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Lateral view of a Female Hexagenia limbata (Ephemeridae) (Hex) Mayfly Dun from the Namekagon River in Wisconsin
Hex Mayflies
Hexagenia limbata

The famous nocturnal Hex hatch of the Midwest (and a few other lucky locations) stirs to the surface mythically large brown trout that only touch streamers for the rest of the year.

27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

LittleJ
Hollidaysburg Pa

Posts: 251
LittleJ on Feb 20, 2008February 20th, 2008, 9:40 am EST
i've found myself starting to drift away from medium action rods lately, and towards the faster tapers. You hear a lot of people say that you can't lay a dry down soft or you can't protect a tippet with fast action rods. I've found that to be way off base. I still want a medium action for my ultra light brookie fishing, but i suspect that is probably more out of habit than reason. I think the modern fast tapers (I have xp's and an sp)are very versatile, and a far cry from the " baseball bats" they called fast tapers when I first started fly fishing. Just curiouus what your thoughts on the matter are.
jeff
Dano
Vanderbilt, Michigan

Posts: 101
Dano on Feb 20, 2008February 20th, 2008, 10:11 am EST
Jeff,

I've never heard complaints about not being able to present a dry delicately with a fast action rod. Delicacy is a function of the casting stroke and type of cast.

As to tippet "protection", that I have heard....And I've never bought in to that concept. Vicious strikes from trout rarely require the need for the hook being set. With most trout, because their mouths are so soft, just a slight raising of the tip is all that is needed to set the hook. In my view, "protecting the tippet" stems from how much presure is applied when playing the fish with drag settings and rod angles.

All but one of my rods are fast action and I've fished fast action rods all my life. FWIW.

Dano


Eventually, all things merge into one...and a river runs through it.
Kinzua
W. PA

Posts: 20
Kinzua on Feb 20, 2008February 20th, 2008, 12:25 pm EST
I enjoy both ends of the spectrum from slow E-glass to fast graphite. However, I've noticed that with fast graphite I can't feel the rod load at close range, break off more fish on the hookset, and lose more fish during the fight. With rod selection (for trout), one has to decide if distance casting and wind fighting are more important than delicate presentation, tippet protection and fish control. Don't get me wrong, rods like the XP (fast, light tip) and SP (med. fast) are exceptional rods and great all-around tools. But if I have to make that one cast to a large fish rising inside of 45' with a #22 olive on 6X, give me a nice medium action glass or bamboo rod.

John
SlateDrake9
Potter County, PA

Posts: 144
SlateDrake9 on Feb 21, 2008February 21st, 2008, 12:10 pm EST
I've said it before and I'll say it again.

I hate fast action rods.

To me, you might as well go into the garage, pick up a shovel, remove the handle and tie your line on it. They just feel dead to me.

I get tired of the old worn out arguments that "you need a fast rod to throw tight loops" and "you need a fast action rod to fight the wind" and "you need a fast rod to cast far" and "you need a fast action rod to land big fish" and "you need a fast action rod to have high line speed" and "a fast action rod is a more efficient casting tool."

None of these are true.

In the hands of a good caster, rod action does not matter a darn bit.

I went to an "advanced" casting class a few years ago with some friends to learn some "trick" casts. This topic came up, as it always does when you mix slow and fast rod lovers. I, of course, had a slow action rod and everyone else had their XPs and such. The instructor took an XP in a 4 weight and cast the entire line with it, with relative ease. He then picked up my rod, a slow actioned 4 weight hexagraph and did the exact same without any problems at all. Just changed his casting stroke.

So, for the record because I know it will probably become an argument as it always does on this topic, rod action is completely about choice of the caster (read preference). A good caster can cast far, fight wind, have tight loops and high line speed, land big fish and cast efficiently with any action rod he/she wants to.

I can do everything with my slow rods as an equally skilled caster can do with his ultra fast rods on any given day.

Bring it on boys! ;-)
Fishing with bait is like swearing in church.
-- Slate Drake
Dano
Vanderbilt, Michigan

Posts: 101
Dano on Feb 21, 2008February 21st, 2008, 1:04 pm EST
FWIW, B.J., I agree with you 100%...almost. Like I said above, all my rods are fast action, with the exception of one rod. That's my "go to" trout rod; a FlyLogic FLP+ 804/2 (8', 4wt, 2pc) and it's a slow action.

