Comparing Rods [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Comparing Rods

05-07-2005, 07:35 PM
I am in the market for a 3 wgt rod and have managed to get 4 loaner rods from a fly shop for a side by side comparison. Besides the obvious "feel" we all talk about, do any of you have any suggestions as to the most effective/thorough way to compare these rods? ie, what would you do to run these through their paces?

I'll be taking them to the Catskills next weekend for a few days, so it should be an excellent time to test them.

The 4 that I have chosen to test are:

Winston Ibis
Winston LT
Sage SLT
Sage TXL

All are between 7'6" and 7"10". The loaner reel is a Sage 3200 with their Quiet Taper WF 3 wgt line.

It was suggested to me that I consider a 4 weight instead. My only other rod is a Winston LT 5 weight. My thought is that there may not be that much difference between the 5 wgt and the 4, so go with the 3 wgt to really enjoy catching those typically small trout in those small streams. Any thoughts on the topic?

Any suggestions will be most appreciated.

05-08-2005, 10:11 AM
If you're looking for a 3 wt for small streams, I'd go towards the shorter side on the rod. A 7'10 is kind of long for that, though it can still do the job. I'd make sure to do some casting with both small streamers and tiny dry flies to see how well each rod handles a wide range of fly sizes. Other than that, just fish each one for at least an hour or two.

As for how close a 4 will be to a 5, it really depends a lot on the action of the rod. My 4 wt is a full flex, which makes it really easy to cast light lines and small flies since it's easy to load the rod. On the opposite side of that, it's tougher to cast sinking lines and big flies since the rod doesn't have a lot of backbone. So it's a lot closer to a 3 wt than a 5. So if your 5 wt is a fast action rod, then I wouldn't get a fast action 4 wt.

05-08-2005, 12:02 PM
Take a look at the Winston BIIXa great rod. I built a 9wt that is a light as a feather and at the same time is a cannon. Check out the Winston web site they have a forum which you could post your concerns. Since your used to a Winston the action of the Sage might be a little faster than your used too. FishHawk

05-08-2005, 08:09 PM
Besides fishing with them I would recommend casting them in the back yard or at a local pond. I did this over the winter with a rod I was thinking about buying and my current 5wt - both were 5 wts and 8.5' long. I had the snow on the ground, so I don't think it was too harsh on the line. I cast both rods from a line in the snow and set up a target at the end of a comfortable cast. I tied on an old dry fly with the point cut off to make it a little more realistic. I tried to evaluate the length of my maximum decent repeatable cast with each rod and how easy it was to hit the target. Not terribly scientific, but it helped me in making my decision as I was using the same fly line, leader and fly on both outfits.

Good luck with your choice - those are some nice rods.

BTW - I have a 7.5' St Croix Legend 3wt and it is a great rod. The rod seems to be best suited for dry fly fishing as it is a little light IMO for nymphing w/beadheads. I have a 7' 4wt and there really is not much of difference in the length of the rods.


05-09-2005, 07:47 AM
I agree with Pete, ...

Just fishing may not give you all the feedback you are looking for.

Then again, on the first cast, it can just "click" and that rod is for you...

Great opportunity to fish or cast different rods side by side with the same reel/line combo.

Be reaslistic in the use you want to make out of a short 3wt. Remember to play with the leader too. I have some rods that just don't like my long leaders (combined with my "style" ...I have hack them down to under 12 ft.

Lucky you ... going after a new rod.

05-09-2005, 07:51 AM
I purchased a 7'10" Sage TXL 3wt. right before spring. I put a #0 Ross Rhythm on it and I absolutely love it. It's well balanced and casts effortlessly.

Can't comment on the others, but I really enjoy fishing with the TXL.

