Rating Rant

Rating Rant

Viking Lars | Saturday, 7 September 2019

For a while now, I’ve ben working on an article on the current state of affairs when it comes to line ratings. It’s a subject I that’s been annoying me for quite a while, because there’s something rotten. I’m at the point in my article where I need to talk to some industry people, so if your’re Simon Gawesworth, Jerry Siem, Jim Bartschi, head of design at SA (for some reason i can’t remember his name), please get in touch - read below if you want a bearing on what I’m going to ask you!

We have a functioning system for rating lines - called the AFFTA-system (once AFTM). It’s not perfect, but it works quite well - especially if you take the time to understand it. And it’s not difficult to grasp. And the fact is that it’s the one absolutely rating system we have in the industry. There’s no way to objectively measure or specify a 6-wt rod. No way to measure or specify a 6-wt reel.

But it is possible to objectively produce a 6-wt flyline. All you have to do is make sure that the first 30 feet of line are within a specific weight-window. It doesn’t take a space engineer to figure out that any line with a head longer than this will be heavier (even a lot heavier) that the designated weight-window. And then people start complaining that if a rod can cast a 70’ head 6-wt flyline that weight a lot more than the weight-window, then it’s no longer a 6-wt rod. Here lies the core of understanding the AFFTA-system. That is *only* rated the line, and never the rod. As close as we can get with the rod is that a rod with a 6 on it, performs as the designer intended with a - or most - 6-wt lines strung through the rings.

Rods are forgiving things - they *all* can cast with a many different line weights, and some might feel a rod needs a line lighter og heavier than what’s on the blank.

When you then have lines on the market that are one to two, or even more - ratings higher than what the AFFTA-system “allows” (imagine if we could take them to court - man, they’d all crash and burn and make some solicitors rich), you’re left in the dark. Because did Jerry Siem use an Scientific Anglers Titan Taper as reference when he built the new Payload pike- and bass rods? The Titan is two rating heavier than the standard- Exactly two - making an 8-wt Titan exactly a 10-wt. If the rod functions as Jerry Siem had in mind when designing it, with a Titan as reference, I would argue (although that’s not possible) that it’s *not* an 8-wt rod as it’s designed around what’s objectively a 10-wt line. All of this is hypothetical - I don’t know which lines any of the companies use a references when designing rods (which is why I need to talk to them).

I can understand making line half a rating heavy - that (almost) makes sense. But one full rating heavy? That makes no sense what so ever. Just label the line correctly!!! Two rating heavy? Don’t get me started…

I think the line companies and the rod makers need to sit down and have a proper talk. Instead of making lines heavier, both should spend a few words in the marketing letting customers know that it’s perfectly fine to overline, or underline, according to circumstances, preference, taste - what ever. For ages the recommendation to overline by line if you were casting big flies or casting short, was common knowledge.

And then they bring in “Trout Spey”… I get buzzing in my ears… Why does a 12’ rod that casts what is objectively a 7-wt line suddenly have to be labeled a “7-wt Trout Spey”.

The bottom line is that this is more confusing than it’s ever been, and it’s only making it harder for customers to choose, shops to guide and harder to make a sale.

I *really* do think the industry needs to get back to basics and work this whole confusion out.

Rant over - sorry to bother you on a Saturday!

Have a nice weekend

PoD: A screen dump from the Scientific Anglers webshop with the text describing their Jungle Titan Taper. It’s not an effort to single out SA at all. It’s easy to find plenty of other examples. In fact I think SA should be commended for being open about it.