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Slow It Down

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Fast-action rods aren't always the best choice in salt water. BY TOM

KEER

f someone were to inventory an I I inshore saltwater fl y-fisherman's I rod collection, he would probably find an abundance of 9-foot fast- or super-fast-action rods. Ifthe rods were manufactured within the last decade, they would more than likely be very Iightweight. That trait would come from the extra-high-million-modulus graphite or graphite blend that matches the rod's speed.And with today's advanced technology, the rods would probably be three, four or more sections.Gone are the days when a multipiece fly rod paled in casting comparison to a twopiece rod. Did high line speed as a casting technique come first, followed by the corresponding super-fast-action high-million-modulus graphite rods? Or were the rods developed first, followed by the high-line-speed casting technique?It doesn'treally matter. My question is: Are there applications for

slow- or rnedium-action lower-rnillionmodulus graphite rods in the brine? I think there are. For a long time, the theory of flyfishing in the salt was that by casting far, anglers would be able to reach the fish. A side benefit came in the forrn of prospecting.Ifthere wasn't a pod offish close to the horizon, a long cast would cover more water and therefore give an angler a greaterlikelihood ofhooking up.

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Flex Meter G)Backcast A shows the approximate flex of a slow-action rod. tO Backcast B shows the approximate flex of a medium-action rod. Gl Backcast C shows the approximate flex of a fast-actionrod.

,@ 36

IANUARY

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FEBRUARY

2012

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Slow- to Medlum-Action Advantages Recently I used one of my very old rods on a beach near my home. I was fishing the September full moon with a ShakespeareWonderod, the 930 Professional to be exact. This 9-foot-6-inch model was designedto casta GBG line, which in today'sterms would be a DT9F. The rod aloneweighs7 ounces,and when an appropriate-size large-arbor reel is added,the outfit is quite healy. Casting isn't as high a priority with this type of rod, but fishing clearly is. Using high line speedwith repetitive falsecastswas tiresome with such a heavy setup, so I neededa diff'erentapproach.Here'swhy the outfit worked. r With a tapered line matchedappropriately to the rod, I needed only one or two water hauls,combined with a line shoot,to dump the entire line. r When fish fbllowed up but didn't eat,it was simple to get the fly back in front of them with a water haul, a roll-cast pickup and a single haul. r I could spend more time with the line, and therefore the fly, in the water, which resulted in more hookups. r The casting stroke was slower and more relaxed. r It was easier to mend and properly control the line, which was particularly important when fishing in murky water or swinging flies in current.

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I've always preferred slow to medium action in myfly rods becauseit feels good. Subsurface work is a joy, fishing under the moonlight is a breeze, and even a small fish put up a tip-to-grip type of fight. Lower-million-modulus graphite rods break with far less regularity than the super-stiff super-light versions. RhodeIsland angler KenneyAbrames is a huge fan of slow-action rods. In his free Tuesday fishing sessions, as well as during his seasonalfly-rod tuneups, Abrames matches a wide variety of flyline tapers with rod types. "Traditional canerods,and then fiberglassrods,load easilyand are invaluable for mending and proper line control," saysAbrames."Becauseofthe expansiveness of the ocean and diverse currents, saltwater line mends tend to be greater than theyare in fresh water. Longer, more supple rods can mend short amounts of line when necessarybut reallyexcelwhen lifting long lengths of line in the bigger environment ofsalt ponds,onshore bars and beachfronts.They alsodo well in rock gardens,rips or ledges." Abrames designed a switch rod called

a Salmo Saxtilis. I recentlytookthelOr/zfoot model No. 2, which is a 42-millionmodulus graphite rod, to the Bahamas. Consideringthe stick'ssteepfront taper, Abrames is a big proponent of using RIO Outbound line, and I paired the rod with an B-weight Outbound. What I found whilewadingthe flats wasthe samething I saw on the Cape Cod, Massachusetts, beachnear myhome: When afish turned offthe fly, itwas easyto make one falsecast

and reposition the fly in front ofthe fish. Softer rods make for a thoroughly enjoyable night-fishing experience. Since sensitivity runs deep into the rod butt, anglers can detect the most subtle of bumps, hits and takes. If you're fishing the dark of the moon in the Northeast, you'll particularly appreciate the tactility. The feeling that signals a take is oftentimes the difference between fishing and catching

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Slow It Down by Tom Keer, originally printed in Fly Fishing in Saltwaters