Bamboo Bonzai

Dry-Fly Fundamentals and Tackle

Excerpt from Chapter 7 Trout
By Ray Bergman
Published by Alfred A. Knopf (1938)

There are two very essential requirements that the angler must master for consistently successful dry-fly fishing. These are: delicacy in presenting the fly, and the ability to float that fly in a natural manner, the same as a natural fly would float if carried along by the current. Sounds simple, doesn't it? It is, provided you overcome the difficulties that might prevent their fulfillment.

Delicacy is attained through an ability to cast properly, together with a rod, line and leader that work in perfect harmony with the caster. So much has been written about rods, balance, lines, leaders, and how to cast that I doubt I shall be able to add anything to the sum total of knowledge. But it is necessary to say something about these things in order to make this work complete, and I offer the following suggestons.

First, for delicacy in casting it is best not to have a rod that is too heavy or stiff. Usually better-grade rods ranging from seven-and-a-half to nine feet in length and from three and three-quarter to five-and-a-half ounces in weight will fill the bill. However, in the matter of weight it is a good idea not to be too particular as some rods of identical length and weight may have actions as different as night and day. For instance I have one seven-and-a-half-foot rod of three-and-three-quarter ounces that is like a poker and, as far as I am concerned, fit only for spinner or bait fishing. At the same time I have several others of the same length and weight that are stiff and powerful without being pokers. Also I have a couple of four to four-and-a-half ounce (glass) rods of the same length that are just right. It's all in the feel, with power and stiffness being combined with resiliency and suppleness. Some rods have this; others do not. Now this "right" feel is an elusive thing. It is indescribable - that is, to the extent that you can't possibly pick out a rod from the description. The nearest I can come to giving you an impression of it is that you feel a rigid resistance but at the same time feel the rod live and breath right down to the grip. The action is distributed with a decreasing, even power from the hand grasp to the tip.

Very few antlers are able to recognize this quality when they have a new rod in their hands. Only much experience in handling rods can develop one's senses to the point where it is possible to recognize this quality. For this reason it is best to buy your rods from reliable dealers or makers, from those who have plenty of experience either in making or handling rods, from those who know what a good dry-fly rod should possess, or from someone who has had contact with so many good fishermen that he has absorbed those niceties of judgment which are necessary in order to accuarately judge action in a rod. ~ Ray Bergman

Publishers note: We excerpt the previous, first published in 1938, as a bit of a comparison to where rod building and fly fishing is today. And to note, some things never change! Continued next time.

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