Bruce Richards On Rod Loading - post from 2004

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Posted by Craig Smith on 2018-05-08 22:43:32 in reply to Re: Rio Shooting Heads Nearly Three Times Overlined posted by Dan Blanton on 2018-05-08 15:21:33

The archives don't go back to the post Dan mentioned - but I happened to save the content - below is a copy of the content from that post

Posted on Dan Blantons site by Bruce Richards December 29 2004

Hi Dan, thanks for the heads up on this one. I think I can shed some light.
First, AFFTA industry standards (previously AFTMA) rate all fly lines the same way. First, remove any level tip section (usually 6"-12") then weigh the first 30 ft. of the line. Tapers ARE included. The weight of that section determines what the line weight is, all lines, floating, sinking, DT, WF, ST, L. I would guess that Dan might have those weights on the site somewhere.

Line makers are lucky in a way, we can easily weigh any line and say for certainty what line weight it is, rod makers don't have it so easy. They use the lines we make to design rods to cast each weight. However, what weight loads each rod "right" is a subjective thing and has been the subject of endless discussion, and is continuing here.

The rod designer determines what line works best for each rod, depending on the type of casting the rod is designed for. Since the rating is subjective it is hard to argue with, there are no "misrated" rods. Doesn't mean you have to agree with the rating, but if Company X says a rod is a 6 wt., it's a 6 wt.
Most rods are designed around "standard" WF lines, not DTs or unusual WFs with very long or short heads. They are designed to carry what the designer feels is the average length of line their typical customer for that rod will be carrying, with the most commonly used line. Obviously there are a lot of variables that can affect how each rod will work.

Light rods, say 5 wts. and lighter, are usually designed around 30 ft. of line, or less, as they are normally fished at distances of 40 ft. or less. (40 ft. = 30 ft. of fly line + leader) Whether the line is DT, WF, ST doesn't matter, they will all weigh the same, and load the rod the same at that distance. Most typical WF-5 lines have heads (FT, Belly, RT) of 35-40 ft. DT and WF lines will weigh the same, and load the same, until the caster extends line to the point that the WF rear taper is out of the rod.

In reply to Dan's question above..... Long belly and short belly lines are rated the same way, described above. This does mean that LB lines will weigh more than short belly lines at lengths longer than the short belly head. Some casters do use lines a size or two smaller when carrying long to compensate for the extra weight, but most do not as the line will be very light at close range. Casters able to carry 50+ ft. of line are quite talented and easily adjust their stroke to handle the extra length and weight. There are casters who can CARRY 85+ ft. of a long head WF-5-F on a 9' 5 wt. rod. The weight of the line at 70 ft. is about 19.5 grams, a 10.5 wt. Yup, the rod bends a lot, but handles the line just fine if the stroke is long and smooth. That feat is done with a Sage TCR, but can be done with an XP, and with softer rods. Adjusting casting stroke to compensate for the weight carried allows any rod to carry a wide range of line weights, and lengths. Short distance casting is easy also. The rod may not bend in a way that feels good to the caster, but the cast can be easily made. Learning how to adjust to any rod/line combination can do more for any caster than hours and hours of line fine tuning. Remember that every 5 ft. of line belly weighs the equivalent of another line weight, we all cast a wide range of weight on all our rods, all the time.

Mending is possible as long as the belly of the line is in or very near the rod tip. Obviously DT lines will mend to very long ranges, but that is limited by the length of the rod. Longer rods will mend longer. Most "standard" WF lines will mend just fine to about 50 ft. (40 ft. of line, 10 ft. of leader). It is very hard to make an effective mend to 50 ft. with a 9 ft. rod, which means, in most cases, there is little if any advantage in using DTs for their mending capabilities. With longer rods and talented casters there is an advantage, but the same advantage exists with long belly WFs.

For what it's worth, sales of WF vs. DT lines is increasing, has been for 20 years. We now make more variety of DTs then ever, but sales continue to decline. For most people and applications, WFs are more versatile, mend, roll cast and pick up just as well as DTs, and do cast farther. Talented casters can throw DTs as far, or farther than WFs, but for most people, WFs work better.

Most people advise uplining a size or two when using STs, and for good reason. Most STs are used with 8,9,10 wt. rods. These rods are usually designed to carry 40-45 ft. of a standard WF line. 40 ft. of a WF-9 line weighs about the same as 30 ft. of a WF-11 (remember, each 5 ft. of belly adds about 1 line weight). If you want this 9 wt. rod to load as the rod designer intended, use an ST-11.

Bill, your reply to Max regarding STs and tapers and head weights/lengths is right on the money.

What is the "right" line for any rod is a purely personal thing. For me, if I use the line the rod maker suggests, it is right, I agree with the designers. But, if I happen to use a line a size or two lighter or heavier, that will work fine too, but I do have to adjust my stroke accordingly. Slower rods require longer, slower strokes than fast rods to maintain the straight line tip path that makes good loops. A fast 5 wt. rod casting a 7 wt. line is now a slower rod, and requires a longer, smoother stroke. The same rod with a 3 wt. line is now much stiffer, and requires a shorter, harder stroke. Either combo might not feel good to you, but it WILL do the job if you adjust.

There is no right answer to the rod loading issue, but understanding the facts might make it easier to match lines to rods, and adjust your cast to make any rig work better for you.


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