Ron Beck Fly Fishing Missoula

10 Reasons To Use A Long Fly Rod

The industry standard length rod is 9’, with a 9’ 5 wt. being the most popular rod in the world. Does it work? Of course it does! When the top rod designers in the world compete for market share in the most sold rod, it’s a guarantee you’re getting their best work! But maybe not the most effective and efficient tool for the job.

The long rod has fought an uphill battle since rods went from solid wood and Greenheart to split bamboo. Dame Juliana’s 15 foot and longer rods allowed early anglers to control line and fly, but as split cane replaced solid wood, rods got shorter to conserve weight and allow single handed use. The long rod has been trying to find its way back since about 1880.

Fiberglass didn’t bring the long rod back- the combination of weight and butt diameter didn’t lend itself to the long rod . When graphite appeared in 1973, rod rolling machines were incapable of consistently creating a straight tip on a 10’, 2-piece rod.

It’s a new millennium, and graphite construction has changed. The two-piece rod has pretty much gone the way of the coelacanth (thought to be extinct but still sighted), and it’s easy to roll pieces for 4-piece 10 foot rods and longer. The technology has caught up with the product, but anglers are lagging behind!

So without further ado, we present the Missoulian Angler’s Top Ten Reason For Using A Longer Fly Rod!

1. Distance

Straight physics says a longer lever is a more powerful lever. With a longer rod, you generate more energy and cast further. While distance might not be critical to a lot of trout fishing, the ability to add power definitely allows you to fight the wind with more authority. More power = more distance = better in the wind. Streamer fishermen need distance at times, as do still water anglers. The roll cast is much more powerful with a longer rod- ask any Spey fisherman. Get a power boost with a longer rod wherever and however you fish.

2. Longer Leaders, Thinner Leaders

With additional power in casting, longer leaders with finer tippet are now more easily handled. When you think of a leader as an energy conduit, (Leaders) then more power from the rod handles a longer, thinner leader. Since Charles Cotton in the 1600’s, fine and far off has been the mantra. The longer rod makes that happen, providing more space between line and leader. With less chance of lining the fish, and better drift on lighter tippet, the long rod enhances your presentation.

3. Faster line pick-up

The longer rod requires a bigger, heavier reel to correctly balance the rod. With a bigger reel comes a larger diameter, which means faster line pick-up. When you hook the fish of the day, getting the trout on the reel is the fastest way to control. Larger diameter means faster to the reel. A 10’ 4 wt. rod might use a reel designed for a 6-8 weight rod, depending on the weight. When you get a longer rod, make sure to get a reel that balances. The longer length creates a heavier swing weight, and balance becomes more critical to comfortable, all day casting.

4. Mending

This is the most important reason for owning a long rod. With the tall stick, your ability to mend expands exponentially. It’s not an extra foot of mending capability, it’s an additional 8-10 feet of mending capability. Since mending is essential to success, and a longer rod accentuates your ability to mend, there is NO REASON to trust the crucial aspect of mending to a short stick. Once again, physics shows you how much more effective a longer rod is. The longer rod also extends your reach casts, adding additional float to your drift. In every aspect of mending, on water and aerial, a longer rod outperforms its shorter counterpart.

5. Line Control

Along with better mending, long rods provide better line control. Line control begins with casting distances that are short enough to maintain contact with the fly. As we’ve said, the longer rod handles more line, allowing a longer cast to be fully under the anglers control. Another aspect of line control is removing drag by keeping the line off the water. Longer rods keep more line off the water, eliminating drag. While this is important for classic angling, it’s critical for…

6. Euro Nymphing

Mending and line control are essential to Euronymphing. Euronymping success is predicated on complete line control. It’s why the best Euronymphers use the longest rod they can comfortably handle. The longer rod creates more separation from angler and fish, adhering to the fine and far off mantra. It allows micro control over the fly line at distance. The people who are the most effective at taking fish, the anglers who must control their fly line, use a long rod for its effectiveness. Maybe you should think about taking advantage of an extra foot or more in your fishing.

7. Dapping

The gentle art of dapping has been somewhat supplanted by the upswing in Tenkara, but it’s still highly effective taking trout out of tight, tight lies. Dapping keeps everything off the water but the fly, and is often used in small streams or places a cast can’t be made. The longer rod keeps you further from the action, which is further from spooking the quarry. Dapping can be utilized on large rivers as well as small streams. Find yourself above an eddy with rising trout, and dapping will get you a drift not found by traditional casting.

8. Use A Lighter Line Weight

After 30 years of using nothing shorter than 10’ rods for trout fishing, I can say from experience that pretty much anything a 9’ 5wt. rod can do, a 10” 4wt. rod can do. The mechanical advantages of the long rod allow a lighter line to do more, making it equivalent to a line size higher in a shorter rod. When dry fly fishing technical water (think Clark Fork River and Bitterroot River after July 15), and you have a tool that allows you to use a lighter line to accomplish the same tasks. The drop rule applies to all long rods. A 10’, 5wt. matches a 9’ 6wt, and a 10’ 3wt. handles the tasks of a 9’, 4wt. With a longer rod, you’ve just gotten a bit finer in the fine and far off game.

