the fly and fly line
difficult. Precise casts in particular will be difficult to new anglers.
- Not the best rod to be used where short casts are necessary - such
as spring creeks. For short casts, a more flexible rod provides greater
accuracy and a "smoother touch."
- For small stream fishing, a fast-action rod has a substantiallly greater
likelihood of leading to the fly and fly line being slammed into the
water - making the fish you're stalking head for the hills.
Medium Action or Mid-Flex Fly Rods
Medium action fly rods are the most versatile of the rods available. They
perform well in a wide variety of conditions. They are also quite a bit
easier to learn with than with a fast-action rod. On the backcast with
a medium action fly rod, the rod will be bent beginning from about halfway
down the rod - thus falling inbetween the fast and slow action rods.
Overall, if you can only own one fly rod - you'll want it to be a medium
action fly rod unless your fishing situation falls into one of the other
categories above or below.
Slow Actioin or Full-Flex Fly Rods
Slow action fly rods are very flexible. On the backcast, a slow action
fly rod will bend beginning about 1/4 of the way down the fly rod - and
at full backcast will almost be arched into a shallow, graceful 90 angle.
Ideal uses for slow action fly rods is for fishing small streams, where
you have to use stealth to track down fish. The flexible nature of the
fly rods makes it substantially easier than with other fly rods to have
perfect presentation that don't make a racket on the water. Additionally,
slow action fly rods are very forgiving and easy to learn on - although
they lack the utility that a medium action fly rod has.
On the next page we'll launch into an in-depth discussion about fly line
weight and how it relates to your fly rod. We'll also cover other things
such as fly rod length too. So onward.....to Fly
Rods and Fly Line Weight.
Find a Fly Rod
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