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Post 28 Sep 2022, 22:49 • #1 
Master Guide
Joined: 06/07/12
Posts: 744
Location: US-CA
Ok, here's a thought problem for you. You are asked to choose a lightweight rod and line setup that will facilitate maximum casting range in calm air, and still be fun when catching small fish.

  • Skip the rod and learn to cast 90' of line with your bare hands like Lefty Kreh.
  • Grab an "award winning" 9' 5wt graphite rod, brand-name weight-forward line, and go to town
  • Carefully select an appropriate glass rod and matched line

The first option? "sure...." The second option? naahh, this is the Fiberglass Flyrodders Forum. I'd like you to consider the last option. The question is, what is the appropriate glass rod and line? This isn't a high-sticking or mending rig - it's for moving line. Three options that occur to me (and may be totally wrong) are:

  • Go with a heavier rod and underline it to increase the line speed
  • Go with a switch rod and set it up with a commando head and thin running line to enable shooting
  • Go with a progressive (dare I say "graphite-like"?) rod and overline it to punch through the air

What's your suggestion?


Last edited by motosacto on 29 Sep 2022, 13:24, edited 1 time in total.

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Post 29 Sep 2022, 05:31 • #2 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/21/06
Posts: 2913
Location: Orygun
Ok, I'll play.

Have you ever tried the casting just the line thing? It's actually a really fun exercise that really helps with general casting technique because if your timing is off, your cast isn't traveling more than a few feet. I sure as hell can't do a fraction of what lefty can (who can, really?) but just taking an older 6 or 7 WF line (or heavier to feel it more) to the park is fun and helps all around with technique since you have to have it to get things to even sort of work.

Now, on to selection of equipment. While I'll always use them and do believe they have a place (at least in some situations I personally fish), I would never use a Commando head for general use for anything, especially for distance only even with a switch rod. Personally, I've always been one who really likes a more progressive action for performance because I can get the most out of it. There are a lot of things I can do with my Steffen 8' 5/6wt (that's lightweight for what's in my quiver) where my standard all around line is a standard weighted 6WF with about 45-50' head and can still get that out to 80' relatively easily. If I really wanted to get more distance, I'd throw a 5wt line on there.

Some folks (ok, many) get more distance out of a more parabolic rod...I'm sure they'll chime in. For me, it's about the same. All that said, if all I were only after was distance (with glass), I'd probably go with a slightly heavier rod (like a 7 or 8wt 8' progressive rod such as a Steffen), throw on a 5 or 6wt WF line with a much longer head than listed above and call it good. Then again, I've never been in a situation where I felt I needed to underline to gain line speed. Bottom line though, good technique will get you a long ways.

I dunno if you've noticed though, I'm a little bit of a Steffen homer...Cheers!


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Post 29 Sep 2022, 08:41 • #3 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 05/22/16
Posts: 1535
Location: SJC
I really "need" a Steffen at some point...


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Post 29 Sep 2022, 15:40 • #4 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/09/05
Posts: 2449
Location: US-CO
I have been known to carry a small back-up spinning outfit with cast-a-bubble in case winds are too high to flycast or to reach deeper water if needed or if there is no backcasting room at the edge of the lake.

(To preserve your reputation you can post those trips on the Another Spin on Glass page)


Last edited by paveglass on 29 Sep 2022, 17:28, edited 1 time in total.

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Post 29 Sep 2022, 16:23 • #5 
Guide
Joined: 04/17/12
Posts: 167
Location: Blacksburg, VA
I have a very lightweight and very graphite like Graywolf Troutsmith fiberglass rod - it's as light as graphite and fast action too, maybe that's what you're thinking? Mine's 8 1/2 ft and rated as a 5 but may throw a 6 better.


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Post 29 Sep 2022, 17:22 • #6 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 09/18/09
Posts: 5317
Location: Relocated to the Drought Stricken West.
What distance are you talking about, and what type of fly? I have a 9wt 14' graphite spey rod that will bomb out casts with a 560 grain scandi line. It's not lightweight, but it is lighter in use than a lot of 8wt vintage rods, since I am using two hands to hold the rod.

