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"Heavy" Lines for fast rods

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2009/9/4 20:33
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Hey guys,
I'm thinking about switching to a heavier line to help load my rod properly. I fish a fast 5w 8' rod on smaller streams. Casts aren't very far, hence the length. The problem of course is that with that short of a rod and not much line out, I don't get quite the load that I want. I know I could overline, but I worry that using 6x line with 6x tippet isn't ideal. Can anyone speak to using some of the "heavier" lines--Rio Grand, Scientific Anglers GPX, or Orvis Wonderline? How effective are they for loading fast action rods? Are there pros/cons among those three? My guess would be faster taper might help too, right?
Thanks!

Posted on: 2010/1/25 21:26


Re: "Heavy" Lines for fast rods

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Rods aren't smart enough to know what the brand or taper it is casting is. What loads a rod is simply the weight of the line out of the tip. I would just try one or two lines heavier and you should be able to feel when it is right for you. When it feels right you got it. The brand would make a difference for the things like suppleness, coating and slickness and the taper can influence things by how the weight of the line is distrubuted but without knowing the exact weight of every line for the length you will be casting I don't think your question can be answered accurately. Now here is some more although lengthy food for thought about line and rod weights.

AFTMA fly line standards are based on the weight in grains for the first 30 feet of line. Rod power ratings are supposed to identify which fly line would properly load the rod. Here is the problem.

1. Not all lines are made to meet the AFTMA standard. Some are made a little heavier. And in many cases they don't tell you that.
2. There is absolutely no standard for rod manufacturers as to how they determine the power(line rating) for their rods. Therefore what one company calls a 5 weight rod can actually be much more or less powerful than another companies 5 wt rod. And they too do not tell you how they do it.
3. The rod has no idea how much line would be out of the tip at the time of a fishermans casting so how could a rod be called a 5wt rod? What loads a rod is the weight of line that is aereolized. 5 feet of a AFTMA 5wt line weighs way less than 40 feet of the exact same line. It is on this principle that any rod can cast almost any line depending on how much of it was out the tip and aereolized during the cast.
4. Companies have tended to start making rods that are more powerful than their rating because it helps them sell rods. Explanation:
Let's assume that a rod company wanted to use the AFTMA Line standard to match their rod as it was labled. They would label the rod(in this case a 5 wt) with the understanding that it would load perfectly when used with a AFTMA standard 5 wt line with 30 feet out the tip. That makes perfect sense doesn't it. I think so.
Now a guy goes to a fly shop to test cast the rod before he buys it. Outside the guy is stripping off as much line as possible to see if he can cast the "entire fly line". The closer he gets to being able to do that the better he thinks the rod is so he buys it. In actuality, this rod aformentioned would become overloaded as 50 or 60 feet of line became aereolized during the cast because now it is the equivilany weight as just 30 feet of an AFTMA standard 7 or 8 weight line. Obviously the extra weight being carried by the 5 weight rod becomes sluggish as it can't recover as quickly as intended due the extra load and the rod "feels" slower. The action has not changed but the recovery or frequency of the tip has. Next rod: He picks up another companies rod (also a 5wt) to test cast that. As it turns out this company has made a more powerful rod than the first rod and they are still calling it a 5wt. Now when this guy casts 60feet of fly line he is hitting the optimiun load range for this rod and it casts like a cannon. Sold. Unfortunately when he is nymphing with 10 feet of line out it seems like the rod won't load and the rod never feels right to him.

Posted on: 2010/1/25 22:27


Re: "Heavy" Lines for fast rods

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Thanks Abbrod, that's a very thorough reply.
Unfortunately I don't know if my fly shop will let me just buy and return a bunch of lines to see how well they load my rod. At the fly show this past weekend I did have the chance to pair some different lines with different rods, but of course this tells me very little more than how well those lines worked with those rods. However, I did feel that the fast, tip flexing rods performed better with close casts when I loaded up with GPX or Rio Grand line rather than the "finesse" lines, which is why I was planning to switch over to one of these.

Line weight/loading questions aside, do you prefer either GPX, Grand, or Wonderline over the others in terms of roll-casting or coating?

Thanks again!

Posted on: 2010/1/25 22:49


Re: "Heavy" Lines for fast rods

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I don't have a brand preference. I use Rio nymph lines often because I like the orange tip section. I also like SA GPX lines. I have also used Airflo lines and been happy. If they are matched well to my rod/distance they work well. I look more for the color I like than anything. I know it seems like I am not answering your question so here goes. If I had to pick one I would go with SA GPX. The only reason being is that my oldest line is a SA and it has held up very well and still performs.

