Wetfly - The Forgotten Taper (Chapter Two)
Reed F. Curry, Originally published on Reed's website: www.overmywaders.com
Charles Ritz in his book A Fly Fisher's Life (1972) speaks of the
virtues of LF/LL (Long Flex/Long Lift). This was, in part, a reaction to the
stiff, tip action rods of the late sixties. However, he did present some
compelling arguments for a rod with essentially a straight taper and a tip
with some substance. Examined in detail, the rod that he was designing was
a traditional wetfly rod. Ritz recognized that the slow flex "reduced
falsecasting by 30%," permitted more time to correct the cast, and allowed
short or long casts with equal ease.
Let's examine the virtues of the wetfly taper in more detail:
Delicacy -- On still pools or shallow water where delicacy and a soft
laydown of the fly is essential, the wetfly rod comes into its own. A
tight loop and high line speed are neither needed nor helpful under
these conditions. The slower line speed possible with the wetfly
taper is less apt to aggressively slap the relatively stiff line/leader
connection onto the still surface.
(To be continued - next "Casting")
Lifting sunken line – When fishing a sunken fly, the wetfly rod can
lift a considerable length of sunken line into a backcast, permitting
the angler to spend less time fishing water already covered
thoroughly. This also allows a faster response to fish activity, or
those occasions when an armada of aluminum canoes suddenly
round the bend, bearing down on you . . .
Ease in rollcasting – A long wetfly rod delivers a powerful rollcast
through the long, slow unfolding of the rod. Many modern rods lack
this capability, due to their stiff butt.
Minimizing falsecasts – the slower action, especially noticeable at the
flex of the tip, permits a shoot with less drag; the tip is parallel to
direction of shoot rather than at an acute angle. With stiff, web-free,
modern hackles and new floatants, false-casting is usually no longer
necessary simply to dry the fly, so we might as well avoid it where
possible and keep the fly on the water.
Less labor – the traditional use of wrist action is all that is necessary
for most casting in small-to-medium stream fishing conditions. For
longer casts, a slow, extended upper arm action may be required,
but shirt-ripping hauls will cause the rod to collapse. "Let the rod do
the work." I owned one 7'6" 3wt Leonard that was so slow ("How
slow was it?") that I could start the backcast, go home for a leisurely
lunch, and return to the stream in time for the forward cast. That rod
was a bit much, even for me. However, with proper use of the wrist,
it was possible to throw tight loops. More on that in another chapter.
Better for wetflys, nymph, streamers – the open loop doesn't
generate the water- scattering terminal velocity once necessary to
dry-fly fishing. Keeping sunken flies wet lets the fish see more of
Lighter – a wetfly rod is usually lighter than a dry fly taper of the
same length/line weight. Although the wetfly tip is thicker, the mid
and butt of a wetfly rod is thinner than the same line weight dryfly
rod. The difference on a nine-foot rod would be one ounce or
Longer Rod – because of the lighter weight, slower action, and
reduced false-casting, a longer rod may be used. This means better
line mending, more fight from the fish, etc.
Self-loading – a typical wetfly rod will easily cast 5 feet of line using
the mass of the rod to load the rod. Most modern rods require at
least twenty feet of line out before they will load.
More restful fishing – the contemplative sport returns. No frenetic
falsecasting required, or exaggerated arm-waving. The oldtimers
were right, you can "Let the rod do the work." ~ Reed F. Curry
© 2000 Reed F. Curry
If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to
post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!