You said no wind, I never seem to need to cast distance when there is no wind. It's usually chucking streamers on a lakeshore or large river.

For fishing topwater, I rarely need more than 70' and for dry fly fishing 60ft really is the limit to practical fishing for me. After that, currents and hookset make it impractical. For glass, and light weight, my GTX-866 seems to handle this type of range well. It's a bit more work than some of my graphite rods, but it works well up to this range and still has some feel when you have a fish on.

If I am dry fly fishing, no wind, light weight, I prefer graphite. Sage LL 490, early orvis graphite, 1st gen Fenwick Gff, T&T LPS, For me, casting a fishable 60ft cast with a 4wt requires high line speed and usually an 8'6" or longer rod to get good mends. There are glass rods that can do it, but I don't really find most of them enjoyable. The McFarland S-glass and GTX rods work as well as anything else I've tried. I have limited experience with the longer steffen bros. rods. If I'm casting glass, I usually bump up to a 5 or 6wt or just use more stealth or deeper wading.


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Post 29 Sep 2022, 19:55 • #7 
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Joined: 07/12/22
Posts: 100
If my memory serves me correctly, it was mentioned in Joan Wolff’s book that Ellis Newman that could hand cast 90 ft and Jerry Siem from Sage got into it and was reaching 80ft plus. While I am a great fan of Lefty and use a combination of his and Joan’s techniques, I seriously doubt he could hand cast that distance. Not the right body type, but neither am I. For serious distance, I would go with an FF90-3 with either a discontinued SA 6wt Headstart WF or an other discontinued Rio Outbound Short 6wt F/I. Once I maxed out, I would than try a 7wt in the same series.


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Post 29 Sep 2022, 20:40 • #8 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/21/06
Posts: 2913
Location: Orygun
Odonata wrote:
I really "need" a Steffen at some point...


everyone does.....

I "need" another one.... :lol


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Post 29 Sep 2022, 22:02 • #9 
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Joined: 01/18/18
Posts: 116
Location: Arlington, VA
Hmmmm - More and more this sounds like it should be drinking game at a weekend fishing doodah …. :lol


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Post 29 Sep 2022, 23:18 • #10 
Master Guide
Joined: 06/07/12
Posts: 744
Location: US-CA
Thanks for the insights. Here is the (not so hypothetical) reason I posed the question. I grew up using what was a common-for-us fishing technique but I think turns out to be what we call a corner case in software testing - long casts on alpine lakes with small flies to not-huge fish. Flies might range from tiny midges to garden-variety dries to maybe a small grasshopper at the large end.

Many of these lakes have shallow rocky shelves with varying widths, then drop-offs to deeper water. The distance is needed to reach fish that cruise along edges of the drop-offs. By itself, rod length doesn’t matter the same way it might for high-sticking in rivers with complex currents.

The ultimate issue is the conflict between having the power to get the fly out there and having enough give in the rod to keep it fun with 10” brookies. On one hand, I’ve had good distance success with a standard 8,5’ 5wt Sage RPL and a garden variety WF5F line, but the catching experience is a little “meh”. On the other hand, I have several 4wt glass rods that have plenty of zip for middle distances, dry droppers, and snappy roll casts, but fall short for me on lakes.

I think my best success has been with an LLBean/Timberline 7’ 5/6wt rod throwing a 5 wt line. The rod length wasn’t an issue, and I was able to get good distance (better than with my 4wt rods). And the brookies still put a nice bend in the rod.

