These are also much thinner and lighter than the older alternatives. This, coupled with the fact that they have in real terms fallen in price, makes carbon fibre the ideal material for fly rods.
Trout live in various habitats ranging from very small moorland streams to vast lowland reservoirs. Obviously these different waters have different tackle requirements which means that we must select our first fly rod in accordance with the type of water that we are going to fish.
I am going to classify rods into three very broad categories which are:
1. Flowing water rods
2. Commercial still waters
3. Large reservoirs.
Flowing water rods
The term 'flowing water' is vague as it covers small streams that are only a few feet wide up to rivers that can be over a 100m wide. Therefore there will also be a whole range of rods required to cover these requirements.
Small streams are common on many moors and upper river catchment areas. These small waters require very specialised tackle with short light rods. On Dartmoor streams it is common to see anglers fishing with rods between 6ft and 7ft rated for lines in the A.F.T.M. 3 to 4 class.
Most river fishing for trout is conducted on much larger rivers and streams, requiring significantly longer rods. The normal range for river rods is between 8ft and 9.5ft, rated for lines in the A.F.T.M. 4 to 6 class.
Commercial still waters
The majority of these small waters are often only a few acres in size. Being small, they are easy to control and stock. Most are pretty well cared for waters that were specifically created as trout fisheries. Although some stream fed commercial fisheries do contain natural fish, the fast majority are artificially stocked. This stocking is often with very large trout to attract customers. There are now a few commercial small water trout fisheries that are stocked only with trout of over ten pounds. As you would expect, such fisheries charge about £100 or more for a days fishing. These fisheries are very rare but I mention them to illustrate the size of fish that can be present in these fisheries. Many small fisheries too have the odd very big trout stocked in them.
In selecting a rod for these waters, we are not necessarily looking at a 'distance casting' tool but the rod will need to have sufficient power to land a big fish. Last year, I visited Hazelcopse on the Surrey/Sussex border to write a fishery review. My catch that day included three salmon the best weighing 281b 12oz that really tested my tackle to the limit but I had selected a fly rod with a nice progressive action that did the trick.
A 9ft rod for lines rated between A.F.T.M. 6 and 7 appears to be a popular choice for these waters. On big fish waters I feel it is important to have a progressive rod action rather than the more fashionable fast tip action that is so popular with many top brand American rods. The progressive action gives you that extra safety margin if the fish bolts off as you are going to net it.
Most of the larger still waters that we fish for trout are reservoirs. Many of these are stocked, but not often with the very large fish so common on the smaller commercial fisheries. The reservoirs often have some natural fish and bigger fish that have 'grown on' mixed in with stocked fish. I think it is fair to say that, generally, the average size of fish caught is lower than on commercial smaller fisheries.
Bank anglers will often have to fish far greater distances out than in most commercial small fisheries. A rod in these circumstances is much more a casting tool, making faster-actioned, heavier rods more popular. Rods of up to 10ft, rated for lines of A.F.T.M. 8 or 9 are commonly seen in use.
Look at any fly rod and you will see that the screw winch fitting is at the very end of the rod. This is to bring the point of balance as close to the hand as possible.
Rod rings are to some extent a matter of personal preference. Wire snake rings are still the most popular intermediate rings with the more experienced fly fisherman. They certainly help casting but can wear badly. Single legged lined rings are gaining popularity as they are very hard wearing and some anglers have replaced their snake rings with these - but they are heavier and more bulky than snake rings. Most modern rods have lined tip and butt rings with snake intermediates.