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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.

Kschaefer3
Kschaefer3's profile picture
St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
Kschaefer3 on Feb 16, 2015February 16th, 2015, 8:34 am EST
I'm thinking about getting a 4 wt this year (read: I'll almost certainly get a 4 wt this year). I'm thinking 8-8.5 ft. It will be a dry fly rod almost exclusively. My casting stroke is somewhat aggressive, so I tend to favor a med fast-fast action rod, but still want a soft tip for protecting tippet.

I am looking for as many suggestions as you can lay on me. Because of this, let's assume money is not a factor, I don't care what type of material it is made from and I don't care where the rod is made or who made it.

Given the above, what rod would you get? Thanks in advance for the suggestions.
Wbranch
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Feb 16, 2015February 16th, 2015, 8:57 am EST
Hello Kyle,

I recently bought an Orvis Helios 2 9' #4 4 piece. I have three other #4 rods. I bought a Sage Flight 9' #4 4 piece that I bought about four years ago that I'd like to sell. PM me if you have any interest in it.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Wbranch
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Feb 16, 2015February 16th, 2015, 9:12 am EST
Kyle,

Why would you consider a rod of 8' long? Are you planning to fish narrow streams with a lot of brush and trees along the banks? I think rods of 7' - 8' have their place but that place is in situations where rod length is a hindrance due to the narrowness of the waterway or stream side obstacles that make overhead casting difficult or impossible. I have one 6' rod, one 7 1/2' cane rod and one 8'graphite rod but the other dozen plus rods are all 8 1/2 - 10' long. If this new rod is going to be your only #4 rod for the forseeable future I would recommend at least one of 8 1/2'.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Martinlf
Martinlf's profile picture
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Feb 16, 2015February 16th, 2015, 10:31 am EST
Over time I've gone to longer rods, even on smaller streams, and often use a 9' rod on medium to smallish streams. It's personal preference, though. Some like short rods in general, anywhere they can use them.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Wbranch
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Feb 16, 2015February 16th, 2015, 10:55 am EST
I have a 6' rod I made about thirty years ago that is the only rod I would consider to use on Clarks Creek or any other narrow and tree lined streams. I've already broken the tips on two longer rods after whacking the tips on tree branches when I went to strike a fish or lift the rod for the next cast.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
RleeP
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
RleeP on Feb 16, 2015February 16th, 2015, 11:45 am EST
Hi Kyle... I haven't bought a new fly rod in 10 years, so I would be a poor source for recommendations for a new rod, especially a faster rod. I probably have 15 rods and they are all older, slower actions. This is what I prefer, although the reason for my preference may well be that slower rods are what I know and use. I tend to think that at a certain age (and I'm about there...) the mind begins to calcify and we are more likely to like what we like because it also happens to be what we know. This seem to be what is happening to me. It could be worse, though. I could be becoming bullheaded and set in my ways. I feel sorry for those folks...:)

Anyway...

I will comment though on the rod length issue. If you do most of your trout fishing in the MN/WI Driftless streams or over in West Central Wisconsin (Kinni, etc.), I think an 8 (or even an 8 1/2) footer is a good all around dry fly rod length for these water. We just returned to PA after 15 years of living in the Midwest and I spent several hundred hours a year fishing the Wisconsin (and to a lesser extent Iowa) Driftless regions. I have all kinds of short rods (7 1/2' and under) that made up my Pennsylvania small waters arsenal, but the only rods I fished out there were an old Orvis Far & Fine (7'9" #5) and a 9' Diamondback Americana, also a 5 wgt. Virtually every creek I fished was a just right for one or the other of these rods. So, it makes sense to me that an 8 or 8 1/2 would be a good choice.
Roguerat
Roguerat's profile picture
Posts: 456
Roguerat on Feb 16, 2015February 16th, 2015, 1:10 pm EST
Kyle,
s
I've got a St Croix Avid 8' 4 wt 4-pc that is one of my favorite rods. Long enough to lift line for mending, short enough to make it my smaller-water go-to rod. Yeah, my 9-footers (5 wt and 6 wt, both St Croix as well) are all-around rods but the smaller rod seems to hit the 'sweet-spot' just right.
I've used the long rods on smaller streams, just adjusting my casting stroke and all, but the smaller rod just seems 'right' with less adjusting.

Could be personal preference, but my 2-cents.

I think our temps in W Mich are rivaling those in St Paul lately, 13-below yesterday rising to 6-above during the day. I heard anything above zero is considered warm in Minnesota.

Roguerat

'I can fix anything except stupid...' anon.