9. Versatility

Whether you toss dry flies, throw nymphs, huck streamers or straight Euronymph, a longer rod helps you do it better. Every technique of fly fishing is enhanced with a longer rod. Magnify distance, mending and line control at any situation, and you find you’re a more versatile angler on the water. You get places others can’t get to, or control drag in spots where others can’t. With a long rod, the river just got smaller, and you just opened up new opportunities. That’s versatility.

10. Annoy Your Friends with Your Ability To Catch Fish

When you grab the long rod, your effectiveness on the water rises exponentially, just like your ability to mend, ability to cast farther, ability to handle smaller tippet and ability to control your line. That’s a long list of upgrades, without even practicing! Imagine how much more you’ll want to fish when you’re catching more.

The Missoulian Angler has the largest selection of long rods in town. With 10’ and longer from Douglas, Winston, OPST and Echo, we’ve got you covered from standard trout to Euronymphing right through mini skagit. We cover 2 wt through 6 wt, at many price points, and have the rod you need when you’re ready to heed physics and take the mechanical advantage to the water.

Fall Fly Fishing Clark Fork River

Choosing Fly Lines

Remember those awesome days when we went spinfishing? Things were so easy then. Snag your lure? Just cut the line and start again. Lose to much line, and $10.00 later you were back in business. Oh my, how things have changed! A River Runs Through It never mentioned fly lines can cost over $100.00! Not in the brochure!

And look how many fly lines are out there! Pike Tapers, Grand and Trout and MPX. We’ve gone from one size fits all to seemingly no one line can be effective. Add the amazing technological advances in fly rod design since AFTMA (American Fly Tackle Manufacturers Association) codified fly lines in the 60’s, and now you seem to have an unsolvable puzzle in front of you. But you have to solve it, mostly because you can’t remember if the fly line on your reel started as tan or orange, and it has so many cracks it looks like a zebra. After 5 minutes, it might as well be a sink tip. Something’s gotta give.

Because you can’t mend a sinking line. Sure, a reach cast or other aerial mend, but once it hits the water, it’s no longer mendable. And since mending is the most important thing you can do to be effective with insect imitations on the surface and below, you need your line to float, and float well. The higher a line floats on the water, the easier it is to mend. Less disturbance, more distance in your mend- high floating is the better way to go.

That’s one of the features you get in the top quality fly lines, very high floating. Technology has hit fly line manufacture as well, and the new lines float like corks. Many of the tapers are designed to enhance mending, and all of a sudden you’re back in control of your fly again. The newer fly lines are also designed to go further with the same effort, and some are textured to provide even more distance.

As you decide what you need from your fly line, decide if distance is really that important in your trout fishing. If your throwing streamers, it can be critical, and well worth pursuing. But since the average 9’ fly rod can’t mend beyond 37-40’, distance may not be as important to the insect imitating angler. If you can cast further than you can mend, distance may not be your number one consideration. Here’s a grumpy aside. If you can only throw 30’ with your old line, don’t expect a new line to go 70’. At that point, it might not be the arrow, it might be the archer. Just saying.

When it comes to the weight of your fly line, unless your very sure about what you’re doing, stick to the manufacturer’s recommended line weight. That still leaves some wiggle room, because some lines weigh a half size more than prescribed by AFTMA.

For the nerds, fly lines are sized in this way. Only the first 30’ is weighed, and a 3wt should be 100 grains. 4wt-120 gr. 5wt- 140 gr. 6wt-160 gr. 7wt- 185 gr. 8wt-210 gr. 9wt- 240 gr 10wt- 280 gr. From a modern perspective, many casters reach way beyond 30’, so when you have more than 30’ out, you are, in a sense, overloading the rod. Some fly rod manufacturers are asking for an overhaul to the system in place, but so far it hasn’t happened. So we go with what we got.

Back to choosing your fly line. If you’re happy with your rod, get a standard weight fly line. If you bought a fast rod and like it, don’t put a heavier line on it, as it will slow it down. If you bought a soft rod and like it, don’t put a heavier line on as it will change the action. But say you have a rod and you don’t truly like how it casts. Now is the time to fiddle with the line weight. If it’s too stiff, go up a half size in lines, or maybe even a whole line size. If the rod is a noodle, go down a half or whole size. You’ll find the rod may work a whole lot better than it did with a different weight loading it.

Let’s go back to distance. It you’re always into the running line, then a half weight heavier might be a bit much for your rod. If you’re a small stream angler, or consistently throw less than 30’, consider going to the half weight heavier line. Because rods are designed to have 30” of line out, the heavier line will compensate for the shorter line length. The rod loads faster, and short casts are now a lot easier. The additional weight also helps with mending, as it loads the rod tip and gives a better feel when shifting the line. Many small stream anglers will go up an entire line weight to get the rod to load with 20’ or less line extending from the tip top.

