Salmon blank recommendation
New to the board and was hoping you could offer some advice. Up until this year I fished Salmon with a 9' 8wt Sage RPL that I build on a blem blank. When Salmon fishing I am usually alone (separated from my fishing partners) and therefore must "tail" my own fish to land them. This results in nearly a "U" shaped bend in the rod - which the Sage has stood up to fine for the past 10 years.
This year, due to increased hassles with air travel, I decided to try two multi piece rods - a St. Croix SCIV 9'-9" 8wt 3-piece and a Redington Wayfarer 9' 8wt 7-piece. I broke BOTH rods tailing fish the very first day of my trip! Both rods snapped in the butt section, and while both were replaced under warranty I have lost confidence in their ability to perform the required tasks and will therefore be selling both.
I am looking for recommendations for multi-piece 8/9 wt rods that can take the strain of bringing a large fish in close enough to tail it. Any suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated.
hey BH Spey,
This is an interesting post! For any kind of meaningful response about why you might be breaking rods, my first question might be: what kind of “salmon” are you fishing for and how big are they? Are these 75 # Kenai king salmon? Are you fishing in Norway for 40 lb + Atlantics? Next, what does "tailing" mean? How are you landing these fish?
First of all, you shouldn’t be breaking rods when you’re landing fish whether you fish alone or with ten other guys and whether you’re fishing a ST. Croix or a Sage!
Second, I can only surmise that you’re talking about “normal” sized salmon. By normal I mean 10 - 40 lbs. Those two rods you broke are good rods and I think if used properly, they easily would have handled fish of that size. It’s my opinion any rod of similar weight and specifications, if subjected to inappropriate stress (The “U” shape you refer to might be included in that category), would also break.
I think you were just very lucky that you never broke your Sage doing this in the past. Maybe I’m wrong about this. If so, I’d love to hear about it from an engineer, with details about construction differences between the rods and why one rod can put up with that type of stress and why another can't, based solely on engineered construction.
Let me describe how I land fish. When I’m not salt water fishing for salmon out of my boat (with a net) I fish for steelhead in rivers. In over 25 years of fly fishing for these creatures, I have never broken a rod. Period. I should also tell you here that I do 99 % of my steelhead fishing alone and that over the years I have landed many steelhead over 25 # and several over 30 # so from a weight standpoint, they are more than likely in the same category as the “salmon” you refer to unless you are in fact talking about Kenai fish.
So, I went through one phase for several years where I exclusively used a single handed 5 weight rod even though I had a closet full of 9 and 10 weight double handers. This was a cheap Lamiglas I built on a $ 60 blank. During that time I caught lots of fish and plenty of big ones. When you’re fishing a 5 weight for big fish everything is decided, of course, during the landing of the fish (if you want your fly back and you don’t want to break the rod).
A side story: when I lived in the UK I purchased a salmon “tailer”. Perhaps you know that it’s essentially a wire snare that snaps onto a fish’s peduncle (the “wrist” of the tail). When a fisherman slips it over the tail and pulls back on it, the snare is disengaged from a retaining clip and it springs closed. It’s a deadly way of bringing a fish out of the water. Once that snare closes they ain’t going nowhere. That to me is “tailing” a fish. Is this what you’re talking about when you say you’re “tailing” your salmon?
The first time I used my tailer on a steelhead with my 5 weight rod (thinking I’d be cool like Ed Wulff) I saw that the wire snare had cut into the tail skin of a nice big native buck steelhead I was going to release. It made me feel so bad I never used that “tailer” again. So much for “tailing” a fish.
But with trial and error I figured out how to keep using my 5 weight without breaking it, even on big steelhead. How? Once the fish was in the shallows, before they bellied up to the beach where their actual physical weight was on the rod tip rather than supported by water, I tucked the rod under my arm and grabbed the fly line. Then bit by bit, I hand-lined the fish onto the beach. This required good knots (I used 10 – 12 # test and always retied my knots throughout the day) and tremendous care never to let the line wrap around the rod tip. When the fish was tired, I just gently snaked it up on the beach by hand. If it wanted to run some more, I let go of the line and let it run, always taking care that the line did not wrap around the rod tip (certain disaster) as the line went back out again behind the running fish.
So, I have landed hundreds of fish doing this. All you need is a gently sloping beach and a bit of patience. You don’t need a buddy to help get the fish even more frantic than it is already! If you don’t have a gentle sloping beach, lead the fish into a small bay or just pull it up close enough to the shore to get the hook out. The rod is only used to get the line out there, hook the fish, and get it close to the beach. The line and your hands do the rest of the work. This works on steelhead, chums, kings, silvers, Atlantics, any “normal” salmon. Would I do this on a 50 # Kenai fish? Maybe once.
If you want to beach a fish using the rod itself, that’s just as easy. However, in my humble opinion the letter “U” should never be included in the beaching sentence, whether you’re fishing alone or with a beach full of people to help you. Simply sweep the rod sideways towards the beach once you have the fish in close. Downstream is better because then you’re using the current. Once it’s head is near the beach, reel in the line and walk toward the fish keeping just enough pressure on the rod tip to keep the fish steady. Lift the tip as you approach the fish. If it decides to take off, let it, again making sure the line doesn’t wrap around the tip.
Each time you get the fish back to the beach it’ll have less strength to take off another time. When the time is right, you’ll know it. Then reel your way back to the fish, keeping moderate pressure on the rod and fish but never imparting any dramatic bend to the rod tip. Again, the letter “U” should not be on the menu here!
