Choosing  A Premium Fly Rod

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By James Buice

The waggle. We all do it.

When you walk into a fly shop looking for that new rod (and yes folks, don’t even think about buying a rod before you cast it), the first thing you do after picking a prospective candidate from the rack is the waggle. Shaking the rod to check the flex, or stiffness, or…whatever. Some check the rod by placing the tip on the floor and observing the deflection. Some even hold the rod tip about a foot off the floor and raise the rod upward quickly to see if the tip touches the ground to see if the wand in question is “a fast or slow action.” Really!?!

Bottom line is no matter what you do in the confines of your favorite fly shop, you’re not going to be capable of making an educated rod buying decision until you line it up and “sling some string” as the kids say. But, there is a lot more to it than just casting blindly in a parking lot or casting pond. Have a game plan; a succinct list of criteria you deem necessary based on the rod’s purpose, your casting style, the type of gamefish you’ll be pursuing, and a realistic scenario in which the rod will be put to use.


Having worked in a fly shop for years, I saw the same thing pretty much every time someone took a rod outside to cast. They would strip off all of the flyline at their feet and proceed to cast as much of it as possible. This would inevitably turn into the customer typically throwing tailing loops, snapping back casts, and throwing their arm out in an attempt to get the greatest distance they could muster. More accomplished casters would land the entire line straight, with graceful loops. This would be the extent of the test casting session.

“It threw the whole line.” “Wow, that rod has some power!” or “Feels like it doesn’t want to cast much past eighty feet.”

Great. These customers, no matter what their casting prowess, just showed their ability in casting a rod in parking lot for distance. Know what this told them about how the rod would fish in an actual, real life scenario? Zero. Zip. Nada. Sure it’s cool to bomb a long 100 footer, but aside from some very limited angling scenarios, simply throwing the entire fly line is about as useful as only practicing basketball shots from center court.

When you’re out shopping around, get the long cast out of your system and then focus on what really matters. Pick out a few spots on the ground at varying distances. If the shop has hula-hoops or something to use as a target, all the better. Place these at various distances ranging from 80’ to 10’. If it’s a trout pole you’re after, back it off to around 50 or 60 feet since you typically cannot control drag and fly line drift much past that in a river due to current breaks and such. This will put you in the ‘realistic’ casting ranges you’re going to encounter 99.9% of the time.

Now, don’t start out false casting and try to hit your targets. Begin each cast

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Sunday Classic / Use Birds to Quickly Locate Bait and Schools of Fish

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Certain times of the year in both freshwater and saltwater, anglers can use flocks of actively feeding birds to locate large concentrations of bait and fish. This was the case during my recent fly fishing trip with Capt. Joel Dickey. First thing, early in the morning, we’d run a wide sweeping perimeter with the boat, as we searched for seagulls on the feed. Binoculars weren’t a necessity but they allowed us to be more efficient by eliminating large areas of water that would otherwise be too far off for the naked eye. Being patient, continuing to cover water, and keeping confidence were the key factors in us successfully locating feeding birds. Be prepared for it to take a little while some days. For us, each morning it took a little while to find the birds, but eventually things fell into place with each scouting attempt. As the sun begins to rise over the horizon, it creates a perfect contrast of light that turns seagulls a bright neon white. You’d be surprised how far off you can pick out feeding birds this time of day. Any birds you find on the water means there’s probably bait and fish near by, but when you find diving birds in good numbers, you know there’s a feeding frenzy in progress. I’ve used birds many times in the past to locate schools of striped bass on my local reservoirs, but this saltwater trip was my first time using seagulls to locate tarpon. The seagulls and tarpon were feeding on a shrimp die off, that happens during the hottest times of the year in the evenings and at night. During these periods photosynthesis is not taking place, and with the lack of wind, oxygen levels in the water dropped below average. I have to say it … Continue reading

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Saturday Shoutout / Rich and Poor Trout Streams

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Read this now!

This tail of two trout streams, written for Midcurrent by Tom Rosenbauer, is quite simply of of the best and most informative pieces of writing, on the subject of trout fishing, which I have ever encountered. It’s rare that you will have the opportunity to expand you knowledge of trout and their habitat so profoundly in one sitting.

There are few folks who speak as knowledgeably about trout as Tom. This is an article you don’t want to miss.

Check out, Rich And Poor Trout Streams

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Tim Rajeff on Understanding Fly Rod Action

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Fly rod action can be confusing, especially for the beginner.

Terms like fast and slow, tip flex and mid flex, which we use to describe the action of a rod can be vague to the uninitiated. When it comes time to choose a rod that’s right for your casting style and fishing application, too many anglers are just buying the rod with the best marketing.

Next week we are going to talk in depth about choosing the right rod and exactly how to go about doing it. Today, our buddy Tim Rajeff, owner and rod designer of Echo Fly Rods, is going to explain what some of the terms mean and how they apply to your fly fishing. He’s going to show you how rod designers fine tune their actions and discuss how weight and materials come into play.


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The CDC Blood Midge

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Depending on how you count them there could be over a thousand species of midge. That’s a lot of choices for the discerning trout. There are almost as many choices for the angler and a midge obsession can easily get out of hand.

I find that more times than not a Blood Midge will do the trick. I spent a morning on the Colorado River one April and caught twenty-four brown trout on a blood midge without moving my feet. Trout are naturally attracted to these red patterns even when they are not an exact match for the naturals. I’ve tied many different Blood Midge patterns but my current favorite is the CDC Blood Midge. The power of CDC can not be overestimated. This is a great pattern and very easy to tie.

Watch the video and learn hoe to tie The CDC Blood Midge.

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Limit False Casting to Improve Your Casting Stroke

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When we first start out fly fishing and we’re still learning the mechanics of the casting stroke, it’s very common for many of us to make excessive false casts in between our presentations. For some of us, excessive false casting is an excuse to impart quality control during our fly casting, for others, we justify it for the simple fact that we just love casting a fly rod. Whatever the reasons may be for excessive false casting, it needs to be kept in check, if anglers wants to fly fish at their best. If you’re currently in the beginner or intermediate skill level range, one of the best ways to take your fly fishing to the next level, is to make yourself minimize your false casting on the water.

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The Sharp End of the Boat

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By David Grossman


There are plenty of folks more qualified to talk about knots, casting, tides, and the thousands of other factors that go into becoming a proficient saltwater fly flinger. What I am qualified to write about at this moment in my saltwater career is the sharp end of the boat, and how you might be defeated before you even step up to it.

I don’t like casting under the focus of others. I don’t do casting ponds. I don’t like first shots. If my buddy gets up first and screws up a couple of shots, I feel the pressure to perform is off of me somehow. This is a horrible attitude to have. Over the years I have watched countless friends catch the only fish of the trip on that first shot. Saltwater opportunities come few and far between, and while I don’t advocate taking out your buddy with a lead pipe to the knee, you have to want to be on the front of the boat. In saltwater fly fishing, the meek will not inherit the earth, but they will spend days sitting on their ass in front of console watching other people get shots and catch fish.

My weird phobia of

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