Regarding the drinking game - who drinks? Longest cast or shortest? Asking for a friend…


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Post 30 Sep 2022, 00:22 • #11 
Guide
Joined: 01/04/18
Posts: 279
Location: Belair Maryland/Swanton Maryland
Motosacto
I wasn’t going to reply cuz I thought this may be to esoteric for me but my gut answer to your question?
I was gonna say the timberline 7ft rod would be the perfect rod for what you described.
I was hoping you’d put the Beans as the choice ..
And since you have the LL bean version they are a lil more beefy compared to the Timberline version .
I thought it was just me at first .
I have a Timberline 4pc 7ft fly rod and the 7ft spin-fly rod
Which were made on the same blank per Mr Bill Franke .
I also have the Bean’s 7ft in fly version and spin/fly version
Both of the beans versions have larger diam blanks than their timberline brothers ..
I can take some measurements if anyone is interested
Long story short the LL bean versions are crispier than the Timberline . Not by a ton but noticeable when fishing both rods back to back
Both throw a 4 , 5 or 6wt 50ft+ easily but I’d want the beans on a windy day down by the lake with a 6wt ..
Want the timby on upstream adventures with a 4wt line .
Either rod with a 5wt does just about anything you need to catch a fish In most situations.

I hooked Carlz up with my spare timberline 7ft spin-fly early this summer .
Maybe he could give us his professional casting impression of the Timberline rod’s prowless .

I’m mean I don’t need much convincing and seems neither does Motosacto or anyone who actually has used one of these rods.
Hands down one of the most under the radar classics ever .
What Bill Franke did with those lamiglas blanks was pure backcountry genius .
Probably the best pack rod from the 70s early 80s ever ..fly or spin/fly .
Blows my Philiipson/Orvis Fullflex pack rod away.. it’s not even close and you guys know how much I love my Phillies..
For having a full flex profile these lil 7ftrs cast way further than you think they should .
There is just something so good so blissful with these Timberline rods .
They have a second gear but it likes a smooth shift if you know what I mean .
Those blanks will throw a Mepps as good as it throws a midge .
If I was stuck out in the mountains with one rod?
I’d eat with a Timberline pack rod …
Eat good too!
I think it’s time for a trout hike with the Timberline.
Cheers Scotto


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Post 30 Sep 2022, 10:51 • #12 
Master Guide
Joined: 09/26/10
Posts: 451
Location: Montana
I would probably suggest a 9 foot 5 weight graphite rod for such work. Another consideration would be to pack in a float tube or something if possible.


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Post 30 Sep 2022, 13:52 • #13 
Guide
Joined: 08/19/16
Posts: 275
Location: Brazil
I used to be presented with a similar, wonderful problem to solve while fishing from a canoe for brook trout in beaver flowages. My solution was to use a 7 1/2' rod in 4- or 5-weight, specifically a Lamiglass carbon fiber model or a Fenwick 'glass rod. Then I'd use a DT line to find out how much I could easily keep in the air with a tight loop and good line speed. However much line that was (probably 35' or so) outside the tiptop would get cut at that point and spliced onto some light Amnesia running line. The result would be a long shooting head that enabled me to effectively cast small streamers to fish feeding some 60 feet away, yet still provide a delicate presentation at normal stream fishing distances. If I were doing something similar today I might use intermediate or slow-sinking lines to provide less wind resistance.


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Post 30 Sep 2022, 13:59 • #14 
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Joined: 07/11/14
Posts: 1630
Location: urban Colorado
motosacto wrote:
Thanks for the insights. Here is the (not so hypothetical) reason I posed the question. I grew up using what was a common-for-us fishing technique but I think turns out to be what we call a corner case in software testing - long casts on alpine lakes with small flies to not-huge fish. Flies might range from tiny midges to garden-variety dries to maybe a small grasshopper at the large end.

Many of these lakes have shallow rocky shelves with varying widths, then drop-offs to deeper water. The distance is needed to reach fish that cruise along edges of the drop-offs. By itself, rod length doesn’t matter the same way it might for high-sticking in rivers with complex currents.

The ultimate issue is the conflict between having the power to get the fly out there and having enough give in the rod to keep it fun with 10” brookies.


this is a common problem on high mountain lakes anywhere in the US I think.. and I don't have a good solution yet either ;-)
a glass 8' 4wt is somewhat castable for distance and good on the smaller fish, but it is a struggle.
Next thing I might try is the Fenwick FF856 - it can sling a 6wt line through the winds to a good distance, but still is a softer rod than the RPL 5wt, small fish can give a decent account of themselves.

