Orvis Fly Fishing
Which Action Is Best For A Fly Rod: Fast, Medium Or Slow?
Fly fishing is all about selection, from the right fly to tie onto your leader to the right place to cast it. When it comes to your rod, you need to select an action. Deciding which one is right for you is one of the most important decisions, and personal, decisions you’ll make about your fishing gear.
Fly rods come all sorts sizes, variations, and styles. Picking which one to go with is not easy. While one rod is not necessarily the absolute very best, there are times and places where every rod shines.
What is “action”?
When fly fisherman talk about rod’s action, they’re referring to its flex pattern, stiffness, and ability to stop moving, or “recover”, at the end of a cast.
There are three basic types of actions: Fast, medium and slow. Rods flex in ways that can be categorized these ways because of the materials used to make them and how they’re built. Regardless of a rod’s length or line rating, it can flex near the tip, towards in its middle, or throughout their entire length. These differences have a significant effect on how a rod feels and performs.
Fast action fly rods
Medium action fly rods
Slow action fly rods
Choosing one action over another
Like the car you drive or the beer you drink, fly-rod action is a personal choice. While a medium-action rod will work for almost all kinds of trout and bass, they don’t work for all types fisherman.
Say you’re a traditionalist kind of trout angler. You like small streams, close-in fishing, and dry flies. Most of your casts are short and most of the fish you catch are on the smaller side. For you, a slow-action bamboo or fiberglass rod may be perfect.
Or maybe you’re the kind of guy who lives for bonefish. These cruisers are strong, and when hooked, they can really move. When you fish for them, you toss big flies—usually into a good breeze. And when you hook up, you need a lot of backbone to turn a running bonefish around and bring him home. All this means you should lean towards fast-action rods with a stiff butt section and flex patterns that puts most of the bend in the tip.
Some steelhead anglers prefer huge, slow-action bamboo Spey rods over the fast tips of more appropriate graphite models. Why? Just because they find slower rods more pleasurable to use.
Shop a lot. Cast a lot. Be patient.
The only way to figure out the what type of rod works for you is to cast as many different models as possible. To do this, travel to different shops and check out different brands. Ask friends if you can cast their rods (or spend a few days with the rods on a local stream or river).
The more time you spend casting a wide variety of rods, the more you can narrow down that “sweet spot” where your casting stroke, the type of fishing you do, and a rod’s action all line up in perfect harmony.
However, if you’re like most anglers, the more you try different rods, the more you’ll see the advantages of various models and designs. Then you’ll start thinking you need to more than just one and find that owning a wide variety of rods sizes and actions makes your fishing more fun. For example, a small stream fiberglass 2wt for creeks, a slow action, 11’, 4wt for European nymphing, a medium action, all around 5wt trout set up, and a fast action, 7wt for streamer fishing may be a nice quiver to own if that’s the type of fishing you like to do.
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