Lightweight. Presentation of a nymph often involves tracing a drift, holding the rod at a variety of angles and heights, sometimes with the arm outstretched. Over the course of a fishing session, we might cast and drift a rig many times over. A lightweight rod ensures we can fish without (at best) tiring too quickly or (at worst) sustaining an overuse injury. If instead we reach for a heavy rod and allow our muscles to tire quickly, every aspect of our fly fishing will suffer.
Low profile. A rod blank with a low profile has less surface area to create drag in a wind. Wind drag acting on a rod interferes with our ability to feel the action of the rod during the cast and the rig during the drift. A low profile blank minimizes the noise created by wind. Low profile blanks also tend to be more sensitive to movement, improving contact between the rig and our hand. Improved contact results in improved casting, fly control, strike detection, and hook set.
Dense. A handle that includes dense materials such as hardwood or carbon laminate is efficient at transferring vibration from the rod blank to the angler’s hand. Such handle construction allows us to “map the bottom”, a nympher’s term for feeling every tick and twitch of the fly along the streambed. It also allows us to feel the load of the rod during the cast. Density improves contact, and improved contact results in improved casting, fly control, strike detection, and hook set.
Stealth. Be proud of that bright yellow rod. But unless we find yourself fishing a high mountain meadow stream against a background of aspens in full autumn colors, that yellow rod might not be the best tactical choice. Our rod is often the highest point in our profile while fishing, and must be as stealthy as the remainder of our strategy.
Contact. We already discussed maximizing contact in a rod with our low profile, dense rod tactics. Longer rods also improve contact. A long rod arms you with a long lever arm to control the cast, hold line off the water, control the fly, set the hook, play the fish, etc. Remember, contact results in improved fly control, strike detection, and hook set.
Next . . . The Line