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Rod Selection - Saltwater Rods

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Okay, since hardly anyone has an opinion on this List, I was wondering if we might develop a consensus, and have a discussion on rod length. I am working on a rod for an upcoming saltwater trip. It is to be a 9 wt., and hollow built. Primary fishing duty will be for redfish and speckled sea trout. Right now I have it laid out as an 8'9" rod, 2 piece. I prefer shorter rods, though, especially in the 7'6" range. The only benefit I see to a longer rod is the ability to mend at greater length. So, what do you guys think? And please,   don't   all   give   me   the  same  answer.   }B^)>   (Martin-Darrell)

    Are you going to be fishing from a flats boat, canoe/kayak, or wading? I don't see why you would need a longer rod if you are standing well above the water in a flats boat. And you aren't going to be doing any mending.  though one advantage of the longer length is keeping that Clouser away from you and/or the guide in the wind -- with a shorter rod you may have to go to the backhand cast sooner.  (Mike Mihalas)

    My offer still stands.   I'll loan you a good nine weight for the salt. Mine's 8.5' + a little when you add the fighting butt. 

    Longer length equals longer lever.  Easier to cast long distances.  (Harry Boyd)

    There would be benefits to both shorter and longer rods. 

    A shorter rod will not be so visible to fish, cast less shadow, etc.  This can be a factor on the flats.  It can also be more effective in fighting fish, depending on your technique.  Also, a shorter rod will be very noticeably lighter for a given rod weight.  Not just due to the reduction in length, but also because the diameter/wall can be  reduced down the entire blank since there is less mass above it.  You already know this.  Think about whether you will be fishing any intermediate or sinking lines before deciding on a short rod.

    A longer rod will allow you to increase the linear distance that the tip moves during a stroke.  When you are trying to throw heavy flies, with sometimes bitter wind, you need to gain your speed gradually to prevent tailing your loops.  I believe that a longer rod will allow you to gain speed more gradually than a shorter rod, and result in fewer tailing loops. I know I will take heat over this comment, because many people have big problems tailing loops with longer rods.  If you cast them right, I believe longer rods help (assuming it is not a noodle to begin with).  And of course, the horizontal casting plane will be somewhat higher off the water, allowing your long-distance loops to fully unroll before gravity takes its toll.  The old "long rod for float tube" syndrome.

    Choice is yours, but take a look at what the plastic guys are doing.  They make 9' rods because they can.  And for them, the rod is not too heavy to use all day long.  I'd love to take Harry's rod out sometime to compare with what I'm already familiar with.  Feel like Joe Brooks for a day...  : )  (Troy Miller)

    I think that rod length is unimportant- it is the action that matters. Those long fast graphite sticks that can throw 100 feet of line are great for fishing from a skiff, or in the wind. But if you are wading you want a rod that can load with a leader and a small loop of line. The majority of fish will "pop up" 25 feet away and those cannons are useless- they won't load enough to make an accurate presentation. Same problem if you are casting to fish in shallow water. A rod that can give a delicate presentation increases your odds.

    Sure, there are times when a more moderate action may not let you reach a distant fish. Even then you can wade or pole the boat a little closer before making the cast.  (Jeff Schaeffer)


Does anyone  have any taper/design suggestions for a  bamboo rod that  would  be  suitable for saltwater bonefish and small tarpon fishing?  (Larry Tusoni)

    Paul Young Para 17 with a fighting butt.  Mine throws an 8 or 9 wt.  (Steve Weiss)

    Try a Dickerson Guide if a #7 is up to it.   (Tony Young)

    I'll say right up front that I've never fished one BUT have seen posted many, many times on The Classic fly rod forum that the Orvis S/S/S (which if I'm not mistaken stands for salmon, steelhead, and saltwater) is just about THE ideal rod for what you're looking for. They probably have the taper posted on there also. I checked Ray Gould’s Cane Rods, Tips and Tapers book but that is one of the Orvis' that wasn't listed. Maybe someone else will chime in here also.  (Will Price)


I’ve got a trip planned for for Grande Isle, LA and I’d like to make a rod for the trip.  Mostly redfishing but maybe some specks as well.  I have only been redfishing once and that was a self guided fruitless effort.  This time I’ll be going with some others that have been numerous times and hope to get a few hook  ups.  For those of you that have taken redfish on the fly, what was your rod of choice?  (Greg Reeves)

    Several of my customers  use bamboo rods for redfish all the time.  They seem to enjoy Dickerson-esque tapers, especially if they are hollow built.  One nice thing about Louisiana redfish is that your casts per day are often quite limited because you are sight fishing.  On a great, once-in-a-lifetime, day you will make 200 casts.  Most days it's less than 75 casts.  But it sure is exciting.

    I like the 8015G, but prefer graphite for this kind of fishing. (Harry Boyd)

      I agree with Harry, having spent the last 30+ years just 30 minutes from the salt. I prefer graphite for that environment. I've used cane (e.g. Bogart's Big Dog taper) but the wind can be tough and the weight became an issue for me.  Using cane out there also seems to require more diligent care on and off the water...that's probably more my own worry than reality.  BTW my go-to rod for reds is a Sage Xi3 8 wt. Specs can be handled nicely with a 6 wt.  (Doug Blair)

        Cane isn't always the best choice for every fishing environment. I don't fish cane in saltwater. Most of my fishing these days is fast big river water, late afternoon wind and from a drift boat. For this type of fishing I prefer 9' to 10' graphite 6wt and above. I also don't like to swim in fast cold water, so I keep my center of gravity low,(read sit down) The longer rods make it easier for me cast, mend and land fish sitting down. Fast water diving tricks out of drift boats are a thing of the past.  (Don Schneider)

    Although I have not fished Redfish with them, Kathy and I fished Labrador this past summer for large brook tout ( 7 - 8 lbs. was my largest) in fast "heavy" water.  We fished every day for a week and used a Dickerson 8014G and a Garrison 215.  These rod were both comfortable to fish w/ flys running the gambit from weighted woolly buggers to size 18 BWO's.

