This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

December 2nd, 2002

Why Doesn't My Rod Cast...

One of the great mysteries of fly fishing is one you don't often see discussed. Yet every once in a while, a friend will ask a question about it.

This past week a list-server I read had a series of questions having to do with why a particular rod cast the way it did, and was a particular 'wave' in his fly line the fault of the design of the taper of the rod tip.

I don't respond to the list, but it certainly brought the problem to light again.

What's the problem?

Fly lines.

First, there are far too many fly lines on the market. Oh sure, I understand the concept. Introduce a new 'speciality' line for certain uses and the fly shops have to buy/stock another line. If a manufacturer brings out several new lines every year, (and some do) they get stacked upon stacks at the fly shop - and frankly the shop owner or employee doesn't know a heck of a lot more about each of those lines than we do. And I'm sure no expert on them either.

But I've learned a few things.

How a specific rod casts can be influenced tremendously by the weight of the line you put on it, or even the configuration of the line. The line can make or break the performance of any rod - from the cheapest to the most expensive. Some rods are designed specifically to cast one specific line and just don't cast or feel right with any other line.

I wrote a while back about casting a new rod, which we tried six different lines on before we found one which worked. As it turned out the rod indeed had a specific line designed for it. Of course, the rod cast like a dream with it. It should have, the match was made for each other.

So what if you have a rod, maybe not the best rod in the world, but one which should be casting nicely - but it isn't. Is it the fault of the rod?

Where do we start? You may not want to hear this, but how is your casting? Do you understand the basics? Can you make a 20 foot cast, accurately? 30 foot? 40? More?

What makes the line go out? Stopping the rod. That's it. No secret. Stopping the rod makes the line go.

Any reasonably competent caster should be able to make a 40 foot cast with one or two false casts, accurately. With any rod, from the cheapest import up to and including the broom.

Shocked? Don't be. It isn't the rod.

OK, how do you tell if you need a new line? The line should be marked (when you buy it) the same weight as your rod. If the line feels 'light' and does have waves in it as it goes out on the forward cast (and your casting isn't whimpy) the line may be too light for your rod. Try a line one weight heavier. Borrow one from a friend or local fly shop if they have 'demo' lines. By the way, all fly shops receive 'demo' lines from the manufacturers. They are supposed to be used for 'trying' on rods, not sold.

If the rod feels noodley, slow, try a line one weight lighter. The result should be a rod which feel quicker and more responsive.

If neither of those 'fixes' work, you may indeed have a problem with either your casting itself or the rod. We do not recommend over-lining a rod more than one line weight, and some rod manufacturers will tell you your warranty isn't valid if you purposefully overstress the limits of a rod. (So don't say you didn't ever hear that.)

Do buy the best line you can afford. We have all three of the best line companies as Sponsors here on FAOL and they all produce quality products. Buy a line which will suit the type of fishing you do - and match your rod. If you must skimp, skimp on the reel.

Now back to the original problem. Picking the right fly line. We currently have a two good articles on FAOL about the difference fly lines. One on Trout Lines and Double Taper vs Weight Forward Fly Lines, Which Is Really Better? We don't have enough good information on the rest of the lines. We are working on it - don't give up, more to come.

In the meantime, if you have specific questions feel free to ask us or post on the Bulletin Board and we will try to help. ~ LadyFisher

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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