May 19th, 2003

Slower Rods
By James Castwell

I suppose that should read, 'A few thoughts in defense of slower rods and perhaps lighter ones too.' Some years back most fly-fished more or less locally, often spending nearly all of their hours on the same body of water, be it either stream or lake or both, but mostly close to home. Now we travel. Better roads and cars make it convenient to reach many locales and we do it often. This means we need a wider range of fly-gear; rods, reels and lines. The mix will include many rods; short, long, slow and fast for all the varying conditions. We must also learn to handle that mix. Here tempers bump heads with ideologies. Which is best. Well, there probably is one best for each exact situation and fisherman. I have no idea what it is.

For instance. I am on a pond, facing a slight breeze, a rising fish (24 inch rainbow) out about 50 feet taking a size 16 (PMD) spinner. Go with a 5wt or 6 wt med-fast rod so I can make the cast and handle a fish that size? Or use a 3wt medium action? Let's consider each.

With the 5/6 (assuming it is a 9 ft) I can make the cast alright. The line will be a bit thicker and may be a consideration as well as the diameter of the leader. If the fish takes the fly and I raise the rod I have a chance of breaking him off on the strike (due to the stiffness of the rod) and/or taking the fly away from him if I am too quick. If I raise the rod straight up (90) degrees while playing/fighting him the rod will not be as forgiving as a slower one.

With the slower 3wt (perhaps an 8 footer?) I can still make the cast, will have a thinner line and leader image, be less likely to rip the fly away from him on the take as the rod is slower and I will have a far better shock-absorber if he gets a bit squirrely. Remember, on slow or still water my line is under immediate control and has little slack. (Not the case in fast water where controlled slack is a must to get a decent drift.) But I will have less line and backing to use if needed. That could be a factor.

As to which rod will bring to fish to hand faster, they should be about equal as I play a fish more from the reel than the rod; that is, I try to keep the rod pointed up no more than 45 degrees at any time. Raising a rod above that does two things, it applies only the delicate tip which has no power at all and the rod can break. Both of these are not desirable.

I did notice at the last Fish-In, those with the larger rods did have hooking problems and landing problems to some extent. These could have been reduced by the use of slower rods.

Some may say I should have used a bigger faster rod to land the fish really fast. Using a 16 or 18 fly on 6X just how much more pressure can be used? I also landed one 'bow on a size 24. The 3wt made it almost too easy. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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