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July 03, 2006

Fly Rod Guide: Fast Action vs. Medium Action

Rod There is a common misperception that a fast action fly rod is always more preferable than a medium, full-flex action. A fast rod does come in handy when you need to cast over 40 feet of line, fight wind, or throw lead. But most anglers choose fast action because they envision themselves making perfect 90-foot pinpoint casts to the far side of the river with unparalleled grace and control. Even if you manage to pull off a cast like that, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to control the drift and then set the hook with so much line out.

Anglers have the most trouble with fast rods on small water. The stiff action doesn’t allow the line to load the rod, and you end up pushing the cast.  The result is less accuracy, and unless you’re exceptionally skilled, much less control. On streams, presentation is paramount. You usually only get one chance before a hole is spooked.

To balance a fast rod for tight water, try moving up one or two line weights. That will slow the rod down and improve its short casting control.

I once asked a guide on the Blackfoot River the average length of casts his clients made from his boat. The answer was 20 to 30 feet. Come back on Wednesday and I’ll fill you in on a new killer medium action rod.



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