Friday, January 17, 2014

Selecting A Fly Rod/Blank

Which is the right one for me?
Custom Winston

     Are you looking to build your first fly rod, upgrading your present rod, or seeking a new rod for a special kind of fishing you want to try?
     From a bewildering array of lengths, actions, line weights and brand names, we can help you choose the rod/blank, which best suits your fishing needs, casting style and budget. Remember, no one rod will do it all! The choice of your new fly rod depends on the type of fishing you want to do with it.
Let’s start by understanding the different line weights a fly rod will carry. Many fly fishers do not realize that rods and fly lines should balance each other. A rod that is designed for a 5-weight line may not perform as well with a heavier or lighter line, although a very fast action rod can benefit from a line weight heavier than the line designation. This will be up to the caster and is not a set rule.
     Line weights range from the lightest 000 through a big game 12 wt. Rods for lighter line weights give more delicate presentations to spooky fish in clear water. They make playing smaller fish more exciting and challenging. And when you do hook into that really big fish, their shock absorbency helps keep big fish from breaking light tippets.
     Rods which carry heavier line weights are more powerful for longer casts, windier conditions. They handle heavy flies and sinking lines in deep water. They have the backbone to control large, powerful fish in fast currents.

     The trade-offs are delicacy versus power, in presentation and landing fish. Factors to consider in deciding what line size you need are: 
  • Size and species of fish
  • Size and type of water
  • Size, weight and style of flies
  • Strength of tippet
  • Wind 
     Rods are built in lengths, which commonly range from 6 to 10 feet; spey rods can reach 16 feet. The rods at the extremes of this range are very specialized. If you want a rod for a small brushy stream, a short rod works best in tight situations, both for casting and for playing fish.
Longer rods keep back-casts high, for instance, while float tubing. They control line better on larger waters, they maintain tension while playing larger fish, and apply more leverage to land fish. Long rods typically perform roll casts better.
     Consider these factors:
  • Type of fishing (e.g. wading, tubing, etc.)
  •  Casting obstacles
  •  Size and type of water 
     Other important features of rods are performance and action. Performance is the ability of a rod to work effectively under a wide range of fishing conditions. The best rods cast accurately at all ranges, mend line easily and present your fly whatever the situation demands. They combine the best attributes of both sensitivity and power.
     Rod actions are classified as moderate, fast and very fast. Moderate actions give more delicate presentations and cast without amplifying certain casting flaws. They load efficiently and are often the best action for beginning casters. Fast to very fast actions give greater power and accuracy for longer casts or windy conditions.

     When considering performance and action in your new rod, these are important factors:
  • Ease and accuracy of long and short casts
  • Power and casting range
  • Shock absorbency
  • Delicacy and sensitivity
  • Your own casting style 
     High quality rods/blanks cost more for a variety of reasons. The graphite itself is an expensive material. High performance Graphite or Graphite/Boron combinations are more expensive than earlier generations of the same material. Design of a quality rod is a process of refinement that requires building and discarding many prototypes before the optimum design and materials are found. The quality of the components, the grip, guides and reel seat, and the workmanship contribute to the cost.
     Better quality rods/blanks are simply going to cost more. It’s up to you to decide the best value and price for your individual needs. Buy the best one you can afford. Its versatility and your enjoyment will pay off!
     Just in the last decade or so, two important new developments have entered the world of high quality fly rods. They include higher modulus graphite and tip over ferrule design, resulting in high performance travel rods. Up until a few years ago, rods of more than two pieces were significantly heavier and stiffer than two piece rods because rod makers had to reinforce the ferrules. Now the standard of performance in many three, four, five and even seven piece rods equals that of two piece rods. Yet these rods fit in tubes half the length, making them so much easier to store and transport. We predict that in the very near future, 2 piece rods will be a thing of the past.
     For your new blank/rod purchase consider:
  • Convenience of a shorter tube
  • Rod security for air travel
  • Fitting into your gear bag
  • A single tube for multiple rods
  • Likelihood of fishing different types of water on the same trip 
This is one of my favorite ultra-light fly rod fishing spots!
Posted by Bob W.

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