Over My Waders

Fly Tackle - The Rod

By Samuel G. Camp


The tackle for trout fly-fishing has been developed to a point of excellence where further improvement, save in unimportant details, seems impossible. The rods, reels, lines, and flies now specially made for the fly-caster are certainly things of beauty and, if carefully treated, practically permanent joys. The matter of tackle selection for brook trout flyfishing is a very simple affair to the man who knows. But the man who does not know is quite capable of going to considerable expense for a museum of tackle curiosities the collective intent of which would be difficult to determine.

Herein it will be possible to state only with the utmost brevity compatible with clearness the essential tools and tackle of the fly-caster. For a more detailed treatise on fly-tackle and general equipment the reader is referred to “Fishing Kits and Equipment” by the present writer. Many years of stream use and experiment have shown that only certain tools are suited to effective and satisfactory and sportsmanlike fly-casting. In the following the suitability of the outfit to stream wading and fly-fishing in an average trout stream is primarily considered.

To the absolute exclusion of every other material the fly-rod should be of split-bamboo. The split-cane rod alone has the necessary speed and resilience which are imperative for effective and comfortable fly-casting and fly-fishing. Solid wood rods of either lancewood, greenheart, or bethabara are very much slower in action than the split-bamboo, and the steel rod is not at all to be considered. It should be said, however, that in the cheaper grades the split-bamboo rod is inferior to the solid wood rod of equal price. The angler should select a fly-rod of either medium or, if the purse is a fairly long one, the very best grade. A good fly-rod is worth every cent you pay for it - and more; also it should be said that good tackle of any sort is not only its own reward but is absolutely essential if you would have the best of the sport. Shoddy tackle conduces to careless work on the stream and consequently to poor success. On the other hand, good tackle tends to interest one in its proper handling, both in casting and also in fishing the flies, and as a result the angler finds his interest and success increasing rather than otherwise.

Choice must be made between the six-strip and eight-strip rods, the split-bamboo rod being made from triangular strips - usually six or eight- rent from the natural cane and cemented and bound together. Expert opinion favors the six-strip fly-rod.

If the angler is to have but one rod probably ten feet is the best length, but any length from nine to ten feet is generally satisfactory. It depends a great deal upon the character of the waters to be fished. For small brooks the shorter rod is preferable, but for big, rough streams where long casting must be done and large trout handled in swift water the ten-foot rod is best.

Be sure to have the ferrules and reel-seat of the rod of German silver. This material is stronger, cleaner, and more serviceable than nickeled brass. The hand-grasp should be of the sort known in the tackle trade as “solid cork,” not a mere sheathing of composition-cork over a wooden form. For fly-casting the reelseat must be below the handgrasp. The guides of the rod should by all means be of the pattern known as English “snake” guides, and their material should be steel or German silver, the former being most suitable because the line will not wear grooves in them as in the softer German silver.

Select a rod that bends equally from handgrasp to tip-end, one that balances well - is not either tip or butt heavy - and is not too limber or whippy. The whippy rod is a poor caster and one with which it is difficult to hook and play a fish properly. Fly-rods from nine to ten feet in length should weigh from five to six and a quarter ounces.



© 1911 Macmillan Co.


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Cartoon by Walter Young © 1961, used by permission.