Only thing I'll take issue with is the wind thingie. Dunno, what you consider "windy" but here in The Basin 20+ knot winds are the norm, not the exception. Can I throw a #10 Green Drake 40' or more into such a wind with it? Yeah, but I can do it a lot easier (less effort) with a fast action rod.

Dano


Eventually, all things merge into one...and a river runs through it.
LittleJ
Hollidaysburg Pa

Posts: 251
LittleJ on Feb 21, 2008February 21st, 2008, 3:26 pm EST
I think the above comments make my point, I agree that regardless of the rod type, it is a casting style that dictates what a rod can or cannot do. What I am trying to point out in my original post is that fast taper rods are not only made for distance and wind. Much the same as a slow rod isn't limited to 30 feet in the hands of a skilled caster. I have fished slow action rods most of my fishing life and I did all the same things with them as I do with my xp's. Just for me personally I find that I can do things easier or with less rod if I use a fast taper. (which is due to my casting stroke) Just a question to the slow action fans out there, have you ever spent some time fishing a good fast action rod? (like a sage xp, or Winstons b2x).
And before you all blow up on me the reason I ask is because I refused to fish them as well for a long time until a friend of mine talked me into trying his xp for a week, and i've been a fan from that point on. I will also say that I didn't like it at first, but in the interest of giving it a fair shake, I spent some time with it to get aquainted, and the rest is history. That's why i think you need to spend some days on the water with them, not just shop cast it.
SlateDrake9
Potter County, PA

Posts: 144
SlateDrake9 on Feb 23, 2008February 23rd, 2008, 2:09 am EST
Little J,

I've spent time fishing XP's, fast St. Croix's and several fast Orvis rods over the years. (line weights 2 to 8) I just really don't like them. I didn't find them fun to cast, they have all felt dead to me. Part of it is that my natural casting stroke fits a slow action rod, so I don't have to make any adjustment to cast well, just close my eyes and do it type thing.

I can lay out a long, delicate cast to a trout sipping spinners with fast to slow, but it just is more fun to cast slow to me.

I'm probably not the best fella to get an opinion on this one though, because some of my favorite slow rods are even slower than most slow rod addicts like. I have gone to having rods custom built to get slow enough for me.

I do fish one fast action rod when I go for salmon/salt water. That's because it was a really good deal (I got the rod, reel, line and backing for less than I would have paid for the reel at regular price at a flyshop that was closing.) and for as much as I get to go salmon/salt fishing it's not worth buying a rod I actually like.
Fishing with bait is like swearing in church.
-- Slate Drake
SlateDrake9
Potter County, PA

Posts: 144
SlateDrake9 on Feb 23, 2008February 23rd, 2008, 2:19 am EST
What I find most interestig about this never ending debate:

1. There is really not a quantatative (I think spelled wrong) way to determine what is really fast, ultra fast, medium, medium slow, medium fast, slow, etc. It all depends on the person casting it and their perspective.

2. If so many folks are so happy with "fast" rods, why do they so many times overline or, better yet, buy lines that are built a half size heavy for the designated line weight? Companies are building lines that are built to "load modern fast action rods (Orvis)."

When I buy a 5 weight, I want it to cast a five weight, not a 5.5 weight, to perform properly.

I just don't get it. If you want a slower action rod, buy a slower action rod, don't buy a heavier line to make a slower rod.

This idea is why I believe that much of this fast rod crap is purely advertising hype and not reality.

It's like putting a few stickers, loud muffler, hood pins and a wing on the back of a crappy, 3 or 4 cylinder car and thinking you now have a sports car.

Sometimes I think I am just to old for my age.
Fishing with bait is like swearing in church.
-- Slate Drake
Jmd123
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Feb 23, 2008February 23rd, 2008, 4:27 pm EST
Hey, I like 'em "fast", guys, but that's just my personal preference. To each their own...this is what keeps the fly rod makers in business.

Diversity is the spice of life. Or this that perversity?

