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Rods... what's the difference?

2013/6/16 15:27
From Monroeville
Posts: 8
I am a beginner, though I've fished for a year+ with a Cabela's Cahill 5wt. 9ft rod. I've found that with larger than limit trout, this rod does everything I want it too. As a beginner, I'm mainly fishing for stocked trout, though I've caught some trout that are obviously small than a stocked trout (but not brook trout).

I found later in the season or with smaller fish, I couldn't detect the strike. My nymph (Prince Nymph for this example), would be at the of the line and start curving in the current towards me. I would pick up on the nymph and intend to "back cast" it further up current, when I would find my nymph hadn't left the water at all. Instead it would be in the gullet of a small fish.

Is this an issue with the Cahill? I've read most rods are actually a size or two heavier than what the manufacture sells it by. Is it a problem with heavier rods in general being less sensitive to bites/smaller fish? I want to feel a fish bite. I'm used to bass fishing with a G. Loomis and taunt line transmitting ever piece of rubble or every blade of grass hitting my jig/tube/texas rig, and I'm looking for that same sensitivity in a fly rod. Would I better detect strikes from a lower weight (4-2wt) or from a more expensive/better modulated fly rod?

Also, I have most of my success on a Wooley Bugger because I fish it like it's a Rappala (and I've had a lot of success doing it that way). If I wanted to pick up the delicate art of Nymphing (without a strike indicator), would I be better served with a longer and lighter weight rod? Or is it just a issue of what I expect to feel out of my fishing rod vs. what I can actually feel from a value brand.

Also, if a 5wt. is a good all around fly rod, what does that mean? In what way is 5wt. better for fly fishing than any lower or higher weight rod? I understand the weight is in reference to casting fly line, but what does it have to do with presentation, or hook setting power?

Posted on: 2013/10/20 21:00

Re: Rods... what's the difference?

2012/2/27 15:04
From Perry County
Posts: 80
For just starting out, imo it is just not having a feel for it yet, and letting drag mess with your cast.

Posted on: 2013/10/21 6:48
"I am only after the dumb ones"

Re: Rods... what's the difference?

2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
Posts: 13407
First, you're lack of noticing the take had a lot more to do with you than the rod.

1. A lot of times in fly fishing, you don't "feel" a fish hit. You see it. Watch the tip of the fly line. A slight pause is what you see. It takes a lot of practice to distinguish it from, say, a rock, and even experts set the hook on their share of rocks!

2. You're only gonna feel it when tight line nymphing, which takes quite a bit of practice to control drag.

All that said, yes, there are some rods that are more sensitive than others. Generally, a light, stiff rod is best for this. i.e. High modulus. And those tend to be higher end rods. Of course, sensitivity is only one factor that you look for in a rod. Like anything else, lots of trade offs, and which is best for you boils down to your strengths and weaknesses.

If trout fishing, forget about hook setting power. You're not rearing back on a bass here. You simply softly "lift" to set the hook, if you yank you'll pull it right out of their mouths.

Woolly buggers are good beginner flies, and work for the experienced too. There's no wrong way to fish them. But they tend to take aggressive fish, such as stockies, and sometimes, wild fish in the right circumstances. There are a lot of different circumstances, and no fly works in all of them. That's what fly fishing is all about. If you get a hatch or something, fish will focus in on something that you have to figure out and match to be successful.

As far as line weights. High line weights (and thus rods) are going to do better at tossing weight, like nymph rigs and streamers. They're going to do better in windy conditions. You're generally going to be able to cast them farther. They also have a stiff enough backbone to fight larger fish.

Smaller line weights (and thus rods) are going to give you a more delicate presentation, generally be more sensitive (like feeling bites), be a lot lighter and easier to handle, and be more fun to fight the fish (cause you can feel them).

I equate rods to rifles in just about every manner. You CAN use the same gun to hunt groundhogs, whitetail deer, and elk. But it ain't ideal. Just like avid shooters use different guns for different tasks, so do avid fishermen.

Saltwater - 9 or 10 wt
Salmon - 7-9 wt
Steelhead and big water trout or bass - 6-8 wt
all around option - 5 wt
small fly rod (midges, tricos, etc) - 3-4 wt
small stream brookies - some disagreement here. Some like their 2-3 wts. Others, including me, like a short 5 wt for the job.

Length is another variable. Generally, longer enables you to cast further, control drag better (lift more line off of the water), feel bites better, protect tippets, etc. Basically longer IS better, provided it's just you and the water. But, often, it's not. There's also obstacles, such as trees above, behind, and everywhere you need to cast. You also have to walk with that rod, sometimes through brush. That's where short rods are better.

10+ ft - saltwater, big open water, etc.
8-9 ft - standard all round use
5-8 ft - small, brushy waters.

My dad has a cahill, and I've used it. It's a broomstick. Thick, heavy, and stiff. Good streamer/bass rod, IMO, which includes fishing buggers like you do. Not so good if you wanna toss dry flies or for small streams.

Posted on: 2013/10/21 10:13

Re: Rods... what's the difference?

2013/6/16 15:27
From Monroeville
Posts: 8
That's a lot of useful information. Thank you pcray. My next question is, when do I get a new rod? Like you said about the cahill, it's difficult to feel much of anything with it. Do I upgrade to a three weight now, so it will be easier for me to learn lighter techniques? Or would a lighter line only exacerbate my inability? Again, does the rod help or hurt a newbie?

