January 5th, 1998
It is usually attributed to Patrick F. McManus thus: "My friend
Orvis Fenwick once made half a dozen casts before he realized he
hadn't picked up his rod." He was referring to the new light fly rods
of the time. Oh, what would he say about the new light rods of
Till next week, remember ...
Now, there is a lot to be said for a light rod. If, as of yet, you
have not acquired one and stay in flyfishing, you will. In fact, it is
safe to say that no mater what size fly rod you now own, you will
someday get a smaller one. As your knowledge of casting and the
sport of fly fishing grows and matures, your desire to take a more
gentle and refined approach will also develop.
My first fly rod was a cheap bamboo. Next, a sturdy telescoping
steel abomination. Fiberglass, of the inexpensive variety, followed
— with fly tying thrown in. In spite of these wonderful inventions, I
stayed with the recreation and over the years accumulated far too
many rods for any one person to own. My first real fly rod was a
rather expensive impregnated bamboo. I studied the catalog
intensely and after agonizing over the choice sent away for the
It was beautiful, magnificent, it impressed all of my friends, and
was too big for the water I fished. It gave me blisters, wore out
my casting arm, laid out the flyline like a clothes-line, and
over-powered the trout. I loved it. Until graphite came out.
Lighter in hand, less effort to cast, smooth delivery, didn't
wobble in the middle, and it was a smaller fly rod than the bamboo.
I loved it. I even got one in a larger size just to have for those
*larger* trout. Until my fishing buddy built and gave me as a
birthday gift, a LIGHT fly rod. Twenty-five years ago! What was a
light fly rod?
A six foot bamboo. One piece. Three weight. That is what a light
rod was. It changed the game of fly fishing forever for me. It
seemed more of a wand than a fly rod. The gossamer line and
delicate leader floated the lightest flys to the surface like the fuzz
of a dandelion. Casting was effortless, presentation just a flick of
the wrist. I loved it.
The rod was perfectly matched to the water I fished. That was
why it worked. Not too big, too heavy, too stiff, too long, too fast,
too whatever; I had matched myself, the rod, and the water. Duh!
Once again, I may have led you down the "primrose-path," so
to speak. Now you want a light fly rod. Might as well get it, you will
soon anyway. When you are thinking of a new rod take all of the
elements into consideration before you buy. Try them out. Cast
them for sure; but, fish them if possible. The newest light fly rods
are a marvel of engineering and manufacturing. I still use a three
weight (a very fine graphite, three piece) for the small stuff and
still get a thrill out of fishing the delicate hatches. And, I love it.
By the way, I no longer have the six foot, three weight,
one-piece bamboo fly rod. When I moved to another state, to
bigger water, I gave it back to my friend so he could fish it on the
same water as had I. They were perfect together; he, the rod, and
the water. He loves it. ~ JC