Voices from the River: High-tech rods, a guide for the perplexed

By Randy Scholfield

I don’t know if anyone besides me is feeling a bit left behind by the technological advances in modern trout fishing gear.

I’ve been needing a new basic five-weight rod, but my review of current rod technology has left me confused and a bit intimidated. The choices are bewildering, and rod blank descriptions sound like they were written by a nuclear physicist. I’m doing my best to keep up. I really am. But it hurts my head.

You know what I’m talking about: I’m sure you’ve seen those ads that insist we can’t find the Zone of productive fishing unless we have the NextGen TeslaFlex (Patented) SureGrip technology enhanced fly rod that will magically turn us into Lefty Kreh on steroids. These rods have Memory-Foam WhisperTech Filaments that reduce negative vibration in the rod on a molecular and possibly even spiritual level, allowing undreamed-of performance and stability on the water.

The fish don’t stand a chance, we are told.

Shirts and sunglasses, too, are just as advanced—they now come equipped with more flare-intercepting technology than an F-16, and they’re just about as expensive.

It’s just hard to keep up. I feel I need an advanced degree in chemical engineering to properly evaluate claims that my stream comfort hinges on wearing proprietary LaserTherm Underwear with Charcoal-Activated Lightning-release Flaps.

Or that I will be able to drop a fly with pinpoint accuracy—even from the deck of an aircraft carrier—with this rod technology at my disposal.

My wife certainly isn’t convinced.

Look, I get it – fly rod and gear companies must be constantly innovating, improving their products to stay ahead of the competition. That’s good for anglers. I applaud their dedication to excellence and craftsmanship—I really do.

And I’m not opposed to reasonable advances in fishing technology that will make me a better angler. Lord knows I need all the help I can get.

Still, count me skeptical that most of these advances will elevate my game to the Master of the Universe Level. What will take my game to the Next Level, I suspect, is Actual Time on the Stream Fishing (Patented).

All the same, it’s fun to fantasize about what these high-tech systems could do for my fishing success. No doubt future innovation will make today’s fishing technology look like child’s play – stay tuned for ShadowCaster Self-Casting rods, with patented RoboSleeve technology to guide casts and deliver a mild electric shock if you get distracted and wander out of the Brad Pitt Zone.

Or nuclear-tipped rods that come with a black bag with codes that must be activated streamside on a special hotline.

I’m going to resist these angling advances--unless, of course, my wife will let me buy them.

Randy Scholfield is TU’s communications director for the Southwest region.


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