I've decided that 4-weights are the perfect fly rod weights for me. I love light line fishing, but I also like (relatively) big fish. Some might disagree, but to me, a 4-weight seemed like the perfect compromise where even a small fish would put a deep bend in the rod, but beefy enough to handle larger fare if required.
So I'm on the hunt for the perfect 4-weight. Ideally one with some packability to hike into some alpine streams (not that I have any close to where I live at the moment in Western Australia), and enough grunt to chuck small streamers and hopper dropper rigs. At the moment, the rod that I use most is an 8' Steffen 3/4, which I have grown to like quite a bit (I hated it when I first got it, but I think that was because my casting stroke wasn't up to scratch). Still, I've been on the lookout for something a little shorter, so when I found a Scott F754/3 on the site, I pulled the trigger. It has a few signs of being well loved, but is otherwise in good condition. I paired it with a Galvan T4. My goodness, you all weren't kidding when you mentioned it needed a heavier reel, or that the reel seat band is pretty tight.... The balance point with this 4.5oz reel is just at the front of the cork. I'm thinking of getting an Abel TR to match it with a bit of lead core for additional weight.
It took a while to come in, but I quite liked it on the casting green. Still, it needed a field test, and over the last 2 weekends I managed to get it out on a variety of water. First stop was the forests of the South-Western part of the state. The AirBNB we booked was phenomenally beautiful, and as luck would have it, right on the most popular stream in the area.
A flock of parrots joined us each morning to feed in the paddock.
Being a family trip, I only got to fish a couple of hours each day, but it was really good to be trout fishing again. The streams here are characterised by long glides interspersed by deep pools. Lots of deadfalls - essentially a fly graveyard. The stream that I was on was around 6 feet across in most parts. I think that there are a couple of sets of rapids along the whole stream, but not many.
We'd had a bit of rain about a week ago, and the streams were still high and tea-coloured. Fish were difficult to spot. The fishery here doesn't have many hatches and the predominant food source is small fish and terrestrials flushed into the system. With the water colour the way it is, I fished with small woolly buggers (Size 8-10) the whole time. The Scott handled it beautifully, I was able to thread backcasts through small spaces in vegetation and get nice tight loops out to at least 30 feet (all that was needed), even though I consider myself a mediocre caster. On my second pass through the pool photographed above, a nice 12 inch bow stopped the streamer mid-drift and the Scott was officially broken in.
It was also my friend's birthday, and he really wanted to try fly fishing, so I took him out the next morning. I handed him my 6.5' 4-weight Cabela's CGR and spent remarkably little time fishing his flies out of vegetation. He did really well considering his first casting lesson lasted about 5 minutes. He even caught a little 8 inch bow while I caught nothing that day. I'd post the photo of him with the smile on his face, but he was strangling the fish since I hadn't quite gotten around to giving him a trout handling lesson so I thought better of it. I think he may have caught the bug. It's always nice to create fishing buddies.
We only caught the two fish all weekend, but I heard that it was tough going for everyone that weekend due to the high water, and it was our first trip to the area, so all in all, a resounding success.
This weekend, I took the rod out again to see how it handled something chunkier. I set out to my little urban drain with the feral carp population that I've posted about previously. To my utter surprise, there was somebody flyfishing there already! I've never seen anyone fishing in the area before so it was nice to stop and have a really good chat about the fishery with someone else.
It's winter down here, so the carp are much harder to target. To me, they're spookier, hang deeper and actively feeding carp are very uncommon. Not to mention that the water is higher and dirtier and fish are hard to spot. Nevertheless, I gave it a red-hot go and cast to about a dozen fish over two hours. I did not deserve to land the one fish I did catch. The fish was stationary in midwater in the middle of the drain. It was an atrocious cast (not the Scott's fault) and a loop of line landed on top of the fish while the fly landed behind and to the left of it. I was sure that I'd lined him and that he was about to piss off into the undercut bank, but he turned and drifted downstream. I'm not sure what I did to hook him, but all of a sudden, I was back-pedalling and trying to get a tight line on him. It's at this point that I registered my only complaint about the 754 (in comparison to the Steffen at least). It doesn't have as thick a butt as the Steffen, and the fish was a bit harder to control, though not impossible.
I get the feeling that a fish of this size is about the upper limit of what I should try to put on the Scott. It measured 18 inches. I think it could probably handle something a bit bigger in the 20-22 inch range, but I wouldn't feel confident with something larger like the 28 inch specimen I've landed on the Steffen.
Anyway, thanks for listening.
What are others' experiences with larger fish on this rod?
Also, I'm looking at trying other lines with this rod. I currently have a 406 DT4 on it, and I quite like it. I also have a H&H WF4 that I have yet to try. Any other suggestions?