OK, you've learned to cast with the best, you tie your own flies and you're looking
for a new way to personalize your flyfishing pleasure. A new fly rod would be nice.
Maybe you should build your own. If you build it yourself, you can choose from
components you'll never see on a factory rod. You could make it prettier than any
factory rod you've ever seen. All you have to do is buy the right stuff and build it
right. It can't be that hard, can it?
The answer to that question is - maybe. If you do the right
homework before you start, no, it isn't that hard. If you start before you have all
the right things, yes, it is very hard. The choice is yours; easy or hard. Here's a
few hints to make the task a little easier. Before you start investing money in
parts, you should decide exactly what kind of fly rod you want to build. Are you
fond of soft, smooth casting rods, or do you want a power house that will drive a
fly through a hurricane? Is a short rod on the menu, or are you looking for a long
rod that will go the distance to those far away fish? You need to answer these
questions before you take your first look at components. If you don't, you will
probably be disappointed in the results.
The first question you must answer is how heavy a line you want
to cast. If you want a dainty creek rod, you might be looking for a rod that casts a
1 to 4 weight line. If general purpose flyfishing is your goal, something in a 5 to
7 weight line might be a good choice. Bass, pike and salmon fishermen will probably
be looking for a rod in the 8 to 10 weight range. And, if you're going to be
searching the big waters for monsters like king salmon, tarpon or sharks, you will
need to purchase a rod blank in the 11 to 15 weight range. Answer the line weight
question before you take another mental step.
Now that you've answered the line weight question, you need to
think about long a rod you want to create. Short rods are fun to cast, and they have
a definite advantage in thick overhead cover. Notice I said overhead cover? If you
fish brushy streams a lot, a long rod has a lot of advantages. It can reach out
past the brush to allow sideways roll casts that a short rod can't make. For
river and lake fishing, longer rods in the 8 to 9 foot range are the best choice.
They produce greater range and allow the nymph and dry fly fisherman to follow his
or her fly with the rod tip. Again, answer this question before you proceed any
What kind of action do you like in a fly rod? Fast actions tend
to bust the wind better, produce higher line speeds and usually cast farther than
slow action rods. Fast action rods flex in the upper third of the rod. Slow action
rods are smoother to cast and tend to be more comfortable in shorter lengths when
you're chasing fish with light lines. These rods flex in the upper two thirds of
their length. Somewhere in between, and the most universal action, is the moderate
action. Moderate action rods flex in the upper half of their length. Now that
you've digested all of that, you need to take a minute to think about something
called modulus. Modulus is a term that describes the stiffness to weight ratio of
the graphite that's used to create the rod blank. When you cast a line, the rod
flexes with the weight of the line, storing energy as it flexes. When the motion of
the rod stops, the rod reflexes and releases all of its stored energy to propel the
line. When you increase the modulus of the graphite, you increase the ability of
that graphite to store and release energy. You also increase the speed that the rod
releases the stored energy. That in turn, increases the line speed that is generated
in the cast. Increase the modulus, and you increase the reaction speed and power of
the rod blank.
Unfortunately, increased modulus results in increased costs. The
process involved in creating higher modulus graphite is a costly one. The highest
modulus graphite material costs as much as ten times more than standard graphite.
That cost is passed along to the consumer when he or she buys a rod blank. For my
money, the higher cost is worth it. The better performance is more than enough to
offset the increased costs.
Increased modulus also results in a rod blank that is somewhat
brittle and more likely to break from impact fracture. Sources of impact fracture
are usually beadhead flies, epoxy head flies, and dropping the rod on a hard
surface. If you are relatively new to fly fishing, you might be wise to back away
from the top modulus ratings and choose something in the mid range. You will reduce
your chances of accidental breakage that way.
The highest modulus rod blanks you can buy are available in the
G. Loomis GLX and Sage Graphite IV. These range somewhere near 65 million modulus.
Next down the line is Sage Graphite III, G.Loomis GL4, IMX and several less known
rod blanks coming in somewhere in the range of 55 million modulus. If you back down
a little to the mid 40 million modulus range, you will find a group of rods
including Sage Graphite II, G.Loomis GL3, Redington Premium and rods with the IM8
and SC44 ratings. A little lower on the ladder is IM7 at 42 million modulus and IM6
at 38 million modulus. Standard graphite is rated at 33 million modulus, and along
with IM6 and IM7, is as high as some rod manufacturers get. Since this will be a
rod you will want to use for many years, invest in the best quality rod blank you
can afford. While you are considering cost, you need to take a moment to consider
warranty too. No one wants their fly rod to break, but if it does, it's nice to know
that it is backed by a lifetime warranty. Before you purchase a rod blank, check the
warranty to be sure you are getting the protection you need.
Next step, the rod blank; how it's created and how the creation
process effects its performance. See ya then.