Are Short Rods Just a Recent Fad ?

offshore

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Obviously a shorter rod is better for smaller rivers (as I have found with my recent purchase), but I an wondering if their use on larger rivers is just a fad?

I have been using a new short rod on the main Tyne this week, with the fish (as usual) on the far bank of the best pool.

I expected to find it easier on my body with the new rod, but I have just as many aches and pains as in previous years (plus extra ones in my lower arms) after fishing hard for several days.

I am wondering if I was actually putting more effort (and body strain) into casting long distances, rather than less? Unfortunately I didn't take my old gear with me, to set up and compare.

Basically I am just wondering if I am getting older, more unfit and injury prone - or if shorter rods do actually provide any advantages to the body when trying cast longer distances all day? I will be interested what other people have found.
 

kimbo

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I echo your findings, I too have gone for shorter rods, steer clear of the more tippy rods and go for ones with an easier action, slow down your cast and you will find it a lot easier and you will probably get out just as far.
 

Rrrr

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I would have traded my 13 footer for a 15 footer easily yesterday on the main tyne as even using an airflo rage head the downstream wind was giving me a load of grief.

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kramdrazzi

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I have two thirteen footers that I fished with for the last few seasons on all the rivers (sorry I mean on the few rivers I fished) and that included the Dee and the Tay, but in a couple of cases it was hard work getting the fly to do what I wanted in both action and accuracy.

This year I am only on the Tay next month and as it's my one trip of the year I will be taking my 15ft B&W Norways with me as well as the shorter rods. I remember it being easier to control the line and fly speed with them than I have subsequently found it with the short ones.

It might be a trick of my memory, but I'll find out on the 16th.........

..............................I just hope I can find the lines I used to fish on them...............and don't put my back out!!
 
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offshore

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I have two thirteen footers that I fished with for the last few seasons on all the rivers (sorry I mean on the few rivers I fished) and that included the Dee and the Tay, but in a couple of cases it was hard work getting the fly to do what I wanted in both action and accuracy.

This year I am only on the Tay next month and as it's my one trip of the year I will be taking my 15ft B&W Norways with me as well as the shorter rods. I remember it being easier to control the line and fly speed with them than I have subsequently found it with the short ones.

It might be a trick of my memory, but I'll find out on the 16th.........

..............................I just hope I can find the lines I used to fish on them...............and don't put my back out!!
Thanks for your comments, I will be interested how you get on.

I was expecting to find the fishing much easier on my body with a lighter outfit, but it didn't really turn out that way. But the issue is confused by the fact I started with some existing Golfers elbow (tendonitis), which is something I dont normally have - which could have been made even worse with the older longer rods ?

Also I watched somebody on the trip this week with a two decade old 15' rod and spey line, fishing in front of me. He seemed to be having a very untroubled day letting the fly swing under its own volition - compared to my frenetic stripping in shooting line.

My most enjoyable casting experience ( from memory) was with a 15' Shakespeare Oracle and Hardy Mach spey line - on the River Spey itself at Granton.

For fishing the main Tyne with reasonably streamy water, I was starting to wonder if I have just been following a tackle trend, by using the latest Shooting Heads and shorter rods, rather than the reality of older options ?
 
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wetwader

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You were undergunned for the fishing situation?
Of course it would be simplified, because there are more variables in the equipment than rod length alone.
If maximum distance is needed and the shorter the rod, the more adaption in rod, shooting heads and runningline (!) is critical. If everything is well balanced and comes to a perfect fit, one can reach really good distances with reasonable effort.
Maybe your outfit wasn’t best adapted for distance casting.

But, in case of 13‘ and 15‘ rods, undoubtedly these are still two worlds, undependable of the last (or gone) fad.
If there is need for maximum distances all day long, a 15‘ rod with a longer head is simply more up to the game, also in control of drift and speed for fly presentation.
And with same adaption of rod and lines for the 15‘ rod, also to get a perfect fit, we are fishing the same distance in the comfort zone where we are on the exhausting limit with a 13‘ rod.
But let’s think about windy conditions or overgrown areas and the needs can turn again.

I agree, there was a trend to shorter rods, dominated by Scandinavian style casting and shooting heads, additional by Skagit style.
It’s dependent of personal taste and the fishing situation. I still fish all rods from 11‘ to 15‘ and wouldn’t like to miss one length of them. But each of them are combined with several lines to get the best out of it for different approaches.
Nevertheless it happens to me in specific situations, to think, I was choosing the wrong option in rod length...

