Where to Buy a Fly Rod
Do not buy a rod from anyone or any firm unless from a reputable rod maker or from one of the concerns which make a business of fishing tackle and, therefore, cannot afford to sell poor stuff for good. You can get a rod (?) at the department store; from a rod maker; from one of the big firms dealing in tackle exclusively; or from one of the general "sporting goods" houses. At any of these places, except the first, you can get a good rod if you go about it rightly. It is advisable, however, to purchase the rod either from a professional rod maker or from one of the regular tackle firms.
Anyone who has attempted to sift out the very best shotgun from the numerous shooting-irons on the market knows that each firm in the gun business sells the only really good gun; and it's the same way with fishing rods. Each of the reliable firms solemnly assures you that its rod is the only real fly-rod — all others are merely "poles." Of course this is not so, and no one knows it better than the tackle people themselves. While it is quite true that for tournament casting only one or two firms supply a satisfactory rod, for actual fishing it is possible to get a rod that, perhaps, is entirely too good for you, at any of the best places. Reference to the advertising pages of the better class of outdoor magazines will give you the addresses of the best tackle dealers and tackle makers. A careful and comparative study of the catalogues of these firms cannot fail to be of advantage.
If the circumstances are such that you have to buy your rod by mail, it is well to have two rods of the dimensions you require sent you, with privilege of examination, and you can return the one which seems least satisfactory. It is impossible to make two rods of identical action and balance although the rod measurements and mountings may be the same. Buying a rod by catalogue is, in many respects, a lottery. The angler should know perfectly what he wants before going ahead. If at all possible it is much better to go to the tackle store and select the rod in person.
Six-strip split-bamboo fly-rods may be had for seventy-five cents. They may also be procured for, say forty-five dollars. The question is: How much must you pay for a really good rod; a rod that will last a long time with moderately hard use; will have a good appearance so that you can show it to people without apologizing; will have good casting and retrieving power together with perfect action and balance; and, finally, will handle efficiently a weighty trout in a tight place? Obviously the answer is not seventy-five cents — nor is it five dollars.
For from $15 to $20 you can get a real fly-rod if you go about it with discrimination; and you cannot do it for anything less than that, or if you fail to use discrimination. Remember, in this connection, what was said in the chapter on split-bamboo rod construction concerning the manual skill and costly selection of material required to produce a rod of good quality. The average price of the best rods made by reputable rod makers is $15; and they are good enough fishing rods for anyone. Variations from the standard rod will usually bring the price up to $17 or $18. The large tackle firms of New York, Boston and other cities furnish two classes of rods in addition to their cheap stuff. The best rod sold by them usually costs about $30; and a " medium price" rod is carried which sells for something between $15 and $20. There is a vast difference in the style and quality of these medium priced rods. While they are all of them pretty fair rods some of them are very much better than others. Select the rod carefully. Compare the different rods as regards their dimensions and mountings, their weights, etc. Within the last few years a fly-rod has been developed which differs considerably, when a number of small variations from the rod of a few years ago are added together, from what may be called the "old-fashioned" rod. The new rod may, perhaps, best be described, as being of "tournament style." And that is the sort of rod you want.
And now as to the unquestionably high grade split bamboo rods. These rods may be had for from $25 to $45, in the three-joint-extra-tip style, with an average price of $30. Do not think they are not worth it. While for various reasons it is not advisable for one to spend that amount for a beginner's rod, it is certain that the fairly well advanced angler who can afford it should not hesitate to avail himself of the many undoubted advantages they offer. Although the variation in desirability of these rods is not, for general purposes, as large as in the case of those of medium price, it is well to look around a little before committing yourself.
The best rods of lancewood, greenheart and other solid woods may be had for from $8 to $12. Any of these rods is much better than a split-bamboo at the same price, and will give the angler long and faithful service, although they are not, as we have said, as well adapted to fly-casting as the good quality split bamboo. The noibwood fly-rod sells for $15.
The best test of a fly-rod is ten years' hard work on a trout stream; but, since your tackle dealer would probably be somewhat reluctant about having the rod returned as not up to scratch at the end of that period, it is necessary to test it in some other way. If you have ever seen a rank novice selecting a rod you should know, at any rate, how not to test the rod. He takes hold of the extreme butt-end of the hand grasp, gingerly, and, in the most perfectly lady-like manner, as if the rod were made of glass, gently wafts it to and fro through the sporting atmosphere of the tackle shop, failing utterly to put the slightest snap, bend or action into it. And if the variegated tints of the windings happen to suit his artistic fancy, why, he just simply buys. It's nice for the tackle man.
Camp, Samuel Granger. Fishing Kits and Equipment,. New York: Outing Pub., 1910. Print.
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