Paul Arden | Monday, 10 February 2020
This is a question that’s come up at least four times in the past fortnight and so I thought that I should write an FP that I can send a link to for when I’m asked next, because it’s actually a very good question! Of course there are some examinations where 6 is the maximum permissible - certainly that was the case with the EFFA Maters when I took that all those years ago. I can’t remember what AAPGAI is (I took that with a 5WT line - edit: Lee tells me maximum is a 7 line).
So what actually happened is I always felt that a 9’ 6WT is a good all-round compromise rod. It can do Stillwaters, if can also do chalkstreams and it’s a nice rod to learn with. In the US the most common rod that people have is a 9’ 5WT, so arguably the test should of could be arranged around this tackle. In fact to be honest, in someways it is! From long ago it was recommended that you use a 5, 6 or 7WT outfit and the 7WT bit was there to encourage SW anglers to get involved (in a test that really is quite trout centric). Consequently when the test is written it involves what is comfortable with a 5WT line...
Something happened a few years ago and there has been a push from somewhere in the USA recommending that student instructors take the test with a 7WT outfit to give themselves the best opportunity. Now I had a bit of a problem with that when I heard about it, because I feel that an instructor should be able to pass their respective test level with any 5, 6 or 7WT outfit; using the cannon at the top for me is a bit extreme.
And to be perfectly honest if you can’t pass the test with a 5WT line then you are probably not ready! Throwing a 5WT line 85’ is not exactly difficult with practise. It’s not strength; it’s skill. And the skills that you learn by mastering it yourself, you can then teach your students afterwards. This is why you should learn to cast further; 120 maybe even 130’! You then have many more levels to teach your students.
(For me the 5WT distance levels go, 85’, 100-105’, 100-115’, 120’+, 130’+. There may be one above this but I haven’t got there yet :D )
Once the seed of an idea has taken root then it becomes very difficult to change. For several years I’ve been asked for a 7WT rod for the CI and MCI exams many times now. A little over a year ago I said, “fuck it; I’ll just make one”!
The HT6 was designed as a NZ all-round flyrod. It was based on my 3000 days of fly fishing experience in NZ. It’s one of the reasons why it’s an absolute peach of a rod (of course!). Then we painted it white for Instructors - believe me if you are teaching with a white rod then your students will learn faster and you will keep their attention for far longer - 100% guaranteed.
The entire video manual was filmed with the final prototype HT6 blank painted in instructor white. Imagine had that been filmed with a matt carbon-coloured rod!
The HT7 on the other hand was designed purely with the MCI test in mind. As far as I’m concerned all the HTs have similar action anyway - it’s the “Hot Torpedo action” - and as I’ve pointed out before, if rods throughout a series feel the same then each rod has been designed. If on the other hand they feel different then they have most probably been “selected”.
Recently I ran through the MCI test with myself here in Malaysia using the HT6 and MED6 and the HT7 with MED7. My conclusion is that the 7WT is going to make it a lot easier for you. “If you can’t beat them, join them"? Those in charge will just have to rewrite the test to take into account that the HT7 has arrived :D :D (I had a short stint on the MCI committee by the way, many years ago!)
Two things: the first is that I’ve since heard that 9’ 7WT is the most common sea trout rod in the Baltic - so I suspect that this is going to become a huge seller for us. The other thing is that I offer to run through instructor theory with HT owners via email. So please feel free to get in touch with me regards this if it interests you. I do about 3 or 4 per year, mostly MCI. That’s about all I have time for!
We are pretty busy on the rod front at the moment. We have 7WT and numerous other blanks arriving this week and we are building rods as fast as we can. At this particular time we have a “lead time” of about 2-3 weeks. Which is plenty of time to order up your name decal for personalising your rod if you wish!
The next five days I’m teaching a young chap from Belgium to fly fish here in Malaysia. So I have to get organised! And it looks like the Wet Season has arrived - what the hell is that about?
PS as always you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org for more info or a general chat!