Glass Is Good!

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By Justin Pickett

Oh, the world of fast fly rods….

They can be great tools. Some of my favorite rods are most definitely faster than your “average joe” rod.

But what about for the beginning angler? Or someone trying to work the kinks out of their casting stroke? Is a fast rod the best thing for this angler?

Personally, I believe that fiberglass rods are the best fly rods for a beginning angler to learn the mechanics of the fly cast, and how a proper fly cast should feel. Many of the faster fly rods on the market these days are unforgiving to the beginner. These rods require powerful strokes/hauls and quicker tempos that are often hard for a beginning fly caster to achieve. In my opinion, it steepens the learning curve and can hinder one’s ability to become a proficient caster. Fiberglass rods require you to slow things down. Way down. This allows you to improve the timing of your casting stroke and work on the fundamentals. There’s more time between your backcast and forward strokes to perfect your hauls, line shooting, and accuracy. And it’s much easier to diagnose those pesky yips in your cast.

Don’t have a glass rod? Don’t want to buy one? Here’s a way to slow down your own fly rod.

I always bring a reel spooled up with a WF8F line when I know I’m guiding a new angler. Before we step on the water I’ll string up either their rod, or one of my five or six weight rods, with the 8WT line and put it in their hands. Over-lining the rod loads the blank deeper than a typical 5/6WT line would and allows you to feel how the rod loads, as well as how the cast reacts when loaded properly versus improperly. This makes it easier for you to translate proper rod loading when fishing with an appropriately weighted line. A good rule of thumb is to over-line the rod by at least two line classes. It’s a great learning tool that’s quick and easy for the newer fly angler to comprehend.

eagle_claw_featherlight_fly_rod_404535_1Whether you’re a beginner, or a more advanced caster looking to fix the bugs in your cast, tossing line on a fiberglass rod can certainly help you work the frustration out of making those everyday presentations while you’re out on the water. Other than being just about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on, casting a glass rod has been my go-to tool when I’m having issues with my casting stroke since I picked up my first Eagle Claw many years ago. The Eagle Claw Featherweight is a great and inexpensive fiberglass rod that can typically be found for less that forty bucks in fly shops and online. I hope you’ve found this useful.  Maybe this tip will help you add to your casting Zen as well!


Justin Pickett
Gink & Gasoline
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17 thoughts on “Glass Is Good!

  1. Makes sense!

    Getting a beginner to load and feel the mechanics of a short distance flycast (20 – 30′) not easy with a fast tip action carbon fibre rod, particularly if the line rating is matched to that of the rod. Not enough line out to overly feel the load.

  2. Fiberglass is what kept me fly fishing. my first 2 fly rods were medium/fast, and when paired with a WF line of matching designation, I struggled to cast any distance consistently or accurately. I came upon The Fiberglass Manifesto, and long story short picked up a featherlight. The slower tempo required and deeper load in the rod immediately improved my casting. I eventually played with overlining my other rods, it doesn’t make them flex like my glass rods but it definitely makes for a more enjoyable casting experience.

  3. More and more, I fish with glass. As I get better at building and making my own stuff, I’m more attracted. It doesn’t have to be terribly expessive.
    Glass and bamboo (!) have so much more soul than graphite. So, if your handy and have time, learn some new skills and roll your own. It’s not as hard as you might think.

    • I just bought my first quality glass rod and am already hooked. So now, of course, I need a glass rod in every size in my arsenal. Do you have a recommendation for blanks for beginning rod builders, that aren’t too expensive (in case I mess up), but not so cheap that I won’t want to fish with it? I feel like I have the graphite brands nailed, but glass is a whole new world, with companies I have never even heard of.

  4. Very informative, Justin. Thanks.

    One of the toughest things for those learning to cast is getting the feel of loading the rod. The light goes on quicker for some than others. This approach may turn on the switch faster.

  5. Justin great post! I have an old fenwick glass rod I pull out a couple times a year to remember the “Feel”. I’ve used your over-lining technique for high wind situations. Casting for carp on lake Michigan can be more of a fight with the wind than those rubber lipped beauties.

  6. Couldn’t agree more Justin!

    Just conducted another fly casting camp out West over the weekend and had EVERY student training with slower fiberglass and 1st gen graphite fly rods. As I share with all that ask, NO WAY myself and the Rajeff brothers would have learned to cast so accurate and efficient without slower, deeper flexing rod actions.

    For many readers that may only own a stiff fast action rod and no heavier line, let me suggest the following quick training tip. Simply remove the bottom butt section and reel from your 3 or 4 piece rod and practice short casts from 20 to 30 ft with only the top 2 or 3 sections.

    By eliminating the stiff butt section and reel weight, you will instantly FEEL the fly line on the tip of your fast rod. Just relax your grip, aim at something close and cast with finesse. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can improve your casting when you can FEEL what’s happening and practice a little!

  7. I do most of my trout fishing using Hexagraph rods. Overlining one of those (which I frequently do) makes for a SLOW graphite rod with plenty of feedback to the angler about what is happening during the cast. Having said that though, my overlined rods are still not the equal, in terms of “feel”, to my fiberglass rods. As all of those who posted before me have expressed, there is something unique and special about fiberglass. I, for one, am thrilled that we are now re-appreciating glass.

  8. I just stay overlined.
    Certainly weight forward, if nothing else.
    And I can’t afford hi-tech graphite “speed rods” – utility glass rods are my bread and butter.

  9. YES to an older but revived method of learning how to cast a fly rod very well. Chris Korich and some of the ACA tournament casters are on to something.The vintage Fenwick glass rods and the early Fenwick HMG graphic rods provides the caster with the opportunity to actually feel the rod load and unload.
    In short, these vintage rods, in the hands of good casting coaches and willing students, will at first bring agony. In time, ever so gradually, with fundamental stroke practice skills, joy begins to emerge.
    I am still in the semi agony and some joy phase.
    Great fun!

  10. This is why I prefer glass, bamboo, Spey, and both… A little more slowly, some more thought, and letting go. Then, it becomes having the fly in the water, at the right line, most of the time.

    And, I catch more fish!

    PS No over lining anymore.

  11. I have often used one of my bamboo rods to teach a new angler because the bamboo rods have so much more feel than a modern fast rod. It does kind of freak them out when they realize what a bamboo rod costs.

  12. If I out fish you with my early 50’s 7′ 9″ fiberglass Wonderod, don’t be upset. They had the sweet spot figured out a long time ago.

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