February 12th, 2001

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

To Bend or Not to Bend
(the rod that is)

By Allen Crise (Flysoup)

The other night I watched a great fly fishing guide tell about the Offshore Fly Fishing on the Texas Coast. The fish were big and powerful. He told about the thirty and forty pound king mackerel. Dorado that would jump and fight. The Bonito that took 'poppers'. Ling trailing a fly. His photos were great the fishing was well documented. His speaking was very good, jokes that were a crowd pleaser. As far as most might think he had great trips off shore for some big, fast, hard fighting fish.

He showed the fly-fishermen fighting fish with the rod bent so the tip was down below the rod butt. Wait! The Rod was bent into a horseshoe. I know that if I tried to bend my fly rod that way what would happen. Sure enough he was telling about how many (guaranteed) rods were broken. Now if you think that bending a rod into a bend that makes the tip come down that far is putting pressure on a fish, then you had better listen to what this ol' cowboy is a tellin'. You are not even moving a fish with the rod or reel. All you are doing is straining the rod, to death.

I am sure that you have seen or heard of how Lefty or Chico fights a big fish. Not with the tip of the rod but with the BUTT, the lower section where the mass of the rod is, not the light tip. The tip is for casting and keeping a light tippet from breaking. The power of a rod is in the lower third. When you start lifting a fish from the deep water it is natural thing to raise the rod trying to lift the fish from the water. Then sliding the hand up the rod past the grip. What you have done is to put pressure on the rod not the fish.

Try this; place a weight on the floor and tie your fly line to it. A jug of water will work. Stand on a steps or a ladder. (Not a chair, I do not want you to fall.) Hold the rod parallel to the floor. Try to lift the water jug with the fly rod by raising the tip of the rod. Tighten the drag. All that will happen is the rod is bending more. Now point the rod down at the jug. Now raise the rod or strip in the line. You can now move the weight. You took the spring of the rod out of the lift and put the weight on the lower third and on the reel or your hand. You can take a fish a lot faster this way. Just point the rod at the fish, wind or strip; something has to give. This is not the best way to save a light tippet but we are talking wire or 30 lb. Mono, "Heavy Stuff."

Here are some tips: Put the tip in the water. Stand near the gunnel, or better yet near the bow. If the fish runs let him, this is what tires him out. Jumping is even a bigger user of energy. When the fish runs lift the rod, a little, to let the pressure off the line. If the fish starts jumping drop the rod tip towards the fish. If he lands on the line it will not break as easy as if tight.

You tell me you broke a rod fighting a fish I will just show you how hard it is to pull the fish up to the surface with the reel (winch). If you want to put pressure on a fish, point the rod tip at the fish not the butt. Raise the rod just a little, to give you some forgiveness on the line. I build fine casting rods - I do not build portable cranes.

Fly casting is as easy as flysoup. ~ Allen Crise

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