I suppose that should read, 'A few thoughts in
defense of slower rods and perhaps lighter ones
too.' Some years back most fly-fished more or
less locally, often spending nearly all of their
hours on the same body of water, be it either
stream or lake or both, but mostly close to home.
Now we travel. Better roads and cars make it
convenient to reach many locales and we do it
often. This means we need a wider range of fly-gear;
rods, reels and lines. The mix will include many rods;
short, long, slow and fast for all the varying
conditions. We must also learn to handle that mix.
Here tempers bump heads with ideologies. Which is
best. Well, there probably is one best for each
exact situation and fisherman. I have no idea what
For instance. I am on a pond, facing a slight breeze,
a rising fish (24 inch rainbow) out about 50 feet
taking a size 16 (PMD) spinner. Go with a 5wt or 6
wt med-fast rod so I can make the cast and handle
a fish that size? Or use a 3wt medium action? Let's
With the 5/6 (assuming it is a 9 ft) I can make the
cast alright. The line will be a bit thicker and may
be a consideration as well as the diameter of the
leader. If the fish takes the fly and I raise the
rod I have a chance of breaking him off on the strike
(due to the stiffness of the rod) and/or taking the
fly away from him if I am too quick. If I raise the
rod straight up (90) degrees while playing/fighting
him the rod will not be as forgiving as a slower one.
With the slower 3wt (perhaps an 8 footer?) I can still
make the cast, will have a thinner line and leader image,
be less likely to rip the fly away from him on the take
as the rod is slower and I will have a far better
shock-absorber if he gets a bit squirrely. Remember,
on slow or still water my line is under immediate
control and has little slack. (Not the case in fast
water where controlled slack is a must to get a decent
drift.) But I will have less line and backing to use
if needed. That could be a factor.
As to which rod will bring to fish to hand faster, they
should be about equal as I play a fish more from the
reel than the rod; that is, I try to keep the rod
pointed up no more than 45 degrees at any time.
Raising a rod above that does two things, it applies
only the delicate tip which has no power at all and
the rod can break. Both of these are not desirable.
I did notice at the last Fish-In, those with the larger
rods did have hooking problems and landing problems to
some extent. These could have been reduced by the use
of slower rods.
Some may say I should have used a bigger faster rod to
land the fish really fast. Using a 16 or 18 fly on 6X
just how much more pressure can be used? I also landed
one 'bow on a size 24. The 3wt made it almost too easy.
~ James Castwell