Fly rods come in various lengths. Clearly the 9' rod has become the standard with single-handers. But, from shorter and lighter dry fly/spring creek rods to 11' Czech style nymphing rods, length can vary dramatically. But why? What are the benefits to using a short or longer rod? Is a rod that is longer or shorter than your current 9' going to help you? Well yes and no. As many techniques as there are in fly fishing, there are also variations in gear to help. Here are some ways in which a longer fly rod can help an angler. These are more with freshwater/trout in mind, but can be applied to saltwater as well...
- Distance - Longer rods present the ability to cast further. You generally have to slow down your casting stroke, but a longer rod can cary more line, keep it off the water, and help give you that extra distance you want. Accuracy usually suffers with a longer rod (which is why most small stream/dry fly rods are short - the angler doesn't need distance but needs accuracy).
- Mending - When negotiating moving water, the ability to mend the line properly can keep the fly/flies drifting properly (less drag) and also helps to control the fly's position in the water. A longer rod can give you the ability to lift more line off the water and manage your drift better.
- Roll Casting - If you fish in areas where there is very little room for a backcast, then you are familiar with the roll cast. Creating that D-loop and "rolling" the line out in front of you can be a huge asset to fishing in tight quarters. A longer rod gives you the height needed to pick up more line off the water and roll cast with better efficiency.
- Covering More Water - Although this could be under the category of "Distance" I am actually referring specifically to nymphing here. When you are using the techniques such as tight-line/Czech nymphing, the depth and drift of your flies is controlled solely by the angler (and not necessarily by an indicator, etc). A longer fly rod gives you more water (under the rod) to fish effectively. If you can reach out another 1ft and cover that small pocket of water in front of you while maintaining better control of your flies, you will be more successful.
There are also benefits to using a shorter rod too! Stay tuned for that article soon!
Words + Photo By: Josh Thelin