The secret to choosing a distance rod

The secret to choosing a distance rod

Tracy&James | Wednesday, 8 June 2022

There are a number of active threads on the board discussing the how to choose the best rod for fly casting, in particular if the aim is distance. These discussions include posts about the amount of bend, the shape of the bend, the material that the rod is made of, the line and probably what colour it is (ok, I made that last one up). I’m therefore going to let slip the secret about how I do it and the vast majority of distance casting competitors I’ve spoken to. I’m sure they won’t be pleased that I’m spilling the beans on such a platform, but it has to be done and if I get ostracised from the distance casting community as a result then so be it. So here goes; we cast a load of rods and measure to see which we cast furthest with, we then use that rod.

Now the secret is out I should point out that picking a competition distance casting rod has many less considerations than a fishing rod.  For one, in a typical trout distance event a caster is only going to make one type of cast, funnily enough a distance cast where they carry sufficient line that they feel will shoot to the best distance on the day.  This is usually going to be downwind (unless you’re unlucky) and is going to start with a sizeable pick-up (because retrieving all the line is a waste of time), the line is then extended to the carry the caster feels will shoot to the greatest distance and subsequently the cast is shot.  Anyone who has seen either Tracy or myself competing will know that we put a marker down, usually a cap, to allow us to accurately determine our starting position.  As such, we know our carry is never less than 65ft for the #5 and #7 events extending to 80+ft for delivery.

Therefore the extremes of carry for a distance competition is typically a very narrow range, maybe 20ft or so, i.e. from 65 to ~85ft in the case of a MED line.  However for fishing I want to deliver my fly with carries that range from just a couple of feet of fly line out of the tip (or perhaps just the leader only) right up to the maximum I’d require to drop the fly at distance with no shoot (i.e. for hitting distance into a headwind).  There’s lots of other considerations for fishing obviously like the size of the fly, the leader construction, etc.  But again, I’d guess that in the majority of fishing scenarios,rod choice is decided by trial and error rather than an algorithm.

I should also point out that my choice of rod for distance casting events is limited to rods that I (rather we) own for fishing purposes.  It therefore turns out that Tracy’s #10 saltwater rod used for barracuda, sharks, tarpon and the occasional permit also gets me the longest #5 weight casts of the rods I have access to.  Is there something better out there for me? – probably, but I’m not about to purchase every contender in the hunt for a few inches (although judging by the 2nd hand sales sections on certain forums I think some do).  Certainly I’ve cast other people’s outfits further than I’ve achieved with my own outfit in competition this year, but then again I’ve chucked my own outfit further than I’ve cast in the competitions many times.  I do this as a form of self-flagellation to prove that a relaxed cast after the competition stress goes further.  As such I’ll be sticking to the outfit that I cast furthest in a back-to-back test with other rods, until of course the algorithm is perfected and I get told which is best.

Have a great week,