No. 19 – Fishing Tips
22 January 2017 | Paul Procter
Choosing a Fly Rod
Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned angler, the purchase of a fly rod is something of a big deal. Advancing technology has brought with it the baggage of jargon, which certainly doesn’t help matters, especially if you’re starting out. What with “AFTM, line weights in grains and flex ratings,” it’s easy to get bogged down in literature. However, this simple guide outlines important points to help make your decision less stressful and a whole lot quicker.
First up, you need to decide where the bulk of your fishing will take place. For instance, is it a river? If so, are there many overgrown areas that restrict casting? Conversely, a reservoir might be your favourite venue that’s exposed to the elements, which is clearly going to influence your choice. Not only will this determine the length of rod you might choose, but line ratings need careful consideration too.
Which AFTM rating?
Generally speaking, the AFTM scale can be separated into 3 categories. Rods and lines rated from 1-5 are best suited to stream and river trout fishing. Outfits of ATFM 5-8 are considered the norm for stillwater and reservoir work. Heavier outfits of 8-14 are what anglers look to for pike or saltwater species. Naturally, there’s a degree of crossover here where a #5 rod might be fit for purpose on an intimate, sheltered stillwater, or a 7-weight outfit has worth for sea bass in relatively calm conditions.
What length rod is best?
Trout rods vary considerably in length from toothpicks of 6ft or so to lofty outfits spanning 10 and even 11 feet in some cases. Beginners often agonize as to which length rod will give them the best performance in regard to casting distance, line control, and playing fish.
Although a longer lever, it’s a misconception that long rods cast farther. Bear in mind, they create more resistance when travelling through the air at speed during a casting stroke. You may not think it, but there’s a fair bit of drag when accelerating 10 feet of carbon when compared to a 9-foot rod. Interestingly, tournament casters prefer rods of 9’3” as apparently these generate ultra-high line speeds. Whilst it’s unusual to find a rod of this length off the shelf, both a 9-footer or one of 9’6” are a mere three inches either side of this mark, making them a sound choice.
That’s all well and good where room exists to swing longer rods, but in the confines of an enclosed stream a shorter wand will be called for. Whilst many plumb for a wispy 7 footer, it’s as well to remember the shorter you go the more precise your timing has to be. For this reason, unless it’s absolutely necessary, I rarely drop below 8ft. That said, Orvis ensures their shorter rods possess a full flex (below) that tend to be much more forgiving.
Orvis Rod Flex Index:
Spilt into three distinct groups of Tip Flex (9.5-12.5), Mid Flex (6.0-9.0) and Full Flex (2.5-5.5) the Orvis rod-flex index is of massive help when it comes to selecting an action for the job in hand.
Tip flex rods bend in the top third and are therefore referred to as “stiff.” Such rods are ideal for distance casting, shooting heads, and deep sinking lines. Tip flex rods generally suit those who fish large, exposed waters where accuracy at distance is important and they work really well with a quick, compact casting stroke. Often feeling “tip light” during casting they’re not always the best choice for a beginner.
Mid flex rods bend to their mid-section though still provide enough strength in the butt section for casting/fighting fish. More forgiving, they also provide feedback during casting when a definite bend can be felt. Yielding that bit easier too means finer tippets are protected when playing fish, making them the perfect all-rounder and an ideal choice for beginners.
Full flex rods pretty much hoop over all the way down to the rod handle. This traditional action is best suited to shorter rods and a more relaxed, almost lazy casting style. Full flex outfits come into their own for close range work where precision casting is required and of course, prevent ultra-fine tippets from breaking, making them the perfect companion for river anglers.
Labeled as “Tip Flex” the angler instantly knows that this will be a stiffer, more responsive rod.
Bending to approximately halfway down the blank, it’s clear to see that this is a Mid-Flex rod.