Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB
Fly Fishing The Millers - With over 30 years of fly fishing this river I will claim more knowledge and fish caught than anyone. There are over 40 miles of river and I will take you to the best sections and if you want to sections that never see another angler. Don't be fooled by those who say the Millers is a Spring and Fall river. I'll show you how to have great Summer action. The "EB of the Westfield" - Wild and beautiful is the only way to describe this river. There's a lot of water here but I know where to go to catch trout. After a trip you will too!! Solitude and trout IS the EB. The Swift - 20 trout days are not uncommon on this river if you know what to do and use. I'll show the way and you catch the trout. RATES - Full Day (6 hours) = $150.00 for one, $225 for two (lunch included). Half Day (three hours) $90.00 for one, $155.00 for two. Beginners Class - 3 hours ffor $90.00, all use of rods lines, reels included.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Perfect Fly Rod

"Fly fishing isn't really about catching fish.  Fly casting is a great part of it, and in a sense a rod is like a baseball bat. If you hit the ball just right, you really nail it. It feels good.  You've found the sweet spot in the bat. A fly rod should deliver that kind of joy: the joy of casting" - Tom Dorsey, founder of Thomas & Thomas Rod Company

I've guided hundreds and hundreds of clients over the last few years and  very few of them had the tool that we call the nymphing rod in their arsenal, very few. Now, did they use the techniques that we now label as nymphing? Yes, when the circumstances called for it.  Were they hampered by using the wrong equipment? No, not really.  I will make this statement: the average well designed graphite fly rod of around 9 feet for a 4 or 5 weight line that is moderate to medium fast will be able to do everything that you want it to do, including all forms of nymphing, and will only be restricted by your ability to use the rod correctly.

As Tom Dorsey said, this sport is about fly casting and your garden variety nymph rod is not a good casting machine.  A stiff butt and mid section married to a soft tip section gives an awkward, hinged feel when you need to make a long cast instead of just "flipping and mending". I have a 10ft, 4wt nymph rod given to me as a gift.  If all that I wanted to do was nymph I'm ok but longer casts to rising trout felt like shooting a bow with an arrow of the wrong spine.  There was less control over the placement of the fly as my casts got longer.

My other graphite rods of between 8 to 9 ft can do EVERYTHING that my 10 ft nymph rod can do PLUS make long accurate casts.  Am I hampered by a shorter rod?? I can bounce nymphs on the Swift, the EB, the Millers and the Ware and I can position myself to cover all of the water correctly (sometimes nymphing) with a generalist rod of 8 to 9 feet.  Am I hampered by not having the softer tip section  for strike detection? ARE YOU KIDDING ME???  There's something wrong if you can't detect a strike while nymphing with a generalist graphite rod.  John Gierach, the great writer, once said you could nymph fish with a broom handle. Get the point??

It seems that the industry that supports this sport has been working overtime to create new markets. For 30 years the only advancements in fly rods were the introduction of some new generation of graphite. Then came things like switch rods and spey rods and now specialist rods that you can buy because we are becoming like golfers. A fly rod for every situation. Soon we will have rod caddies!!!!  Many of these advances are not NEED driven but are MARKET driven.  We are convinced that we need the new thing and we go and buy it.  Many times we have bought a solution in search of a problem!!

I read recently that instead of shelling out $700 for a new fly rod the angler should buy one for $250 and spend the rest of the money on casting lessons.  Good advice??  I think so!


Ed said...

Hello Ken
I know you do not have time to answer everyones emails (there’s fish to catch) but once I read that you sometimes load a 5wt rod with 4wt line for better performance. Could you tell me why you do this?
Thanks, Ed Bonczar

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Your average rod will handle one size under or one size over in line weight easily. When I'm fishing small waters (Swift River) I will almost always cast at least one size line under so I get the lightest presentation. Sometimes on large rivers I may cast one size bigger to shoot line quicker. My 8wt striper rod is loaded with 9 wt line.
Remember- casting 20 feet of 5wt line is the same as casting 30 feet of 4wt. It's the weight of the line beyond the rod tip that counts.

Hibernation said...

I broadly agree with you Ken - despite having a stable of rods that is mildly embarrassing! I do find some rods just feel right for certain types of fishing - not just say high sticking or euronymphing or streamers etc... but certain locations.

For example, fishing my favorite trout waters - wild/native brookie streams - which may only be 2 feet wide at times... Well, my 2 weight 5'6" rod is the bomb. LOVE it.

I have to admit though, on larger or more open water or places where distance may be a factor, I've grown to love my 4wt "nymph" rod which is 11ft. it's practically a switch rod, and does toss a nice single hand spey cast on the millers when needed. On the swift, what I love, is that the soft tip end allows me to softly land small flies, and at 11 feet, when wanted I can basically use it like a Tenkara rod to minimize drag. Best though, is that the stout butt and leverage of that beast (if a 4wt can be a beast) really helps fight those larger swift and likewise, millers trout so they are fresher upon release.

