When you can, cast a rod, or even take it fishing, before you spend hundreds of dollars on it.
These days, when even a modestly priced rod will set you back $350, it’s more important than ever to choose wisely. Whenever I rod shop, I’m reminded of that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when the traitor arrives in the Grail Room and is handed the false Cup of Life from the sexy Swiss double agent. He dips the cup into the water, takes a drink and then kind of disintegrates into dust.
“He chose poorly,” the knight guarding the Grail declares. Not that, if you choose the wrong fly rod, you’ll age 100 years in mere seconds. But you’ll have some serious buyer’s remorse that might make you feel as though you let some eagler fly-shop “brah” determine your fly-fishing success for the foreseeable future.
And for me, it’s all about feel and actually casting a rod before I whip out the credit card. And I don’t mean just standing in a fly shop and wiggling a rod up and down. Doing this might reveal how fast or slow a rod is, but little else.
Most reputable fly shops have demos you can borrow for a day or even just for a few minutes to step outside or wander down to the park to cast. Do this. Don’t assume, because you’ve read every review or watched every video showing cool dudes landing massive trout with the new XYZ Hades VI that this is the rod for you.
Often, my experience reveals that, for a better price, I can find a rod that meets my needs that doesn’t set me back nearly as much as the rod the manufacturers are hyping as the Next Big Thing. Just as often, though, the slick new sticks are exactly that: awesome.
But it pays to be sure. Cast. Fish, if you can. Then put your money down.
— Chris Hunt