Physically it can be very different what is causing problems. Variables are individual issues also.
Don’t think only of what you are doing now, tiring by stripping line in (what can be very effective for fishing, when seen as a fishing strategy...).
The weight and long leverage of a longer rod, mass of heavier and longer lines, can cause different problems. Additionally, in most cases, a much longer stroke is needed, full body rotation and looong movements with full body tension for the back, shoulders and arms.
Sometimes I get tired of this, switch back to a shorter rod and send a shorter shooting head out by a flick off the tip (and get some offers while a retrieve strategy by stripping line in). And switch back again.
But in general, size of river and size of rod.

By the way, the next trend seems to come from the U.S.A. Longer rods again now and long belly lines😁
What a surprise.
I would say, keep your 13’, get yourself a proper 15‘ and some more lengths with different lines and we can watch all the Trends come and go.
 
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offshore

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You were undergunned for the fishing situation?
Of course it would be simplified, because there are more variables in the equipment than rod length alone.
If maximum distance is needed and the shorter the rod, the more adaption in rod, shooting heads and runningline (!) is critical. If everything is well balanced and comes to a perfect fit, one can reach really good distances with reasonable effort.
Maybe your outfit wasn’t best adapted for distance casting.

But, in case of 13‘ and 15‘ rods, undoubtedly these are still two worlds, undependable of the last (or gone) fad.
If there is need for maximum distances all day long, a 15‘ rod with a longer head is simply more up to the game, also in control of drift and speed for fly presentation.
And with same adaption of rod and lines for the 15‘ rod, also to get a perfect fit, we are fishing the same distance in the comfort zone where we are on the exhausting limit with a 13‘ rod.
But let’s think about windy conditions or overgrown areas and the needs can turn again.

I agree, there was a trend to shorter rods, dominated by Scandinavian style casting and shooting heads, additional by Skagit style.
It’s dependent of personal taste and the fishing situation. I still fish all rods from 11‘ to 15‘ and wouldn’t like to miss one length of them. But each of them are combined with several lines to get the best out of it for different approaches.
Nevertheless it happens to me in specific situations, to think, I was choosing the wrong option in rod length...

Physically it can be very different what is causing problems. Variables are individual issues also.
Don’t think only of what you are doing now, tiring by stripping line in (what can be very effective for fishing, when seen as a fishing strategy...).
The weight and long leverage of a longer rod, mass of heavier and longer lines, can cause different problems. Additionally, in most cases, a much longer stroke is needed, full body rotation and looong movements with full body tension for the back, shoulders and arms.
Sometimes I get tired of this, switch back to a shorter rod and send a shorter shooting head out by a flick off the tip (and get some offers while a retrieve strategy by stripping line in). And switch back again.
But in general, size of river and size of rod.

By the way, the next trend seems to come from the U.S.A. Longer rods again now and long belly lines😁
What a surprise.
I would say, keep your 13’, get yourself a proper 15‘ and some more lengths with different lines and we can watch all the Trends come and go.
Thanks wetwader for your thoughts and comments.

I have sort of assumed from reading different comments that you can cast just as far with a modern 13 foot rod as an older 15 foot set-up.

I have also assumed that using a 13 foot rod is easier on the body than a 15 rod.

But i think I have been jumping to too many conclusions.

I couldnt have fished for a full third day due to tendonitis in the wrist and elbow. That has never happened to me before, but is not necessarily due to the new rod. The beat is slightly unusual because with the strong downstream wind it was all long distance Double Spey or Snake Roll. A few lies on the near bank would have helped.

Must take a selection of rods in future - I suppose that is the answer.
 

Rrrr

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I rekon the wind plays a big part in it on the main tyne, the windier it is the more line speed i aim to get to cut through the wind and therfore im using more effort to get the same distances. Maybe thats just me though.

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bluejay

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I'm an old phart that started with longer rods and lines, went to shorter ones for awhile on the big rivers, but found my heart was still with the longer rods and lines. A few years ago some old back issues resurfaced and after much trial and error changed my casting form to allow me to continue the long rods without triggering the back issues. It also required perfecting my form a great deal. Good form can prevent much strain on the body. I also began doing specific stretching exercises every morning that affect that specific part of my back. So I am still using and loving the longer rods and also found the stretching makes me feel better overall. I don't cast them all day like I used to but can still get a good morning of enjoyable casting in and plan to do so for much longer.
 