Gutcutter
Gutcutter's profile picture
Pennsylvania

Posts: 470
Gutcutter on Feb 16, 2015February 16th, 2015, 1:23 pm EST
The vast majority of trout fishing situations involve casts of less than 60 feet, usually far shorter. And when you're working a fish closer in, success often depends on your ability to make gentle, delicate, accurate presentations. For this reason, many experienced anglers consider Winston's WT rods to be the perfect choice for such fishing. With progressive tapers, they work nicely at close distances yet can make longer casts when needed. Proven on trout waters worldwide, these medium-action graphite rods are incredibly smooth, offer wonderful touch and feel, and the tips are soft enough to protect 6x and 7x tippets while playing large trout.


Kyle-

Find a Winston TMF (8foot/4weight). The best dry fly rod.

Ever.
Period.
End of story.

Can you tell I'm biased?

-Tony
All men who fish may in turn be divided into two parts: those who fish for trout and those who don't. Trout fishermen are a race apart: they are a dedicated crew- indolent, improvident, and quietly mad.

-Robert Traver, Trout Madness
PaulRoberts
PaulRoberts's profile picture
Colorado

Posts: 1776
PaulRoberts on Feb 16, 2015February 16th, 2015, 3:38 pm EST
I believe the original ideas on short rods for dry fly had to do with two things: Materials of the day did not allow the production of long rods in a crisp "dry fly" action -as it was called. And a shorter rod, with the tip closer to your eye (decreased angle) makes it easier to achieve pinpoint accuracy with. This does not mean one cannot learn to be accurate with a long rod just that the physics make it is easier to be accurate with a shorter rod. In fishing there are other considerations, such as "reach" to keeping line off the water and the ability to move more line with a given wrist movement.

Anyway... There are so many good rods to choose from now. I too like a crisp aggressive action. The rods I use for dry fly use run from 6 to 9ft with every 6inches represented. My two favorites in mid-length are a Thomas & Thomas LPS 8-1/2ft and a Tom Maxwell "Evening Hatch" 8ft. The Maxwell rod has a shortened grip that is comfortable and offers a little bit more reach. I did the same thing on the last rod I built -a 7-1/2ft XF small creek rod, dubbed "Arctopsyche".

Happy shopping! :)
Martinlf
Martinlf's profile picture
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Feb 16, 2015February 16th, 2015, 9:59 pm EST
Kyle, you asked about specific recommendations. My current favorite light line rod is a 9' 3 WT Cabela's LSI. It's a fast action rod, and I use it on all kinds of water, including small streams such as Clark's Creek. You just have to watch where the bushes are when you're casting or setting a hook. They are on sale now, and you can pick one up for under 150.00. If there's a Cabela's store near you, you might try casting one. It currently has a 5 star rating on the Cabela's website (52 reviews), and I love mine. I bought it to fish Tricos, and have landed fish up to 18" on 7X using it. You just have to be gentle on the lift. It has plenty of backbone and will throw a 3 WT line pretty far. One reason I like it so much is when I switch over to nymphs after the hatch ends, it's still long enough to make mends and reach over nagging currents. But, as I noted above, different folks have different preferences.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Kschaefer3
Kschaefer3's profile picture
St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
Kschaefer3 on Feb 17, 2015February 17th, 2015, 5:50 am EST
Thanks to everyone for the recommendations. I have a decent list of rods to try. The problem will be finding a retailer that carries some of them.

Matt - I am looking for an 8-8.5 ft rod because many of the streams I fish are small creeks with high brushy, or tree lined, banks. I can manage all my trout situations with my 5 wt, but I want to start building out an arsenal for more specific applications. Most places where the length would be an issue for casting or mending, I would just use my 5 wt anyway.

RleeP - I fish mostly the MN driftless, but venture to the Kinni and Rush on occasion. I have a buddy down in the WI driftless, so I started going there more often last year. So much water down in that corner of MN/WI/IA.

Rogue - This year has been relatively mild. Last winter was the most brutal I remember in 26 years of living in MN. Our Jan. 1 early season trout opener was 5 degrees for a high with 10-15 mph winds...and I was happy to be out...


Martinlf
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Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Feb 17, 2015February 17th, 2015, 6:21 am EST
Kyle, Cabelas also has an LSI in an 8' 6" length for a 4 WT. They both have a 4 piece and a 5 piece pack rod. 133.00.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Wbranch
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Feb 17, 2015February 17th, 2015, 9:10 am EST
It has plenty of backbone and will throw a 3 WT line pretty far.


Can you comfortably throw a #1 Clouser 40' with that #3? My point is when the dry fly action is over will that #3 rod be able to effectively fish larger nymphs and streamers or will it feel like a BB gun against an elephant?

I prefer to use a #5 weight rod through the early season to around mid May and if I plan to specifically go out and throw streamers I'd bring nothing lighter than a #6. Once the Sulfurs start in mid May I go to the #4 rod because when the fish stop rising I could nymph with a couple of BB's and still feel it is a good tool for the job and I'm still able to throw a #2 Clouser 50' if I open my loop and slow down my casting stroke.