Last weekend I was using a South Bend 359 8 1/2ft splitcane with a 5wt line, it is a good solution too.. but not glass.. the DT5 cast surprisingly well into the teeth of a Wyoming breeze (roughly equivalent to a gale in most other places). Not a lake, but,



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Post 30 Sep 2022, 14:09 • #15 
Guide
Joined: 09/23/18
Posts: 328
Location: Eastern Wa
I agree with doug in co.
FF856 (2pc)


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Post 30 Sep 2022, 15:13 • #16 
Guide
Joined: 06/30/20
Posts: 221
Two suggestions to add on top of what is being given here. For me the decision about casting distance (and the rod I choose to take out with me) is whether I will have room for a back cast or not. I find having a back cast available to me gives me two advantages - 1 - it allows me to get more distance vs a roll cast or other modified cast, and 2 - having a back cast is more forgiving for me when casting for distance. Meaning I would be comfortable fishing a wider range of rods on the same water if a back cast is available to me. I can cast a 7.5 foot 4wt glass rod pretty damn far given adequate room behind me.

Now an anecdote - this year I was out in Colorado for a week. I am firmly a glass guy these days - I almost never reach for a graphite rod except for every specific circumstances. While there, I had fished mostly larger water both from a drift boat and from shore. I had to use at minimum a 5wt but better off with a 6wt for the size of the fish we were routinely hooking into. Anything smaller would have increased the likelihood of snap offs, would have not been fair to the fish because of an overly long fight, and would have just plain hurt my arms. I know because I started out with a 5wt and actually sized up to a 6 for most of the rest of the large water fishing we were doing. I brought a large Sage ballistic tube carrier with me and had like 8 different rods to choose from. Anyway, we got to a smallish lake in the Northern part of the state known to contain Grayling. We had heard ahead of time that the grayling and cutthroats were eating dries on top. We camped a little below the lake. When walking up for the first time, I foolishly packed my 7.5ft 4wt thinking it would mostly be small dries. We ended up dialing in some black bodied hopper patterns that were working. After up sizing my tippet a bit, I found I could still make very long casts without issue in the spots where I had a back cast available to me. I actually found extra power in letting the glass rod really load and unload. And the extra accuracy I find with glass rods was a boon for fishing cruising fish. Being able to put the fly 3-5 feet ahead of the cruising fish, in its line of sight was the ticket. I caught more fish than my buddy that day even though he had a 9' 6wt modern graphite rod. Take from that what you will. The issue I ran into was when the wind whipped up in afternoon. Casting a shorter, lighter rod in windy conditions gets very tough. In my case I was able to move around the lake to a casting point with the wind at my back, giving me added distance at the end of the day.

I do value having a properly sized rod for catching fish. A 9' 5wt graphite broomstick isn't all that fun for me to cast, but its even less fun to catch a fish on. Give me a properly sized glass rod any day of the week. What I actually end up doing 95% of the time is taking two rods to the water with me and setting one on the bank. I just can't go back to casting a dry fly with a graphite rod. And most of the time you end up nymphing based on local conditions, but those times when you are casting dries - hoo boy, having the right rod with you is a blessing.

FWIW the longest casting rod I've had a chance to use, based on pure distance, is the Sage SFL 580 casted with a true 4WT WF line. An absolute complete cannon.


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Post 30 Sep 2022, 16:59 • #17 
Master Guide
Joined: 03/20/07
Posts: 831
Location: US-TX
If you were taking me out there tomorrow, I’d throw 2 rods in the car.

1. My 8 1/2ft Steffen 5/6 (3-piece) with a Rio WF single handed spey line to comfortably shoot some long distance.

2. 9ft 5wt graphite cannon overlined with a WF6.


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Post 30 Sep 2022, 20:53 • #18 
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Joined: 09/18/09
Posts: 5317
Location: Relocated to the Drought Stricken West.
Ottobahn, I did get out to fish the timberline once, I started fishing up stream with dries and wasn't having much luck, The only strike I had was when my EHC started to swing. I kept fishing upstream for a bit and then walked back to the car. I ended up deciding to try the water next to the car and started swinging wets and hooked up with two fish rather quickly (as a storm was moving in)

The Timberline pack rod was a good all around rod, a little short for line management in the pocket water I was working, but fine for the longer casts I was making when swinging a wet.

