Fly Fishing

Piscifun fly fishing reels


First Published in Harper's Magazine - April 1885

On the second occasion alluded to above, the writer was one of the judges. He weighed the rods himself, and assisted in measuring them, and saw the judges in the prior contest verify the divisions on the rope. The distance alluded to was cast in the late afternoon. Darkness put an end to the trial before it was finished, and since the following day was marked by half a gale of wind blowing from a very disadvantageous direction, it was deemed best to begin de novo. Thus this cast does not appear in the published reports, but it was actually made, and so recorded at the time by all the judges.

It is believed that all anglers will admit that sixty, or say sixty-five feet at the outside, is the limit of practical fly-fishing with a single-handed rod. It may be demonstrated that there must be a limit somewhere. However it may be where a rapid current lends it aid, in still water trout will not hook themselves. The larger the fish, the more promptly they recognize and more speedily they reject the artificial fly, if time is allowed them to do so. To forestall this, the angler "strikes" when the fly is taken; i.e., he so actuates his rod as to retract the line, and thus imbed the hook attached to it in the fish's mouth. Want of space forbids entering fully into the problem; but if the proper diagrams are constructed, it will at once be apparent that as the line lengthens, the distance increases rapidly through which the rod must be moved to transmit a given impulse to the hook. But we are dealing with a flexible and not a rigid rod, and clearly this flexibility must be taken into the account. For before the hook will receive any impulse whatever from the motion of the rod, it is apparent that the rod must yield until the tension of its elasticity exceeds the inertia of the line, plus its friction on or in the water. When the delay due to all of these causes allows sufficient time for the fish to reject the fly, evidently the limit of practical fly-fishing has been reached. There are other elements which enter into and affect the result, but we must pass them by.

However these things may be, all will agree that ninety-nine of every hundred trout taken within the length and breadth of the land are fastened inside of fifty feet of the angler.

Thus it appears that a ten-foot rod is pleasanter to use, that it gives a more certain control of the fish and greater killing power, and finally that it is amply adequate to cast a fly to any practically useful distance.

Therefore one of that length, and of such weight as to afford a reasonable degree of "backbone" - say seven or even eight ounces - is recommended, since, if we have reasoned correctly, it follows that the stiffer the rod, the greater its "striking" range. Still, a consideral degree of flexibility is necessary to efficient and pleasurable casting; and how may we determine the golden mean between the two extremes? It is believed the solution is reached when the lower part of the rod is so proportioned as to have all possible flexibility, and yet retain absolute command over the tip when weighted with thirty or forty feet of the line it is proposed to use.

The American "enameled water-proofed lines" alone are used in this country for fly-fishing.