I guess I'm just not confident enough in my skills to use a #3 as my primary rod.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Martinlf
Martinlf's profile picture
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Feb 17, 2015February 17th, 2015, 10:48 am EST
Matt, I don't fish streamers in the streams where I use the #3, just dries and nymphs. It fits my purposes perfectly for tricos, midges, and olives on Spring Creek, Clarks, etc. On Penns, the Little J, and the Delaware I use a #5 or #6. The little Cabela's rod does have a good bit of backbone for a #3, though, more than some #4's. I just might try throwing a Clouser one day to see. As for nymphs it has no problems with two tungsten beaded Iron Lotuses. I avoid split shot whenever possible, and tend to fish nymphs that are pretty light, typically a 2.5 mm and a 2.0 mm tungsten bead or lighter. George Daniels showed me just how deep you can get with these kind of flies one day on Spring Creek, and I've taken to his methods. That's another reason I like this longer rod. It nymphs very well. Others get better mileage doing different things, I know. It's just what works for me.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Kschaefer3
Kschaefer3's profile picture
St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
Kschaefer3 on Feb 17, 2015February 17th, 2015, 10:58 am EST
George Daniels showed me just how deep you can get with these kind of flies one day on Spring Creek, and I've taken to his methods.

Would you mind sharing your/his methods? I know you can get a fly pretty darn deep with stack mends.
Martinlf
Martinlf's profile picture
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Feb 17, 2015February 17th, 2015, 11:21 am EST
Kyle, his book, Dynamic Nymphing, is an excellent resource. He stresses that you must not lift too soon. Let the fly sink to the bottom, then lift to gain contact. To make his point he dropped a fly with a brass, not tungsten, bead into the stream and noted how quickly it was on the bottom. He notes that if you don't put any tension on the fly it goes right down. A George Harvey style slack cast will do it, then wait until the fly is where you want it to tighten up. Joe Humphreys has some books on nymphing that also discuss casts such as the tuck cast that help a fly sink quickly.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Crepuscular
Crepuscular's profile picture
Boiling Springs, PA

Posts: 920
Crepuscular on Feb 17, 2015February 17th, 2015, 12:34 pm EST
George Daniels showed me just how deep you can get with these kind of flies one day on Spring Creek, and I've taken to his methods.

Would you mind sharing your/his methods? I know you can get a fly pretty darn deep with stack mends.


Oh no, Kyle, you were showing such promise, tying dry flies and looking for a dry fly wand, aspiring to a higher echelon of fly fishing, and now, what? You want to dredge bottom? Oh I'm so sad...
;)

By the way, T&T LPS 8'#4, that rod that Guttcutter mentioned, a Sage SLT, LL, or ZXL are all sweet dry fly rods that I have experience with. That T&T LPS is really worth considering.

E
Martinlf
Martinlf's profile picture
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Feb 17, 2015February 17th, 2015, 3:06 pm EST
Heh, heh, I'm always glad to bring someone down to the gutter. Or riverbottom. But, Eric, you've been known to sink a fly or two yourself. Is this dismay on your part some kind of subterfuge for your own nefarious purposes?
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
PaulRoberts
PaulRoberts's profile picture
Colorado

Posts: 1776
PaulRoberts on Feb 17, 2015February 17th, 2015, 3:43 pm EST
Ditto the Cabela's LSi -which stands for "Line Speed improved". Last two rods I bought were LSi's and I like both very much. Both are 9fters so I didn't mention them. I got mine on sale too. If they are on sale now, I'd jump on it. You can always send it back, but I doubt you will. ;)

My rods do double duty too. No one rod really covers all the bases well, esp as you go down in line weight. But a powerful 4wt can get a lot done.

Daniels' book is a very god resource (recommended to me by Louis I believe) describing various nymph techniques from around the world pretty well. And my Humphrey's book "Trout Tactics" is nearly in tatters. The Tuck Cast is a very precise slack line cast worth knowing. Yes, drop an untethered nymph into a stream and it hits bottom mighty quick.
Crepuscular
Crepuscular's profile picture
Boiling Springs, PA

Posts: 920
Crepuscular on Feb 17, 2015February 17th, 2015, 5:02 pm EST
But, Eric, you've been known to sink a fly or two yourself.
sometimes yes it is true.
Is this dismay on your part some kind of subterfuge for your own nefarious purposes?
nope, just entertaining myself. Kind of a recoil from competition fly fishing tactics. Sorry if I offended anyone. However, like someone pointed out here on TN in a thread a while back (I think it was CJ) you gotta give credit to those that seem to catch fish like they are fishing in a barrel.

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