Selecting a Fly Rod
In the tackle stores you will find rods running from 8 to 11 1/2 feet. In weight they vary from, as a rule, 3 ¼ to 9 1/4 ounces. These rods are in split-bamboo. It is quite evident that here is a large variety from which to select, and that if your rod is to prove the right one, your selection must be the result of very judicious elimination. Solid wood rods average heavier to the foot, and since, for fly-casting, they are not the equals of the split-bamboo, we will not complicate matters by including them. The first thing to do is to pass over any rod exceeding ten feet that is for actual trout fishing. These rods are concessions to the English trade and for the long-distance tournament fly casters.
Although it is possible to imagine circumstances under which one could use a rod of this sort to advantage on some particular occasion, for ordinary use it is quite out of the question. The choice of the rod should be made not only with regard to giving the fish a show, but also with due regard to the comfort of the angler. By way of experiment the writer once put in a day's fishing with an 11 1/2 foot rod. This was on a stream that could truly be called typical of our American trout waters. Morally the experiment was costly. By sunset the rod had attained a length of, approximately, one mile, and a duly proportionate weight. When going through brush its action was beautifully precise; it never failed to catch. However, the necessity of enlarging upon this is probably not imperative. It is enough to say that the lesson was learned thoroughly and has never been forgotten.
Going to the other extreme, the very light rods are entitled to more serious consideration. That they are fine little rods to handle goes without saying. Also, if the mere size of the trout that you are likely to take on one of them were the only question, they are plenty large enough. Skillfully handled, they are capable of landing your record trout "without turning a hair." But, unfortunately, there are other things to be considered. Not one trout in a hundred, in stream fishing, is hooked where the angler can let him have his head. Sharp rocks, sunken logs, projecting tree-roots and the like are familiar features of all our trout streams, and most often the fish must be held hard and killed quickly. The larger rods are better adapted for this.
And here is a thing that must be reckoned with. Some years ago tales of large trout in near-home waters were more or less not so. At the present time, however, through the very extensive propagation and distribution of brown and rainbow trout, the angler is liable to be called upon at very short notice to have it out with a trout weighing anywhere from two to four pounds, and quite possibly more than that. A fish of this size, in the average confined and brush grown pools of our mountain streams, is a pretty hard proposition. You do not have to worry about giving him a show — he takes it, and sometimes the leader and the flies.
And then there is the fishing in strong rapids, a component part of every day's fishing on any sizable stream. Here you have not only your fish to fight but the impetuous, erratic strength of the current. That the trout will take every advantage afforded by such conditions is a foregone conclusion. Unless your tackle is suited to hard work, and, as far as possible, of such nature as to give reasonable control over the trout, the result of the engagement is also a foregone conclusion, or, at best, a matter of more time than should be the case. It is not a matter of rod weight alone. Length, inasmuch as it is this which determines in great measure the amount of control which you have over a hooked fish, is also a deciding factor and a decided advantage.
Camp, Samuel Granger. Fishing Kits and Equipment,. New York: Outing Pub., 1910. Print.
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