I appreciate wanting something that doesn't turn an 8" trout into a flying fish. I hate having to move out of the way when they are coming back at me. If the wind isn't bad, I would definitely use an FF84 or McFarland Spruce creek, epic 480 (original fastglas) or Steffen 8' 3/4
Some of the cortland fr2000 6/7 wt rods would be good too. I would definitely use a long leader on any of these.

I know the Lefty Kreh comment was in jest, but improving your casting skill to get an extra 10ft out of a slower rod is definitely worthwhile.


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Post 01 Oct 2022, 09:50 • #19 
New Member
Joined: 01/29/21
Posts: 6
I'll third the Fenwick FF 856. I recently picked up a FF 856-5 and, on a recent trip, had the opportunity to fish it on a small pocket water stream and make some casts on a nearby lake. It packs down small, casts quite nicely in close due to the tip, is capable of laying out a long line, and was still quite fun with feisty little brown trout. I was really impressed with it.


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Post 01 Oct 2022, 11:34 • #20 
Guide
Joined: 02/18/18
Posts: 246
Location: US-TX
Motosacto, I don't have the opportunity to fish alpine lakes as you described. However, owning and fishing both the LL Bean and the Timberline, I am not at all surprised with your success. I agree with Ottobahn's assessment, under the radar classics that are excellent fishing rods! Bill Franke surely knew what he was doing! I fish both with a DT5.
Carl


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Post 04 Oct 2022, 20:28 • #21 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 05/22/16
Posts: 1535
Location: SJC
I think it's a mistake to think that all or even most high elevation lakes in the Sierra Nevada are all similar -- they are not.

In my experience (such as it is), how well a mountain lake fishes depends on many factors and can be quite different depending on the time of year, underwater topography, and a whole host of other factors that I probably don't comprehend.

One time I went to fish a lake in the Carson-Iceberg in the autumn around 9100'. A few years prior the brookies had been gangbusters, but this time not so much. Turns out from Google search I found a blog entry from a guy who had hauled in a kayak and spent a few days bait fishing it earlier in the year. Hah !

This summer on the other hand I visited a lake in Yosemite on the way to another that I knew fished well. The lake in question had supposedly been gill-netted and was now fishless. Except for all the rainbows in it, some pretty large ones, too.

There is a big lake ~11000' over a pass from Mammoth that has nice fat rainbows and apparently has for many years. No trail goes there. When I've visited in July/August the fish smack ed hoppers hard, but you have to go where they are ... it looks barren, but it's not.

Sometimes exploration is like that; sometimes you hit the jackpot and other times you just have to relax and enjoy a nice sunset :) I've certainly been skunked before and I will be again.


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Post 04 Oct 2022, 23:32 • #22 
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Joined: 06/07/12
Posts: 744
Location: US-CA
Odonata - totally agree. Beyond varying feeding patterns, the kind of rock seems to make a pretty significant difference as well. I generally see more vegetation (larger trees, more grass and brush) surrounding lakes that are nestled in metamorphic rock than lakes that sit in pure granite. I think the metamorphic rock is a little more alkali and hospitable to soil and bugs, leading to more fish? It is funny - I've had times where brookies would hit anything that looked remotely buggy after the sun came off the water, and other times where they were feeding but super selective.

Makes it interesting for sure. and I agree - it's all about the sunsets anyway.


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Post 05 Oct 2022, 03:31 • #23 
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Joined: 06/24/11
Posts: 1091
Location: Belgium
I would choose an 8'6" glass 5 or 6 wt. If casting far in no wind I would tend to underline rather than overline, assuming the flies are not particularly wind resistant but basically match line to leader/fly combo.

Fenwick 856 or 85-3 come to mind. 6 wt 86 also good. A 7'6" rod like a 756 would have the range but the longer rod makes fishing at distance easier.


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