Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fitting the fly rod to the angler

A frequent scenario I encounter is the mismatching of a fly-rod to an anglers casting ability or style. It is common enough that thought I would take a few minutes and flail away with the old keyboard on the subject.

At a casting class awhile back, an angler showed up with a super-fast action tournament casting fly-rod. He had difficulty loading the rod, and his sense of timing was all over the place. The rod was just too stiff for him at the present stage of his casting learning. I had him cast a more moderate flexing rod, and the difference was immediately apparent. He could feel the rod load, and therefore his timing improved greatly. What is the lesson here?

A common aphorism states, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” Translated, this means that what works for one person may not work for another. This is why purchasing a rod based on an article in a magazine or a review can be dangerous. It also offers a partial explanation as to why so many rods are dumped on the used market every day.

We are all different, and our casting strokes are too. Some people have soft progressive strokes and like to feel the rod load into the mid or even the butt section. Some people like to cast a stiff cannon of a rod.

However, If an angler cannot load the rod with 30 feet of line out, and does not know how to double-haul, the super-stiff rod may be more of a hindrance to casting than an aid. Likewise, a soft rod used for distance casting can work, but requires a steady and experienced hand.

I have written about this type of situation before. What is best for person ‘A’ in a given situation, may not be best for person ‘B’ in the same situation.

Often anglers question their rods. “Is this rod any good?” they ask themselves. The answer once again, is that in the hands of an experienced caster, most rods on the market today can be made to shine. It all has to do with the person doing the casting, which brings us back full-circle to fitting the tool to the job and the user.

That takes some skill, and a bit of experience. Quite a few questions should be posed and honestly answered. What, where, how, etc. Few people would buy an automobile they are unfamiliar with without a test drive. Anglers should test-cast rods before purchasing. The line being cast can also make a difference. I have heard it stated that if one has to over-line his or her rod (six weight line for a fast action five-weight rod), then he or she does not know how to cast.


We are all different. Rod and line combinations that work for an expert caster, may not work for you.

The key in the rod selection process is that when you are on the river or lake, it is just you, your casting stroke, and the rod and line. The guy who sold it to you, or the magazine review you read will not be there with you. Get all the best advice you can, and visit a quality fly-shop and take a rod or two out for a test spin. If the person doing the selling tells you all about how you should buy his or her favorite rod, use caution. A good salesperson should always place themselves in your shoes, and ask leading questions before they sell you something. This way, that new rod of yours will see some river time, and not sit in the closet gathering dust.

1 comment:

  1. Good thoughts Erik. I particularly agree with the statement about over lining rods. One thing that irritated me no end when I was guiding, was the way rods were marketed. It's really frustrating to get clients who simply have the wrong rod, or even more common, the wrong line for the rod. I still see this today when teaching casting classes. People simply believe that faster is better. No fault of their own necessarily, it's just the ad campaigns at work. There are a substantial number of wonderful rods out there that are crap with their designated line weights. However, line 'em up one (sometimes even two) and they are magic. I've got some cane rods and a couple old graphites that don't HAVE line designations. The rod builder made the best stick possible and figured that you were smart enough to figure out what you liked on it...


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