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Rods that are good to fight a fish with.

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jabster

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It's one of those reoccurring topics on fly forums like SOL and on many facebook groups. What is a good fish fighting fly rod? 

 

For many types of fly fishing the rods fish fighting abilities are not very important and on some areas of this genre the types of abilities needed vary a lot. So, what's your take on this matter? When does it matter? Why does it matter? What are you looking for in a rod that is good to fight a fish with?

 

I'm personally not a spectacular fish fighter, but I've caught my fair share of fish. Big ones, small ones  and plenty of in between ones. In shallow water to the deep blue sea. I personally feel that the rod matters. There's no practical reasons to bring a knife to a gun fight. Hand lining and fighting the fish straight from your reel are things that everyone that are fighting serious fish should know how to do, but doing those things and having a good and heavy enough rod in your hand will give you a lot more room to maneuver. 

 

For me the most important thing about a good fish fighting rod is the taper. A good taper that bends uniformly from the tip to the butt under pressure is the best for me. There is very little use for butt section power(stiffness) if the rod doesn't bend progressively under pressure. That's why rod stiffness doesn't always equal fish fighting abilities in my books. Glass rods are very care free rods to fight fish with, but can be a bit whimpy feeling to pull hard on fish. They do however offer a lot of good things in this aspect to. When lifting fish vertically and pumping in line, you can lift the rod much higher then you ever should with a carbon rod. This equals more line on the reel per lift. They also offer a much more care free close quarter fight than cf rods. They don't mind the occasional bump on the side of the boat or a high stick at the end of the fight. However many times you need to compromise care freeness for a more effective casting tool and even though those modern glass rods are nice enough to cast and fish in many situations, you can't beat the effectiveness of a Carbon rod. Fortunately there are good carbon rods to fight fish with too. Like said, it's all in the taper. There's also the somewhat unexplored(at least commercially) area of combining glass and carbon to get benefits of both worlds. 

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Jab, I'm with you. I feel rods matter too.

 

Pointing an under gunned rod directly at a fish is a great technique... until it isn't. If you are fighting a decent fish that has sounded under a boat good luck holding your arms out over the gunnel for any period of time. If you are fighting fish and need to lift your line over an obstacle and still want to apply pressure good luck doing that while pointing at the fish.

king fight_2.jpg

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4 hours ago, rigdEEL said:

I think you also need to consider how much drag you can put on a fish. I'll bet most people have no idea how much drag their reel has plus what the breaking strength of the leader is.

That is true. One should know those things if they are serious about fighting bigger fish. Handlining or any other type of max pressure application usually reguires you to use a leader that's 50lb+ . Preferably 80-120lb. That of course depends on what size and type of fish you are fishing for.  

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1 hour ago, DAQ said:

Jab, I'm with you. I feel rods matter too.

 

Pointing an under gunned rod directly at a fish is a great technique... until it isn't. If you are fighting a decent fish that has sounded under a boat good luck holding your arms out over the gunnel for any period of time. If you are fighting fish and need to lift your line over an obstacle and still want to apply pressure good luck doing that while pointing at the fish.

king fight_2.jpg

And the same thing goes for other than boat fishing to. Even though shallow water/flats are more forgiving in that aspect, you many times, at some point in the fight have to or need to use the  rod to maneuver the fish. 

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On 5/6/2019 at 11:34 PM, jabster said:

And the same thing goes for other than boat fishing to. Even though shallow water/flats are more forgiving in that aspect, you many times, at some point in the fight have to or need to use the  rod to maneuver the fish. 

I agree with this too. Using the rod can increase the angle of attack on a fish and help change that angle.

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I’ve seen a bit of a switch back to slower rods with not as much lifting power but perhaps better casting and presentation qualities 

 

I like to put a lot of pressure on a fish and sock down on the drag

 

rods that I own that have great lifting power in the 9-10 wt are TFO Ticrx, Sage RPLX and the old Orvis tip flex Trident 

 

if the rod bends down to the handle while fighting a fish it drives me crazy 

 

while we are at it, the Reel also has to have a good range of drag settings on the heavy side. A lot of reels don’t really have anything but a light to medium range of settings 

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A friend of mine had a knot on his fly line when he was fighting a 50lb YFT. The fish was handlined for a while and it was really easy compared to lifting the fish with TFO Bluewater Mediun Duty rod.

 

I like by lower sections soft and bendy, but strong for fish fighting. The butt sections’ stiffness need is more from casting side, too soft and casting is horrible. Here I have lifted, using a rod that is softish in the lower sections, a bucket that weighs over 26lb

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One of the biggest mistakes with some heavy rods in my humble opinion is the use of a fore grip. I don't know what rod manufactures were thinking when they came out with this concept but they basically compromise the most effective section/part of the rod that's essential in fighting big fish. When I built my #12 weights I used Struble reel seats designed to attach removable butt extensions and I simply made two different length extensions for them, a regular one and a longer one to change the fulcrum and leverage without the need of a fore grip. This allows me to keep my hand on the right part of the handle where it belongs during a battle without increasing fatigue and prevents the habit of instinctively wanting to reach further up the blank  which will ultimately compromise not only the efficiency and fighting ability of the rod but also it's structural integrity .

Edited by sidelock
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  • 2 weeks later...

Sidelock,

High sticking (that broke the rod in that video) doesn't need handling the rod from the blank, extended handle or fighting handle.
Some rods are more prone to this failure than others. The rod in the video snapped more than a foot from where the guy was holding the blank.

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I agree that on some rods a separate fighting grip can be a problem, but there are decent rods out there with a FG on them. In general I much more prefer a extended grip myself.

 

I think it all boils down to the taper and overall bend of the rod under pressure. Rods with a overly stiff butt and lower mid section are always much more prone to failure on the high stick than rods that bend more uniformly. That's one of the reasons I don't really believe in the stiff butt section equals more fighting power mantra.

Edited by jabster
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