If you ask a die-hard fly fisherman if he has a “pet rod”, a special fly rod for a specific purpose, most will admit. Some appreciate custom dry fly rods, while others pride themselves on owning saltwater specific fly gear.
Perhaps it is a rod designed for a specific technique. Either way, anglers have their favorites. Stepping out of the realm of the generic 9ft, 5weight trout rod to embrace something with a niche goal often opens up a whole new side of fly fishing.
Specialized fly rods can be found in any rack of fishing rods, from easy and flexible cast dry fly rods to long lasting Euro-nymph rods and even species specific rods like fly rods. pike, carp and bass.
I asked a few seasoned professionals what they care about when it comes to specialty fly rods. The variety of responses shows how vast the world of fly fishing is. It also shows how many dedicated fly fishermen put their passion into casting flies in other waters and species.
Brett Elkman of Vail Valley Anglers has an affinity for a 10ft Euro 2 weight rod. Euro nymph has grown in popularity tremendously over the past few years. Anglers need to embrace a whole new line, leader and fly system, taking their fly fishing knowledge to the next level.
“He’s light and sensitive. Weight 2 fights big fish and has the backbone to land them. Elkman said.
A perfect example of an “out of the box” fly rod. How many fishermen have 10 feet, 2 weights? And yet, Brett specifically said that “I love mine”. A very good endorsement and a reason to look into the Euro nymph fly rods.
Todd Tanner, writer, owner of the School of Trout and Conservation Hawks as well as an extraordinary fly fisherman, holds a Winston 9ft, 4 weight (circa 1998) as a dry fly rod. The precious pieces of graphite are obsolete in the world of fly rods, if at all possible. Tanner understands the irreplaceable factor with this rod. He admits he “tends to keep it now – knowing full well that someday something is likely to happen.”
Finding this special dry fly rod is a joy. Outright throwing a well-balanced dry fly rod is just plain fun. The design of the premium dry fly rods makes them intuitive in their casting. The fly seems to land where you look every time.
Kirk Deeter, editor of Trout and Angling Trade magazines, prolific writer and proud dry fly fisherman, admits his affection for a Scott F-series 2 fiberglass weight. Even if he will tell you he “n ‘never met a fly rod that he didn’t like “. This specific Scott rod he has fished more in the past two seasons than any other rod.
Marc Barnwell, a local fly fishing guide since 1996, has an Orvis Clearwater 7 weight setup for his clients who love to cast streamers. As a tank guide, Barnwell fulfills the wishes of his customers. He “likes weight 7 for more power than weight 6”, especially from a boat.
I have a few off-shore fly rods that are specially designed for billfish, tuna, and sharks. Pool cue sized fly rods are designed to cast the fly a short distance but fight fish with huge lift and backbone. The rods have elongated cork handles to reach the fly rod to combat leverage.
While they see irregular use in the rod holder of a Colorado guide bar, the rods get closer to the transom whenever I travel to Florida. I’ll have an Atlantic sailboat on the fly one of these days.
A special fly rod, built for a purpose or designed for a specific fly fishing technique. The fisherman must learn a whole new set of skills. And then apply the new skills with enough mastery to be successful. Whether it’s a freshwater species the angler targets, a new way to chase trout or hunt giant pelagics in deep blue waters, specialized fly rods open up the world of fishing. fly fishing to any fisherman.
Michael Salomone moved to the Eagle River Valley in 1992. He began professionally guiding fly fishing in 2002. His freelance writings have appeared in magazines and websites including Southwest Fly Fishing, Fly Rod & Reel, Eastern Fly Fishing, On the Fly, FlyLords, Pointing Dog Journal, Upland Almanac, Echo Website, Vail Valley Anglers and more. He lives on the shore of the Eagle River with his wife, Lori; two daughters, Emily and Ella; and a pair of yellow Labrador retrievers.