Hardyreels

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I fish with an 11 1/2 foot Hardy Swift often. Those old rods have something, I can't tell you exactly what but the Hardy will cast about 15 foot short of my Sage X 14 foot rod. Same energy, 2.5 foot shorter but does almost as well as the longer rod? I do however take the long rod when going to big wide rivers. For the longest casts I take and use my old Derek Brown Special 15 foot 7/8 rod (Winston) and that one will reach out a little more than the sage using the same line.

Fads? Oh heck I don't know. Back in the 90's I was hoping that Americans using bobbers on fly rods with nymphs was a passing fad. Now days I could take you fishing with me and offer you a dollar for every person we found who was not using a bobber. At days end you will not have collected enough from me to purchase coffee for us :)

I think that the fellows will figure out on their own which length works best where.
 

MCXFisher

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Twenty or so years ago a 13 footer was regarded as a summer, grilse or small river rod. With the developments in both rods and lines, the area of water one can cover with a good well balanced 13 foot outfit is quite remarkable. Nevertheless I would not wish to fish a truly big river, especially in heavy water, with a short rod. I enjoyed this week on the Conon up to +3' with a 13' 6" #8 using sink tips and tubes, but was operating close to the limits of what I could achieve in terms of range when the water was well up.

I've never owned a 15 footer because the nature of the river that I fish most often doesn't require it. However, with modern blanks rods have become significantly lighter, so a 15 is perhaps not such a daunting prospect for those with bad backs as it was 20 years ago.

Of course, as the sage Michael Evans said in his casting DVD, "if you're working hard, you're working too hard" (and by implication casting badly). Unfortunately, the psychology is such that when we're confronted with a big expanse of water, most of us try too hard and cast less well as a result.
 

offshore

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I seem to remember seeing/reading a casting instructor advocating holding the handle in the upper hand in a 'circular ' loose grip , between the index finger and thumb - the handle is supported within this ring, but held very loosely with just two fingers of the upper hand.

Does anybody use this grip ?

I currently grip with the upper hand in a similar way you would hold a small hammer; its quite rigid and a good way to get tendonitis I suppose.
 

MCXFisher

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I seem to remember seeing/reading a casting instructor advocating holding the handle in the upper hand in a 'circular ' loose grip , between the index finger and thumb - the handle is supported within this ring, but held very loosely with just two fingers of the upper hand.

Does anybody use this grip ?

I currently grip with the upper hand in a similar way you would hold a small hammer; its quite rigid and a good way to get tendonitis I suppose.
With a 13-14 foot rod my upper hand grip comprises thumb and first 2 fingers to hold the line, and the lower, thumb and middle finger alone, forming a rough circle. This increases by one finger to cope with additional loops of running line. it's a great antidote to trying too hard.

If the thumb of the lower hand gets onto the cork pointing upwards along the rod it will induce stress in the arm; limit your ability to get easily into a good launch position; and interfere with the correct track of the lower hand to the midriff (credit - Brian Towers, AAPGI Master and T&S Tester).
 

minitube

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If the thumb of the lower hand gets onto the cork pointing upwards along the rod it will induce stress in the arm; limit your ability to get easily into a good launch position; and interfere with the correct track of the lower hand to the midriff (credit - Brian Towers, AAPGI Master and T&S Tester).
Not so.
 

offshore

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With a 13-14 foot rod my upper hand grip comprises thumb and first 2 fingers to hold the line, and the lower, thumb and middle finger alone, forming a rough circle. This increases by one finger to cope with additional loops of running line. it's a great antidote to trying too hard.

If the thumb of the lower hand gets onto the cork pointing upwards along the rod it will induce stress in the arm; limit your ability to get easily into a good launch position; and interfere with the correct track of the lower hand to the midriff (credit - Brian Towers, AAPGI Master and T&S Tester).
Not quite sure what I have doing with my lower hand to be honest, but as you say if the the thumb points upwards, movement is restricted; I may well have been doing that.

I hold the line in the lower hand, looped over the reel, so my top grip isnt going to look quite like yours.

