So you decided you want a bamboo fly rod! Is this your first one? Or are you adding to your collection? Are you gonna fish with this rod of buy it as an investment? These and many other questions may and probably should come to mind! But none of them are as important as if you are gonna fish this rod, where are you gonna fish it? Size of the water? River, stream, creek or even a lake? Are you a dry fly fisherman or are you going to swing wets, or streamers or even …gulp! fish with nymphs (this isn’t so bad if you don’t use a bunch of sinkers and bobbers!) Anyway it is important to address these questions to some degree or another.
So let’s take a look at it. If you are collecting rods as an investment, well that’s a whole different world, there are vintage rods from known builders who are no longer with us, therefore the number of available rods is what it is and not gonna get any better! As we all know some of these rods fetch a small fortune! I don’t know much about this game. There are also some well know modern builders, some of these rods can be sold for what you pay for them almost as soon as you get them, wait a while and you might even make a few bucks! “You pays your money and takes your chances!”
Now let’s talk about rods for fishing! It’s important to know that fly rods are not meant to be one size fits all! No more than trying to play golf with only a putter! Or at least if you want to get the best out of them they’re not. Bamboo fly rods are at their best fishing dry flies and casting them to the range that they are designed for. Now this may sound like a conflict to what was just said, but you can find a rod that is in the middle of the range that will fit many conditions! Let’s say a 7’9” (one of my personal favorites!) this rod can work on smallish streams as it isn’t to long, and is yet long enough to do quite well on a lake or swing those wets and streamers… and yes even nymphs with … well enough about the nymph stuff! But you get the picture.
Let’s specialize here! On those small streams, you know the ones that are real bushy and tight quarters, now you would be better off with a 6′ – 7′ rod that will throw a 3 to 4 wt line and can cast a few feet of line and a short leader with the utmost in accuracy! These rods can make that type of fishing an entire sport in itself! Unfortunately in our quest for that ‘do all’ rod most of these rods are overlooked, and they are just too much fun to pass up! Mid size streams, how about a 71/2′ to that 7’9” rod that will throw a 4/5 wt line? Gives you just what you need to stretch out a bit! For those wets, streamers, and nymphs, maybe an 8′ – 81/2′ rod for a 6/7 wt line. Now there are those of you who are fortunate enough to go after salmon or even salt water varieties! Well I don’t know much about this game but I wouldn’t want to be caught short here, maybe one of those 10′ – 16′ two handed jobs!
OK, so now we have and idea what we might want. Today there are as many rod builders as there are fly fishermen! Or at least it seems that way. You have a great deal of rods to chose from in all price ranges. There are many gatherings where you can go out and cast several rods by many different makers. First hint here: Leave your machismo at home! “What the hell do you mean by that?” you say! Well if you spend the time you have test casting fly rods trying to impress the crowd by throwing the entire fly line… you are not giving yourself the opportunity to find out if this rod is really what you want and need (unless you’re gonna use it in a casting tournament) Cast the rod at the distance you are going to fish it! Try to hit that leaf out there at 10 ft. then 30 ft. maybe out to 50 ft. on the longer ones, pay attention to how you can form a loop, is it effortless? Take a good look at the rod, do you really like it? Does it fit you? Does it just feel right? Is the handle comfortable in your hand? Now you are truly trying to find a rod that’s for you. Or you are close. At least when you go to your builder you can start out at the right point.
So to sum up, don’t buy a putter and expect to be able to drive a ball 350 yards. with it. And don’t buy a 6′ 3 wt for Atlantic Salmon!
Oh and about that rod you were test casting…the one that just fits you? Try like hell to get the maker to sell you that rod! Don’t take no for an answer! You may never find one exactly like that again! And remember if this rod is from a well known maker and you decide you really don’t like it, chances are pretty good that you can sell it and get your money back to buy that next one!
And remember as a friend of mine told me when his wife asked him: “Just how many rods do you need?”
His answer: “One more!”
Joe E. Arguello