Fly Fishing Academy

Rods,Lines and Reels.


Q. What is The First Step To Improving Your Casting Technique ?

A. Buy Balanced Kit !


One of the most important things to get right when you purchase equipment is to make sure your rod and line are balanced. Get this right and your well on the way to casting sweetly. Quite a few students have come to me with the inappropriate equipment or an unbalanced outfit.

Beware of that bargain setup from a none specialist fly fishing outfitter or a mail order company, chances are if costs less than £ 99 its going to be bad news. If its not balanced then no experienced fly caster will be able to cast with it. "You canna beat the laws of physics captain." Make sure you try before you buy, if the tackle shop wont let you do this then the odds are, they don't know what they are talking about! Fly rods can be a very personal thing so try one or two.

If you have the right tool for the right job then its going to get easy for you. And just like car spanners I have a sack of them one for each situation and one or two for no special reason other than I like the action. Overtime you will think nothing of having more than one rod.

For beginners I recommend a middle tip action rod. These rods are a little forgiving in that your casting stroke doesn't have to be spot on. A fast tip requires a little more precision in your technique. I have banded together 3 types of rod outfit for different fishing situations.

  • heavy (#9)

  • medium(#7)

  • light (#5)


So How Does the AFTM weighting scheme work ?

The Weight (wt) number is equivalent of the car engine's hp rating for a rod. The bigger the number the stronger the rod spring, the more energy the rod can transfer to the line and then the fly. This means small numbers small flies big numbers big heavy flies. More power is not always better, you cann't fire a .22 bullet from a cannon nor a cannon ball from a pistol. To continue this analogy your files and line are your ammunition, flies weigh something as light as 50mg (0.05g) f-fly (a piece of feather fibre) at one end of the scale to 0.5 g tungsten beaded nymph at the other end of the scale.

The most important message I can give you is that the rod and line must be matched, or balanced. All rods have this number painted just above the cork handle on the blank. Lines usually come with a label.

  1. Pike/salt water fly fishing requires heavy rod and line, to combat wind or heavy lures require a 9ft #9 wt.

  2. River fishing requires delicate line and flies and I would recommend a 8-9ft #5 wt or lighter for good presentation. Your fishing style is in close proximity to the fish, so you fish stealthy and need delicate presentation.

  3. For still water reservoirs I recommend 9-9ft 6 #6/7 wt, here distance can be important and a 7 wt rod and line can get you that. This rod is also versatile being middle of the range.

The other category that comes to mind is Salmon fishing which uses large weighted flies in powerful rivers. Here a 14-15 ft #10/11 wt double handed rod has the power to deal with the current, heavy flies and big distances. Note you may also use a heavy weight single handed trout rod to fish for Salmon.


A Word On Rod Length

A note on rod length, it is reckoned that the most efficient rod lenght is 9ft 3 inches. Personally I find a 9ft rod most comfortable for casting and less tiring than a 10ft rod. Less leverage and a lighter rod. Longer rods tend to be advantageous for roll casting or fishing the "hang" in a boat. Small rods come into their own if you find yourself fishing in a little stream with overhanging arch of uncopiced wood, even a 7ft 6 inch rod might be too big !

Think where am I most likely to fish and which species am I fishing for.   Remember right tool for the right job!


Now Fly Reels

When fly fishing for trout the hooked fish are not "played" off the reel. The reel typically has no gearing. The fish is played by stripping line in by hand giving the angler fine control in keeping in contact with the hooked fish. The main function of the fly reel is to act as storage for the fly line. Though the selection of the reel is not as critical as a matched rod and line there are several important considerations.

Is the reel housing corrosion resistant, is the drag and spool mechanism enclosed? This critical if you intend to go saltwater fly fishing for bass or bone fish.

Is the reel robust enough to withstand the odd bounce on the ground ? There is a tendency for manufacturers to make lighter kit these days, in doing so they sacrifice strength for lightness. Try and avoid brittle plastics and thin reel housing.

Are the spare spools economical ? Typically a seasoned stillwater fly fisher will have at least three spare spools and perhaps more if they have different weight rods. It is a good idea to buy all your reels from one manufacturer then your equipment will be interchangeable and therefore convenient. Cartridge spools are cheap because they have no moving parts or intricate design.

Try and purchase a large "arbour" reel. The centre "pin" of the reel is of a larger diameter, resulting in larger line coils on the reel, easier retrieve, and less line memory. Most modern designs are of the large arbour type.

Does the centre of the spool have a rough surface or ridges ? If it does n't you might find that line and backing slip round the reel.

Always try the reel, if your left handed to see how easy it is to change the drag mechanism to your "handedness". See how cumbersome the spool change is. Try the reel on the rod, does it fit your securely on your reel seats ? As you begin to cast, strip line off the spool to make sure it does n't go round the back of the reel housing this can be very annoying and is the result of a slack spool connection and or bad design. Some of the star shaped drag wheels can also snag line.



For advice on lines and you cann't wait for my next update get in touch.








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