You could only have one fly rod and reel, what would it be? This choice would make most wives incredibly happy. Most fly guys that I know have a rack full of rods and reels from 2 weights to monster meat sticks.
Early fly rods were simply long wooden levers. Guides were just wire loops and these fish catchers were more like cane poles. A wire or wooden cleat was attached to the base for wrapping the line on. Most old fly lines were made from fibers of horse tail hair that was woven and waxed. The fishing tippet was made from thin sinews of animals. Making a 20-yard cast was about as good as it got.
The first Fly Reels were simply a rolling wheel that held the line. No drag or anti reverse. Still, it was step forward. Later reel companies began upgrading reels to have a spring tightened drag, anti-reverse, and reel foot attachment that balanced the rod.
The longer the rod, the heavier it became. Fiberglass, bamboo, and other materials were often heavy and too stiff or too flimsy. Later rods would be made of Graphite and modern Space Age materials.
Fly fishermen are blessed to have a huge market of choices. You can pay thousands of dollars for just a rod. High end reels can exceed hundreds of dollars. Modern lines and fluorocarbon tippets are never cheap. Sage, Winston, Fenwick Shakespeare, Echo, Orvis, and so many other trusted names, manufacture great gear.
Modern rods have single foot stainless steel guides, custom shaped cork handles with reversing reel seats and extensions. Superb finishes and custom features. You better get a rod with a warranty just in case you close the car door on the tip.
For most fishermen, the most important part of the fly rig is the reel. A modern reel must be light, strong, and have a disc drag. Choose a durable open style model within your price range. My reels are often more expensive than my rods. I carry a Ross Evolution or Gunnison aluminum disc drag reel.
As for a great fly line, Cortland still produces high quality lines for the average fisherman. RIO lines are also a great choice. A double taper line allows you to reverse the line when one end gets worn out. I prefer white or peach colored lines. Change your lines every 2-4 years depending on use.
A basic graphite 5 weight, 9-foot rod will perform well for most fly fishermen. You can get fly rod kits that have all the bells and whistles for under $200. They come with a disc drag reel, backing, line, tippet, flies, a case, and a finished sturdy rod. Cabela’s and Bass Pro stores carry them in their catalogs.
Now some of you are screaming that your thousand-dollar Sage or Winston is worth every penny. I have performed hundreds of casting lesson, seminars, and classes. For years I used my Winston’s. On one performance I grabbed another rod and went to work, and the rod performed amazingly. It was the same color, action, and look of my Winston but it wasn’t. It was a hundred-dollar TFO, Temple Fork Outfitters rod that I was given by a vendor. This is the rod that I most often use in various sizes.
It has a lifetime warranty and comes in a case! Lefty Kreh helped design these excellent rods. If they were great enough for Lefty, they are good enough for me. If you hand me a similar Winston, or TFO rod, I cannot tell them apart. Also keep your rods, reels, and line clean. A little love and care will be worth the time.
Tight lines and Screaming reels.
For more Montana Grant find him reeling at www.montanagrantfishing.com.