Stillwater Angler Fishing Report
While the rivers are now in full runoff mode, let’s answer some questions about gear. Being in the fly shop business, a commonly asked question is, “how do I know which rod to buy?”
The three basic functions of any fly rod are casting, that allows the angler to put the line and fly on the water with sufficient power and accuracy; line control, that enables management of the line and fly; and hooking and landing the fish, that lets the angler play the fish with the flex and strength of the rod.
For the sake of this article, let’s concentrate on trout fly rods, as fly fishing for salt water or other fresh water species have their own requirements.
So, the first thing to know is how fly rods are sized. Every rod is assigned a number weight rating. Generally speaking, the higher the number, the greater the rod will weigh simply because it is thicker, stouter, and sometimes even longer than a lower numbered weight rod.
The number is equal to the weight in grams of the first 30 feet of a specific fly line. Therefore, the rod number is matched to that same number of fly line. It is crucial that the rod and line marry up in terms of size. Technologies and advancements, as well as the creation of specialty lines have allowed for some variation, but this is a good rule of thumb. The size of the reel should complement the line and rod size as well, so that there is some semblance of balance in the whole rig set up.
The weight of the rod is also a good reference point to use for the general size of fish being targeted. The first question I ask someone buying a rod, particularly a new angler for their first rod is, “where do you plan to do most of your fishing?”
This helps to match them up with a weight rod that is most suitable for their needs. For our trout rods, 3 to 6 weight rods are probably most common, with a size 3 being on the light end except for small water and smaller fish angling. A 5 weight rod is probably most common and versatile, and a 6 weight is ideal for bigger water trout fishing.
What about the length of the rod? A longer rod enables the angler to deliver line further than with a shorter rod. In most situations, that’s preferable. However, if fishing in tight quarters and/or water requiring shorter casts, a shorter length may be more desirable.
A 9-foot rod is the standard for around here when you factor in the distances needed to cast as well as frequently having to do so in the wind. Four piece rods are probably most common too. They make for easier travel, and the technology is such that there is a seamless performance of the rod.
What about the action of the rod? This basically refers to how flexible the rod is. So just think of the action reference as meaning the degree of flex. The amount of flex in a rod is measured on the back cast.
The more the rod bends on the back cast, the more flexible it is. There are three types of action.
A fast or tip flex, where the tip flexes, but the rest of the rod stays firm. While these rods are generally more powerful, they can make it difficult to get a feel for the line and fly, therefore being tough for many beginners. The mid-action or mid-flex rod is flexible about half way down the rod.
They perform well in a variety of conditions and are probably overall the most versatile. Finally there is the slow action or full-flex rod.
On the back cast, these rods begin flexing about ¼ of the way down the rod action, and at full back cast arch into a nice, shallow angle.
This action is good for delicate a presentation situation, but is much less versatile for overall conditions.
There are a few other considerations such as the number of pieces and construction, but we’ve covered most of the basics. Use these guidelines when selecting a trout rod and you should be satisfied.
Chris Fleck owns and operates Stillwater Anglers Fly Shop and Outfitters in Columbus.