Choosing a Fly Rod

The following text content is selected excerpts pulled from an article written by the The South Platte Fly Shop – and the entire article can be found HERE.

How to choose a fly rod.

This article is written for those fishermen who are genuinely interested in looking for a new fly rod to fish with. The goal of this article is basically to dispel 3 myths about fly rods.

  1. The more expensive rods don’t catch more fish. So don’t think that because you are paying more for a rod, you will catch more.
  2. The more expensive rods are not necessarily more expensive to build. The increased price is often just to fund the extensive marketing and propaganda campaigns that rod makers undertake to convince you that their product is better.
  3. If an “expert” says that a rod is great and will suit you, generally it is not true.

First Question

A fly rod is a tool. And a tool is procured to perform a task. So the first thing that the fly fisherman has to decide is what task is the rod supposed to perform?

Myth 1. An expensive rod won’t necessarily catch more fish.

Why is it necessary to identify this condition? If one thinks about it, one would assume that it is obviously silly. But it reveals a deeper and more serious question. Why are you fishing? Is it really to catch fish or for some other reason? I’ll give an example. Why do people bother to fish bamboo? Bamboo rods are expensive. There is probably 100 hours labor in each really well made bamboo rod. So just do the math and consider what you would want to be paid for an hours skilled labor. And will a bamboo rod catch “more fish”. Obviously not.

Myth 2: Rods are not more expensive because they are more expensive to make.

This is a hard concept to understand for some. Generally we are taught that the more expensive an item is, the better it must be. Sometimes that is true. In other cases it is not true. Certainly in the case of rods it is not true. Take a graphite rod, where the blank is turned on a mandrel. The blank should then be spined and thereafter the reel seat, handle and guides are attached to the rod. So what do the components cost? The most expensive rod components out on the market should not cost much more than $125 for a manufacturer.

So why are some rods more expensive than others? The answer is simple. Marketing. If you read fishing magazines, you will see particular products given a lot of real estate in the various publications. This is simply a consequence of magazines demanding that manufacturers advertise with them in exchange for positive reviews. Nothing more. If you want proof, look at the number of advertisements devoted to particular brands and then check out the numbers of reviews and advertorials where those brands are mentioned. Then look at the brands which don’t seem to show up in the magazines so much and see how little they advertise. In other words the fishing press simply sells itself for advertising dollars. Nothing more. Then the uninformed public sees the masses of print devoted to particular products and that becomes their choice. These companies do it because they have the budgets to do it and to some extent it works sufficiently to justify the expense.

So the bottom line is simple. If you buy a rod simply because it is more expensive than another, because you think it is “better”, you are being conned. The ideal way for you to choose a rod would be to take several rods out on the river with someone who tapes over the brands of the rods and then you fish with them all and make a decision as to what is best for you. This might be clumsy, but it would be an eye opener.


Myth 3: If an “expert” tells you what is good for you. He is generally wrong.

Remember that only you know what you really like and want. Start with the premise that someone who calls himself an “expert” and who claims he or she can tell you what you need is generally going to be wrong. In fly fishing this is so simply because how does one define an “expert”?

In summary then, consider 3 things when deciding to buy a rod.

1.     Go to a shop which will enable you to test drive a rod on the river in the conditions in which you normally fish. You can then see if the rod will do the actual job you want. Make sure you use the line you like to normally use or alternatively find the line which suits the rod. A great rod with the wrong line will not perform whoever casts it.

2.     Go on a guide trip and explain to the guide what you want to achieve. Make sure the guide will have the rod you want to try, or the shop you booked the trip through will make the rods available to the guide for that trip.

3.     Finally, try a number of rods. So you need to go to a shop which carries a range of different rods. Do your initial research and then decide what you want to try. Don’ t go to a shop which has just 2 or 3 brands of rods and think you are going to cover the range of options. Its not true. The salesman will tell you that they have a series of models which covers the field and therefore you will find what you want. Wrong. You are just being conned.

One response

  1. Peddler

    For some of us simply saying something is cheaper isn’t much of a sales pitch. If the rod quickly becomes an extension of your arm and you catch yourself grinning every time you ‘have to’ use it that right there is priceless and worth every penny no matter what the rod costs is. The thing rarely mentioned is how you can use a very fine rod for years, grinning all the while, then swap or sell it for nearly what you paid for it most times. If you do take a hit on it it usually ends up being only pennies per use. That’s is one of the big benefits of owning more than just a tool. It works but it also displays some of the mighty fine sorkmamanship your fellow countrymen can do. Pride may be a Deadly Sin but does that mean pride of ownership too?


    March 24, 2014 at 8:13 pm

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