I recently accompanied a friend to the local fly shop. I was along to aid in his quest for a new fly rod, and while the visit was about helping him, I selfishly was excited to cast some rods myself; comparing tapers and actions from brands that I never have judged face to face before.
Prior to arrival, the goal was to find the ultimate five weight. Somewhere along the way though, things changed and we set our sights on a four weight; a rod that would cast a dry fly perfectly on one the many small meadow and mountain streams we fish out here in Wyoming. Not an all-purpose rod by any means, more a luxury item that would only be used when fishing to cutthroat trout on hot summer days. Here’s where things got interesting. While we cast approximately six rods from several manufactures, our opinions varied greatly. A rod that my friend loved, I couldn’t put down fast enough, and a slow action rod that I quickly became smitten with, my friend shrugged off in favor of a stiff brown pole made of space age NASA stuff.
Regardless of our preferences, we did think it was pretty cool how rods, much like guitars, are destined for certain individuals. Different rods appeal to different casting styles. I think the guy at the fly shop said it best when he explained to my friend that no amount of fancy writing or opinions matter, “the rod picks you.” And it was true because at the end our comparison, my friend picked the rod that he connected with, not the green one that I liked and not the fancy one that earned 50 gold stars in the magazine shootout.
Our time spent casting rods made me examine my own preferences and rod arsenal. Deep down I’m a guy who likes a slow action rod, but I know that for practicality, it’s hard to argue with a fast action 5wt, at least for our here in the West, where wind and bulky flies are the name of the game. I also realized that despite all the fancy polymers and nano weight technologies being employed to create fly rods these days, it doesn’t really matter. A rod from 20 years ago cast just as well (maybe even better- yeah, I said it) as the current crop being built in today’s arms race.
Here’s to hoping for a Winston 4 weight some day……