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Kroil
Coastal NJ

Posts: 34
Kroil on Feb 28, 2008February 28th, 2008, 7:19 am EST
Rod action is a subjective concept for many. But many are not professionally trained casters with an intimate understanding or flawless casting mechanics and rod design. I have had the good fortune
of extensive formal casting training and I cast regularly just for the zen of it.
Several performance absolutes become exceedingly clear when you can cast an entire 5 wt 105' fly line and 10-15 additional feet in backing. Fast action rods, like the TCR or the Angel TE or GLX clones get very exciting when you start to carry 90'+ of line. Slow(er)designs will carry these lengths too but not with the efficiency or line speed or loop control of a fast taper.

What I am suggesting is that unless you are an expert caster, the debate over action, other than purely subjective opinion, is kind of like a bunch of regular drivers tying to debate the performance curve of a Grand Prix design car.

Fast taper rods are not as fun to fish unless you need distance and can handicap presentaion at short range (the rod cannot load without enough line weight outside of the top guide). Faster tapers also provide less tippet protection beyond 6X. This is a basic fact of physics and levers.

So what does this have to do with fishing?
First off, distance can be a contributing component of success but precision in placing a drag free fly in a 6" feeding lane is far more important than distance.
If you can achieve distance and TRUE accuracy beyond 75 ft, you are most likely fishing with a faster action design because you can actually utilize the design. Most can't.
I like all action types and I have some really fine cane. I also own several performance and tournament/distance rods.
They all have their place but a medium action with a delicate tip is probably the most useful dryfly rod for American trout fishing.
JMO

And I am the World's foremost expert on my own opinion.
When I found the skull in the woods, the first thing I did was call the police. But then I got curious about it. I picked it up, and started wondering who this person was, and why he had deer horns. - Jack Handey

BrettB
Martinsburg, West Virginia

Posts: 8
BrettB on Mar 1, 2008March 1st, 2008, 1:47 pm EST
At the risk of making my ignorance of rod mechanics, I, too will offer my 10 cents in the rod action topic.

1. "Fast-action" I have 9-foot, 8-weight St. Croix that most would call fast. It's useful in bass fishing for trout. When I'm using huge flies 4-6 inches long (streamers such as zoo cougars, sculpins and heavily weighted wooly buggers)I find that this rod does an excellent job at turning over the weighty Teeny T-350 sinktip line that I use. I primarily fish this rig from a boat, drifting and casting at deep-water banks on the Cumberland Tailwater in Kentucky. Trying to use the Teeny with Softer action rods (Orvis mid-flex)doesn't allow me to power that big line and heavy, wet fly out to where I want. In that situtation "FAST" is quite helpful. NOTE: This is not "beauty" casting....this is "Beastly" casting. Sensitivity and protecting tippets are out the door. This is using 0X - 3X tippets and stripping line like I'm doing aerobics in a boat.

2. "Slow-action" I have some 7'ish foot older orvis graphite and bamboo rods (5-weights) that would rate as medium and slow actions. I actully use them on the same river, but in a different situation. When the hatches are on, and I'm throwing #14 soft-hackles and dries to risers, the slowness of casting stroke permitted by these rods allow me to more aptly drop my flies at specific locations above trout in their feding lanes.

Thus, I may fish the river with my fast-action from the boat, banging the banks with big streamers. Then, when we find a hatch, it's out of the boat and bring out the little soft rods for target-shooting visible risers.

Brett Billings
long-time tyer and amateur entomologist
Martinlf
Martinlf's profile picture
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Mar 1, 2008March 1st, 2008, 3:06 pm EST
Interesting perspective and logical approach, Brett. Thanks.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Sayfu
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Aug 31, 2011August 31st, 2011, 1:47 pm EDT

I've written this before on rod actions. The expensive rods made in recent years using the advanced graphite matting, can be flexible yet fast recovering, and be a fast action rod. The more inex. rods, and rods in the past made of IM-6 graphite were stiffo biffos in fast action, and you had to use an aggressive, double haul stoke to flex them. It is a matter of what distances do you fish at? Will your rod flex using that amount of line out past the tip? The other thought regards what size of tippets you use, and do you want the rod wanting to recover fast playing a fish on a light tippet? For the more expensive rods today made by the good rod makers, flex, and rod action, are two different factors.
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Aug 31, 2011August 31st, 2011, 5:15 pm EDT
Action is a word used to describe the flex profile of a rod under the normal casting load for which it is designed. The amount of deflection (which sometimes gets confused with action) isn't the issue. With older materials, they seemed to maintain their flex profile throughout their load range, even to failure. I remember some old fast action rods (aka.buggy whips) where the tips would fail before the butts started to bend much.

