Fly rods are the main components of saltwater fly fishing. Using the wrong fly rod will make for a frustrating fishing experience. But, how do you know the right fly rod for your saltwater fly fishing trip?
In getting a new fly rod for your saltwater fishing trip, look for the following: the strength of the fly rod, the type of material it’s made of, the type of line guides, and the reel seat.
Let’s examine the above properties more in-depth and see how they make an excellent saltwater fly rod. Hang on for more.
- Strength of the Saltwater Fly Rod
Fly rods come in different weights, sizes, and strengths. The strength of your fly rod will come into play in some critical areas.
- Your fly rod’s ability to withstand wind: Saltwater fly fishing may be windy, depending on your location. This will put the strength of your fly rod to the test. You need a fast fly rod strong enough to withstand wind. For instance, you’ll need a 9-wt fly rod to fish on the windy coasts of the Bahamas, while in the Florida, an 8-wt fly rod will suffice.
- The speed of the rod: A noodly rod will be slow compared to a stiffer rod. While the faster rods will help with casting into the wind, slower rods tend to be more foregiving, allowing for more errors when casting in calm conditions.
- Your rod’s capacity to lift weight: Since fish vary in size, you should be sure the weight of your rod can support them. Fly rods range from 5-14 weight levels. You can catch small fish like bonefish and redfish using an 8-wt rod. Bigger fish, like sharks, sailfish, roosterfish, tarpon, etc., will need a rod strength of 10 to 14-wt. Therefore, the best fly rod for fishing is 9-wt for light fishing and 11-wt or 12-wt rod for heavy fishing.
- The flexibility of your rod: More experienced casters will prefer a faster rod which is less flexible. Faster rods help with casting further distances in windy conditions. For a novice caster, a slower rod may make more sense as they tend to be more forgiving of bad casts.
- Construction Material of the Fly Rod
Saltwater corrodes a lot of things, including rods. Therefore, your fly rod’s material is of great importance. Fly rods may be fiberglass, bamboo, or graphite. How do these materials stand up to each other?
Fiberglass fly rods are almost outdated. Let me highlight some features of fiberglass fly rods:
- Fly rods made of fiberglass are solid and flexible.
- They’re heavy and slow in fly fishing.
- Glass rods tend to work best in calm conditions while fishing for smaller species. Fiberglass rods are slow in action and oftentimes lack significant backbone for fighting a fish.
- Fiberglass rods are better suited for lightweight fish. Although some people have used glass rods to catch big fish, it can cause significant stress to the fish due to the inability to quickly land them.
Bamboo-made fly rods are the successors of fiberglass fly rods.
- Bamboo rods are lightweight, making them easy to carry and use.
- They’re also slower and graceful when casting.
- Due to the detail in their making, they cost more than other fly rod types.
Graphite fly rod is the industry standard for fly fishing.
- They’re the strongest of all three fly rods. They’re suitable for all fish sizes and carry big flies with heavy lines.
- They’re lightweight, durable, and flexible. You can easily manipulate a graphite fly rod without stress.
However, use them carefully – the graphite fly rods can break under too much pressure.
- Line Guides
Fly line guides are the metal pieces attached to the blank that control and allow the line to glide along the rod blank.
Rod guides need to be smooth yet capable of withstanding corrosive elements such as saltwater.
For freshwater rods, standard ceramic rod guides will work great and allow a smooth flow when shooting fly line. For saltwater applications, it is recommended to look for rods that have stainless steel guides. Stainless rod guides are also referred to as “Snake Guides” due to their snake-like appearance on the rod. These guides are not quite as smooth as standard ceramic but will hold up much longer in saltwater. You may also notice more line noise when casting a rod with stainless guides.
When purchasing a rod, it is a good idea to check the thread wraps that hold the guides onto the rod blank. The thread is then coated in epoxy to create a rock-like bond to the rod. Visual inspection for cracks or air pockets surrounding the guides will help reduce the risk of rod failure. If you are going to spend a lot of money buying fly rods, it never hurts to make sure the rod is free from defects.
- Reel Seat
The reel seat, also known as the foot of the fly rod, is where the line sits. It’s like the power room of the fly rod. Therefore, it needs to be tight, especially if you’re working with a large reel on your rod. A loose reel seat is difficult to use and can lead to a frustrating fishing experience.
Typically, good quality reel seats are not the most aesthetically pleasing. The most important feature of a reel seat is its functionality, so ensure that your reel seats sit tight on your reel and don’t need to be tightened after every cast. Aluminum, stainless steel,, or woven graphite are good materials for reel seats on saltwater fly rods. Avoid using wood alone, as the salt wreaks havoc on wood over time.
If you want to use wood for your reel seat, ensure that you care for your rod by cleaning it immediately after use and regularly washing it with fresh water. When not in use, keep your saltwater fly rod in its case to protect it from the elements.
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