Fly rods come in different actions, or levels of flexibility. Action depends on the material used in the blank and the taper of the blank. The action is important because it dictates the speed of the casting cycle—how fast you must move the rod back and forth. The most common actions are:
- Fast: The bend of the rod is concentrated near the tip. Fast action is good for casting in windy conditions because it generates the greatest line speed.
- Moderate-fast: The bend extends through the upper third of this rod.
- Moderate: The bend extends halfway down the rod. Moderate action is best for casting large poppers or bass bugs (see Hooks and Flies).
- Slow:The bend extends all the way down to the grip of the rod. Though slow action is not as popular, it has the benefits of reducing false casting and permits a greater amount of sunken line to be lifted into the backcast (see How to Cast a Fly).
The grip, which you hold in your dominant hand while casting, should be constructed of cork rings. Various foams and plastics have been introduced as substitutes for cork, but the organic feel of cork and its excellent wear properties have never been replicated.
The grip style you should use depends on the size of your hand and the rigors of the fishing you do. If you’ll be casting large flies or poppers or have large hands, choose a large, fuller grip. Many people cast with their thumb pressing against the front of the grip, exerting tremendous force at this point. For them, a full wells or half wells grip, both of which have a lot of cork to take the thumb pressure, are best. The cigar, reverse half wells, and ultra-fine grips all taper at the front and are favored by those who use rods for close-in fishing with light lines.
My advice rent or borrow rods of different weights, various actions, with different various grips. Sort out your preferences and then fork out the moolah for a nice rod. Don’t buy wrong, buy again and settle and then finally buy what you want.