My home state of Maine offers a great variety of fish species for fly-fishing anglers to pursue. Whether gently playing a native brook trout or wrestling with a heavy-shouldered striped bass, Maine’s fly-fishing fanatics will try them all on a fly rod.
Since the average angler fishes for many different species throughout the open-water season, having a fly rod and reel for each situation can get quite expensive. For most of us, finding two outfits -a light weight and a heavy model- that can handle all of angling’s offerings, would be a frugal angler’s dream come true. The 7-foot, 3-weight and the 9 1/2 foot, 8-weight rods fit this bill by offering a light rod, sensitive enough for smaller fish and delicate presentations, and a heavier one to handle larger flies and trophy-class fish.
The species of fish that you pursue usually dictates which length and weight of rod you should use. Modern rod manufacturers have sensed this expanding market and have created "specialty rods" for every imaginable angling scenario, but a specialty rod for every species is only a luxurious dream for most. By looking at where you fish and what you fish for, you should be able to narrow your choices and find a perfect pair of rods to cover the gamut of situations you may find yourself in.
On the light side, the 3-weight is an ideal rod for delicately casting small dry flies to waiting trout. The light weight of the line is also less tiring to cast when fishing all day. The 3-weight rod is also a very popular rod with pan-fishermen. These are the action addicts who love taking a mess of fish on small poppers and wet or dry flies. Just like the ultra-light spinning rod crowd, 3-weight aficionados appreciate the way a small fish such as a crappie or perch can feel like a raging five-pound smallmouth. Light fly rod anglers enjoy the runs and antics of small trout, as well.
The choice of rod length for the 3-weight line is a matter of personal preference, but anglers should look where they are fishing before they make a decision. Those fishermen who stalk native brookies on small streams would do well to pick a smaller rod such as the 7-footer. If you’ve ever lugged an assembled rod through the woods to a remote stream or pond, you will appreciate the maneuverability that a 7-footer offers compared to an 8 1/2-footer. It seems that every bush and twig reaches out to grab the passing rod and the shorter the rod, the easier the trek. If your fishing trips routinely take you down wooded trails, you might want to consider a 4- or 5-piece travel rod, or simply breakdown a 2-piece rod for the hike.
Anglers who fish ponds or broad rivers should look towards the longer rods such as the 8- or 8 1/2-footers. These lengths provide greater line control and more leverage to get the relatively light line out to where the fish are. The angler out in a canoe or float tube has the advantage with a longer rod when they try to cast out to rolling fish that seem to be moving away as they paddle closer. A long rod is especially crucial to the tube-bound angler who needs to keep his casts high and away from the surface of the water. River anglers reap the benefits of the longer rod when wading in up to their chest. They also benefit from the higher back casts that a longer rod provides, a plus when trying to avoid tall grass or brush.
The arena where the smaller lines really shine is in dry fly presentation. The gentle arc of a dry fly line unfolding onto still water is perhaps one of the most graceful events in angling. It makes sense that the finer the line, the gentler the landing will be. It is true; however, the smaller you go with lines, the less casting distance you will get. For these reasons, the 3-weight is a good compromise. By using a high-quality double taper line and matching it to the proper leader, the 3-weight rod can handle a vast array of angling situations. Cabela’s FT Series fly rods generate phenomenal casting speed by using Generation III 44-million modulus graphite in a fast-taper design. This allows for extremely accurate tracking with little side-to-side motion. These combined qualities are especially helpful when you need to pinpoint wary fish without spooking them. The FT Series rods also dampen quickly to shoot more line further with less energy loss.
While having a light rod for ease of transport and presentation is fine, there are times when you just can’t have too much rod for the fish you are after. Today, more and more fly-rodders are tackling larger fish such as striped bass, salmon, pike and even marlin, putting their tackle to the extreme test. Heavier rods and lines that accompany them are designed for the larger flies, longer casting distances, and the fighting backbone that big fish require.
While line weights go upwards to sizes such as 12-, 13-, 14- and even 15-weight lines, the 8-weight line on a 9-foot rod is perhaps one of the best overall rods to handle most larger fish. This system is strong enough to withstand the strain of a fish coursing across a river, yet light enough not to wear you out before the battle begins.
The ability to buck the wind is also another advantage of heavier line on a longer rod. I listened intently one year as Maine Master Guide Carrol Ware spoke at a sportsman’s show advocating the use of a 9-foot, 8-weight rod for fishing on windy days. He stated, quite simply, that the larger rod and line just plain "keeps you fishing". While an obvious point to some, I took his tidbit of knowledge for granted. In retrospect, I realized how true his words were. I fish almost exclusively with a 9-foot, 8-weight outfit, and when I travel all day to fish a remote pond, I am committed to the day and at the weather’s mercy. If the wind picks up, which it usually does, I just can’t pack it in and come back later. The heavier line and rod are what keep me on the water casting, and sometimes catching fish.
With the number of 8-weight rods out there, economic reasons are also keeping this rod in vogue. As more and more fly-anglers are turning to the saltwater species, the 8-weight rod is drawing even greater support from anglers who already have such a rod in their closet. The savings realized from not having to purchase another rod for the coast are enough to invest in a much-needed saltwater reel.
Cabela’s PT 908 is a great combo package for the budget-minded angler. For around $200, an angler can buy the PT rod, a Cahill reel and Cabela’s Prestige Plus fly line. At that price, you can’t go wrong.
A quick glance in any fly-fishing catalog will reveal a host of specialty lines for the angler to make their rod do whatever they want. Whether you need a fine double taper to use with your 8-weight with dry flies, or a saltwater taper to cast heavy epoxy-head flies, the line manufacturers seem to be saturating the market with special duty 8-weight lines. To most anglers, it may seem disconcerting to try and pick a line out of the multitudes, but what these companies are doing is providing a choice of lines so that we may get the most out of our rod in any situation.
By owning two rods, a light 3-weight for close-in, delicate work and an 8-weight workhorse that will handle most any fish, the frugal fly-rodder can outfit themselves to fish anywhere they choose for whatever species they desire. With the right pair of rods, the adaptable angler has an unlimited list of fishing destinations to choose from. What else could an angler ask for? OK, since I’m talking about perfection. How about a day without wind?
Fora complete seletion of Cabela’s Fly Rods, click here
— Your complete source for more Cabela’s News, and updated hunting and fishing articles.