Confessions of a two-hander - How my glass fly rod improved my fly casting
I received my first-ever fibreglass fly rod from the kind folks at Epic Fly Rods (the new Reference 580 FastGlass) and spent a few great days on the river getting it to know it.
My conclusion is; I think everyone who fly fishes should have at least one quality glass fly rod in their arsenal.
Here is the backstory to that; If you have only ever cast carbon fly rods, when you pick up a glass rod and cast it, you will probably think “this is a strange and unusual beast.” You might think the rod feels a little heavier than you are used to, and it will most likely feel softer and fuller flexing than the carbon fibre rods you will be more accustomed to.
Well, I can personally tell you that modern glass fly rods are oodles of fun and deliver some real benefits for fly anglers.
My first time out with my new FastGlass fly rod reminded me of the first time I cast a two-hand fly rod chasing steelhead in the Pacific Northwest back in the US.
The casting stroke was so foreign to me and the rod felt like a 13 ½ foot long piece of partially cooked spaghetti. The faster and harder I tried to cast, the worse the result was. It was only after years of practice and mentoring by some of the best steelhead guides in the PNW that I realized that the slower you go, the better the result.
The same applies to learning to use a glass rod. You need to slow down your forward and back casts. Once you master that, the casting and fly presentation is as smooth as butter.
I’ve also discovered a few other benefits of using a glass rod. Dry fly and nymph presentations are smoother, you can play a fish harder, get it to the net faster, and because of the softer tip you are less likely to break off a fish. Landing your fish faster is also beneficial to the fish if you are practising catch-and-release as most of us probably should these days.
As you can see from the accompanying pics, these are solid New Zealand Brown Trout and it takes a fair amount of skill and a serious fly rod to land these big fish.
When casting a two-handed rod for steelhead, you learn a lot of patience. If you hooked and landed one fish on an outing, that was considered a successful day. Therefore, I changed my mind set back on the PNW steelhead rivers. I decided that I was going to go out and practice my double hand casting, and if I get a fish - great!. I get a huge amount of enjoyment working on my fly casting. It has been the same fun, learning experience getting my head around to casting a glass fly rod well.
One of the unexpected benefits that I've experienced in all this is that by learning to cast a glass rod better, it made my casting with my carbon rods even better. My accuracy and presentation have improved a lot. In addition, glass fly rods are great backup rods, especially if you are hiking into the backcountry for a few days. The 476 Packlight or the 580 FastGlass are excellent companions to the 5 weight 590G graphite (carbon fibre) fly rod or the 690G carbon fly rods.
Hope this helps you all.
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Also in The Drift - Fly Fishing, Fly Casting and Fly Rod Building
I was recently chatting to my buddy Brian O'Keefe about what he was up to over the winter months, and after having returned home from a balmy trip to Patagonia he was straight back into it - in the snow. In New Zealand, all but the most hardened anglers hang up their gear come winter, so I had a few questions.