Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Getting the Best From Your Fly Rods

Fly rods are designed to utilize a certain weight line on them, but sometimes changing from a lower or higher line weight can change the rod’s output.  I own several of the older Scott G Series rods.  While I know that these rods will never compete with the lighter, faster rods that are coming out today, there is a certain feel about them.  I love fishing them, but often times find myself wondering what a different line would feel like on them.  Recently, I got a new 4wt. Rio Gold fly line for a Scott S4 Rod.  While Rio claims this is an all purpose fly line, what I have been told is that this line is a bit heaver than just a 4 wt.  For instance, my 4wt. Rio Gold is more like a 4.2 Wt. line.  When hearing this and looking at the tapers of the line, I figured that a 4.2 wt. line would not be the best choice for a slower rod like the G Series. If anything, I should go lighter, not heavier. Most of the weight of these tapers is at the front of these lines.  

For a new rod like the Sage One or Hardy Zenith, this line might be a bit light and these rods might require an even heavier line, such as the Rio Grande or SA GPX for their fast tapers.  These lines are a ½ size heavier than stated, so a 4wt. Rio Grande is actually like a 4.5 or 4.6 wt. line. 

So going back to my G Series rod, I took an 8’4” 4wt rod out for a spin with a 3 Wt. Rio Gold line.  Usually I use a standard Rio Classic or Rio Selective Trout line on these rods.  These lines are not offered by Rio any longer, but that is what I have for them.  They cast great with those lines as they are more of a “standard” line.  A 4wt. is a 4.0wt. line.  When I put the rod and line together, it was like a new rod!  By getting a slower rod like the 4 wt. G, and putting on a light line like the 3.2 Wt. Rio Gold on it, the rod was just a bit more responsive and quicker.  If you have ever tried to cast a fast rod with a standard line, it can almost feel lifeless.  If you up-line it, then the rod may actually wake up and start to breath.  In this case, by underlining it, it felt like the rod was “perkier”.  Even though it was still smooth as butter, it had a different feel.  Casting this same rod with a SA 4wt GPX line, the line and rod felt heavy and sluggish.  So I encourage you to take some of your rods out and mess around with a few different lines on them.  Borrow your buddies’ reels and see if a particular line works better on your rods.    They may find a line that works for them as well.  


  1. I've always been tempted to overline a rod but haven't actually given it a try. Great article, Juan.


  2. Juan would you suggest for a 5wt S4. I like the rod, but I’m not in love with it. Right now I’m using a 5wt Sharskin Magnum


    1. Randy, I think you are feeling like I felt while using a Rio Clouser on that rod. While it is a great line, and it throws a nymph rig nicely, when you try to throw a dry on it, it feels the opposite. I just recently used that line on the Ark. I nymphed early, then the BWOs came out. I switched to a #20 dry Nd it did cast it fine, it just had no feel. I recently purchased a Rio Gold for it, but I think the SA GPX is the way to go. I can throw both indicators and dries with that line and not feel like I am compromising on either side. I'll have to let you know about the Rio Gold as I have not used it yet, I hope this helps out a little.

  3. Also, the Rio Clouser/SA Mag. and the Rio Grande/SA GPX are both a 1/2 size heavy, but the tapers are different. The Clouser has a very heavy front head to carry those bigger flies without kick back on the cast. The GPX is somewhat smaller, but still can deliver those smaller flies and those bigger flies. You will still have "kick back" on the heavier flies but it will land those dries with more delicacy than the Mag/Clouser lines. The S4 is a fast rod, faster than others out there. Overlining with a Rio Gold or a standard SA Trout line might give you more response out of the rod, but know it may just be too fast for your style. Same for a Sage ONE. It may need a GPX to get the right feel. A Rio Gold or SA Trout may be a bit too light. If you put the Mag. line on it, it might be perfect, but maybe not. Rods are like shoes. Some feel better than others and lines are like socks. If you find the right mix, both will feel just right and you will know it.

  4. Great article Juan. I am still trying to figure out what to use on many of my rod and this will help me a lot.
    I have so many different lines that after a while, I don't know which is best for my rods.

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