    We were of course tried at the end of each day but not so much that we weren't ready and willing to get up and have at the next day. Those of you that know Kathy know that she is no "heavyweight" but she was more than comfortable fishing these rods all day.  (David Van Burgel)


I'm looking to make a saltwater rod, say an 8 weight, preferably 3 piece for travel considerations.  I'll plan on hollowing it.

Anybody have a positive experience with a taper fitting the bill?   Distance casting and ability to cope with the wind seem like part of the deal.  (Lee Koch)

    I, too, would be interested in advice on an 8 wt saltwater rod.  A great taper, of course. But, I worry about the nickel silver ferrules.  I remember Monel ferrules were used on one of the Granger impregnated rods (FA or FB).  Also, Heddon's Riptide and some Orvis rods had Monel ferrules.

    Where would someone get ferrules like those?  Or, are they really necessary for a saltwater bamboo rod?  (Reed Guice)

      Duronze would also be a good choice for use on a saltwater rod.  (Will Price)

      Why not roll your own carbon fiber ferrules?  No danger from the salt then. For anyone coming to the Corbett Lake gathering next week I'll be doing a demo and have multiple rods with carbon fiber ferrules to cast (including three piece rods).

      For those who won't be there, Ted Barnhart wrote up a nice clear tutorial on the process, and it's available on the web. No special equipment needed, the few necessary jigs are easily made from dimension lumber, and the carbon fiber cloth and resin available mail order over the web.

      It's cheaper than Nickel silver, too. Google "building the universal ferrule" to download the tutorial PDF.  (Chris Obuchowski)


Does anyone build rods for use in saltwater?  My wife, and I are looking at a house in Corpus Christi, and if we buy it, I would like to build rods, both fly rods, and boat rods for the fish, and conditions found in that part of the Gulf.  I've used graphite fly rods for saltwater fishing in AK, and BC, FL, and Mexico, but until now frankly, had not considered cane rods. 

Are split cane rods not up to the conditions, or are they just not thought of any more?  I think it would be kind of cool to throw a stout 8 weight at some of the local heavyweights.  (Mike McClain)

    There are a good number of makers of bamboo rods for line until wt. 12. So wt. 8 it is not a great problem.

    "are they just not thought of any more?".... if a bamboo rods is good for a Norwegian salmon, is good also for a saltwater fish :-D  (Marco Giardina)

      Thanks Marco, that's kind of what I thought too.  I've taken 40 pound Kings on an eight weight graphite, and Silvers, and Sockeye on a 6 without any problem.  My main concern would be the cane rod physically holding together under the corrosive salt water, and maybe taking a set due to the extended fighting time and pressures.  It might be that maintenance on a split cane rod would be just too much of a hassle.

      I just haven't seen much, OK, nothing, about salt water fly fishing with cane rods.

      Just wondering.  (Mike McClain)

        Several of my customers use seven and eight weight rods for redfish in the Louisiana marshes.  (Harry Boyd)

        Prior to the embargo, there were lots of split cane saltwater rods, casting rods and boat rods included.  Whenever I go to a coastal seafood restaurant here in the Carolinas, I'm likely to see an assortment of those rods decorating the walls, along with the various fish mounts and bits of net.

        While fiberglass and graphite may be more impervious, I don't think split bamboo has any particular problem with the conditions.  If you use good quality glue and finish, as well as corrosion resistant fittings, a proper bamboo taper should work as well as any rod.

        Bamboo is not fragile!!!  (Paul Gruver)

          If you can get your hands on one of those old rods, you could strip it completely, then soak the blank in water to soften the old hide glue. Clean up the strips and re-temper, re-glue, and complete the job with a urethane finish. You may end up with a fine rod.  (Ron Grantham)

            An alternative is to use one of those portable steamers to soften the hide glue after you strip it. 

            One of the problems with hide glue on rods as well as musical instruments is that it cools too quickly and can lead to faulty joints.  I recently read of a fellow applying hide glue to both surfaces and allowing the glue to harden, assemble and clamp the parts and then heat the joint with the steam to melt the glue on either side of the joint together..  (Dave Burley)

    Bamboo was tough enough to make a lot of sea fishing rods. Those old Tuna rods were made from bamboo, the hardware may be a little rough, but the bamboo is usually sound.

    At fishing shows when a rodmaking friend is asked if bamboo is tough enough........ He takes an old tip section,  then stands on it. Then hits it a few times with a rubber mallet. He then asks if the questioner would like to put his graphite to the same test.   No takers as yet.  (Peter McKean)

      This past June, at the SE FFF Conclave in Helen, GA., Bill Oyster gave a similar demonstration.  We were in the casting field, and he had a 7 wt bamboo that he was using to demonstrate proper bamboo casting techniques.  As a preface to the demo, he placed the rod on the ground, and jumped up and down on it a couple of times, and then proceeded to cast 65' to 70' tight loops with it.

      Of course, one week later, I was out fishing with on of my own rods, that I had used extensively for a year, and had the tip break.  No idea what happened.  One minute I'm fishing, then next I'm standing  there with a 18" of the tip in my hand, a nice clean break 1/2 way between 2 guides.  Bamboo is tough, but failures do happen.  (Paul Gruver)


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