When I first started building rods, somewhere I got the idea that if you found a taper and made it within .001 of the published numbers then it would be the exact published line weight! I also believed that since this was Gospel, one should ink the line size on the rod (ie. DT – 5) This should certainly be part of one’s personal signature. Inked very carefully, say below the maker’s name along with a serial number of your personal choice! Well I have come to believe, after many years of experience, that this may be only a half truth! How can that be? Well here’s my take on this subject:
When I first got started, all I had to go on was what was published in whatever book I could find, the internet was in it’s infancy and there was very little published on the subject, to be fair my computer skills were very limited at best and Google was not even in existence! And to get my hands on an old Payne, Dickerson or Garrison…well dream on! So I built the rods as I found a taper, as I stated in one of my earlier posts, the first rod I made was built on a taper that I got from “The Bamboo Rod” by Claude M. Kreider this taper is published in that book and is in 6” increments, so I had to put it into a piece of graph paper and extrapolate the numbers to 5” since I had built my forms to be set as such! Well cut to the chase here Joe… I built the rod, it was a 5 wt. End of story! And so it was for quite some time. I would find a taper, build the rod, and carefully ink the line size on it. Well you know if you keep at this for a while you’re gonna build several rods… you’re gonna cast them… hopefully you’re gonna fish some of them! At some point you may forget your reel with the DT- 5 line and only have the one with the WF – 6 on it, well I hope you don’t decide to go home because you don’t have the ‘right’ line size, you know the one that you so carefully inked on the rod! So you decide that you will fish with the ‘wrong’ line although your day is already headed in the wrong direction! Little do you know that this is the best thing that could have happened to you! And one more thing, there’s something about the sound of running water, birds singing, the smell of the wild flowers and last but not least the sight of a rising trout that just seems to melt all your troubles away…even the idea that the line does not match the number that you so carefully inked on your new DT- 5 wt. Rod! Now comes the reward… you start to notice how easily you can place the fly right where you want it! Much better than the last time you fished it with a DT -5 wt. Line! You start to notice how effortless you can form a narrow tight loop. You start to notice that this rod really shines! Now if you can approach this experience with and open mind, you are well on your way! Well that is how it happened, I then started trying different lines on different rods… hummmm! Next step… well you just can’t start asking other peoples opinion on line sizes on rods that you build, especially asking them to cast a rod with a line other than the one you so carefully inked just below your name … under several coats of varnish, now can you? So I decided to not put the line size designation on my rods any longer! Now comes the next revelation… you know I am a pretty fair caster, and I know of at least one of my Bamboo rod building friends who is a certified casting instructor! What I have found out is that we all have different casting styles! Case in point I had a rod that I loved with a 4 wt. Line, the person that bought it, just had to have that 5 wt rod! Go figure. Then there is the water you are fishing, you know is it big water where you need to cast a bit farther, small water were you need to cast 20 ft. max.? There are countless variables in play here. I personally really like the idea that I am not stuck to a line size that is so carefully inked on the rod, right there under the maker’s name next to the serial number! We are free to try out different lines and find the one that fits the rod for our casting style and fishing conditions!
Now to sum up, this in no way implies that the builder you get to make that dream rod can’t build you a 5 wt. Rod if you ask for one, most builders today have all the information, tools and skills to do just that. What this is all about is simply to say that you should try different lines (sizes, makes, types) maybe you will find that the rod of your dreams has been in your hands all along! You may even want to ask the builder to build you a 5 wt… “uh, but can you not ink the line size on the signature please?” I’m sure you will not offend the builder and if you do, well … it’s your rod! Or maybe you can just ignore the carefully inked line size designation because…
There’s something about the sound of running water, birds singing, the smell of the wild flowers and last but not least the sight of a rising trout that just melts all your troubles away!
Let’s go fishing…oh wait… gotta get that garden in first!
Joe E. Arguello