The grip and grip pressure is of the utmost importance in golf and tennis (for performance and ease), so I need to get this correct in future - another sports type injury is something I definitely don't need to add to the list.
 

minitube

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I seem to remember seeing/reading a casting instructor advocating holding the handle in the upper hand in a 'circular ' loose grip , between the index finger and thumb - the handle is supported within this ring, but held very loosely with just two fingers of the upper hand.

Does anybody use this grip ?
That is the grip used by shooting head casters using the 'classic' Underhand style - a la Goran Andersson.


I currently grip with the upper hand in a similar way you would hold a small hammer; its quite rigid and a good way to get tendonitis I suppose.

I wouldn't think so, nothing wrong with that grip whatsoever. It should not be held as tight the rest of the time as on the stop. relaxed generally but firm enough at the stop.
 
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minitube

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Robert,
you’re a professional so I defer to your opinion.
M
Hi Michael,

That sounds very noble of you Michael. I was taught that way by more then one Spey caster and use it almost all the time as do many others. Sometimes the thumb may slide to the side on the top hand, I note from some photographs but usually not the bottom hand thumb if things are right. No matter how good the blank I don't use Spey rods that don't allow for a handshake grip with thumb on top on the bottom grip. On shooting head rods I understand a Scandi bottom grip only possibility as that is often their nature and design, but personally do mind on Spey casting rods not having a choice of bottom grip possibility as the handshake is the grip I prefer for Spey casting. Not that they can't be cast well with a Scandi grip, its a removal of the personal choice issue. They can be cast well both ways.
 
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Rrrr

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My top hand realy dosent grip the handle much at all, my little finger and ring finger have next to no grip from being broken a couple of times and an accident at work where all the tendons had to be reattatched etc. My middle finger also just sits on the rod as if i use it to grip the others ache. So i grip my top handle mainly with my thumb and forefinger but not in a ring shape and grip more with the webby bit between the 2. Also this causes me to run my running line over my middle finger instead of forefinger as ive lost a few fish where the running line has been pulled from my hand on the take. No idea what this does to my casting but its just the easiest way to get the job done

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MCXFisher

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Hi Michael,

That sounds very noble of you Michael. I was taught that way by more then one Spey caster and use it almost all the time as do many others. Sometimes the thumb may slide to the side on the top hand, I note from some photographs but usually not the bottom hand thumb if things are right. No matter how good the blank I don't use Spey rods that don't allow for a handshake grip with thumb on top on the bottom grip. On shooting head rods I understand a Scandi bottom grip only possibility as that is often their nature and design, but personally do mind on Spey casting rods not having a choice of bottom grip possibility as the handshake is the grip I prefer for Spey casting. Not that they can't be cast well with a Scandi grip, its a removal of the personal choice issue. They can be cast well both ways.
Robert,
the advice that Brian gave me was in the context of a session with the Vision MAG 13, which is more Scandi than Spey in action, although it does cast perfectly well with a longer stroke.
Thank you for your clarification.
 

offshore

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That is the grip used by shooting head casters using the 'classic' Underhand style - a la Goran Andersson.





I wouldn't think so, nothing wrong with that grip whatsoever. It should not be held as tight the rest of the time as on the stop. relaxed generally but firm enough at the stop.
Thanks Robert.

I will go back and look at some of your youtube casting clips; a few years have passed since I last did that.

Still rubbing Ibuprofen in my elbow today, so I have a vested interest to make sure I get my technique right - although a few weeks of hedgecutting, building, gardening and tennis prior to fishing may have had something to do with it.
 

offshore

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A typical way to get tennis elbow ( a form of tendinitis) is to use a racquet with a handle too slim for the size of your hand; the handles go up in standard sizes by 1/8 of an inch - so a small change in size makes a big difference.

I have just measured the handle of my newish Vision Mag (where I grip it with the top hand) and it is a full inch less in circumference than my older Loop LTS; it seems logical that could be part of the cause of my tendonitis. Looks like for me I need to modify my style of grip, to avoid holding on too tight.

Also I have gripping the MAG with my top hand virtually directly above the reel seat (which the handle shape encourages); with the LTS I have a mark on the handle a full 6 inches higher. That's quite a difference in leverage - and pressure on my hands and arms.