When you go to choose a fly line, price may well be a concern. While the more expensive lines may be more durable, they are not twice as durable, which is how they might be priced. Again, ask yourself what the fly lines main purpose is. If you’re a distance caster, get the best line you can afford- it will maximize your distance. Texture will also increase your distance dramatically. The more expensive lines have emollients impregnated in them, designed to ooze out slowly. These also help for distance, as well as easing cleaning. And for Pete’s sake, get a fly line cleaning pad and use it! A dirty line doesn’t shoot as well, doesn’t float as well and is just not as effective. Stick it in your vest pocket and at the end of the day, pull your line through it. Too easy not to do!

As you look at price points of lines, and their names, think back to the advertising you saw in magazines and online 15 years ago. The “mid” priced lines now were the top of the line 15 years ago. They worked just fine then, and they’ll work just fine now. Just fine isn’t the same as spectacular. But saving $40 is not to be sneezed at either! The new lines will seriously out perform the older lines, and if you’re looking to gain any edge you can, the new lines will help your mending and presentation. The tapers are more advanced, and they allow an angler to do more on the water.

You still have the zebra line, and you have a decision in front of you. Is there any way to stretch the life of that line out for a little bit as you contemplate your next move? Sure. Clean it as best you can with soap and water. Use mild scrubby pressure to remove grime. What, are you going to ruin it? It’s already done, so get the dirt off. Then coat the tip with 5-6 coats of Armorall or 1 coat of Mucilin. It’s a replasticizer, and will give the line a little coating and a bit of waterproofing. Let each coat dry completely before putting on the next one. It’s going to take a little time and effort.  Its not forever, maybe 16 hours. But the Armorall is something while you decide what the next move is, or as a stop gap till pay day. But the piper will need to be paid, and soon. We’ll tell you what we tell all the zebra line people. When you put the new line on, remember how well it performs. Remember how easy it is to cast and mend. And next time, don’t wait so long to get a new line. Your fishing will improve, and that’s why we’re out there on the water, for the best fly fishing experience possible!

Why You Should Try 10′ Fly Rods

Euronymphing has startled fly fishing with it’s effectiveness and micro control over the drift. I’m going to stress that. Micro control of drift. What’s the biggest deterrent to catching trout? Drag. Why are the best Missoula fly fishing guides first three recommendations when fishing, “mend. Mend! MEND!” It’s fun listening to guides talk. Got this story from a Missoula guide……

“Late June, guy’s in my boat doing jack.  Won’t listen, doesn’t pay attention, the whole 9. Seems like everyone on the rivers doubling up and this guy is about fishless. We get close to another boat, and my guy says, “How’s the fishing?” The reply is, “Real good.” In that confident voice that says we are kicking some serious Adipose fin ass. My guy asks, “What are you using?” Reply, “10 feet of drag free drift.” Cold. Callous. Cruel. Stone Nuts Accurate. Drag is the curse of fly fishing. Want to sum up fly fishing with an insect imitation in 7 words? Make your fly behave like it’s unattached.

Euronymphers learned fast that a longer rod helps control drift. Basic geometry tells us a longer rod can mend exponentially further. (Euclidean geometry. It’s why you paid attention in high school)) So when you’re  highsticking, the higher your stick, the better your drift. I haven’t consistently used a rod shorter than 10’ since about 1995. Oh, I’ve dabbled with my favorite 8’8” 2 wt, I’ve revisited my first 8’ 4 wt, but never for long. I lose too much doing it.

Straight physics tells you that a longer lever is more effective. A 10’ rod is more powerful- you can simply apply more leverage and attain higher tip speeds. As said before, a 10’ rod mends exponentially better than a shorter rod. What does that add up to? You can drop a line weight and still have 95% of what the higher line weight delivers. So my go-to rod is a 10’ 4 wt, not a 9’ 5 wt. Does all the work of the 5 wt, but now I’m throwing one line size lighter. Better for stealth. To quote John Geirach, “Fly tackle has improved considerably since 1676, when Charles Cotton advised anglers to ‘fish fine and far off,’ but no one has ever improved on that statement.” Nuff said.

So why does no one conventionally fish a 10’ rod. I’ve been in the fly fishing industry for 35 years, and I can honestly say I have no idea. I’ve explained it countless times, and people look at me and say that makes complete sense. And then continue to use a 9’ rod. I don’t get it…..

Do have to confess, there is one thing a 10’ rod doesn’t do as well as a 9’ rod, and that’s fight fish. It takes more energy to apply pressure on a longer lever. But we’re fishing for trout, not billfish. I can’t say I’ve ever lost a fish because I couldn’t get enough pressure. Could be I’m not catching big enough trout to know. Ought to ask Bryce. . . . .

Look at those Euronymphers. They know what they’re doing. They’re using a longer rod and having ridiculous success. Might not be coincidence. Just saying. Don’t listen to me! I haven’t  figured out why no 10’rods for 35 years! But try a 10’ fly rod. Do it because its the new, zippy, hot way to fish. Do it because it works. And you’ll come to find out the bonus is all the things I listed above.  It’s a better tool for the job.