Tune Your Rod: Try Different Lines or Line Sizes
I mentioned overlining a rod recently to a customer and he reacted like I had announced people from Mars landed. The customer looked at the rod shaft and said: “But this rod is marked for a four weight!”
From my earliest days as a fly fishermen, I learned through experience that overlining a rod by one weight was a good idea on small streams where the casts will be short. The same goes for some of the more recently built rods whose makers seem to be in a race to see who can build the stiffest one.
Some rods in my hand are best tuned by overlining or underlining. As a rule, I find myself overlining more in the case of graphite use and underlining in the use of bamboo or fiberglass.
It depends on the rod, the caster, the distance needed, and the design of the line. Some newer line models are already a half size heavier to help load some of those super fast models made today. On another topic, I seriously question why rod makers make such stiff rods. If the rods were made to work comfortably with standard line sizes, there would not be a need for specially sized line models.
My thoughts are that if one is not willing to go up or down a line size, one may be limiting the performance or feel of that particular rod. I know of a number of people that were ready to dump a particular rod until I encouraged them to try a different line on it. When doing so, the caster sometimes saw that super stiff stick come to life.
A rod is a spring. When flexed properly, it stores energy and releases it when the rod straightens. When the rod straightens, it throws the line for you. This is what it was designed to do when adequately loaded with the recommended line size. Very simply, if the rod does not bend when flexed, the caster has to push the rod harder and his arm hurts at the end of the day.
Due to different fishing conditions, lengths of casts, rod and line designs, some rods simply do not perform well with the line they are marked for. With proper casting strokes, if the rod is not flexing, then the caster has to work harder and the forearm takes a major beating.
Bottom “line:” I try the rod with the line it is marked for, and then adjust the line size if necessary to make it feel right at all distances. In order to fine tune a rod so that it will be a pleasure to use all day, be willing to be flexible.