The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

May 12, 2013

Fly rod buying has factors


DANVILLE —  I had someone ask me about fly rods earlier this week and wanted to know which rod was the best. It seems that fly rods become a topic this time of the year as the bluegills head for the beds and there are few things more exciting than a big bluegill taking a surface fly off a bed.

The best fly rods are the ones that fit you best and no one can tell you exactly which one that will be. When buying a fly rod always try it with a reel on it to get the feel of the rod. Some rods just won’t feel right in your hand. Maybe even ask if you can take it somewhere where you could practice whipping it around.

Another factor in selecting a fly rod is to understand the conditions you will use your rod; whether you will be fishing from a boat, from the bank, in a stream, etc.

If you are trout fishing a small stream, you will most likely want a short fly rod; say seven and a half foot. There are even seven foot rods out there but they are hard to locate.

On the other hand, if you are fishing from a boat, you may want all the whip you can get from your rod to put that perfect cast onto a bed of bluegills. You may want to choose an eight, eight and a half or nine foot rod.

I fish a Berkley Cherrywood rod, nine feet long. I generally fish from a boat or off my dock and have nothing behind me to impede my cast. I normally am fishing clear water so I want to put the fly out as far as possible from where I and casting.

Fly fishing is sometimes a matter of whipping the fly back and forth until it lands in the perfect spot. That is how I fish mine for bluegill.

When fishing in the mountain streams, I like a short seven and a half foot rod as there are trees behind me in the Smoky Mountain streams. I float a wet fly (one that sinks) into a pool within the stream and let the fly drift down into a hole. My casts don’t have to be quite as accurate since the water will move the fly along.

No one can choose a rod for you as far as I’m concerned as what I like; you might not and visa versa.

Many fly anglers like to fish the older split bamboo fly rods but I have problems fishing those older ones. I’ve talked with anglers and collectors alike and they all tell me they are the very best; still I have problems whipping the fly out where I want it with the older rods.

Take your time selecting a fly rod as most anglers only own one or two. Make sure it feels right to you, test it and if you like it, buy it. Then take it fishing.

I’ve got some reports that the hummingbirds are finally coming back; my wife will be thrilled!

Sam Van Camp writes about the outdoors on Fridays and Sundays. Call him at 662-6559. Fax: 446-6648. E-mail: