Sunday’s Classic / How To Make Your Fly Rod Cast Like A Dream

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Fly Fishing on the South Platte. Photo By: Louis Cahill

What Fly Line Matches Up Best With Your Fly Rod?

It always amazes me that there’s very little talk in the industry about how important it is to match your fly rod with the appropriate fly line. My recent visit to the ITFD Fly Fishing Show in New Orleans, I witnessed on more than one occasion, fly rod company’s matching their fly rods up with what appeared to be the wrong fly lines. If you spool up the wrong fly line on your reel, that $700 fly rod you just purchased will end up feeling awkward, and won’t perform the way the fly rod designer intended it to. Below are some quick tips on how to match your fly rod with the correct fly line so it ends up casting like a dream.

Fast Action Fly Rods

Stiff, fast action fly rods require fly lines with a more aggressive head design for optimum rod loading and casting. Since fly rods are generally meant to load at 25-30′ of fly line out the end of the rod tip, anglers often find it difficult to load fast action fly rods, particularly at short distances, unless they’ve matched their rod with the appropriate fly line. Both Rio and Scientific Anglers manufacture fly lines specifically for fast action rods.

Try Weight Forward (WF) Rio Grande Fly Line or WF GPX Scientific Anglers. These two fly lines in laymen terms, are about 1/2 weight heavier than traditional fly lines by AFTMA standards. Pairing up one of these fly lines with your fast action fly rod will allow you to load your rod with less effort and it will perform much better at all casting distances.

Medium Action Fly Rods

Medium action fly rods call for fly lines with a more conservative and well rounded tapered design. Loading your reel with a fly line that’s too aggressive can overload your fly rod, make it difficult to present your flies delicately, and also decrease your accuracy.

Try WF Rio Gold or WF Scientific Anglers Trout Taper

Slow Action Fly Rods

The slowest and softest fly rods on the market should be paired with a fly line that has a long delicate taper from the body through the front taper. This will allow the energy loaded to the rod, that’s in turn transferred to the fly line, to dissipate evenly and smoothly so you can present your flies delicately when stealthy presentations are a must.

Try WF Rio Trout LT

Disclaimer: This post was intended to provide the basic information needed to aid anglers in matching their fly rod with the appropriate fly line. If you’re looking for a thorough explanation on this subject, you’d probably be better off consulting one of the Federation Fly Fishers master certified casting instructors or becoming a FFF member. They specialize in writing lengthy dissertations on this kind of stuff and you’ll regularly receive emails. One suggestion for you if you decide to go this route. Take your Ritalin before diving into one of these emails. Their engineering and physics based explanations can turn your brain to mush.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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7 thoughts on “Sunday’s Classic / How To Make Your Fly Rod Cast Like A Dream

  1. Maybe one of the reasons guys have the wrong lines on rods is from generic “tips” like the one above.
    I, and I’m sure you fellas too, try out several fly lines on any given rod to get the right line for the job, as you began to state above.
    Any fly shop worth it’s weight in salt will let you try out several fly lines on reels to get you the correct match.
    While the FFF is a great organization, I’m a lifetime member & Cert. Master Casting Instructor, the proper way is to actually cast different fly lines to get it right.
    So, not bitching, just questioning your opening statement and then this clearly watered down post.
    And, I know these posts are for the masses…
    Thanks for listening even though you want to yell at me right now.

  2. Mark,

    Everyone is welcome to comment on our posts negative or positive. Just like everyone is entitled to their opinion, we encourage it. Our community of followers enjoy it and they can learn from people like you just as much as reading our blog posts.

    I will admit I could have gone into more detail on the fly line post. What I intended was to hit the important points that people should concentrate on. Remember, we deal with all skill levels, and too much detail on any subject can go over the head of a large portion of our followers who are getting into the sport.

