Choosing a Fly Rod can be a confusing business!
Some anglers suggest you select fly rods according to the species you intend to catch, others by location, others by physical stature. Actually, it’s a bit of all these factors and this table will help you narrow your choice of fly rod by reference to where you might be going fishing and what you might be catching there.
Rod ‘Actions’ – Do I need a Soft, Medium, Fast or Tip Action Fly Rod?
The actual, alleged or apparent ‘action’ or ‘speed’ of fly rods causes more trouble than it should. It is actually a very poor attempt at trying to describe whether a fly rod is ‘stiff’ or ‘not so stiff’ and if so, where is it stiff and why this should be better or not, depending on what you are catching and how you cast... Get the idea?
There are 3 conventional terms to describe the ‘Actions’ of fly rods.
Soft or Through Action - sometimes referred to as ‘Butt-action’ or ‘Progressive action’.
When casting, the whole blank bends from the handle all the way to the tip and it is quite difficult to control your casting loops and thus your presentation. These were the norm in fly rods in the 60s fibreglass era and a big improvement over split-cane fly rods. But with the advent of modern Carbon Fibre and Graphite, they are now rare.
Middle-Tip Action - or “Medium-fast” action.
THE BEST ALL-ROUND FLY RODS.
During casting these fly rods hardly seem to bend from the bottom at all but from the middle towards the tip. These fly rods are good for all sorts of situations and tactics and are more forgiving when casting then playing and handling fish so they are less likely to break in a moment of crisis.
With a slightly slower casting stroke to allow the rod to load, they are also very capable of casting a long line with less applied effort than that required with fast action fly rods.
Fast or Tip-Action – the rod blank from the handle up to and through the ‘middle’ is specially stiffened and the blank only really bends in the top say third of the length. This action requires a much more precise and skilled casting stroke but in the right hands such fly rods are capable of casting a greater variety of ‘loops’ for varied presentation of you r fly. Also, greater distance may be possible in the correct hands but a fast action fly rod can be hard work on the arms and shoulders.
More fly fishermen ‘think’ they need a fast action fly rod than understand why and even less know how to use them properly... But, in the hands of a very competent caster, they can allow a wider range of casts with longer delivery, presenting bigger (such as saltwater/pike) flies and into-wind casting.
Our Best Advice is to Start with a Middle-Tip Action fly rod, get some appropriately Qualified Tuition, enjoy some fishing and then treat yourself to a quality faster action rod!
What Fly Line do I need on my Fly Rods?
There needs to be some means of matching a fly rod to a line. The method used is the AFTM system (American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers). The AFTM Number (eg #6) is an indication of the stiffness or power of the rod. Basically, the higher the AFTM No, the more powerful the rod is and requires a heavier line to load and cast correctly.
Fly lines are notionally rated with the same system, (eg WF6) which is a weight forward AFTM6 (#6) rated line.
The system is based upon the fact that the first 30ft or so of a, say #7 line weighs enough to load the ‘spring’ of a #7 rod. But this is not rocket science, common sense dictates that not every cast of a #7 rod will be exactly 30ft long and so in practice, a #7 rod is quite capable of casting a #6, #7 or #8 line, always assuming the angler understands the basic principles of casting.
Do not spend sleepless nights worrying about which line to put with which fly rod and in the case of fly rods with a double AFTM No, if the rod is rated at AFTM #6/7, it should be capable of dealing with any #6 or #7 line.
All fishing rods use the principle of a loaded spring which when released, enables a bait to be cast to the fish, with the same spring helping to control the subsequent hooking and landing of the fish. Modern fly rods use modern man-made materials, normally Carbon Fibre, to achieve the slight and subtle variations in the stiffness or ‘power’ in the rod to suit the many different locations, conditions and fish species.
There are essentially Two different Types of Fly Rods:
The Single-Handed (SH) Fly Rod – usually from about 6ft to 10ft long, used primarily for catching small to medium sized fish, mostly in small to medium sized streams, rivers, lakes and creeks where the water conditions are relatively quiet and easy-going. Also suitable for most saltwater fly fishing.
The Double-Handed (DH) Fly Rod – Usually associated with river Salmon fishing in the ‘Spey’ style. These rods are typically 12ft to 16ft long, have longer handles allowing both hands to be used and thus allow greater control over bigger fish. Lighter AFTM Wt. versions from 10ft-13ft referred to as ‘Switch Rods’, are becoming popular for trout and other smaller species.
The Strength or ‘power’ of a fly rod is essentially a guide to its relative ‘stiffness’.
This stiffness is rated in accordance with the AFTM # System which goes normally from #2 to #12.
SH - AFTM #2 - #6 rated rods would typically be used for 6ft -9ft, Stream/River fly rods
SH - AFTM #5 - #8 rated rods would typically be used for 8ft -10ft, River/Lake fly rods.
SH - AFTM #8 – #10 rated rods would typically be used for 9ft – 10ft, single-handed Reservoir, Saltwater, Salmon or Pike/Predator fly rods.
DH - AFTM #7 - #11 rods would typically be for 12ft – 16ft D/H Salmon rods.
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