Posted on: 2010/1/25 23:41


Re: "Heavy" Lines for fast rods

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2006/9/21 0:02
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I've been using DT wonderlines, and like them. Besides casting well, they've been durable. I'm getting 3-4 years out of a line

Posted on: 2010/1/26 0:24


Re: "Heavy" Lines for fast rods

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2006/9/10 21:53
From Greensburg, PA
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My first thought is that if you bought a fast rod it already is loading properly. If that doesn't match your casting stroke, well, that's another thing. I would see if I couldn't swap or sell it for a slower loading rod which would work properly for your needs. Using as much as 2 line higher and causing he the flex in the rod to move to a point along the rod it was not built for could result in failure. This is not a scientific conclusion, just a problem I see as a logical result. I alos wonder if that could void the warranty.

In smaller streams I fish a DT line on a shorter, faster rod as I have been able to basically "flick" a good distance of line with much less motion and thus needing less room to do that in. I am not sure there is any problem with the size tippet you might use with any weight line.

Posted on: 2010/1/26 8:14


Re: "Heavy" Lines for fast rods

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I'm a huge fan of overlining a rod if the casting tends to be short. The rod doesn't care what the rating on the line is, it only cares about the total weight that is past the rod tip, which is a function of distance. I'm making up numbers here, but my guess is that a true 5 wt rod would be properly loaded with:

7 wt line at 5-10 ft
6 wt line at 10-20 ft
5 wt line at 20-40 ft
4 wt line at >40 ft

If its an especially powerful rod (a 6 wt rated as a 5 wt per the previous discussion), then up all of those line weights by 1.

In general, for my small mountain streams, I use a 4/5 wt rod loaded with 6 wt line and it works very well. I never have a need for 6x tippet on such streams, so I have no personal experience there, but really, I can't see any reason how tippet weight has any relation to line weight. If I chose to use 6x tippet, I don't think it'd fish any different than if I had a 4 or 5 wt line on there.

I was amazed at the fly show of all the people trying to cast an entire line. They should be testing at more realistic fishing distances of 10-30 ft, IMO.

Posted on: 2010/1/26 10:47


Re: "Heavy" Lines for fast rods
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First of all, the magic 30' of fly line is the distance/weight that rods are MEASURED at, not necessarily the ideal casting distance. Just like 43mph (I believe) is the speed vehicles are run to get the overall mpg of the vehicle. They drive okay both slower and faster.

Since the caster controls the power/speed of the cast with his stroke, you should be able to cast a line with 4' or 44' of fly line out of the tiptop. I do agree that some rods cast better short or long and over and underlining can shade it one way or the other, but I would not consider a rod that only casts well (for me) short OR long, since on any given day on the stream, I need to make all types of casts.

Posted on: 2010/1/26 12:09


Re: "Heavy" Lines for fast rods

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Afish,

That is true. We're discussing what is optimal, not what can be done. Obviously noone is switching lines while on the stream when they have to make a shorter or longer cast. But most of us would set up the rod to be at its best for the average situation in a day. I too have my "jack of all trades" rod and it is the most used in my collection.

But I think we're talking about the specialty tools here. I can tell you that my small stream set up will NEVER be asked to cast 30+ feet of fly line, and its average is more like 10 feet. I could do that with its rated line weight, but its more optimal when overlining.

Posted on: 2010/1/26 12:45


Re: "Heavy" Lines for fast rods

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Exactly pcray.

Afish, I'm not too worried about seriously decreasing my rod's ability to cast line with 30' (or maybe more like 20') of line out the tip, just trying to get more bang for the buck in close quarters. This isn't my "small stream" rod, it's an everyday set up. But my "everyday" is smaller water. I still need it to shoot line, but the rod is so fast that I think a slightly heavier line will help it feel a little more comfortable when making very short casts.

I guess the question comes down to: a) are these "heavier" lines actually that much heavier, b) will a taper difference of 6" or so make a huge difference or is it more a function of line weight and taper, and c) which of the lines mentioned do you guys personally like?

Again everyone, thanks for all the great info. And Pcray, I too was amazed how far those guys were casting. Perhaps a little showing off. I stayed away from the "pond" to make my little casts, only using the water to test rollcasting ability of various lines.

Posted on: 2010/1/26 13:07


Re: "Heavy" Lines for fast rods

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i am picking up exactly what tom is throwing down here , i use a 7'6" rod , 4wt , loaded with dt 5wt line i can flick the line across most small streams with no back cast , a 8' rod on real small streams might be too long to get a long enough back cast to load the rod. a fast action rod not loading properly sounds like it might be in the lenght of the rod , not gonna find another rod load any quicker.

