March 13, 2000

ROD SELECTION - WHERE DO I START?

That’s a question we will attempt to answer countless times during the upcoming season. Many veteran anglers will determine what size rod to purchase by anticipating the game fish they wish to pursue. Makes sense. While this criterion should not be totally ignored, other, more important factors should also weigh heavy in your decision, namely, the conditions you will encounter in the field (and we all know there’s no wind on the Cape), and the size of the flies you must deliver to be successful.

While it is true that early season angling lends itself to lighter equipment due to the minimal size of the quarry, the elements and the ammo should be the key determining factor in your purchase. With this in mind, we recommend a 9 foot, 9 weight, med-fast to fast action rod for most Northeast saltwater applications. In essence, fly rods are levers, the longer the lever (within reason), the simpler they become to cast and control. It’s simple physics. This 9 foot rod length should not create fatigue or be burdensome to the average angler, and the 9 weight line will allow you to deliver larger flies in a variety of field conditions without "ripping your underwear."

I can honestly state that I have stumbled upon fly fisherman toiling away with 5 and 6 weight trout outfits early in the spring while trying to deal with a 10 knot onshore blow. Doesn’t sound like a lot of fun to me.

Another important reason for employing a 9 weight from the get go is that it better prepares the caster for mid and late season angling. After a long New England winter away from the water my first two or three outings are dedicated to working out the kinks in my timing, form and casting stroke. This is best achieved by using the tool I will be doing the majority of my saltwater fishing with, not my 9 foot 5 weight trout rod.

Rod action is another element that is often misunderstood by casual anglers. Your initial rod should maintain a fast (stiff), to med-fast action, but not to the point that it requires a 70 foot false cast and an 12 weight shooting head to properly load. Keep in mind that faster is not necessarily better. These rods will allow for tighter casting loops, greater range and will also improve your overall accuracy.

The next step is to determine your budget. Many years ago I received a great piece of advice from a very dear acquaintance of mine that I still heed today, "buy the best you can afford, you’ll never be disappointed." This bit of wisdom should be applied to rod selection as well. By purchasing quality tackle, in the long run, you may actually save money on upgrades, replacements and repairs, as well as add to your overall enjoyment of the sport. After all, you could conceivably play tennis with a wooden tennis racquet, but with all the modern graphite and composite racquets available today, would you really want to?

Make sure to consider brand names that have a track record in the industry. It’s no fluke that these companies have endured and continue to flourish while others have fallen by the wayside. If price remains an issue, many premium fly rod manufactures offer high quality alternatives in the $150-$250 price range that perform quite admirably without all the bells and whistles of their top of the line models. These are by no means toys, but are engineered to offer reliability and economy, and in most cases, are accompanied by lifetime breakage guarantees as well.

If you are considering joining the growing ranks of saltwater fly fishermen, and need a guiding light, we will be more than happy to answer any and all questions or help with your equipment purchases. Contact us directly by calling (508) 752-4004, or by email, jbender@gis.net.

JB


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