05-10-2005, 05:07 PM
For me, the test of how it fits your style is probably much more important than other considerations. One of the tests that I've found most useful is to hold each rod in your non-dominant hand and then quickly shift it to your dominant hand. How does it feel at that instant? Another test that has been useful for me is to do some serious roll casting, probably more than I would ever normally do. For some reason that I can't explain, that usually tells me how I match up with the rod. If it feels right, it probably is. I've also found that once I've decided on the "right" rod, it's dangerous to my wallet if I second guess myself again. Good luck!

05-14-2005, 09:46 AM
Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm heading out for the Catskills tomorrow with rods in hand and am excited about testing them all.

I did make one personal discovery while lawn casting. I always heard about how overlining a rod may or may not help one feel the loading of the rod during casting. Just out of pure curiosity, and I know this was a little extreme, I put my 5 weight line on the 3 weight rods and I found I could cast so much better than I ever could before. So much so that I'm near certain I will be putting a 4 weight line on whatever 3 weight rod I decide on, as well as getting a 6 weight line for my 5 weight rod I currently own. For me, it makes a world of difference. With each rod I was able to cast further than ever and with more accuracy.

Have any of you found this to be true as well?

Now, not that it really matters as long as it fishes well, I was wondering what would you call a 5 weight rod with a 6 weight line, or a 3 weight with a 4 weight line? A 5 1/2 and a 3 1/2 weight? :chuckle:

05-16-2005, 08:34 AM
I am certainly not an expert, but the one thing I would pay attention to in that situation is your fly presentation, especially on a 3wt. You may lose some ground in making a "delicate" cast when using the heavier line. However, the difference might be small. I'm interested to hear the results. Let us know.

Marshall DeMott
05-17-2005, 04:58 AM

Overloadng by one weight works for me also, especially with quality higher end rods.

On test casting rods you want to compare. Try this. Have them all loaded up but mix them up so that you do not know which rod you are casting. A Blindfold Test.

This is the way I would decide on the rod that works best for me because I wouldn't want to be unduly influenced by price only the "Feel". Makes sense?

Good luck :)


05-21-2005, 11:44 PM
Well, I'm back from the Catskills and had a great time fishing as well as testing the rods. Everyone I talked with complained about the timing, being between major hatches and, thus, not being able to catch much. Both my daughter and I caught 4 browns each. The fly that seemed to work best for both of us was either a March Brown dry or emerger. Tried many other flies, but none did the trick like those two. My daughter caught the largest, a nice 14" on her brand new Sage SLT 3 weight her mom and I gave her as a recent graduation present. She really enjoyed how "large" the fish felt with the 3 weight.

As far as my testing, it was interesting. My least favorite rod was the Winston Ibis. Not because of price or quality, simply because I didn't care for the faster action of the rod. Just didn't fit my casting style as well as the others. If you like a faster rod, though, I believe it's a great rod for the money.

The Winston LT in the 3 weight felt identical to my LT 5 weight. It has the typical "Winston feel". If you have ever cast a Winston, you know what I mean.

The Sage SLT, my daughters rod, also cast extremely well. Very smooth, with lot's of power.

Of them all, I really liked the Sage TXL the best. There was just something about the action of the rod that set it apart from the rest for me. It's a sweet little rod, beautifully finished, and a joy to cast. My only small complaint with it is that the cork grip is smaller than any of the others and, because I cast with an unconventional style (I use my fore finger on top as opposed to my thumb), my finger extends over the top of the grip, and rests on the butt of the rod shaft. I've contacted Sage to see if anything can be done about this but haven't heard back from them yet. I'm not holding my breath in their ability to change grips. I am hoping that since these rods are "hand made" they can make a change. The only thing working against that is that it takes it out of the "normal production process" and I'm guessing they don't want to do that.

So, if they can't/won't make a grip change, I have to rethink my buying decision. It's either live with the slightly smaller grip or buy the LT, or possibly the SLT.

07-12-2005, 10:42 PM
We all know how to decide weather a rod fits our purpose, but many of us don't know what line to use. It can be more of a factor than many of us understantd. Don't worry folks, I'll tell you why

Under most cirucmstances, I don't have a problem with having an over weight line on your rod. It will ABSOLUTELY allow you to cast farther than you would with a line built for your rod. (to a point) The problem, is fly presentation.

