The other day I had the privilege of working with one of my more discerning casters. Mark is just getting back into the sport, but like many of us, when he gets into something he goes all out. Now when I say all out I don’t mean running through an Orvis store with a magnet on. I mean he really researches what he is getting into and makes educated decisions based on what he is trying to do.
Part of that research brought him to me with two of his main rigs. Mark had a question about making his 8’3″ Powell 4/5 feel more lively at closer range (<30ft). He also had an 8’6″ 5wt Henry’s Fork full flex that he was considering a different line for.
We started out casting the Henry’s Fork with 4wt line just to see if it would speed the rod up. It definitely sped the rod up and changed the behavior of the rod, but not for the better. Now for some people this may seem wrong because for years we have been told faster rods are better. The problem was that neither one of us could feel the rod load and thus casting nice loops became more difficult.
Next I handed him my 9′ 5wt H2 with hydros trout WF5. The change was incredible. Mark instantly started casting tighter loops with more control. I asked him what he thought the difference was. Mark said he could “feel” what the rod was doing and thus his timing was improved. I laughed because it is something we talk about all the time as instructors. We want there to be a tangible connection between the caster, the rod, the line and the fly.
Next we brought out his Powell 8’3″ 4/5. This rod highlighted the need to properly line a rod. Trying to cast tight loops <30ft was an exercise in tip casting but when we got out to 30ft and further the whole rod came alive. This was odd to me so I had to ask what line he had on. It was DT4 (double taper weight 4) that he had bought at the advice of another angler who said it would cast nicer on the rod. While that advice may have been true for longer casting situations most of Mark’s fishing is done under 40′.We were running out of time but I made the suggestion to mark to line the Powell with DT5 and see how it felt. I will be anxious to hear back from him.
The long and short of this is to remember that the rod is only one part of the system required to cast a fly. Remember that you can change the feel of a rod with different line. Depending on what you a trying to do you may find that Double Taper or Weight Forward in a heavier or lighter line size may work better for your situation.