Where you fish, the experience you have as a fly fisher and
your specific needs at any given point in your fly fishing
life, dictate what you 'need' for a fly rod. Cost of rods
and budget may also control what you can afford to spend
on a rod.
We have friends who fish very old rods, some old fiberglass,
some early graphite, and others who fish a variety of old
and current bamboo. Others search for the perfect 'new'
casting tool to make their fishing easier, more accurate
or just plain more fun.
I started out casting my grandfathers telescopic steel rod - it
was one of the 'better' ones, it was hexagon which meant the
line didn't go around it as it twisted when cast. Later I
fished my dad's bamboo rod, I have no idea what it was, but
it sure was a big improvement over the steel one, anything would have been.
I've gone through a variety of rods over the years and some
stand out. The Scientific Anglers System rods, which had
matching reels balanced to make a good outfit (I would still
take a 4 wt if one was laying around today). I've owned a
few Orvis rods, my favorite, which I still have, was their
first graphite they produced. Designed by Jim Payne it is
the Far and Fine, mine is a little 5 wt. About that same
time I bought a 3 wt bamboo super parabolic Pezon et Michel which
was absolutely perfect for Montana's Spring Creeks.
When we moved from Montana to the Pacific Northwest I was lost.
The saltwater of Hood Canal is 3 or 4 minutes out my front door,
and I didn't own one rod suitable for fishing the salt. And I
didn't much like the idea of fishing salmon when I really
liked fishing dry flies for trout. So for a couple of years
the only fishing we did was on trips back to Montana.
Eventually my husband, JC and I bought bigger rods and embarked
on fly fishing saltwater and especially fishing for salmon.
That 'big' rod for me was a 7wt, G. Loomis IMX. At the
time it really was a big rod. I'd been fishing 3 and 4 wt rods.
The 7 wt felt like a club. Loomis was not a 'name' brand in
Montana like Orvis, but we accepted the advice of a friend and
took on the learning process. It didn't take too long to realize
the 7 wt wasn't quite big enough, and the change was made to
8 weight rods for both of us. More G. Loomis IMX rods.
You get the picture I'm sure. Different situations call for
different rods and of course personal taste and casting style
gets into the whole equation as well.
At a FFF Conclave in Montana a few years ago we discovered our
first Gatti rod. We tracked down the importer and we've fished
several of the Gatti rods with great pleasure. They are super
casting tools and we recommend them highly. They filled our
needs (and wants) and did the job for us - in several weights,
lengths and models - for trout as well as salmon. They are
manufactured in Italy, and while there is a US importer and
distributor, the Gatti name will never be as known as G. Loomis
or Sage or Orvis. The European manufactures just don't spend
the bucks to advertise in the manner we've become accustomed
to in this country. Without the advertising (the fly shops
call it "dealer support") the fly shops aren't going to put
the rods in their shops.
Is it the perfect rod? Maybe. It certainly was the best
I had cast at the time... for me. If I had not cast any
other rod, then what? Ah, now there's the question. I may
have just accepted this was how rods were supposed to cast.
(The first Gatti I cast was a 6 wt.) But since I did have
past experience and a frame of reference, I knew other rods
didn't cast as well or feel the same.
As I mentioned, your personal, specific needs in a rod may
make your choice of a fly rod different from mine. If you
are fishing short casts, delicate presentation your needs
are quite different from mine here on the coast. I need a
rod which will cast distances of 80 feet with a big fly
without collapsing. One which won't kill my arm, or give
me a sore thumb from forcing the cast at the end of the day.
That's a far cry from what most people fish. An 8 weight
rod is not an option here, it is a necessity.
I do have other favorite rods which I fish for trout, and my
requirements probably aren't much different from yours, but
trout are not out my front door.
If you can't make a long cast you can't reach where the salmon
are. The cast is made and the fly is stripped back in mimicking
the action of whatever baitfish one is trying to duplicate.
The easier the casting, the less time spent making the
cast - thus your fly is in the water longer. Fishing any
big rod is tiring, but having to make extra false casts
to get line out to where it needs to be is an added energy
burner. Try doing that for a few hours, especially when you
are my age - remember I'm older than dirt.
So what happens when I cast a new rod? Am I still looking
for a better - 'perfect' rod? And how do I compare it? For
me, it is a comparison to the best rod I own for salmon, (which
is also my bonefish rod.) That is the Gatti 908 3PA, a nine-foot,
8 weight progressive action rod.
We have a new rod here. We've both cast it, and Friday JC took
it out and fished it for salmon. The search may be over. Read
the James Castwell column here. ~ LadyFisher
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