The problem with over weighting your line is not casting, or accuracy, but overall presentation. Immagine, for a moement, two fishermen on a trophy lake in Monatana. They both use a 4wt rod. One is useing a 5 wt line and the other a 3. They are fishing identical points, on identical tracts of shoreline, with indistinguishable flies they bought that morning at the same shop. The weather is warm and the wind is nonexistant. There is a minor hatch of caddis occuring on the lake they have selected, and they are both using a beaver hair caddis fly, because it is the most effective they have.

There are advantages to both options. The overweighted rod will cast farther, and won't sacrifice much accuracy. The heavier line will cover more water with the fly, and can present his line, in theory, to more fish, than his underweight counterpart. The underweight line creates less disturbance on the water when he presents his fly. Fish may be spooked by the presentation, but a smaller disturbance is going to have the fish fleeing a lesser distance than his overweight counterpart. He will present his fly to fewer fish, but when they flee from his surface disturbance, they may still be in range to attack his fly, where his partner may drive his quarry away.

It all depends on weather and the waters that you are fishing. Fishing a lake on a calm day, I'd choose a line weighted for your rod, or an under weight line, rather than one overweighted. On a day where the wind is blowing, you'll be able to cast more effectively against it, and the disturbance created by the overweight line will be lost in the surface clammor,and the fish won't mind. On a river, where the water is constatntly moving, the line is less of a consideration. If the surface is broken before you get there, use what you like. If the surface is calm, use the lightest line you're comofortable with. What you're comfortable casting with becomes the real consideration when the water is undisturbed.

Lots of people here have given losts of opinions. Most, however, I suspect have nenver tested most aspects of the sistuation. Personally, I use a 6wt rod, and have three 6wt lines in my vest, 2 8 wt, and 2 4 wt. Situation dictates wihich one I use.

Don't get stuck. Experiment. You'll have a better time if you can figure which one is best for the conditions you find yourself confronting. Calm air and water can decide weather you catch your limit, or nothing if you can't addapt to the waters you frace.

I live in an area, where fishing isn't difficlut. I've fishied from Canada to Colorado, Idaho, to Nevada , to Nebraska, and I know the waters I fish. I can't say, for sure, that what I have told you works in Califironia, or New Jersey, as well as it does in Wyoming, but where I fish, it CAN BE as important as the fly you use. Spend a day on the Miricle Mile with me, and say it an't so. Point I'm making, in my arrogant way, is that you have to be flexable.

Sorry for my rant. Half a bottle of single malt doesn't help, but I think I'd think I'm right even wen I'm sober.

07-13-2005, 10:56 AM
Personally, I use a 6wt rod, and have three 6wt lines in my vest, 2 8 wt, and 2 4 wt. ....
Sorry for my rant. Half a bottle of single malt doesn't help....

That explains the math; 2+2=3 ;)

Nooksack Mac
07-13-2005, 04:30 PM
Math question: If 30 feet of DT4F weighs 120 grains, what is 60 feet of DT4F?
Answer: a new soft-presentation, extended distance line for your six-weight rod.

I found this out long ago, playing around with different combinations of rods and lines. All rods load, to some extent, with whatever line is on them. A rod doesn't "know" its weight classification. When graphite rods were introduced, a major touted benefit was that a graphite rod could handle a range of line weights. The late Walton Powell specifically designed his rods, graphite and glass, to handle about four line weights.

We don't hear about this kind of graphite versatility any more. But it's still there, inherent in the material. There are limits, of course. A line that's threatening to separate the glue lines in the cork grip is excessive for that rod. And a gutsy seven-weight probably isn't the safest custodian of a 6X tippet. But within such practical parameters, there's a lot more versatility in most rods and lines than we give them credit for.