Salomone: Here’s why you’d want a specialty fly rod
Vail Valley Anglers
If you ask a die-hard fly angler if they have a “pet rod,” a special fly rod for a specific purpose, most will confess. Some hold dear custom dry fly rods, while others gain pride from owning salt water specific fly gear.
Perhaps it is a rod designed for a specific technique. Whatever it is, anglers have their favorites. Stepping out of the realm of the generic 9 feet, 5 weight trout rod to embrace something with a niche purpose often opens up a whole new facet of fly-fishing.
Specialty fly rods can be found in any fly shop rod rack, from soft easy casting dry fly rods to extended length Euro-nymph rods and even species specific rods like pike, carp and bass fly rods.
I asked a few seasoned professionals what they hold dear when it comes to specialty fly rods. The variety of responses illustrates how vast the world of fly-fishing really is. It also shows how many devoted fly anglers take their passion for throwing flies to other water and species.
Brett Elkman from Vail Valley Anglers has an affinity for a 10 foot, 2 weight Euro rod. Euro nymphing has grown tremendously in popularity in the past few years. Anglers have to embrace a whole new line, leader and fly system taking their knowledge of fly-fishing to a higher level.
“It’s lightweight and sensitive. The 2 weight fights big fish and has the backbone to land them.” Elkman said.
A perfect example of an “out of the box” fly rod. How many anglers have 10 foot, 2 weights? And yet Brett specifically stated that “I love mine.” A pretty good endorsement and reason for looking into Euro nymphing fly rods.
Todd Tanner, writer, owner of the School of Trout and Conservation Hawks as well as extraordinary fly angler, holds a Winston 9 foot, 4 weight (circa 1998) as his dry fly rod. The precious pieces of graphite are obsolete in the fly rod world, if that is possible. Tanner understands the irreplaceable factor with this rod. He admits he “tends to baby it now — knowing full well that one of these days something is liable to happen.”
Finding that special dry fly rod is a joy. Purely casting a well-balanced dry fly rod just feels good. The design of premium dry fly rods makes them intuitive in their casting. The fly seems to land where you are looking every time.
Kirk Deeter, editor of Trout and Angling Trade magazines, prolific writer and proud dry fly angler, admits to his affection for a Scott F-series fiberglass 2 weight. Although he will tell you he “never met a fly rod he didn’t like.” This specific Scott rod he has fished more in the past two seasons than any other rod.
Marc Barnwell, local fly-fishing guide since 1996, has an Orvis Clearwater 7 weight setup for his clients that like to throw streamers. As a float guide, Barnwell caters to his clients’ desires. He “likes the 7 weight for more power over the 6 weight,” especially from a boat.
I have a couple of off-shore fly rods that are purposely built for billfish, tuna and sharks. The pool cue size fly rods are designed for casting the fly a short distance but fighting fish with tremendous lift and backbone. The rods have extended cork handles for reaching up on the fly rod for fighting leverage.
While they see irregular use sitting in the rod rack of a Colorado guide, the rods step up to the transom every time I travel to Florida. I’ll get an Atlantic Sailfish on the fly one of these days.
A specialty fly rod, built for a purpose or designed for a specific technique of fly-fishing. The angler has to learn a whole new skill set. And then apply the new skills with enough proficiency to attain success. Whether it is a freshwater species the angler has targeted, a new way of pursuing trout or chasing giant pelagics in deep blue water, specialty fly rods open up the world of fly fishing for any angler.
Michael Salomone moved to the Eagle River valley in 1992. He began guiding fly-fishing professionally in 2002. His freelance writing has been published in magazines and websites including, Southwest Fly Fishing, Fly Rod & Reel, Eastern Fly Fishing, On the Fly, FlyLords, the Pointing Dog Journal, Upland Almanac, the Echo website, Vail Valley Anglers and more. He lives on the bank of the Eagle River with his wife, Lori; two daughters, Emily and Ella; and a brace of yellow Labrador retrievers.