Made an interesting discovery this week. My husband JC
and I fished three days for our local Chum salmon, in the
estuary emptying into Sinclair Inlet of Puget Sound. This
fishery has some big, tough fish, running to nearly 30
JC has caught a Chum with the famous broom, but the usual
way we fish this run is with 8 wt rods, sink-tip lines for
the deeper water, or floating line in the shallow water
(depending on tide). The fly we use is in the Fly of the
Week Archives, it's Castwell's Chum Fly.
The first two days we fished we used our 8wt, 9 ft, Lamiglas
rods. We have other rods, but since the possibility of
breaking a rod is increased with the size of these fish, we
decided to use rods with plenty of backbone for landing fish.
And land fish we did. I quit counting after six, and JC was
catching about the same number as I was. I broke off one
totally at the leader knot and lost another two. It was
probably the best day of salmon fishing I've ever had.
Except I really paid for it. By the time we got home, maybe
45 minutes, I was really sore. My thumb hurt, elbow hurt,
the muscle out on the outside of my upper arm hurt, shoulder
hurt...a few ibuprofen and a hot shower didn't help.
Two days later we were back at it. Not as many fish, but just
as sore. This is long line casting, 50 - 70 foot or longer
casts every time, targeting incoming pods of fish. Strip the
line in, roll cast pick-up and cast again. We fished like this
for 3 or 4 hours, taking one break on land. Along towards the
end of our day I wandered up to the point of land and was
casting across the stream mouth, throwing an upstream mend
to keep my line behind my fly. JC came along and asked why
I wasn't using the half-roll cast mend, (also called the ball
and chain) - and I said the rod wouldn't perform it. He had
to try, and found no, it wouldn't. Interesting since the
particular rod is very popular with steelheaders. When we
arrived home the same routine, ibuprofen, hot shower, and
sore as hell.
By Friday we had another rain come in and decided to take
a last try at the Chum for this season. Back we went - but
we took two different rods. We took the new Sage TCR rods.
Same weight, 8 wt and again 9 ft.
We fished the same way, except that JC mentioned he noticed
I was making less false casts. I really hadn't been aware
of it until he mentioned it. After our usual 3 or 4 hours
I again went up to where the stream dumps into the estuary
and tried the same cast and mend I had not been able to make
earlier. Bingo, the rod made the cast easily. Hmmmmmm.
Eventually we got home and were sitting in the living room
having a cup of coffee when JC said, "where do you hurt?"
I didn't hurt. Anywhere!
Well, JC being a "Dr. Spock" type, we had to analyze this.
Why didn't we hurt? We sure didn't get any younger over this
time period. But we did change rods.
Before you figure here I'm going to do a pitch for the most
expensive rod in the Sage arsenal, relax. We have them on
loan, we don't own them, and yes, they are very expensive.
That's not the point.
The point however may be, less is more!
The Sage TCR is lighter in hand, carries and delivers more
line with less effort - (meaning you are not making as many
false casts) and since it has more authority will put a mend
where you want it.
Comparing the two rods side by side, the TCR is also skinnier,
(thinner) so aerodynamically it is also easier to cast. Is
that a reason to buy a different rod? I tend to agree with
Sage's marketing approach on the TCR, it probably isn't a
rod for everyone.
How many times have you heard another fly fisher comment about
having a sore wrist? Sore thumb? Sore elbow? Shoulder problems?
Why is that happening?
Is it the fault of the rod? Frankly I won't be in a position
to find out again. Been there, done that. And it was stupid
of me not to realize it. This may not work for you, and maybe
it is because JC and I are older than dirt. But it sure made
a huge, read that as HUGE difference in how we felt at the
end of the day.
If you are having physical discomfort - (pain?) at the end of
your fishing day, perhaps you should take a serious look at
the rod you are using. There are enough rods on the market
that no one should ever have to fish a rod which causes
Please give this some thought. I've talked to enough fly
fishers to know right now there are people fishing rods which
are bad for their health. (Do we need Ralph Nader with Consumer
Warnings on fly rods?) You may have a 'favorite' rod which
may severely limit your fishing career. You may be compensating
with physical strength to overcome the limitations of a rod.
If you had the proper rod for your fishing you wouldn't have
to compensate, much less hurt at the end of day - or the next
Fly fishing should be fun. It should be a release from all
the other stuff we put up with. It should be a place where
we feel refreshed and renewed. Not hurt.
An extra warning here. If you are a steelheader you are
particularly vulnerable. Repetitive casts, mending, heavy
flies and long rods. Do an inventory. What price are you
I don't have all the answers folks, but we sure got a vivid
and painful education this week. One I'm not likely to forget.
Maybe I can save you some grief.
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