Fly Fishing

Piscifun fly fishing reels


First Published in Harper's Magazine - April 1885

Different specimens of every variety of rod material vary greatly in excellence, one sample being good and another being utterly worthless. Therein the integrity of the rod-maker, and regard for his reputation, are the only safeguards to the purchaser. Therefore it is cheaper in the end to buy from the maker himself, or his recognized agent. If they have a reputation, they will do their best to maintain it. Anonymous rods are like anonymous letters; they may be unexceptional , but usually they are not. Above all things remember there are no bargains in fishing-tackle. If an article is cheap in price, it is almost invariably cheap in quality as well.

Comfort in use, efficiency in casting the fly, and power to control and land the fish after it is fastened, all will admit, are the desiderata in a fly-rod; strength to withstand the incidental strain, and elasticity to recover on removal of the deflection caused thereby, being in all cases presumed.

It needs no expert physicist to assure us that with two rods of equal weight, and respectively ten and twelve feet long, the former will occasion far less fatigue than the latter, since while the shorter arm of the lever is equal in both cases, the longer arm, which is to do the work, is greater in the latter. Nay, further, even though the shorter rod exceed in actual weight, still it may retain it's superiority in this respect.

Killing power, and the ability to control the movements of the fish, depend not on the length, but on the power or stiffness, of the rod; and this, other things being equal, must be greater in a ten than in a twelve foot rod, since the leverage against the controlling power is less.

Nothing remains, then, but to compare their relative efficiency in casting the fly.

Surely none of the hundreds who witnessed the fly-casting tournament at Central Park in New York city on October 16, 1883, and saw a fly cast eighty-five feet with a ten-foot split-bamboo rod weighing four and three-eighths ounces, will question the ability of a ten foot rod of from seven to eight ounces to meet all reasonable demands in this respect. On October 22, 1884, on a like occasion, eighty-seven feet were cast with a similiar rod of five ounces weight and ten feet two and a half inches long.

To those who may be unfamiliar with these events it may be remarked that the caster stands on a platform one foot above the water, and built it at a right angle to, and about thirty feet distant from, the shore. The contestants thus cast parallel with the shore, and beside a rope supported by small floats placed five feet apart. To the floats marking each ten feet, appropriately numbered tin tags are attached indicating the distance from the edge of the platform. The weight and length of each of the competing rods are accurately ascertained, and the divisions on the rope are verified, by the judges before the contest takes place. The spectators occupy the bank, while the judges note the result from a boat, which is moved backward and forward on the other side of the rope as circumstances require. The distance between the edge of the platform and where the tail fly strikes the water is taken as the length of the cast. A possible error of eighteen inches in the determination of this would be a very liberal allowance.