Odds 'n' Sods of Information and Opinion

Sometimes Heavy is Too Heavy

I keep tripping across this issue with new clients: they show up with lines that are too heavy for their rods. They have received advice to go heavy on the basis that since they are rookies, heavy is better. So they’ve gone out and bought a line based on this advice, that is too heavy for their rod.

While this is generally true up to a point, as by going heavy beginners to Spey casting will have an easier time feeling the rod load. However, by advising them to go too heavy we have done them a disservice. Now their rod not only requires more effort to cast, but also it takes greater, not lesser skill, to manage it well.

When booking an appointment with a new client, we generally have a tackle discussion so that I have an idea what they will be bringing and also have an idea what they wish to learn. Usually during this conversation, I find out what issues they have had with Spey casting in the past. I then make a note to bring lines along for their rods.

When we meet for the session, I always go through a tackle check to find out if their rod and line works well together and will work for what they wish to learn. Frequently they’re set up all wrong, based on advice received what was supposed to be the right line for the rod. In every case where we’ve had these issues, the line is way too heavy for the rod. “Well, so & so told me that this line works best on my rod!” is usually the standard response. I grab the right line for their preferred casting style, usually the manufacturer’s recommendation for the rod, try it to be sure it’s a good fit, then hand it to the client to try. After a few casts, the responses are always in the order of, “WOW, this is so much better!” The manufacturer’s recommendation is usually a bit on the heavy side already as they recognize that most anglers are not the best casters. When we add a further margin of heavy on top of that, we’ll be well out of the best range for the rod.

In one case, a client was so fed up with the problems he was having with his expensive switch rod that he had consigned it to the closet with the expectation of one day selling it. I picked out the right head for the rod, had him try it and he was amazed how nice his rod actually was. All it took was the right line. I’m not supplying the client with a line that I like to use. I put a line on the rod that the manufacturer says is the best fit and that also fits the casting style the angler wants to learn. It’s not about what’s right for me.

I understand that when a guide has to get a client into fish and the client has no two-hand stick time, the usual tactic is to put something ridiculously heavy on the rod. Then all the client has to do is wave the rod in the general direction of the river to get some line out there. I get that. However, that shouldn’t be the basis for someone who wishes to learn to Spey cast.

Every rod has a happy zone of line weights where it will cast efficiently. Move out of the happy zone, the rod becomes touchy to cast and the effort level goes up. When anglers are told to put very heavy lines on their rods, the line is outside of that happy zone and we’ve actually made the rod harder to cast not easier.

So for anyone starting out in this business with their brand new two-hander, stick to the manufacturer’s recommendations for the rod as they know better than anyone else what works best.

Too Heavy Graph