Casting rods vs Fishing Rods
On a recent trip to Lakenvlei I was having a chat with Tim Rolston about rods and their actions. He said a very interesting thing that had not occurred to me before, but with which I identified and had some experience with. That interesting thing was.....wait for it....hope I get this verbatim...... "there is a big difference between a rod that casts well and a rod that fishes well".
Think about that for a while.
The current trend to fish rods that are faster and faster certainly allows better distance and less fatigue for the experienced caster. I say experienced caster as a novice caster will not get the full benefit of a super fast rod, and it may actually hamper their casting. The name of the game is letting the rod do the work. Now lets assume you bought the shiniest fastest rod in the showroom and blew your kid's inheritance or school fees in the process. You take it down the lake and you get your line out far with minimal effort and you are chuffed with your 'broomstick'.
Here is the kicker, which I actually mentioned in a different context in a previous newsletter. When at Sterkfontein dam last year I managed to break off the first six fish I hooked, and blamed it mainly on the fast take-off speed of the yellowfish. But there was another factor, my rod, an expensive super fast Orvis. While this rod enabled me to cast into the teeth of a howling wind with ease, when it came to hooking a fish, there was little give in the rod, and that is partly why I lost so many fish initially. It wasn't the rods fault, it was mine; I had to get used to the rod.
If one considers that the best stream rods are quite supple for one good reason (to protect the tippet) then Tim's comment makes a lot of sense.
It is fine to aim for light fast rods, but you need to be aware that the faster the rod, the more you need to baby your tippet. If you have a slower rod, it does most of the protecting for you.
There were a lot of responses to my last newsletter regarding casting vs. fishing rods and among these were some relevant points which I would like to share with you. Ben Pretorius has a completely different take on the issue, and as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes he is right.
...... "there is a big difference between a rod that casts well and a rod that fishes well". This statement must be put into context because a rod will only fish well if it is used for the right situation i.e. Horses for courses. Bearing in mind that the sole purpose of the cast is to pull the rod into a bend, and then to unload it all at the same time - I differ with your article as follows:
If an angler was fishing a small clear stream that required very short casts with a long leader of say 8ft. he will only be able to load the rod if it was a full flex rod. This rod could make shorts casts because it would bend (load) whilst aerialising very little fly line as well as enabling a delicate presentation. The same rod would still be the right rod for the situation even in windy conditions. A faster action rod would not load by aerialising the same amount of fly line and long leader. What the angler needs to do is to change his cast to cope with the wind, not the rod.
The converse situation would be that of fishing the surf zone in SA where distance and wind were major factors to consider. Here presentation and long leaders would not be a priority so a tip flex fast action rod would be the way to go. This would allow the angler to aerialise more line and load the rod by accelerating very quickly through the casting arc.
Tippets are broken by the pressure you the angler puts on the fish, not the rod. This pressure will vary by the manner with which you set the hook, the way you retrieve and the angle at which you hold the rod. In short, use the right tools for the particular task at hand.
Tom Sutcliffe shared an extract with me from a forthcoming book that sheds good light on the subject, with special relevance to fishing small streams.
He compared fishing his sage 0-weight with his Winston 2 weight and discovered that with small fish (less than 12 inches) he lands a lot more fish with the 0-weight. This is attributed to the fact that the extra weight and stiffness of the 2-weight 'lifts the trout in the strike and this often pulls the hook free'. The 0-weight 'gives' with the fish in the strike, doesn't lift them, and they stay hooked! He points out that you should take careful note of this. Using lighter softer rods for smaller fish, and a stiffer heavier rod for bigger fish means better hook ups.