Whip Finish


Ralph Long - Jan 04, 2016

"How do you cast with this noodle?" was my buddy's comment as he stood next to the truck whipping the little glass 3 weight back and forth. "Why do you fish with these rods?"

I laughed, knowing exactly where that question came from, having been there myself. I then tried to explain to him as we finished rigging just why the little rod worked. Later, on the water, the intrigue of the rod got the best of him and he gave it a try. And as I predicted, he was hooked in 20 minutes.

There is an obvious move to fiberglass rods in the making by many fly fishermen. Some love it; others are bewildered by it, while others hate it. For me, I can't seem to find a casting stroke that fits me as well as most glass rod do. That's not to say that I am in love with some of the early glass rods that were built, used and thrown away prior to graphite. Admittedly, some of those rods were more burdening to cast than they were useful. But many of the older rods and a good number of the new generation rods sold today have a casting tempo that just plain fits me. Now, I'm not a casting guru. I have some bad habits in my form that can be spotted three pools downstream through bushes. So as far as form goes I have trouble explaining what I see as the difference between today's glass and the fast modulus rods more common today, except to put things in layman's terms.

With glass, one needs to allow the rod to load fully, letting the rods taper complete its function. You can't rush the casting stroke. If you do you will fight the rod, struggle with your cast and walk away in the end hating glass, which is unlike most current high modulus graphite rods. With many fast action graphite rods you can adjust your tempo and "make" your rod do any number of casts. Not so much with glass. Glass slows things down, and if you step out of line in form, it will remind you why you need to slow down a little bit more. With most glass rods it is the beauty of the cast that draws me in. Feeling the flex of the rod in your hand through the cork, both as your back cast loads and when setting your hook on a fish; it's being along for the ride as your rod performs, versus making the rod do what you expect of it.

So, we stood in the stream as he found his tempo, and he would smile as he watched his back cast roll out in what seemed like slow motion. Then shake his head in amazement as he would drop a pinpoint cast. After about 15 minutes he set the hook on a 12 inch brown and you could hear him laughing up and down the stream as the entire length of that little 3 weight bent clean into the cork The little rod required that he play the fish in ways he had not had to do often with a new generation rod., and between laughter I could hear him talking the fish in; he was connected. After a second to admire the fish and a quick picture, he fish slid from his hand and he turned with a grin, saying "I've never cast anything quite like this rod." 

I smiled back, nodding in agreement, as my mind caught up and I realized just how right he was. Having entered the fly fishing world long after the initial throes of the fiberglass death, he really had never cast anything like the rod he currently held. Those of us who came before him made the judgment, right or wrong, that progress was always better. And likewise, those old glass rods, along with their technology and mandrels went the way of the dinosaurs. Gone were those Brown scrim blanks that roll-cast like a dream, and those honey gold blanks that dropped dry flies like a feather. We decided as a group, they were no longer needed until recently.

Something told me the feel of glass would remain a part of his time on the water after today. Maybe it was the sound of his laugh that caused me to think that. Or possibly the way he stared at the rod in his hands as if it were a magical instrument. Glass can have that effect.

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