Story last updated at 2/11/2009 - 11:38 am
Fly rods today have come a long ways since the old days of bamboo.
In fact, with recent advancements and contributions from both the aerospace and yacht racing industries, fly rods have leaped well into the 21st century and have now become more than just rods; they've become highly specialized fishing tools. Not only have fly rods become high tech in their designs and construction, but there have also been an increasing number of rod manufacturers born from this recognized niche in recreational sport fishing. All of a sudden, a prodigious variety of fly rods have now become available to the consumer in assorted styles, lengths and tapers.
But with all of these new fly rods inundating the market, how does a fly fisher choose the best fly rod?
Choosing a fly rod doesn't have to an arduous, hair-pulling affair. Generally speaking, you simply find the rod that "performs" and "feels" the best for you. With an understanding of a few general principles that define the characteristics and dynamics of fly rods, you can easily match fly rod performance with your desired fishing needs and conditions.
To further assist you in choosing a fly rod, I recommend that anglers think about the following questions:
What style of fly rod - single-hand or two-hand - are you interested in?
What is your budget?
What weight are you considering?
What taper or action do you need?
What length do you prefer?
What fish do you intend to be targeting?
By addressing these questions, your available choices have been narrowed significantly.
The choice between a single-handed and a two-handed fly rod is usually dictated by the size of the water fished. In Southeast Alaska most of our watersheds are small and short and because of these natural features, single-handed fly rods are the ticket. Estuaries and larger watersheds, on the other hand are prime arenas for two-handed rods.
The amount of money you are willing to spend will also influence your fly rod selection.
Fly rods on the market today are not cheap and you can expect to pay from $200 to $800 for a single-handed rod and up to $1,500 for a quality two-handed rod.
Fortunately most rod manufacturers offer rod lines or a series of fly rods. The series concept usually includes introductory rods (priced at the lower end), intermediate level rods (priced at the mid-range) and highly specialized performance rods that are priced at the high end. The objective here is to provide every user with a rod that will not only accommodate their fishing style and preference, but also their budget.
After considering budget and style, you should next address rod weight and decide which rod weight matches your fishing.
For Southeast Alaska, I recommend two particular weights, a six-weight and an eight. These two rod weights can handle ninety-five percent of all the various fishing conditions in our area. The six-weight is ideal for small streams and light saltwater estuary fishing when chasing searun cuttys, Dolly Varden or pink salmon. And the eight-weight, that I commonly refer to as "the Alaska Standard" is ideally matched for battling chum, silvers, sockeye and steelhead.
The only other rod that I would consider and recommend would be a ten-weight for those anglers wishing to tangle with king salmon.
Fly rods have become highly specialized fishing tools over the past decade. Choosing any fly rod is a blend between personal choice and fishing objectives and desires.
I hope that some of the suggestions that I have presented above will help you confidently filter through the vast amount of fly rods available on the market today and ultimately assist you in selecting the best fly rod for your fishing.