Keep this in mind; no two people cast exactly alike.
With that said, as much as I can, I will try to make
this objective but know it will be a bit subjective.
That means, it's this way for me; it may not be
'exactly' this way for you.
This is a commentary on two nearly identical fly rods.
As it happens I have in my possession a nine foot, six
weight rod and an eight foot, six weight rod, both made
by the Italian company, Gatti. They retail for
approximately five-hundred dollars but that is not
a factor in this summery. I will mention I am extremely
partial to Gatti rods as they seem to fit my casting
methods and I have been using them for some years.
When asked what rod length is best, my answer for this
line weight is always a nine foot rod. It is more forgiving,
smoother and more adaptable to differing conditions such
as mending line. A well designed nine foot rod will assist
the caster by smoothing out the minor imperfections made
in a casting stroke. The length makes the rod more of an
extension of a persons arm.
The eight foot rod, designed for casting the same weight
line is in some ways as different as night and day. Being
shorter it seems lighter. It feels more like a five weight
compared to the nine-footer. Also being shorter it is
easier to stop. That of course makes it easier to cast
and requires less effort for the same distance. It is
less forgiving however. Any mistakes, no matter how slight,
may show up in the cast. The rod will not compensate as
readily as the nine foot rod.
I would not suggest an eight foot length for a novice
caster or someone just learning to cast. However for
the experienced caster it is a formidable weapon. It
has a feeling of command and accuracy. It feels more
alive in the hand and more like a tool in its performance.
In conclusion, if when you fly-fish you take a relaxed,
nonchalant attitude, the nine foot rod is for you. If
you lean forward, are aggressive and 'on the hunt,'
I might well suggest the eight foot rod. It offers
a bit more control for those who can control it. My
personal choice? One of each, of course! ~ JC