Since I changed to shooting heads I have been using a relatively narrow spacing between upper and lower hands; perhaps I need to go wider, perhaps to the top of the handle on the MAG.

I have also just looked at the handle on my even older Loop Classic Spey 15' - the discolouration on the top handle shows that I was using a distance between hands equivalent to my shoulder width; perhaps another option there to consider.
 

wetwader

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A typical way to get tennis elbow ( a form of tendinitis) is to use a racquet with a handle too slim for the size of your hand; the handles go up in standard sizes by 1/8 of an inch - so a small change in size makes a big difference.

I have just measured the handle of my newish Vision Mag (where I grip it with the top hand) and it is a full inch less in circumference than my older Loop LTS; it seems logical that could be part of the cause of my tendonitis. Looks like for me I need to modify my style of grip, to avoid holding on too tight.

Also I have gripping the MAG with my top hand virtually directly above the reel seat (which the handle shape encourages); with the LTS I have a mark on the handle a full 6 inches higher. That's quite a difference in leverage - and pressure on my hands and arms.

Since I changed to shooting heads I have been using a relatively narrow spacing between upper and lower hands; perhaps I need to go wider, perhaps to the top of the handle on the MAG.

I have also just looked at the handle on my even older Loop Classic Spey 15' - the discolouration on the top handle shows that I was using a distance between hands equivalent to my shoulder width; perhaps another option there to consider.
That’s the positive side of those issues, at least for the casting and fishing. Not to take it as given but to try to avoid and to improve efficiency.
I had to come through a tendonitis left side and a frozen shoulder right side. Similar to you, it came in a combination of too much of everything in different sports, fishing - and - my wife’s garden projects😁 Too much in combination over longer time in holidays.
Well, off from the gas.

Same for the casting. It also really makes sense to think it all through like you do now. Every possibility in equipment, casting, posture, handle and grip position, runningline management, etc. should be rethought. Even small changes can have good effects.

I don’t take rods anymore without the opportunity to have a wide enough grip (approximately shoulder width) in combination with a perfect balance with the reels I prefer. Also the handle must be thick enough up to the top. I don’t like at all those handles with a steep shape.
There is a trend in handles becoming thinner and thinner, after they were becoming shorter and shorter before.
It’s also not good, to be forced by the handle or bad rod-reel balance, to change grip position between casting and fishing. It should be possible to have a shoulder width grip with a good balance of rod and reel weight, all together.
This way, a wide enough hand position (wider than forced too often), it’s also much easier to change between shorter and longer rods, shorter and longer lines, at least for me.
I could make some compromises when the blank is worth it or I could help myself and do some work on a rod. But in general that’s my personal preference.
I was thinking about coming back to building up rods by myself again as I did 30 years ago.
The shorter the rod, the shorter the grips too often.
Really problematic are some short Switch rods. And even worse they can become with downlocking reel holders when in need for a bigger reel with line capacity.
It’s possible to cast rods with forefinger and thumb of the top hand around the blank loosely, rest of the hand on the cork. It can improve the feel for the rod load this way. A relaxed grip with the top hand as a pivot. Most of the work done with the bottom hand. If I had to choose, I would prefer to cast this way instead of being forced to an unnatural grip with the hands too close to each other.

Runningline?
For me between the fingers in the Bottom Hand and, if necessary for long distance, also in fast water or deep wading, some strips of line between the lips. If one wants to try, don’t let the line slip in between the teeth😁
It’s easier for me to have a more relaxed grip in the Top Hand and to concentrate in the top hands (limited but not unimportant) function in the casting as with an additional function for the runningline.

There is a lot more to experiment.
Sometimes details matters and it’s worth to try what works for oneself.
Maybe it helps you or some others.
But not that easy to describe without pictures or demonstrations.

Sorry Göran Andersson, I know I always broke some of your strict rules how to do from the beginning. And sorry for all others, if I brake some others rules too.
 
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offshore

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Shoulder width is where you should be.
Do you mind me asking, when you were having a casting lesson with the MAG, did you have your top hand towards the top of the upper handle section, in the middle or lower ?

I suppose you have already answered that question for me by stating shoulder width, but I wondered of the instructor had mentioned anything on spacing.

When casting on the Ure the 13 MAG and RIO Scandi line combination was spot on, but quite clearly casting across the main Tyne for several days has highlighted the shortcomings in my technique / knowledge.
 
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