My favorite all purpose trout rod is a 7'6" 4wt that I got maybe 10 years ago. It's a soft action though graphite, and you can feel the full flex through the grip - almost fishes like a glass rod, just a bit faster. I Use it only on a couple streams now where there just is not room for the 11footer, but always look at it and consider taking it to the swift due to the light presentation it allows.

All that said, I am not old, but at 42, and starting fly fishing in the 4th grade... I started with a 7'6" 6wt - because that's what you started on. I fished a 6wt ONLY until well into my twenties. I fished bass with that rod, wild brookies, sun fish, stocked trout, etc. Anything I could fish for I used that 6wt and never complained or felt hindered...

Only when I got "into fly fishing seriously" (ha ha ha) in my mid 20's did I "Learn" that I should have had a nymph rod, a streamer rod, a dry rod, a bass rod, a WF line (v DT), a sink tip a full sink etc...

I look back now, and sure, I have more gear... But the reality is that most of it is used because of reasons other than "that's correct for this technique"... It's just used because I like the feel of that rod for that water. Or, because I like the feel of that rod, period. I mean, on the EB of the swift I do great "euronymphing" with my 7'6" 4wt...

This is a long winded way of saying, enjoy gear, it's fun... but, don't let the marketing voices make you think you HAVE to have certain types of gear for certain fishing. Some times, keeping it simple really does clear your mind to make it all more fun.

swalter said...

"Rod caddie" now there's an idea, stop wasting time changing flies...guides should offer that service for the "experts" who don't need a guide. :)

TROUT said...

I have a 8 foot 3 wt rod that is my all around rod.

That being said, I did purchase a 10 FT. 4 weight rod for the extra reach, and as a backup for when I take others with me. I paid $60 for it and it was probably made in China. There are no markings on it, which is something I like.

The reason I paid so little for it is because I feel the same way as Gierach, and believe you could tightline with a broom stick. I certainly don't see the need for any fancy equipment for that style of fly fishing.

That being said, the flex of a rod definitely helps with fighting a fish, and I'd like to avoid staring onlookers, and stick with my $60 rod when needed. :)

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, the number of rod/reel, line, and fly choices make fly fishing an interesting sport. Yes you can get caught up in hype, but hopefully over time with experience you can separate the wheat from the chaff.
My favorite rod for Trout is a 9' 5wt newer graphite rod which fits MY casting style better than a slower rod. I do use it for a bit of everything: streamers to drys.
Even though I am a elderly flyfisherman, I do use one of those newfangled 10' "nymph" rods quite a bit and have found it to be quite the ticket when casting very small nymphs using the tight line methods. However it does have its limitations and you have to decide to live with them. I do at times!
I do maintain a stable of over 25 rods from 3wts to 10wts and Bamboo to Graphite. Do I use them regularly? Nope, but when I want to they are ready to go.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

I think of fly rods the same way Bill Belechick thinks of position players. Can you play guard AND center? Can you play tight end AND be a long snapper or whatever. Versatility!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I've got a closet full of rods but I haven't bought a graphite rod since 2008 because everything that I have works plus I spend too much $$ on bamboo which is great to own and just admire. It's fun to fish with it too!


tincup said...

Best story ever PLEASE tell the person you are with that or what you paid for your toys (RODS,BOWS, GUNS ETC) I once stopped at a yard sale a bunch of rods etc were being sold, all for next too nothing. I picked up everything and brought it too the front door. A lady met me saying u want to buy all these. Well u can guess the rest I gave her telephone numbers for fair values. I have met a great friend and she gave me one of her husband favorite rods as a gift after. I KNOW MY WIFE HAS SHOES ect which it was A SALE or Discounted and I do not care but someone some day will get these treasures so put them in wills or now tell the truth as how how it might be. So u just need to tell the true value of your gear. Happy holiday too all Merry Christmas.

Parachute Adams said...

I like my 7 foot Fenwick medium action. It serves me well on the Swift, especially dry flies which is my favorite form of fly fishing. It does OK as well when fishing sub surface as long as there is not too much weight on the leader to get the fly down.

I haven't been fishing lately, but have been tying a few flies. I found an old spool of yellow mono in the basement. No idea where it came from. It makes for a good rib on midges, at least I think so. Trout will be the judge.

