May 3rd, 2004

Action
By James Castwell


Let me see if I can get this right. Action is a word describing something about a fly rod. There is 'tip Action,' that means the rod is kind of stiff and the tip is not. The action is in the tip, probably would also be called a fast rod. Then there is butt action, the rod bends clear to the cork, likely be called a slow or soft rod. We have 'progressive action' too, the tip flexes and the rod gets stiffer the farther you go towards the butt. Might be called a medium-fast rod by some.

Imagine two guys, one new and can hardly get the line past his shoes and the other an seasoned angler. Give them the same rod and see what they will call it. Any guesses on this? Will the new guy mostly swing the rod, hardly bending it at all and make big circles of his forward casts? Since he is not stopping the rod, what will he call it? A rod that does not bend is a ... right, it's a fast rod, very stiff.

Now the veteran peels off a fair amount of line, flips the rod into a back-cast and shoots ten feet into the front cast. All the time barely moving the rod. Mostly he is just using the tip and has not even started to let the rod out. A few more casts and he has the main part of the line in the air and making perfect loops at fifty feet. The rod is flexing at about the mid point and still he shows no effort.

Finally he rips a couple of double-hauls into it and a bit of backing hangs out of the tip guide. Tip action? Mid-flex? Progressive Action? Full flex? Remember this is the same rod that the new guy broke a sweat to get to twenty-five feet with. And he said it was fast! There is a movement these days for the rod makers to more correctly identify their rods as to action. Well, good luck Charlie. I am glad its up to them and not me.

Subjective seems to come fairly close to the word I am looking for. Action can be loosely used to generally describe a rod but then it seems to fail. Action depends so much on the ability of the caster. Even worse, as the casters ability changes so does his ability to make a rod perform.

For instance, a good caster can take a full-flex (soft?) (slow?) rod and throw tight loops at great distances. The stroke must be different and much controlled, but he can do it. In fact, rather easily. Just as he can make a large front loop and present a tiny dry like a feather with a fast (stiff?) rod. Does this mean that all of the rods are mis-marked, of course not. But, to try to get all up-tight about them is not necessary either.

The rod that today you think is too stiff, tomorrow you may find is just right. Or the slow rod you tried today may become sweet and smooth for you in the future. Have I gone in circles with all of this? Yes, at least that was my intention. If you just want to make little short casts, just flip the tip of the rod, a quick stop in back and another in front, make the tip do the work. Longer casts will require bringing more of the rod into play. The more you work at it the better you will become at it. Become friends with your rod, learn how to make it do your bidding, experiment a bit, you may find a life long (and versatile) friend. ~ James Castwell


Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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