Rods The single most important tool to fly fisherman
is the fly rod. Its job begins with casting fly-line
leader and fly to the fish. Once the fly hits the water,
the rod is used to control the line and the fly. This
is referred to as "mending". When a fish picks up the
fly, the rod's job changes again. The rod is now used
to set the hook or drive the hook into the fish's mouth.
The role of the fly rod changes once again when the
fish is hooked. It is then used to keep a constant pressure
on the fly-line so the fish can not pull off or spit
the hook. At the same time, it is being used to play
or tire out the fish so it can be landed. In order to
better understand the fly rod, I will focus on four
specific areas: Parts, different actions of the fly
rod, different types of fly rods, and their uses.
first fly rods were made from wood, such as hickory
or willow. These rods were long and very heavy. They
were too heavy to cast, so fishermen used them to place
the fly over the fish. As a need for a lighter and more
versatile rod came about, rod builders began to experiment
with bamboo. They found if they glued together long
strips of bamboo or split-cane, rods were much lighter
than earlier ones. They were strong, yet flexible so
they immediately replaced the wooden rods. Bamboo rods
were great, but they were very expensive and required
In the 1940's, fiberglass rods hit the market. These
rods were cheaper and more durable, and quickly replaced
the bamboo rods. The early fiberglass rods were made
from solid blanks, which made them inaccurate. As rod
builders developed techniques to build hollow rods,
the art of fly-casting took a turn for the better. These
new hollow, fiberglass rods were stronger, lighter and
more accurate then the previous ones. The fiberglass
rods dominated the market until the 1960's when graphite
arrived on the scene. Graphite was stronger and stiffer
than the fiberglass. This enabled rod builders to make
an even lighter and stronger rod, which could produce
higher line speeds equaling greater casting distance.
Today, the graphite fly rod rules the marketplace.
majority of the fly rods today are between 7 and 9 feet
long. These length rods can accommodate the majority
of fishing situations. There are specialty rods that
are smaller than 7 feet for fishing small streams, and
larger than 9 feet for fishing salt water, larger bodies
of water, or lobbing slinky's. When you hear people
talking about the weight of a fly rod, they are not
speaking of how heavy it is. They are talking about
the size line that the rod throws. Thus, a five- weight
rod throws a five- weight fly-line. The weight of the
fly-line usually determines the type of fishing that
is done. Fly rod weights range from 1 to 15, with the
majority of rods ranging from 4-10 wt. With the strength
and power of the modern graphite fly rods, most rods
can throw more than 1 line class. Most five-weight rods
can throw a 4, 5, or 6, weight flyline.
fly fishermen talk about a rod's casting performance,
they are describing its action. The action of a fly
rod is measured by two characteristics. The first is
how much and where the rod bends when it is loaded by
the fly-line. The second is how fast the rod recovers
from the bend. The material that makes the rod and the
specifications on the rod determines the action. The
taper of the rod and placement of the guides influence
its action as well. A rod with fast actions has about
30% of its' rod bent when it is loaded. A medium action
rod has about a 60% bend when loaded. A slow action
rod has about 90% of the rod bent when loaded. Most
fishermen prefer a rod with a faster action, although
this varies from person to person.
It is important to find out what the optimum line weight
is for your specific rod. If you over-line a rod (6-weight
line on a 5-weight rod), it could improve your performance.
The same may hold true if you underline your rod (4
weight line on a 5 weight rod) Nevertheless, most modern
rods perform best with the recommended weight line,
or over-lining one weight class.
better understand the fly rod, you should become familiar
with the parts of the rod, and their functions. The
"Butt" of the rod is the stiffest section. It mainly
adds strength and length to the rod. During a battle
with a fish, the fishermen can use the butt end of the
rod to put leverage on the fish. Most light flyrods
(line weights 1-6) have a butt plate. Its' job is to
protect the fisherman when he is fighting a fish. The
majority of the heavier rods (7-15) have a fighting
extension behind the reel seat, so that fisherman can
gain more leverage.
second section is the reel seat. Its job is to hold
the reel in place so it is properly lined up with the
guides. The reel seat has two different parts: the reel
seat where the actual reel sits, and the reel seat lock
that keeps the reel where it belongs. There are three
different types of reel seats: the up locking, down
locking, and the sliding band reel seat. The up-locking
reel seat has become the most popular. It is used on
the majority of medium and heavy rods. It is the most
secure, and allows more room between the reel and the
end of the rod. The down-locking reel seat is works
similar to the up-locking reel seat. However, the reel
sits at the very end of the rod, thus it can get in
the way while fighting a fish. The sliding band reel
seat is still used on some light rods. It has two sliding
bands to hold the foot of the reel. These light bands
do not have a lock, so the rods must be fitted with
light reels. Fishermen must be careful when using this
type of reel seat.
next part of the fly rod is the grip or cork.This action
of the rod is where the fisherman holds the rod. There
are three different styles of grips that are popular.
They are the cigar grip, half-wells, and full-wells
grips. The cigar grip gets its name because it gives
the angler a more delicate feel. The half-well grip
is used on most intermediate-weight rods. It is flared
at only one end, and gives the angler more leverage
than the cigar grip. This extra leverage is an advantage
for casting longer distances and for fighting larger
fish. The full wells grip is most common in heavier
fly rods and most saltwater rods. Its cork is thicker
than the other two grips. A rear flare in the cork allows
enough room for the reel foot on up locking reel seats.
This type of grip gives the angler even more leverage
enabling longer casting. Most fishermen must decide
which grip is most comfortable for them.
we work our way up the blank, we come to the first guide.
This is called the stripper or stripping guide. Its
main job is to reduce friction between the line and
guides, and help eliminate the fly-line from tangling.
The stripping guide is larger than the other guides,
and is made from a hard, low-friction material. It has
a large inside diameter that helps reduce line friction.
remaining guides on the rod are called snake guides.
Their main purpose is to keep the line close to the
blank during casting. In return, this will control where
and how the flyline travels. The snake guides are very
light and nearly friction free. The
guide on the end of the rod is called the tip-top. Its
job is the same as the snake guide's.
flyrods are all multi-purpose rods. Most rods are two,
three, or four pieces. The ferrule is the section of
the flyrod, where the two pieces of a multi-piece rod
fit together. Ferrule systems have both a male and female
piece. Generally speaking, the male part is the bottom
end of the rod that fits into the female and locks in
place. The male piece of the ferrule is the actual blank.
The female section is graphite, or the graphite composite
sleeve that fits over the end of the other blank. With
the taper of the modern blank and the improvement in
the ferrule system, the multiple piece fly rod can perform
like a single one piece blank. The two types of ferrule
systems are the sleeve- over and the spigot ferrule
this information on fly rods has helped you become more
familiar with the fly fisherman's most important tool.
For new fishermen purchasing rods, here are some important
points to remember:
Buy quality. The fly rod is the most important
tool, thus use your money to invest in a quality fly
rod. They not only retain their value, but the fishermen
will not have to upgrade to better rods.
rods with warranties. Flyrods are expensive, and
many accidents do occur! Make sure that you are covered.
odds or evens. Choose
either odd or even weight rods at first. Modern rods
can be over-lined, enabling you to throw more line
sizes and do more types of fishing. If you buy a 5,
7, and 9-weight rod, you can use these to fish using
4-10 wt. lines.
Buy anodized real seats
on all rods, 7 weight and up. This will enable you
to fish both fresh and salt water.