Regards, Sam

BobT said...

talk about opening a can of worms!!! I was in a new rod gear acquisition mode for many years. I am approaching 50 and am sending my 30 year old Scott G series 9' 5 weight in for a new reel seat and some new lashings around some guides. I have a 25 year old Winston LT 6 weight and a 8 ft 8 " Scott G series 4. I have ebayed 10-15 rods this past year - I will be acquiring some sort of new striper rod this spring broomstick 10 weight was sold on the auction sight last week. I've had the XP SP XLT XXXX super duper department of defense high line speed lighting fast wicked modulus sniper sticks and they suck in the fun to fish department-you can't feel the load but they cast fine if your timing is good. I have a fairly sweet casting Loomis 5 weight of not too very recent vintage that I'd characterize as a little faster but I am considering putting it up for auction too. That would get me from about 20 rods down to the ones I fish. I like the "original" G series Scotts - they can do everything well, they cast DT's fantastically and roll cast/single spey quite well. I throw streamers on the Winston. If I want to tightline/euro nymph I am pretty deadly with the 8ft 8" Scott. FYI I've watched the Czechs and Poles do this live and many of them are using rods under 9 feet. Not sure what my point is other than I guess I agree with John Gierach always!

Millers River Flyfisher said...


Scott always did everything right and still does.


I'm assuming that the Fenwick is a glass rod. I have one from the early 1970's. It is a better rod than the newer glass rods of today!


Anonymous said...

This post is timely for me. I recently bought a 9-5 weight sage one. That rod does not suit me at all, I found it needed an overweight 7 line to have any feel and can't imagine catching fish on it would be any fun. Rod was returned. I fish a 4 weight classic trout-I love that rod.

Anonymous said...

Boy you can see from all the posts that everyone has a little different sweet spot when it comes to fly rods. That keeps the manufacturers in business and also shows why you have to cast/fish it before you purchase! The best reviewed rod (vintage or new) may suit the reviewers casting style but be a 2X4 in your hands!
My needs really vary from stillwater to rivers. Love my 6wt XP's for handling distance and wind on still waters, but they are horrid on rivers where all I need is a rod to handle mending and up to 30' casts. For that my older Winston 4's or 5's do the job well. Your mileage may differ.

Millers River Flyfisher said...


WOW!!! That's unbelievable given the reputation of that company but I believe you. I've casted the lower end of their rods and you might as well just throw them away for what they cost.

Anonymous 2,

Keep those old Winstons. They will not let you down as you know.


Parachute Adams said...

Ken, my Fenwick is indeed a glass rod bought in the mid 70's along with the Pflueger reel I still use. They both work fine and suit my needs quite well. I still use the same old Thompson fly tying vice that I bought around that time too. Hopefully I can get out Sunday for a bit.

Regards, Sam

Anonymous said...

Can't tell you all how good it is to read this thread. When I started fly fishing a few years ago, I got caught up in reading all about different rods, reels, lines and was not only confused, but admittedly caught up in the hype. I patrolled eBay/Craigslist and others and found some great bargains on some pretty good Sage rods/reels (3 wt to 6 wt) and thought I was all set. Learned a lot since then about what really catches trout. Can't tell you how many times I bring my go-to 4 wt as a back up rod in my car in case the "specialty" set up for that day breaks. When I get to the river and suit up, I almost always choose my "good ole' 4 wt" and leave the specialty rod in the car -- because it's my comfort zone and I like the feel. I should have kept it simple from the beginning.

Now if I could learn to tie flies better and focus on that, I'd be better off come Spring.

Love this Blog.... Jim M

Parachute Adams said...

Jim M, as far as fly tying goes, after a long hiatus from tying, I started doing it again a couple of years ago. My efforts were poor at first, but one thing that helped me a great deal was looking at videos on Youtube, especially those made by 'Tightlines' and 'In the Riffle'. Very good information and tips on tying that I found very useful.

Regards, Sam

lenny tamule said...

This post has had me thinking the past couple of days. Last Christmas I asked for a 10' 4 wt nymphig rod and used it maybe a handful of times before I pieced the base of my 6 wt onto the other 3 pieces. I went the whole summer using a 9' 6wt for everything other than dries, which is what I use my 3 wt for. I started thinking the other day and realized none of my memorable fish were caught with the 10' rod. I fished this whole summer like I never owned the thing. I got it fixed and probably used it 3-4 times in places it wasn't even necessary 90% of the time. So I think I'm going to sell it and use whatever I get for it towards a switch rod to swing for steelhead and other big game salmonids


Millers River Flyfisher said...


Sounds like you created a hybrid rod from the 10ft 4wt. I got one of those too as a birthday present from two years ago and didn't use it at all this year. I may try the same thing!


lenny tamule said...

I think I worded that poorly lol. The 4wt couldn't handle the speed the base created and snapped, (poor hybrid lol) that's how I came to the conclusion I didn't need it! The Switch rod will be fun to swing with on the Deerfield while its blown out this winter.