Odds 'n' Sods of Information and Opinion

Big Rivers, Big Rods

Big Rivers, Big Rods

In Europe, they take a sensible approach to matching their tackle to the rivers they fish: a big rod for a big river and a little rod for a little river. What is interesting in this approach is that a small, light 12 foot 7 or 8 wt. is expected to play and land the same size of fish as a 15’ 10 wt. Going to a 12’ light rod isn’t about landing smaller fish, it’s about fishing on a smaller river. Inherent in this approach is a simple mechanical fact: the longer the rod, the more leverage advantage the fish enjoys. After all, when is the last time we saw a 15’ blue water rod. When fishing for behemoths, short rods are where it’s at, for the simple mechanical reason of leverage.

Recently I took my 12’ DTX shooting head rod along with the 15’ 10 wt. out for a little leverage experiment. I hooked a digital fish scale to the line, anchored the scale, walked back a few feet and applied hard pressure with the rod handle held perpendicular to the line. I pulled very hard, much harder than I would on a fish. The light 12’ rod pulled 1.4 lbs. of pressure. I then hooked up the 15’ 10 wt. and repeated the same thing. It pulled 1.3! Bottom line, both rods can exert about the same amount of pressure on a fish. That shouldn’t come as a surprise given their design heritage and intended purpose.

On this side of the pond, we see many people gravitating to small, light rods and then using them on big rivers. Nothing inherently wrong with fishing tackle that makes us happy. Unfortunately, some of these people are sometimes buying small, light rods based on the assumption that a 15’ rod is too much rod for our fish. They then work their butts off to cover water that could easily be managed by a 15 footer. It’s a bit ironic when people claim that a 15’ rod is too tiring to fish, then go out and exhaust themselves thrashing their little rods for distance on a big river.

Some small rod fans are very vocal about the inappropriateness of big rods for steelhead. Last Tuesday I hooked and landed a 3 lb. smallmouth bass on the 15 footer while swinging for early steelhead. I wish I had the opportunity to hand my rod to every little rod fanatic, for them to experience just how hard that little bass was pulling and just how tough he was to land on that 15’ 10 wt. If you have to cover big water, give a big rod a try. You may be pleasantly surprised with the fun you’ve just had when your first fish comes to hand.