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Home Doc Trout's Blog Fly Rods

Fly rods

The Benefits of a Balanced Outfit

By Doc Trout


     I received my new 7 pc. March Brown  convertible 7ft. 4wt. fly rod today (see my gear reviews section for a review of this rod) and as I was comparing it to my 2 pc. Orvis Superfine "Small Stream" 7ft. 5wt. rod, I noticed something interesting. First, I compared the two rods side by side without reels attached and noted their flex characteristics. Then, I placed a reel on each rod and again noted their flex characteristics and, both rods were noticeably slower (more limber) than they were without the reels attached. Then, I experimented with finding a reel that would balance with the March Brown rod and I again noticed that when I placed a reel in the reel seat that made the balance butt-heavy, the rod felt more flexible than it did when I placed a lighter reel in the reel seat. In addition, when I placed a reel in the reel seat that made the balance tip-heavy, the rod felt faster (stiffer) than it did with the lighter reel in place. However, once I finally found that magic combination that perfectly balanced the rod directly under my middle finger when I grasp the grip as if I were casting, then the effect was absolutely astounding! Not only did the combination feel as if it were light as a feather, I felt like I had the ability to place the fly precisely where I wanted it with almost no effort! Thus, my opinion that a balanced fly rod and reel outfit is of paramount importance to the fly angler was once again resoundingly confirmed. So, if you want to outfit to perform as well as it possibly can, thus providing you with both greater casting accuracy and less fatigue in your casting arm, then you need to purchase a reel that properly balances with your fly rod.



Fly Rod Action vs. Length

by Doc Trout


     Although I have always instinctually understood the function of a fly rod's action vs. its length, it has taken me several years to define it in such a way that I can clearly communicate it to other people. However, it finally occurred to me that the action of a fly rod determines the minimum distance at which it will load. While the length of a fly rod determines the maximum distance over which it will cast. In other words, a fly rod's action determines whether the rod will load at close, medium, or long ranges and rod length determines whether the rod will cast at the minimum or maximum distance within that range. Now, what I mean by that is that fly rods with slower actions require less line to be extended beyond the rod tip to load them and thus they will load more easily at shorter ranges than faster rods of the same length and line weight will. Thus, rods with slow, medium, and fast actions will all load and cast over different ranges. In addition, the longer a fly rod is, the greater the distance over which it will cast a given size fly on a given fly line weight. Thus, the length of a fly rod determines the minimum and maximum distances at which it will cast within the range of a given action. Consequently, for small stream use, I prefer rods with full-flex (slow) actions in 7 ft., 7 ft. 9 in., and 8 ft. 6 in. lengths with 4 wt. or 5 wt. lines and I like to fish with the longest of the three lengths that the streamside foliage will allow me to.



Fly Rods Are Like Golf Clubs

by Doc Trout


     Is it possible to have too many fly rods? I was looking at my fly rod collection the other day when I realized that I have 15 fly rods and my collection continues to grow. In fact, I have rods for small streams, I have rods for big water, I have rods for Smallmouth fishing, and I have rods for kayak fishing. But, the whole reason that I have so many rods is that each rod is particularly well suited to a single purpose and therefore I would feel at a loss if I were to be deprived of even one of them. Thus, it has occurred to me that fly rods are a lot like golf clubs in that while you could play 18 holes of golf with only one club, I suspect that it wouldn't be very productive or very much fun; and fly rods are the same way. In fact, I often joke with people that a fly fishermen needs to bring a rod caddy along just like a golfer because no matter which rod you choose, there is always a hole or lie just around the bend that you really need "that other rod" for. Thus, it would be REALLY convenient if, when out on a stream, you could turn to your rod caddy and say: "Seven foot, four weight, please" or "Eight-and-a hafl-foot, five weight, please".