Originally Posted by mrt10x
Why dont you share the advice with everyone? I would be interested in your thoughts on a more practical avenue for a compact, motorcycle friendly rod. A lot of folks ask me for my advice on this and I would be very interested in what you have to offer??? Beautiful looking rods you make at a great price OBTW. If I didnt already have too many bamboo rods I would be getting in line for an order. Really like your graphite rod design too.. your logo has a real cool old school vibe to it... well done.
I'll see if I can give a good summary of some information that may help a lot of people out, but there is so much information that I will try and condense much of it. Some may seem pretty basic to people who are more experienced, but is a good starting point. It is written more to help the OP.
All fishing rods are (spinning and fly) just a spring. We have to use some amount of weight to load that spring in order to cast the rod. Spin rods use a weight at the end of the line, but in fly fishing, we use the line itself. The weight that a fly line is rated is based on the weight in grains of the first 30 feet of line.
A fly rod's "action" (i.e. medium, moderate, mod/fast, fast, extra fast) is a term that a designer will use to convey how far the fly rod actually flexes from the tip in relation to it's overall length when loaded with a specific fly line.
A fly rods listed line weight is based on how much weight is takes to flex that fly rod in order to achieve the designer's goal of what the action should be. This is very subjective, and fits what the designer is trying to achieve in his minds eye. This is also the reason that a 9', 5wt, mod/fast fly rod from one manufacturer will feel differently than the same spec from another.
Any fly rod, therefore, can be cast with any weight of fly line. What we will be doing by changing line weights is changing how much the fly rod flexes, and thus changing the action. Example, if I take a 5wt rod and use a 6wt line, I will have made the action softer in relation to what may be listed on the rod.
The OP's goal of finding a Medium Action fly rod, today, will be hindered by the marketing of the fly fishing industry. The average fly rod will last over 20 years, but the industry needs to make sales every year and because of this fact the industry has pushed faster and faster action fly rods for the last 15 years. Now that we have really reached a peak in performance where the average person cannot pick up a very fast fly rod (i.e. Sage TCX) and cast it well, the industry has started to move back toward softer action fly rods for "delicate presentation" in the last year. These new softer action rods will of course be sold at a premium due to being the "new technology" (even though that is what we all used 20 years ago). The solution, is to find a fly rod with a Moderate/Fast action (one of the most common and available action types) and put a heavier line on to achieve the casting feel that he would like.
Additionally, as we move to smaller and smaller waters our casts must be shorter. A 20 foot cast, using a 9' leader, only requires 11' of fly line to be outside the tip in order to hit our mark. Since fly lines are rated based on the weight of the first 30' of line we have significantly reduced the amount of weight which we are using to load the fly rod and it begins to feel like we are casting using a broomstick...the thing just wont bend, which makes it hard to turn a loop in the fly line and complete a decent cast. In this case, the solution is again to increase the line weight we are using, so that we have additional weight outside the tip of the rod in order to achieve the needed flex. Conversely, if we are trying to consistently cast 50+ feet, we should reduce the line weight in order to preserve the rods action, because greatly increasing the length of line adds more weight and will slow the perceived action of the rod.
As an example, I have a wonderful 6', 2wt rod that I like on small streams (like 10-15' across), but it gets fished with a 4 wt line, anything less and it wont flex well. There is never a situation where that rod will be used with 30' of line plus leader in the air, so it has never seen a 2wt line.
As far as "bang for the buck" in factory fly rods right now, I would recommend the Greys Streamflex series (from Hardy & Greys of England) as one of the most undervalued rods on the market. It has a nice mod/fast action, comes in line weights from 2-6wt, lengths from 6-10', all 4 piece rods, and retails for about $245. I know a lot of guides down on the Provo in Utah that have made this series their "go-to" rod in the last couple years.
As far as reels, remember that for trout, they are nothing more than a device to hold extra line from being tangled around your feet. The Phleuger Medalist is probably the most used, most sold fly reel of the 20th century (though they recently quit production) for good reason. It is cheap, reliable, effective, has a decent little drag, and it's CHEAP. These were made in the USA, Japan, and China over the years, but all parts are interchangeable between models. Go on e-bay and pick up a used one and an extra spool or two for as little as $20. The older USA models, which are in higher demand with collectors and fishermen alike sell typically for around $75.00, but the Japanese or Chinese versions are perfect for this situation. With a couple extra spools, you can change line weights as needed with very little effort and you will enjoy your experience much more when the line weight is matched to the rod, and casting distance.
For the OP, I would recommend staying away from many of the fancy fly lines that are more oriented to a specific use, and go with the the Courtland 333, or 444SL in a weight forward profile. They are well proven lines (unchanged in 20 years) very effective, stiff enough for most anglers to turn over well, and come at a decent price point.
Spend your money in this order: Fly rod, fly line, reel.
So for the OP, on waters up to 20' across, I would probably recommend a 4 piece, 7-8', 3wt, mod/fast action fly rod, get a Phleuger 1494 with an extra spool and two lines: Courtland 333 or 444 in 4wt and 5wt.
Of course, there are variables to every situation, but hopefully this gives you some helpful information without making it a more confusing choice in the beginning.
NOTE: I have no affiliation with any of the companies that I have listed.