Almost every time I write about fly rods, some
manufacturer comes up with improvements in materials
and/or designs that make my current recommendations
(almost) obsolete. It happened when in my second book,
Float-Tubing The West, I advised readers
on my current preferences in fly rods. I was very happy
with my current equipment, but in order to firm up my
opinions, I had ordered two new high-modulus graphite
models prior to book publication (Loomis' GLX rods).
Unfortunately, the delivery date was set back, the
manufacturer was having trouble obtaining materials to
build the rods, and I wasn't able to field test them
before my book's publication date.
I had cast the new rods, and I knew I would be happy with
them. But until I had received the rods and fished them,
I couldn't in good conscience write about them in my book.
I didn't have any idea how much they would improve my
casting efficiency, and just how much they would improve
my enjoyment of the sport of fly fishing.
As it turned out, I do like the newer high-modulus rods,
and I am now making routine 50 and 60 foot casts with about
75-percent the effort required by my old rods (which
included some top name fly rods).
The first thing Loomis did in designing these new rods,
was develop a new graphite material that allowed them to
design a stronger, lighter fly rod with a slimmer profile.
While I have owned two their previous generation fly rods
for several years, and was perfectly happy with them, the
new rods are lighter, much more powerful, and extremely
sensitive. Many other upper-end manufacturers now also
have high-modulus graphite fly rods in the $500 to $600
range that compete with G. Loomis.
ARE THE NEW HIGHER MODULUS RODS WORTH THE HIGHER PRICE
While there are certainly more $50 to $200 graphite fly
rods sold today than these upper end rods, hardcore fly
rodders all over the country are shelling out amounts up
to $600 (and more) for these new higher modulus rods.
Are they really worth that kind of money? Maybe yes...maybe
no. It depends, to a large degree, on the angler's
priorities when it comes to spending money.
A better question would be to ask whether or not higher
modulus fly rods are here to stay; and will anglers who
spend big money upgrading to the more expensive fly rods
catch more fish?
Yes to both questions (if the angler is a reasonably
proficient caster). The angler should always spend as
much for his new graphite fly rod as he can afford. A
rod costing $600 will (usually) be easier to cast long,
tight loops with than a $300 rod. The $300 rod should
outperform the $100 rod. A rule of thumb: The more
expensive rod will almost always be more pleasant on
the eyes and the hands.
An assumption, therefore, can be made that the $300 rod
is twice as efficient as the $100 rod, and that a $600
fly rod will automatically make a great caster out of
someone who is only a mediocre fly caster with the less
Not so. While there can be little argument that the more
expensive rods are more pleasing to handle than the cheaper
rods, by themselves they won't make a great caster out
of a poor caster, and they sure won't guarantee fish for
the person who already has trouble figuring out how to
fool fish. (Let's face it...Lefty could beat most of
us if he had a broom stick for a fly rod).
One doesn't need expensive fly rods to catch fish. An
analogy might be drawn between the big game hunter who
carries an old army surplus ought-six and always
skillfully bags his game; and "old deep-pockets" who
owns a $2,000 rifle, a $1,000 scope, and doesn't know
an elk track from a camel track.
Over the past 15 or 20 years the quality of the graphite
fly rods being offered has improved dramatically. Some
rods now being marketed in the $100 range are better
than the rods we paid more than $250 for 20 years ago.
MY FLY ROD COLLECTION
Three rods make up the heart of my trout fishing arsenal.
The first is an 8-foot 3-inch, 4-weight Powell IM6 (called
the Silver Creek). This relatively soft-action rod is ideal
for fishing small trout nymphs on light tippets. I also
use the rod a great deal in my bluegill fishing.
My next two rods are G.Loomis' GLX high-modulus rods.
The first is a 9-foot, 4-weight rod that will handle
everything from a double taper 3 line to a weight-forward
5 (at one time fly rods were designated with two line
recommendations. The first number was for the double
taper, the second for weight forward).