    I was in no way trying to be negative towards FFF. I was actually giving them a plug. I’ve also read many FFF emails about fly casting mechanics, fly rod design, fly line design, ect. of which, many of the emails gave me a headache trying to comprehend. They’re are a lot of very smart dudes in FFF, and the writing style reminded me of how a engineer or physics professor would talk. Again, I have nothing against it, in fact that’s why I recommended people look into it if they want all the ins and out on this specific subject. I was just warning beginners and novice level fly fisherman get ready for some technical content.

    Congrats on being a FFF Cert. Master Casting Instructor. I just find it funny you felt the need to let everyone know that. I’ve got several really good friends that are Master Certified and they’re all complete badasses with a fly rod, but I’ve never heard any of them bring up their FFF certification level in debate. I also guided a FFF Master Cert. Casting Instructor last year that seriously struggled to present a 40′ backcast with a foam hopper and had horrible accuracy. The instructor also had no idea how to high-stick or mend line properly. Maybe the person was rusty I don’t know, but it really surprised me. Just goes to show its all about the individual not what their certification status is.

    The fact that I”m not a FFF Master Certified Casting Instructor doesn’t make me any less qualified to give advice on this subject. The past ten years as a full time guide I’ve taught my fair share of people how to cast, but in addition also how to catch fish. I’m very comfortable with a fly rod in my hand. Not trying to push any buttons just stating the facts.

    Thanks again for your comment. Hope you know my comments are intended with the utmost respect and I welcome you to provide our followers some tips on matching the right fly line with their fly rod. I know you said you should cast different lines to get it right, but feel free to elaborate any way you want. Lastly, I give props to FFF for what they do for the sport of fly fishing and I wish them the best.


    Kent Klewein

  3. Ok (knuckles cracking) I am looking for the point of @Mark comment and wondering wtf you are talking about. Watered down? What exactly set you off? I mean reading the article for myself I think that the point of it is to try different lines on your rod and that here is a BASIC guide. So you are just reiterating what he said.. Not only that I guarantee if you go on the FFF website your going to find if not the same very similar information.. So essentially what your saying is that the FFF basically waters down the information? Not only that no where in your comment did you state that any information given is wrong in of which it is NOT.. So in saying this if you have information that could help with apparently your endless knowledge please do so and don’t be so negative.. Be constructive which is what a MCCI and an ambassador of the FFF should be! No wonder soooooooo many fly fisherman in the industry have negative things to say about the FFF! I have a CCI myself and every time I see BS such as this I cringe… No wonder icons such as Lefty Kreh will have nothing to do with you guys! When he was once the face of the FFF! The only thing I can figure out is A.) you like to hear yourself bitch or ….. B.) your wife has nagged your ass all day and had to take your frustrations out on someone else and an anonymous message board is your best bet that way you don’t get bitch slapped.. Or C.) you have a competing blog and since these guys are waxing your ass with great content you have to try finding anything to say negative and watered down was the best you could do… Sad… At any rate great job as usual GNG keep it up ! There will always be haters…. But all that matters is you got their click lol so you guys are doing something right!

  4. Perhaps part of the problem is that fly gear is getting increasingly heavy for the designated weight. That super fast 6-weight rod that you just bought because it can cast a mile might cast better with Rio Grand line (or even a 7-weight line) because it’s a 6-weight in name only.

    • Austin,

      Right on man. That is very true. There are some fast action rods that you cast and you think in your exactly what your talking about. Upsizing the fly line weight size by one can really help ypu load those really fast and stiff action rods, especially at shorter distances, but even end up matching perfect with the specific rod.
      Thanks for your comment, it is a good tip for everyone.


  5. Being a Master casting instructor has in my view nothing to do with this basic 1-2-3 on fly rods. And by the way, get over this degree stuff.

    Fast rods start to feel right after a certain length of line. To overcome this ‘no feedback’ first few yards, choosing a line that’s either one line weight heavier or a line that has a more aggressive taper is just sound advice.

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