By Jack Simpson
I've spent the last couple of years designing fly rods for different manufacturers and building them for about 15 years. Designing is all about composites and the placement within the rod blank taper to make it do what you want it to do.
Building is about selecting the different components of a fly rod in order to produce a rod that is both aesthetically and functionally pleasurable for a particular person.
But, if one is looking to acquire a good, durable fly rod, without investing years in pursuing technical knowledge or crafting skills, here is some advice that will help you in acquiring the best fly rod possible for your situation and application.
First, decide where you are going to fish the majority of the time: lakes or rivers, large or small? One fly rod will NOT ‘do it all’, so forget that hopeless concept. Salmon rivers like the Bella Coola and Atnarko; steelhead waters like the Bulkley, Morice and Skeena require bigger, heavier, faster and longer rods for the bigger, stronger fish than do the stillwaters and smaller rivers of the Interior Plateau. That is just the simple concept of ‘the right tool for the job.’
Interior stillwater fly rods should be 5wt or 6wt fly rods in lengths of 9 or 9 1/2 or 10 feet. The rationale is that 5wt or 6wt is the optimal rod for stillwater fish up to 8-10 lbs. You can enjoy the fight of the 1lb fish and control and tame the strength of trophy-sized trout with these models. 9 foot rods are good for dry fly and nymphing, while 9 1/2 or 10 ft are good for chironomid fishing techniques with long leaders.
When it comes to steelhead and salmon waters, use 7wt to 9wt in lengths of 9 ½ to 10 ft. Bigger fish targeted: use a heavier weight rod. The somewhat longer rod allows effective line mending and applied side pressure to fight large fish using the current of a river to fight the line.
For larger fish in larger rivers also consider a spey rod. Personally, I find them far more effective and easier on the body for fishing rivers. Be warned: Spey means not only a new rod, but new lines, new or larger fly reels and learning an entirely different way of casting.
Bottom line: acquire the best fly rod that is within your budget. DO NOT fall for the ‘name’ of any rod. Pick up and swing as many as possible in a concerted effort to find the one that fits your hand, feels ‘right’ to you. Be warned: mediocre quality fly rods have inconsistent actions, which will lead to you unconsciously attempting to correct those inconsistencies, which in turn lead to poor casting techniques, a lack of accuracy and a loss to line speed and casting distance.
Before you buy, wave the rod; better yet, if you can, put a line on it and cast it. Any reputable dealer should encourage you to thoroughly examine and wave a fly rod prior to your selection and purchase.
I WON'T recommend a brand or name, but I will advise you what rod action and type would best suit you.
Preserve and protect our resource.
Jack Simpson on Home Waters
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