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Old 06-29-2006, 12:10 AM
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bonehead bonehead is offline
Cert. Amateur Bugslinger
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Cayman Islands
Posts: 101
Slow vs. Fast...

Just a few thoughts here, with due deference to the sage wisdom above. In my experience a stiff, fast rod (they're the same, but taper does make a difference in the loading and unloading process) might not be the best choice for all bonefishing, regardless of the definite need for quick reaction time... no arguement there. Here's the thing, most situations where you need to react swiftly are those where the fish is very close to you and you need to get a shot off before he sees you or the skiff. These are the very situations where a fast/stiff rod will get you into trouble everytime. Unless you've overlined it, that fast action stick will take more false casts to load the appropriate line and therefore take longer to get the fly to the fish. Also, more false casts when a fish is close makes the likelyhood of spooking it greater. On the other hand, a softer rod will load up quicker (with fewer false casts) and therefore get the fly to the fish faster. The problem comes when you need to make long casts in windy conditions with heavy flies - fishing Andros big bones, for instance. Then a softer rod becomes a liability. (All this is unless you are a very good caster, in which case you can probably make most any rod do any thing you want.)

There is another consideration when talking about fast action rods. Certainly they generate more line-speed, which results in faster, longer casts, but high line-speed is not always a good thing. Case in point: the final presentation cast. Too much linespeed here and the fly will slam into the water as it turns over. Add a crisp double-haul to this and the flyline (and fly) is traveling at a tremendous rate which defies almost any attempt to feather the cast. Ever wonder why all those old Bahamian guides have that wide open lazy looking cast? It slows the speed of the fly and allows it to settle gently to the water instead of flipping over and splashing down.

Here's an example: 2 anglers; 1 trout, 1 stripers. Which do you think will catch more bones first time out? Almost every time it's the trouters. Sure most striper anglers can haul out tight loops and toss 80 feet easy, but the simply generate too much linespeed to present the fly quietly. By contrast the Colorado trout angler that can maybe cast 50 feet works out a wide, slow loop and puts that fly down so quiet you can hardly see it land. Linespeed.

Of course, the perfect bonefish cast is something that joins the two approaches, just like a good bonefish rod should have both the delicacy of a cane rod and the power of a 9-weight you might use to throw at stripers from the beach. When I fish I tend to put a lot of speed into the first 2 false casts and then shoot almost half the distance on that final cast. Since I'm wading the tension of the water feathers the cast and slows the line so that the leader flips over slowly and the fly flutters down. (Not every time, of course. I still spook my share of fish... like everyone.) However, with a slower rod I might not have to rely on shooting so much line to slow the cast. This is one reason 6 weights work so well on calm days. In additon to throwing lighter lines, they also typically generate less linespeed so the fly lands quieter.

So, if you're headed to the Bahamas you might take a couple rods. A fast rod for throwing lots of line from the skiff (where you need to make longer shots) and a softer, easier loading rod for wading where close, accurate shots will take 90% of your fish. Take only one type of rod and you'll definitely run into situations where you wish you had the other.

Just some stuff to think about.

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