Steve Rajeff, holder of World Flycasting
Championship at least nine times, is six
feet tall and, using nine foot flyrod, cast
243 feet. There's nothing remarkable about
that except that Steve is one helluva a good
flycaster. A lot of us use a nine foot flyrod
even if we're not six feet tall or very good
There's an old adage that the flyrod should be
one and a half times the caster's height, and
that works out about right for Steve Rajeff
(6 X 1.5 = 9), but what about me? I'm 5'9" tall,
so I should be using a flyrod 8.625' (8'7.5")
long, according to the adage. It just happens
that my favorite general purpose flyrod is an
8'6" 5-weight, but I can do almost as well with
a 9' 4-weight, but only in my dreams do I cast
even close to 243 feet.
My grandson currently is almost exactly four
feet tall, and he has to struggle to cast at
all with a 7'6" flyrod. What his problem?
Let's do some math:
Length of rod: 90"
Height of boy: 48"
90 / 48 = 1.875
Now let's see how that works with Steve Rajeff:
Height of man: 72"
72 X 1.875 = 135
135 / 12 = 11.25 feet!
Asking my grandson to cast that 7'6" flyrod
is like asking Steve to cast an 11'3" flyrod
singlehanded! I'll bet he won't set any new
records with it.
What length flyrod should my grandson use?
48 X 1.5 = 72, so he should be casting a six
foot flyrod, but I doubt if he'd cast 243 feet
Now I've got a problem. Six foot flyrods are
pretty scarce. So I'm looking at either a fairly
expensive custom graphite rod or a darned
expensive bamboo rod, either of which the
kid will outgrow before long. Or I could
modify that old nine foot fiberglass stick
that a neighbor gave me several years ago,
and it will only involve a new grip and
relocating the reel seat and stripping guide.
So I cut the butt section of the rod to 24
inches from the ferrule, installed a new
inexpensive ready grip which I sanded down
to fit the boy's smaller hand, installed the
reel seat which I was able to save, and
mounted the stripping guide just behind the
ferrule. Now my grandson has a flyrod he can
use to learn to cast and, perhaps, some day
he'll be able to beat Steve Rajeff's record
- or at least cast better than his granddad.
Here's a suggestion for fly fishing clubs
that want to teach kids to cast: collect
some of those old 'glass or low-modulus
graphite rods many of your members have
collecting dust in their attics, basements,
or garages and shorten the butt sections so
that you have rods of six, six-and-a-half,
seven, and seven-and-a-half feet with grips
that fit a kid's hand. You find it a lot
easier to teach kids, and yes, women too,
with fly rods that fit.
One caveat, don't let the shorter men in
the club try those shorter rods. They may
like the rods so much they'll have to go
modify their own rods or buy custom rods.
[This article was inspired by an article
that appeared in the British magazine Fly
Fishing & Fly Tying a couple of years ago
and my own experience with modifying a flyrod
for my grandson.]
Piscor, ergo sum.
~ John Colburn, The Soldiers' Home, Washington, DC