It’s been a lengthy debate – pun intended
Comments and musings by Skip Clement on John Frazier’s article Fly Fishing: Short vs. Long Fly Rods for Salt Water Sportsman / November 5, 2014
The discussion Frazier points to is that a newbie has to think outside the box – that there is more to selecting saltwater fly fishing rods than an 8- or 9-weight, a reel with 250 yards of backing and a floating line, the preponderance of fly rod, backing and fly line purchases throughout the industry.
But a newbie couldn’t go there – too much information and in a parlance not understood. But that’s not the point of the story. So, first up is go to the local fly shop or show. Buying a new fly rod is like buying a new car. You need to test drive them. But in the case of buying a fly rod, the newbie most likely has never driven one so, having never seen one up close and personal or seen many, he or she has no reference point. Although a BMW and a Lada Riva (Russian) are vastly different cars they are not so to the newly interested buyer.
The performance of a fly rod and intended use are things the author says to consider when buying a fly rod
Because a shorter rod is essentially a shorter lever, your stroke should speed up, whereas a longer rod (longer lever) requires a more delayed stroke. The castability of a rod has a lot to do with the relationship between the rod length and the taper of the fly line. A fly line with a short head loads a short rod efficiently and allows the angler to quickly deliver big flies short to moderate distances. The opposite obviously works for longer rods. Rods exceeding the 9-foot mark benefit from fly lines with longer heads.” — Steve Rajeff, Loomis
Mend your Ways:
Even though the technique of mending line — adjusting the position of the line relative to the fly after the line is on the water — is most often associated with river fishing, the tactic has a place in the salt as well, whenever there is current flowing. In salt water, mending comes in handy when fishing rip lines or other current differentials.
Longer rods take a bit more finesse to cast, but with them, you have the potential to cast farther, which is why a lot of deepwater waders and surf guys like them. For this group of anglers, long rods not only offer a little more reach, but they also provide a little more elevation, which goes a long way in terms of preventing line slap on the backcast and avoiding steep banks behind you.” — Steve Rajeff, Loomis
Short and Sweet:
When using heavier lines with short heads, anglers can not only effectively fish in tight quarters but also accurately and quickly present bulky flies short to midrange distances — which is why a lot of guys go with a short rod when stripers and bluefish are feeding on large menhaden.” — Steve Rajeff, Loomis
Frazier concludes that when matched with an appropriate line, short rods achieve considerable distances, but they also provide an edge during the fight — especially with a big, structure-oriented fish.
NOTE: John Frazier, former editor at SWS and Fly Fishing in Salt Waters and a nationally recognized authority on saltwater fly-fishing, currently serves as the community specialist for Simms Fishing Products.