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.
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.
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
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