Choosing Fly Rods Page Two

Learning what makes a premium fly rod.


the anatomy of a fly rod

Graphic shows the guide layout on the rod blank, ferrules, cork grip and reel seat.

For a long time manufacturers primarily made two piece fly rods.  Partly because two piece rods were easier and less costly to manufacture.  With the increase in fly fishermen traveling all over the globe, 4, 5 or even 6 piece rods became a necessity.

All major rod manufacturers; Sage, St. Croix, G. Loomis, Thomas and Thomas, Diamondback, Reddington, Orvis and Scott now offer a fine series of 3, 4 or 5 piece rods in 2 on up to 15 weight.  A 15 weight rod is the heaviest weight fly rod available and is used for salt water or surf fishing.  Generally it is a two handed Spey Type casting model.  As you go down in rod weights the rods will become lighter.  The rod weight will generally be matched with the same weight fly line.

Pictured above is a drawing of a premium four-piece rod.

Fly Fishing Rod Components

From the butt end of the rod the parts are:

Reel Seat? This is the part that holds the reel to the fly rod. Reel seats on rods for fresh water fishing are generally made of metal holders with a wood insert in between. For salt water fishing the seat is made of anodized aluminum to reduce corrosion form the salt water. The reel seat generally will be one in which the top part screws down to hold the reel securely.

Cork Grip – This is the part you hold to make your cast. Cork comes in grades A and B. Less expensive Rods may use a B grade but that won’t affect your casting. A quality fly fishing rod should use Grade A cork with no holes or crumbly grainy parts when sanded smooth. Grips may in the shape shown or in a modified curl at the top end, allowing a place to brace your thumb when casting.

Stripping Guide – is the first guide above the grip. It is round and looks a lot like a guide on a spinning rod, except it is lined inside with a ceramic insert. The insert reduces line wear when the line passes over the guide.

Mid Guides – Traditional Guides are the snake shape with a flat foot on each end of the snake. The feet are attached to the rod blank by wrapping rod thread around the rod and guide.  The newer snake guides are titanium coated for abrasion resistance and to shoot line easier  (Titanium is about the hardest metal known to man)

A newer type of guide is the single foot. These type of guides are more like the guides on a spinning rod. They are round and only have a single foot behind the guide. Removing the trailing foot on each guide will make a slightly lighter rod. Does a rod with single foot guides cast better than the traditional rod. Depends on who you talk to about it.  (I just finished building a 9 St. Croix Legend Elite with single foot guides.  I can’t really tell any major casting difference from traditional snake guides.)

Top Guide – This guide is again a round guide that fits over the end of the rod blank. It is glued in place and wrapped on the bottom end. The round shape facilitates shooting the line. The round shape also allows for the line leader connection to slide easily inside the tip area during the landing of a fish.

Ferrules – These are the parts where the rod pieces fit together.  There are two main types of ferrule systems in use today.  Tip over butt where the butt of the section above fits over the tip of the section below.  Then there is Scott Rods internal ferrule solution where a specially designed rod piece is fit into the tip of the bottom section.  This tip piece then fits inside the butt of the top piece.  Scott claims this allows the construction of a “continuous tapered” rod which will cast better.  Whether one is better than the other is your choice.  But remember the more labor that goes into a fly rod, the more the cost.

How to Tell a Premium Fly Rod
from A Cheap Rod

Fly fishing rods come in cheaper models, good and premium.  This is how to tell them apart.  Exclude the main stripping guide next to the cork handle.

  1. Premium fly rods will generally have 1 guide for approximately each foot of rod not counting the main stripping guide. A premium fly rod may have two stripping guides but only the second one is counted in the guide count. For example, the nine-foot premium fly rod pictured has a total of ten guides not including the main stripping guide.As the rod length increases so should the number of guides. Remember the rule of 1 guide for approximately each 1 foot of rod length.
  2. Good model fly rods will generally have 1 less guide than the premium models.  For the nine foot model shown here, a good rod would have nine guides not counting the main stripping guide.
  3. Cheaper model fly rods will generally have fewer guides not including the stripping guide. For example, a cheap nine-foot fly rod may have only eight guides not including the main stripping guide.These less expensive fly rods will not cast long lengths of line as easily as premium fly rods will. The guides carry the line as it shoots forward toward the target. With less guides on the fly fishing rod, the line will tend to develop a little belly between the guides during the cast.With any belly in the line between guides, a lot of forward line motion and energy is lost. Thus, a 60-foot cast with a 12-foot leader is more difficult using a cheap fly rod than with a premium rod.

Choosing Fly Rods Page One

Choosing Fly Rods Page Three