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September 10, 2011 / flogginwater

The Perfect Rod Length

Earlier tonight, I dug out the one remaining normal fly rod I’ve got – my Cabela’s Wind River 8’6″ 4 weight, along with my Echo SR, and the little specialty rod I built. It’s been a while since I tried casting a 3 weight line with that rod, and I wanted to try the Echo with 3 & 4 weight lines, as the rod blank is marked “#4 Line” after all.

The Echo did alright with the light lines – it’d throw 40′ of the 3 weight pretty easily – but that was the problem. It took that much line to properly load the rod. And shooting line? Not too easy with that light line. The “#4 line” I had on hand was the less than stellar Cortland Fairplay. With that in mind – I strung up the Echo and got to casting. Honestly, the 333+ 3 weight line cast better. The 4 weight line did load the rod a tad easier, but shooting line wasn’t very easy with the Fairplay on this rod either.

I’ve already tried the #5 and 6 Air Cel lines on this rod – and it’ll cast the entire 54′ length of line with a single false cast and a single haul. The Airflo Ridge Tactical Trout I was given with the rod is the best performing line out of the bunch. Shocking, right?

Anywho, after playing with the Echo for a while, I strung up the Cabela’s rod with the #3 Cortland line and set about casting – short lines, long lines, and in between. 40′ casts were almost as easy to do as 25′ casts, and I could go even shorter if I wanted. A braided leader butt makes casting just a leader a tad bit easier. If you’re not already doing so – try using a braided leader butt and see how you like ’em. This rod will work as a temporary stand-in for the deceased 8 footer.

Then a revelation hit me – the perfect rod length for a normal fishing rod (not one meant for any specific technique) is 8 and a half feet. It’s a handy length, and it’s hard to find a rod in this length that’s a total club. It’s short enough to fish most small creeks with, long enough to fish big water with, it’ll keep your back cast out of the tall grass or the low trees if you’re not Tattoo or Andre the Giant, you can nymph with a stick this long, you can toss delicate little dry flies with this rod, and given a rod of proper line rating – you can chuck lead eye streamers if you want.

This decade long craze (okay, maybe slightly more than a decade) of 9 foot, 5 weight rods is a passing fad. Mark my words. I think we’re going to see a resurgence of rods in the 8’6″ length in the next few years. I also think hem lines will be going down a tad, heels might rise a bit, gold will see $3000 per troy ounce, and a Republican will take back the Oval office within the next 5 years. Owl Jones might even land his first pacific salmon by then. Who’s with me?



  1. Cofisher / Sep 10 2011 07:19

    I'll see your 8'6″ and raise you an 8'! I've got a bushel basket full of 9' and 8 1/2' rods. My go to rods now are 7 1/2 and 8 with a couple of 7s and one 6 1/2 for good measure. The longer rods don't get used any more.

    I might also mention that as far as lines go, it wouldn't hurt to try a few double tapers as well for those hard to match rods.

  2. Cofisher / Sep 10 2011 07:20

    p.s. The day Owl catches a Pacific salmon, I sell my rods and take up crocheting. 😉

  3. Mark / Sep 10 2011 23:03

    Howard, my preferred lines are double tapers. Kind of ironic, since my 3 weight is the only double taper I currently own. I find it easier to roll cast the DT lines at longer distances than I do WF tapers. WF lines are fine if you're doing short roll casts, or fishing open areas where you can do a typical overhand or side-arm cast. It's hard for me to shoot line on a roll cast, especially with a WF tapered line.

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