Posted on: 2013/10/22 21:28

Re: Rods... what's the difference?
2006/9/9 17:32
From Gettysburg
Posts: 9108

convert wrote:
My next question is, when do I get a new rod? Like you said about the cahill, it's difficult to feel much of anything with it. Do I upgrade to a three weight now, so it will be easier for me to learn lighter techniques? Or would a lighter line only exacerbate my inability? Again, does the rod help or hurt a newbie?

I wouldn't upgrade to a new fly rod yet as it can indeed exacerbate your difficulties. Your current rod is fine and going to a 3WT is unnecessary based on what I can glean from what you have written.
Have you tried practice casting on the lawn? Get a good feel for your 5WT and master the basics with this rod. A 3WT is very light and many fly fishermen with a lifetime of experience don't feel the need to own one. The rod itself doesn't help or hurt a newbie all that much - what matters is practice.

Posted on: 2013/10/22 23:46

Re: Rods... what's the difference?

2007/7/23 18:36
From Stevens,Pa.
Posts: 244
convert,we all were beginners, and any question is a good one. I agree with our mod. learn how to cast under different situations and then look at upgrading. The more you fish the more you teach yourself. Most fly fishing names,adds,and claims are there to catch fishermen not fish,you do that . I have my first fiberglass fly rod that I thought was my casting issues way back when. It casts just fine, it was my learning curve that was the problem. The best casting practice is fishing.

Posted on: 2013/10/23 8:28
" political correctness is tyranny with manners"... Charlton Heston
" ..all we touch and all we see is all our lives will ever be.." Floyd

Re: Rods... what's the difference?

2006/11/2 8:50
Posts: 6090
I'm not familiar with that rod. But maybe you are tired of it and don't like its action.

So, consider selling it and buying another 9 ft, 5 wt. Try out a lot of them and find one with an action that you like.

A 9 ft, 5 wt. is a very versatile rod.

A 3 wt is not. It is a light weight outfit, so a speciality rod.

Particularly for nymph fishing, you don't want to go real light. Because you will be casting weighted nymphs and split shot.

But remember what pcray said, when nymph fishing, you detect most strikes by sight, not feel. You often see just a slight hesitation in the drift of the line, then set the hook.

In that situation, you probably would not feel anything, with any type of fly rod. Because often the subtle take is just taking up a little of the slack of the line, so no force is transmitted to the rod.

Posted on: 2013/10/23 10:01

Re: Rods... what's the difference?

2013/6/16 15:27
From Monroeville
Posts: 8
Thank you all for your replies and the info. I decided to wait on getting a new rod until I become a better fly angler. It would seem, based on your advice, that the money I would spend on a new rod would be better spent on a pair of glasses.

Posted on: 2013/10/23 23:25

Re: Rods... what's the difference?

2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
Posts: 13407
While there are differences between the line weights, the truth is, in PA, you COULD get away with pretty much 5 wts only.

A "fast action" 5 wt really gives you a tool that'll do the same as a medium action 6 wt or a slow action 7 wt, if you catch my drift. Heck, you can even put a 6 wt line on that 5 wt and MAKE it a medium action 6 wt. It'll perform better in close, fine (a bit slower) at medium distances, but worse at long distances.

I'm no "expert" but obviously farther along than you. I have a bunch of 5 wt's in various lengths and actions, and one 7 wt for bass and steelhead. That's IT. Most of them share a reel fitted with 5 wt line. I also have a spare spool for that reel with 7 wt line on it. That goes on my short brookie stream rod if the conditions are overly thick, being that it'll only cast short distances in those circumstances. I have a separate reel for the 7 wt rod, as it requires a bigger reel to balance correctly.

Also, keep in mind, it's better to buy a rod which will fit what you're going to become, rather than buy one to fit you now, that you'll be unhappy with later. That's not to say "go expensive", as most of us have some $100 rods that we like better than some $300 rods. But it is to say that if you already have a servicable rod for the type of fishing you do, keep it, and use it, and don't bother buying a new one until you get reasonably proficient at casting it and learn what it does well and what you'd like it to do better. Then that will lead you to your next purchase. It is a good idea, though, to fish with others, not only to learn from them, but also to try out their rods. That's how you learn what the differences are between them. When I fish with others, it's reasonably common to switch rods with them for a few minutes. Hence, me knowing how that cahill casts.

If you do just want to buy one now, cause you want to, not need to, I understand. It's hard to beat, say, a 9 ft 5 wt with a medium-fast action in the 2-3 hundred $ price range. That's gonna be your standard workhorse rod. It's gonna be high enough quality for you to grow into and not hold you back while you improve. Even in 20 years, you'll still like it well enough to use, even if you do find that there's a different model that you would have liked a little bit better, possibly at a better price. You'll have added specialty rods by then too, one for the little streams, one for the bass/steely's, etc.

Always, always, test cast rods before buying. It's a little harder being that your cast hasn't stabilized yet, and what you like today may not match what you like in 5 years. But go in with a price range and knowing approximately what you're looking for. Pick several rods that fit the bill. Ask the shop to give you a lined reel and go outside. Cast at realistic fishing distances, as what feels best at that range may be different than the one that feels best when you're casting as far as you can cast. Go with the one that feels best at normal fishing range! Any reputable fly shop is going to let you do this, or even big box stores like Cabelas. If they tell you no, take your business elsewhere.

Posted on: 2013/10/24 7:55

Edited by pcray1231 on 2013/10/24 8:12:21
Edited by pcray1231 on 2013/10/24 8:17:03

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