My second GLX is a 9-foot, 6-weight rod that I use with
my 6- and 7-weight lines. I tend to over-load my rods
one line size. It helps to load the rods for windy
conditions. It also makes shorter casts more efficient
(you have a bit more weight in the taper, therefore
loads the rod better on short casts). I also own an
8-weight Loomis GL3, which I use mostly for bass poppers.
I also own two Sages (an 8-foot 5/6 weight, and an 8 ½
foot 6/7-weight); and several other 8- and 9-weight rods
that I use for bass and steelhead. They include a Browning
Boron, a Fenwick World Class, and another early Sage.
I have cast, and have considered buying a 2- or 3-weight
rod. I think it might be valuable as a bluegill and small
stream trout rod. I do have a problem with them, if they
are used for larger trout. One of my early mentors,
legendary Ted Trueblood, taught me to use tackle heavy
enough to land fish as quickly as possible. He felt the
very light fly rods and ultra-light spinning equipment
were not sporting on large fish. He felt they might cause
too much stress when over-playing fish.
I once wrote a newspaper column about landing a six-pound
wild steelhead on an ultra-light spinning rod, with 2-pound
monofilament. I did it to win a bet and it took nearly an
hour to land the fish. Ted wrote me a very critical letter
about my column. He felt I had done a disservice to my
readers by encouraging them to emulate my "poor judgement."
By nature, Ted was a truly "gentle" man; but he had no
trouble sounding off when he felt you were on the wrong
side of an issue.
I may one day purchase one of the lighter fly rods. In
the meantime, I enjoy fishing my 4- and 5-weight rods.
Since I fish very few small streams, I can't justify
the cost of the rod, reel, and lines, I would need to
buy to fish the few small creeks I do fish.
During my early years of accumulating fly rods, I had to
talk long and hard before I could convince the chairperson
of the board that we should invest our assets in something
we couldn't eat, wear, drive, or live in. After a few years
I had accumulated 9 or 10 fairly inexpensive fly rods.
When I had saved up enough in my "hobby kitty" for a new
rod I had been eye-balling, I would buy it and sneak it
into my office by the dark of night, replacing the rod
I had the least use for.
All my wife knows about my fly rods is that I have a stack
of about a dozen standing in the corner of my office. She
has absolutely no idea that, in the past 30 years, the
value of that stack of rods has increased from a few
hundred dollars to a few thousand. Am I afraid this
column might give me away? Naw...my wife never reads
my columns (I've got an entire column written on that
subject)...Vina's only interest in fly fishing, is
that the books and newspaper columns I write, somehow,
for one weird reason or another (her words), helps pay
the grocery bills.
A question that I'm asked all the time is: What is the
perfect float tube fly rod? My answer might be considered
a cop out. There is no perfect float tube rod. Some
manufacturers label their 9 ½- to 10 ½-foot rods "float
tube rods." They might be...for some tubers.
I broke into tubing before graphite came on line and
the only way we could get the light rods we wanted
in the '60s and early '70s, was to buy the best
quality 8-foot fiberglass blanks we could find,
and shorten them by a foot or so. I, therefore,
learned to float tube with 6 ½- to 7-foot fiberglass
rods. At times I still feel my 9-foot fly rods are
longer than I need.
I won't, therefore, designate any one rod length or
line size as "perfect." I think the two Loomis GLX's
mentioned in this column are (probably) perfect for
my needs. I tend to be a little fast on the trigger,
so the GLX action fits me like a glove. The 4-wt
works for me when I'm fishing a typical trout lake
where the largest trout might be 4- or 5-pounds.
When I'm fishing Pyramid Lake, Henry's Lake, or one
of Montana's Blackfeet Indian Reservation Lakes,
where I might run into fish in the 5- to 15-pound
range, I use the 6-weight. ~ Marv
Float-Tubing The West, The Successful Angler's Journal,
More Fragments of the Puzzle, (Volume I) and More
Fragments of the Puzzle, (Volume II) are all available from
Marv. You can reach Marv by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 208-322-5760.