Posted on: 2010/1/26 13:14


Re: "Heavy" Lines for fast rods

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Wildfish,

I don't think the taper is going to make much difference at short distances. Get a DT, cut it in half and just use half of it. Then you have 2 lines for the price of 1!

Weight will make a difference. The lines like GPX that are designed to load fast rods are just a bit heavy. So, like a 5 wt GPX you could consider a 5 1/2 wt line. You may still be better off going up a full wt to 6 wt.

Posted on: 2010/1/26 13:54


Re: "Heavy" Lines for fast rods

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Afishinado,
I agree with your information except for one point. You are correct in stating that the 30' of line is what the rods are measured at. My point is this, if this is what they measured the rod at to determine its line weight rating, would that not indicate optimum casting for that rod at 30' of the said labled line? otherwise what is the point of measuring the rod at 30' of a standardized line? Would you measure it with a 30' 5wt line and then lable the rod a 7wt? However there should be a range that would work with any rod to your point.

Posted on: 2010/1/26 19:55


Re: "Heavy" Lines for fast rods
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abbrod,

My point is, the 30' mark is an arbitrary distance chosen to standardize line wt ratings. When you think about it, 30' of fly line + a 9'rod + an 11' leader = 50'. That is hardly the optimum distance for fishing at least for most of us.

Every FFer has a different feel for casting and what an ideal rod should be/do. FFers would be better served to judge their rod based on how it performs at the distances they fish at, and forget about the magic 30.

To me, when test-casting a rod, I try judge how it casts with 5' as well as 45' of line out of the tiptop. For example, many anglers say the fast-action fly rods are only for distance casting. I've found, my Sage XP, my favorite overall trout rod for large to medium water, casts well close-in off the tip, handles medium distances into the center of the rod, and flexes near the butt for long casts. It works well for me at all distances. That's why I consider it an ideal overall fishing rod.

To Pcray's point, I agree that over or underlining can tweak the performance of a rod one way or the other. Further I agree that with the specialty rod he mentions, disregarding the magic 30 and judging the rods performance based on fishing 10-20' feet would be best.

I have several rods that I over and under line to get the performance I'm looking for. I suggest anyone looking to buy a rod, take their own reels loaded with several line weights to find the ideal combo.

BTW abbrod, I really admire the craftsmanship of the rods you posted. I'd love to see more.

Can they cast 30'?!?

Posted on: 2010/1/27 8:05


Re: "Heavy" Lines for fast rods

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Afishinado,
I agree with everything that you just stated. Your advise on casting different distances with your own lines is spot on. As a customer rod builder I use a system of determining rod power, action and frequency that is standardized and makes comparison between rods of any length and type possible. Without a standard system of rating rod power, action and frequency we are left to trust the advertising jargon used and whatever rating system the particular manufacturer used to come up with to determine that a rod is a 5wt for example. Without following your advise, there is a very good chance that a customer could end up with something that never quite seems right for their style of fishing. It is not that the rod is no good. It is just not utilized as intended and the information provided is inconsistant because of the lack of standards. It is sort of like this: Drive fast. What does that mean? Drive 55 mph. Now we all know what we are talking about. If every ruler we used to measure had a different system we would likely have problems when we build a deck even if we followed the same plans. That is what we are faced with when we head out to our favorite fly shop. Test casting at different distances with different lines is the only way to really get a feel for what you are buying for the intended purpose.
Just for example a just measured two high end rods that I built. I am going to keep this general because I don't want to make it seem like these two fine companies are mislableing their rods. They are not. They just don't use the same system to determine their power rating.
One was a Sage and one was a Winston. One was a 4wt the other a 3 wt. Both rods were 4pc. and 9' in length. The 3wt rod was actually more powerful than the 4 wt rod. The weeker 4 wt rod was faster in action than the 3 wt. rod and the frequency of the slower action, more powerful 3 wt rod was faster than that of the 4wt.
The variance between the two was about 10 grains difference in optimum weight required to load the rod a consistant and specified distance of deflection.

For those not familiar with the line grain weights an AFTMA standard 3wt line should weigh 100 grains and a 4wt 120 grains. The optimum grain weight to load the 3wt was 116grains of aereolized line while the 4wt rod was 106grains of aereolized line.

Thanks for the kind words Afishinado. Because I am a custom rod builder who sells rods I am reluctant to post pictures so that it doesn't seem like I am trying to use this fine board as a method sell rods. I will however PM you with a link to our blog that we have just started and some photos of our work is posted. Thank you!

Posted on: 2010/1/27 12:18



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