Short Rods for Heavy Lines: Tools, Not Toys

Most likely, the readers of this rambling rubbish did not grow up when I did nor remember all those great short rods for 5 and 6 weight lines we used to have.  This was ‘way before graphite, of course.   They are wonderful in small streams and very tight fishing situations. Most of today’s fly fishers have never had a chance to experience what a really short rod for a heavier line can do………………… RIFLE !!

 Shorter rods for stout line sizes can shoot straight shots through tree limb tunnels behind you and still shoot through tea cup cracks between boulders and fallen logs in front to hit that special target.  The tip tops of the shorter rods are closer to your EYE !! The heavier line throws loads straighter and once you play with them a little, you will hit your targets better and get hung up in trees less.

 Lighter lines short rods tend to throw a wider loop.  That arc catches limbs as the line climbs higher between casts, both forward and back.

 Even after graphite made its début in 1975,  there were some companies making some short, fast rods for  5 weight lines ( 6 ½ and 7 foot).    I have a few still and they are great.   Sad that “marketing for profit from big sales of new products” removed those and replaced them with ultralight # 2 and # 1 weights along with hype advertising to make people buy.   Now those older practical rods are gone.  In my opinion, there is a difference between a practical short fishing rod for an adequate line size and one which is marginal.  In short: tools versus toys.

 Being at this game for 51 years, I have been blessed to have tried almost every kind of rod made.   When fishing the beloved small rugged rhododendron covered streams I grew up in, I still pick up 6 1/2, # 5 or 6 weight rods that are not made anymore.   They worked in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s and they still work now.   I have a ridiculous number of fly fishing tools in my personal collection and do not, nor ever will own a # 2 weight.  They are fun, I am sure, but are not truly practical in our high gradient, waterfall filled, limb enshrouded small streams.        I fished tandem flies a lot and one of them always has some weight on it.  I also like to throw the occasional lead loaded streamer into a tight pocket when the stream comes up after a rain………………. into those places where it says: “Big brown trout” all over it.    Rods marked for # 2 weights cannot handle what I demand of them.  It takes a rod with guts.

 Being a custom rod builder for 22 years (1976-1998),  I was able to build quite a number of short  6 1/2 and 7 foot rods for 5 weights as the blanks were available in the 70’s and 80’s.   To get that same rod today, one has to seek used as very few new rods in this line size can be found.  Honestly, I have gone back to bamboo for my shorter rods because most of the good old short ones, especially Orvis, were marked for 6 weight and cast a 5 really well.   These are small stream cannons.

When Diamondglass came out with that series of rods,  I placed some in the shop for sale, but first,  I placed two of them in my  own stable:  the  6′ # 5 and the 7′ # 4.

Sorry to get so windy,  but  companies discontinued those good old short rods for heavier lines that are so danged accurate and useful………….. and it is refreshing to see one of them come back – –  the  6′ # 5 Diamondglass

One thought on “Short Rods for Heavy Lines: Tools, Not Toys

  1. I happen to own a short 5 wt. made by Bo. It is everything he describes here, and more. Because it is stout, I am able to more quickly land a heavier fish without stressing it to death. Thoughtfully conceived with purpose. Art with intent. Thanks, Bo.


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