When you’re ten feet away and it’s head is steady, walk slowly and quietly to the fish. The more frantic you get, the more frantic the fish gets. Reach down, grab the leader (making sure there’s slack in the line so the rod tip is not bending at all) and with your needle nose pliers that are ready, you pop the hook out then nudge the fish back into the water with your boot. If you have killing on the mind and you’re allowed to, reach down and grab the fish behind the gill plates at that point.
The rod should never be in a “U” shape unless you’re in a boat (with a net) or on a casting platform like they have in Scotland and your ghillie has the net. Under both of these circumstances, the weight of the fish is in the water, not on a beach.
Stick to that procedure (with your own particular embellishments, of course) and you won’t break rods landing fish, whether it’s a
$ 200 St. Croix or an $ 800 Sage. If either of those rods are subjected to undue strain, the sound of them breaking will be remarkably similar.
The sound of a breaking rod is an entirely democratic sound as maybe you know. It doesn’t differentiate between economic status or social hierarchy. It just breaks and that’s the end of it and I think most of the time, it’s operator error. Good luck!
Thanks for the response and comments! In answer to your questions I was fishing Great Lakes (PM) King Salmon - average size in the 16 lb range, largest this trip was about 28 pounds. Since I have to travel by air getting to the stream, and prefer to travel light while on the stream, it makes it difficult to bring a net so I have to "tail" the fish. My "tailing" process involves tiring the fish out, bringing the fish in close to me by holding the rod in my right hand as far from my body as I can, and reaching down with my left hand and grabbing the fish by the peduncle or tail. I have landed hundreds of salmon this way over the years without incident. Which is why I was so surprised to snap two rods the first day; the first rod on my very first fish of the trip. If there is a beach available that is my first choice but frequently there is no "beach" or shallow water around so I take the fish into the calmer knee deep water and grab it by the tail. I usually reel the butt section of the leader into the guides, pinch the line against the grip and release the drag incase the fish bolts. I realize that this puts a pretty fair amount of strain on the rod, but I have always done it this way and it hasn't been a problem with the Sage OR the 6wt St. Croix SCIV.
I would really like to find a multi piece blank to build a new salmon rod on that will allow me to land fish this way. Any suggestions?
If that's really what you want I would suggest finding something with a little more glass in it. My dad uses an old fiberglass fenwick rod from the '70s. You can bend that thing in half and not hurt it.
If you look at most deep sea downrigger rods, they're all fiberglass and carbon. You just can't put a parabolic bend on a graphite rod without busting it.
hello, BH Spey,
I think I understand now that the waters you fish have different bank characteristics then the rivers I am used to and perhaps require different techniques for landing fish.
If you must have a three or four piece rod for travel, you probably know that all the major manufacturers make good travel rods. Once the modulus and taper and reel seat and the other bells and whistles have been accounted for in the price, what is left is warranty.
I am a Sage kind of guy not only because they make a real nice rod but because of their warranty. It's bullet proof (even if you purchase a second-hand rod through ebay or some place like that they'll treat you more than fair).
So my recommendation would be, get on the Sage website, look at the 3 and 4 piece rods they offer, and choose one with the length you require for the fishery you have in mind. My one recommendation, however, would be that you consider going to a 9 weight, maybe even a 10. I think for bread and butter / knock down and drag out chinook fishing, an 8 weight is not appropriate, especially when you have to "tail" fish in the manner you described.
And one last thing: if you get a multi piece rod, watch the ferrrules like a hawk. Always make sure they are fitted tight, both for casting and beaching a fish. My guess is more rods are broken due to loose ferrules then for any other reason (aside from getting slammed in a car door)
BH - I usually do the same thing you do. There will be disagreement from others on the board but I would never use anything but a 2-peice rod for this application.
I broke my Sage steelhead fishing on the Salmon R. about a month ago but it's becuase I grabbed the blank. Lots of times this is the culprit or you might have had a ding in the blank from splitshot/bad cast, etc (might want to be real careful about selecting those blems)
Hate to bash but a good friend has a reddington wayfarer and they are not designed to handle big violent fish like kings - regardless of line wt. He has broken his 5wt a number of times, including the reel seat (go figure)! You could get away with one for stripers/blues but not for kings where you have a limited area in which to fight the fish, heavy current, structure to avoid, etc.
Finally, I would move up to a 9wt with a good fighting butt for GL salmon especially if you plan to release the fish (not play them to death). As Markinetic noted there's no sense in using a tail snare unless you're planning on killing the fish. Better off to get them on their side in an eddy of shallow water to make your move. IMHO a 10ft 8wt is a great steelhead rod but not enough low-end to get a king to the beach.
Sounds like you might just need a little more ammo before going after those big mudsharks.
In Response to your Comments:
thanks for the comments. The fact that i fought and landed fish this way with the Sage RPL leads me to believe that i am NOT expecting too much out of a graphite rod. I agree that a glass rod would take the bending a lot easier, but I fear I would loose too much "backbone" strength in the switch to a glass rod. Also most of the glass rods I have seen in this size/weight range had butt sections about the diameter of a quarter.
Thanks for the suggestions - I may just have to try and find an old multi piece RPL blank somewhere. I was hoping to try and get by with a less expensive option which is what lead me to the St. Croix in the first place - but i can't argue with the service the 2-piece RPL has given me. I know what you mean about keeping an eye on the ferrules, I had one work loose lawn casting this summer and it quickly clipped the top 1/2" off the male end.:mad:
Thanks for the comments! I had heard so many people of late singing the praises of the multi piece rods, saying that today there was no difference between the 2-piece and the multi-piece in terms of action and performance. That combined with the ever increasing difficulties in air travel made me think that it was time to look into the multi-piece rods more closely. I am confident that there is a multi-piece rod out there that will fit my needs - its just becoming a more painful searching process, one I had not intended to be by trial and error.:(
Thanks again for all your comments!
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