Reservoir rods

With the increase in reservoir fishing in recent years and the really big fish available, it is important to go equipped with the right tackle. And having the right rod for the job is essential.

The purpose of a rod in any type of fishing is to act as a guide for the line and as a spring to absorb the effects of hard-fighting fish. But in fly fishing the rod must also be supple enough throughout all, or part, of its length to cast a fly which is virtually weightless. The line is weighted ac-cording to the type of fishing it is designed for and so rods will differ according to the weight of line they can carry. Rods also have different actions, and there is variation of construction as well.

Split cane

Wood has always been considered the best material for fly rod construction. The peak of wooden fishing rod construction is split cane, which tends to have an ‘all-through’ action which means that the full length of the rod will be involved when playing a fish or casting. But split cane has drawbacks in its maintenance and in its casting ability. Split cane cannot be stored even slightly wet because it will quickly warp and rot. The problem with its action is that when used for casting long distances it can take on a permanent curve, called a ‘set’. But its greatest drawback is its weight when compared with today’s man-made materials.


From split cane, with its inherent disadvantages, came the development of glassfibre rods from the US. Glassfibre is less expensive than split cane; it is also lighter and requires less maintenance. But again

it will take on a ‘set’ if grossly abused, although not as badly as will split cane.

During the 20-odd years since it was introduced, glassfibre has progressed from the solid section to ‘hollow glass’. The great advantage of hollow glassfibre rods is that they can be tailored to give any kind of action to suit individual preference. Some anglers prefer to use nymphs to tempt fish rising to the surface and would probably choose a double-taper line. Consequently a rod with a

through action will be preferred. For reservoir fishing, involving huge areas of water, long casting is essential and so, coupled with a heavy line, a fast taper rod with a tip-action will be the choice. Some reservoir anglers prefer through-action rods, but a rod with the action in its top part tends to be more powerful, propelling the line farther.


Glassfibre rods have now probably reached their peak in casting perfor-mance, but there is now a new material which has as good a casting action. This is carbonfibre, another development from the US, first introduced into Great Britain about seven years ago.

The material has all the advantages of glassfibre but is much lighter, and has a smaller diameter for the same power. There is one big difference – carbonfibre rods are much more expensive than all the others. Carbonfibre was originally seen as a short, very light fishing rod. Now a number of tackle manufacturers are offering their brands of carbonfibre rods in lengths between 7ft and 10ft 6in for trout fishing.

The selection of a rod must take into account the use to which it will be put, and the type of water to be fished. One can then choose between split cane, glassfibre or carbonfibre.

Reservoir rods

Reservoir fishing has become an im-portant part of game fishing. Large numbers of anglers fish these waters from the banks and from boats. This type of fishing demands distance-casting and continual retrieval of the line. This means the rod will be in constant use, so the angler must choose a rod which will enable him to cast efficiently into the high winds often present on reservoirs, without becoming too tired to fish.

The rod, therefore, should be as powerful and as light as possible, so split cane is clearly unsuitable. This leaves a choice between glassfibre and carbonfibre.

A carbon rod will do all the things that a glassfibre rod can do. But it will not cast farther and will not improve an angler’s skill at fly casting.

The advantage of this material is that less effort is needed in casting, partly because there is more ‘power’ in the carbonfibre sections from which the rod was made, and partly because the smaller diameter of the rod creates less air resistance.

Cost is a factor we all have to bear in mind. At present carbonfibre rods are expensive, but because inferior carbonfibre is worse than inferior glassfibre, selection must not be based purely on cheapness. Your selection of a reservoir rod must be based on sound advice from the dealer, your experience and judgement of the rods you are offered, and the style of fishing which you intend to do with it.