Many years ago a couple of friends of mine and myself were kinda scouting around trying to see where the fish were most willing to come out and play! Just a lazy kind of day where we would drive a while, stop and fish and decide where else we wanted to go, either later in the day or next week, didn’t really matter. While we were sitting having lunch by one of the streams, we were discussing what we were finding. One of my friends, who is a very good fly fisher made a statement that has stayed in my mind ever since! He said “There is just something missing about this stream and I can’t figure it out!” So every time I would fish that stream I realized that he was right, there was just something not right! Now I gotta tell you that over the last few years that stream has become one of my favorite places to fish! I love that stream. So what is it you ask, what was missing?
Well I found out that what was missing for me was that I was using the wrong gear! Yup that was it! Like many when you first start fly fishing you go to a fly shop and they tell you what is the latest and most popular gear that you absolutely have to buy! Besides that when you go to that crowded tail water in pursuit of that lunker brown you saw in the magazines or in a picture posted on the wall at your favorite fly shop (caught by the owner!) well you just gotta fit in! If you hire a guide he will put a fly rod in your hands that they sell in the shop he is working for! Probably a 9ft rod for a 5 wt. Line, with a reel that they also carry. All this along with flies that they sell and are sure to work, based on the guides experience. This is in no way taking into consideration what fits you or the water you are fishing! But you will catch fish, leave a big tip and hopefully go back to the shop and say I want a set up just like the one I was using. Here’s my credit card! What’s wrong with that? Well maybe nothing and to be honest, you will probably end up with a pretty good outfit, especially if you buy the upgraded version of the outfit you were using! (ka-ching!)This should ‘work’ on most waters and streams but…when you get over the ‘crowd fishing’ on the tail waters, maybe you even got that trophy and move into the next level of fly fishing, maybe even get into bamboo rods and dry flies, and start enjoying the solitude and intimacy of smaller waters (you no longer need to impress anyone!) well…This is when you really need to figure out what gear works best! Remember that lunch I spoke of? By the side of that stream? Well, I must be slow as well as my friends or maybe it’s just the fact that buying a different rod for every situation can cost you a marriage and a house! But it sure is fun! And your fly fishing experience will get to be much more fun, it’s a whole new world! I guarantee it! It took me all this time to figure out why I wasn’t enjoying fishing on those small intimate streams…they were full of trout! Some even have some decent fish in them 10 – 13 inch average and sometimes much bigger ones! And they are wild and natural! Many times I fish for hours and don’t see anyone else on the river!
Now let’s take a look at what is the right gear. I have been talking about small streams but that is not always the case, if you are fishing for bass in a friends pond you can have a blast! I think that is where a nice 6wt graphite rod is in order! Yes I said it, graphite! Although you might want to look at this link scroll down to the last testimonial! The right tool for the job at hand! And as far as salt water or salmon fishing, I have never done either but I would probably go with a large graphite rod for these situations! Here again I know of several bamboo rod builders making spey rods, some with splice joints that are really cool! That tail water fishing we were talking about, you know with several nymphs, a half a pound of lead and some kind of a bobber (strike indicator) would probably warrant that you keep that first rod your fly shop sold you (you probably would lose too much money if you sold it anyway!) This is in all honestly the right tool for the job, maybe second to an ultra light spinning rod! But then you couldn’t say you were fly fishing could you? OK, that’s not fair and I did do my share of nymphing with strike indicators, just not my cup of tea these days, but how do you think I know about the crowded tail water thingie?
So back to that small stream that was ‘missing something’ turns out it wasn’t the stream! I first noticed that it was quite a bit more fun fishing it with a Garrison 202e copy that I made. But I found that getting around the brush was still a bit of a challenge… maybe shorter? A good friend of mine gave me a Paul Young Midge for Christmas and the next summer that stream came to life…WOW what a difference! Shorter? I made up a 6′ rod for a 4 wt line, Cattanach taper. Now we are talking, on the right track! Well I spent the next couple of years tweaking things and trying new tapers and finally developed a taper that I really like. It’s a 6′ for a 4 wt. line. Now I thought about going with a lighter line but here’s my take on that. A 4 wt. line can handle the wind quite well, with the right rod, you can have all the fineness you need to present a fly just right. What more would one want? And yes I want to sell you one of these but to be fair it doesn’t have to be a bamboo rod…just short, and honestly I have played with the idea of having some blanks made to my specs for just this type of fishing and offering a line of these rods. Maybe some day, who knows!
Well to sum up here, this is not an all inclusive review of gear, just trying to give you food for thought! And I realize that unless you fish small streams a lot or have money to burn a 6′ bamboo rod is much too specialized. So here’s the rub… if you ever find yourself in my neck of the woods give me a call, I will put one of these rods in your hands and we can go fishing! I just don’t want to hear you say, on our way home…”maybe I can sell my motorcycle!”
Get out and try some different gear…find out what is missing in that stream close to home! That’s how I found one of my favorite streams was there all along! And besides that you wouldn’t go play golf with only a driver would you?
Joe E. Arguello