I don't know if the word has as much meaning any more as modern technology has been able to accomplish some amazing things. Most of the modern high end fast action rods have the capability to have a fast profile with regular casting distances getting more progressive as the load increases. Fighting a big fish with pressure, some can look almost parabolic, bending well into the butt.

Kurt
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Sayfu
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Sep 1, 2011September 1st, 2011, 5:42 am EDT
Good post Entoman. With the early graphite rods, the saltwater anglers especially that would bring fish up from some depth, and dead wt. load their graphites, the rod would explode, and many of them went to fiberglass rods, that would fatigue before breaking. Not so today. I have one of Sage's discontinued XP rods in a 9.5 #7 wt. I got for streamer fishing, and thought they had mis-marked the action indicating it was a fast action rod, but I'd cast it with little effort involved, and the rod would flex nicely, and deliver the fly with a high line speed, and they have advanced from there. The big cost in materials is in the matting. Anglers think the expensive rods are way over priced, but the cost of the graphite matting used is significant when you go from the inex. IM-6 to the advanced matting. And IM-6 still can be used in a nice, performing, fishing rod. I like it in what they would call Med. Fast action.
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Sep 1, 2011September 1st, 2011, 10:11 am EDT
Hi Sayfu,

Thank you.

I have one of Sage's discontinued XP rods in a 9.5 #7 wt.


Ha! This rod is still my favorite for the big stoneflies and fishing large streamers, especially in lakes where distance is often important. I always seem to have it rigged up and rattling around in the boat in case I want to throw the big bombs!:) Also my favorite for wooly worm/beetle rigs on Pyramid lake. It would probably be my favorite steelhead rod as well if I hadn't converted to spey casting several years ago. Still an excellent tool.

Regards,

Kurt
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Wbranch
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Sep 1, 2011September 1st, 2011, 11:40 pm EDT
All of my day to day trout rods are Gatti fast action blanks from 8 1/2' - 9'. They have a very thin wall structure and are extremely light and I'd consider very fast. I dry fly fish 95% of the time and want to make one or two very quick false casts and lay the fly down quickly for another drift.

I also use a 9' #7 Gatti for most of my steelhead fishing on the Erie tribs but also use an 11' 3" medium action #6 switch rod on bigger water where I want to swing traditional flies.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Softhackle
Softhackle's profile picture
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Softhackle on Sep 2, 2011September 2nd, 2011, 5:04 am EDT
I hate the fast action rods. That's about all you can find, nowadays. I like a good moderate action.


Mark

"I have the highest respect for the skilled wet-fly fisherman, as he has mastered an art of very great difficulty." Edward R. Hewitt

Flymphs, Soft-hackles and Spiders: http://www.troutnut.com/libstudio/FS&S/index.html
Sayfu
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Sep 2, 2011September 2nd, 2011, 5:10 am EDT

Entomen..That is my favorite Summer-run steelhead rod as well. I swing flies near the surface most all Fall for Summer-runs in low, clear water,(at least I did when I lived right on the river on the WestCoast.) Makes long, down and across casts very easy...a super rod.
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Sep 3, 2011September 3rd, 2011, 9:05 pm EDT
Mark -

I hate the fast action rods.


Let me guess... You wouldn't by chance be artistic in nature with a preference for wet flies?:) "How delightful to ply the subaqueous fly, and watch for that wink underwater"... I can see you gracefully working a run with a brace of wet flies. Somehow the concept just doesn't mesh with a fast action rod.

On the other hand, floating a brawling western river firing big hair-wing dry flies to the bank quickly and repetitively ... A fast action has its place.

Kurt
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman

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