A good trout fly rod is a light, precision tool so balanced in the hand that you can fish for hours without tiring and place flies on the very lips of a rising trout.
A modern trout fly rod can vary from a short, delicate wand of 6ft used for stalking fish in overgrown brooks and streams, to a powerful 10ft reservoir rod capable of punching a heavy size 10 line or shooting head into the teeth of a wind. It is necessary, therefore, to carefully consider exactly what kind of rod you require.
Passing of traditions
Although the traditional fly rod woods such as greenheart and built-cane are still in use, they have graciously given way to the lightness and versatility of glass-and carbonfibre. Both types of blank are sold in two pieces with internal spigot ferrules already fitted, and their construction is exactly the same. Your choice will probably be based on which of these materials you can afford. Fly rod blanks are made to match a particular size of line. Lines vary from size 4 to 10. Rod length depends on the type of water to be fished. Obviously, brooks, streams and small rivers are best suited to short rods —between 6ft and 8ft—taking size 4-6 lines. On medium rivers and small lakes 8-9ft rods, loaded with size 6-7 lines, are thought by many anglers to be ideal.
For small brook rods of 6|-7ft, cane is a delight to use. The weight, which is such a disadvantage in rods of over 9ft, is not so apparent, and the material being more ‘forgiving’ than glass, makes the short ‘flick’ casts needed on brooks far easier.
For an all-round rod (if there is such a thing) 8.}ft with a size 6 line is recommended. Rods of 9-10ft vary. A tremendously in the lines they will carry. One nine-footer may take a size 6 or 7 line for medium-range casting, while another more powerful blank of the same length will throw a size 9 line over a con-siderable distance. You can also pur-chase a 10ft rod which carries a size 7 line. So be sure to buy blanks which, whatever their length, match the line you want.
Choosing the right fittings Fix on a reel fitting and a cork handle. Both are available in a variety of types, sizes, and internal bores, to be sure of getting the correct size. The reel fittings can be the ‘screw’ type in aluminium or plastic, with a locking nut and a thread in the end to take a rubber button. This tubular design is sleeved and glued on to the extreme end of the blank. An alternative is a pair of lightweight alloy fittings, one of which has a flush end cap which grips the lower reel foot,
while the other (sliding) part tightens down over the upper foot. These lightweight fittings are recommended for really light cork-handled rods—where £oz might throw the rod out of balance. Choose the length of handle you prefer. On rods shorter than 9ft, a 6in cork grip above the screw rod fitting is ideal. When using light alloy fittings, a 10in foregrip is suggested. On longer rods it is advisable to add 2in 7 to both these measurements.
Complete ‘scroll’ handles can be purchased with the correct internal diameter and simply sleeved down the blank and glued on. But sanding down single corks to your desired handle shape is not difficult.
To prepare fulllength handles for the two-piece, light alloy fittings, follow the same procedure, but, after shaping the handgrip, sand down the bottom 4in of the handle, un-tapered, to match the inside bore of % -r, the fittings. Lightly rub over the blank with white spirit to remove all traces of grease, and you are ready to whip on the rod rings.
Three kinds of rod ring
There are three basic patterns of fly rod rings currently available: snake, low-bridge, and Fuji ‘oneleg’ rings. There is little to choose between snake and bridge rings—stainless snake rings or hard-chrome bridge rings are both hard-wearing. The new Fuji rings, in addition to creating minimal friction (due to their aluminium oxide centres allow the rod to flex throughout unrestricted. This is a great advantage, since a fly rod is continually flexing. Work on the basis of using one ring per foot of rod, excluding the tip ring.
A traditional fly keeper ring may be whipped to the butt end near the handle to add to professional touch.