Fiberglass vs graphite


Joe Streamer
But then again, how do you explain today's Per Brandin cane rods at around $4,000 each, or rods by the late Dickerson or Gillum at well north of $10,000? A discussion for another thread perhaps...
I think that if you really want to lay your hands on some of the sweetest casting rods ever, pick up a glass rod by one of the current builders, like Mark Steffen (who rolls his own S-glass blanks) or Mike McFarland (who has his tapers custom made for him out of E-glass).

My goto trout rod is an 8' 5/6 wt from Mark Steffen and it is simply buttery smooth. They're certainly not for everyone, but I think some of you "hardcore" graphite users would be pleasantly surprised, I certainly was.

cost-wise, the Steffens are right on par with a mid-priced graphite while the McFarlands are a little more. of course you can pick up an old fenwick for under $100 and be perfectly happy as well.

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
. . .I think I'll pursue an older 3 wt fiberglass. The quest for purity is self defined.
Indeed it is! However the two terms 'older' and '3wt fiberglass' may be a bit mutually exclusive. Here's why:

The standard line for trout rods from the 1920s through the 1970s was the equivalent of today's 6wt. This weight was so common, that many (if not most) rods were simply not even marked with a line weight. One of the few exceptions were the Goodwin and WM Grangers, which were designed for the then-light 5wt equivalent.

Rods and lines for 4wt weren't introduced until the mid-1970s (and were then greeted with much the same skepticism that many today hold for 0wts or lighter.) 3wts weren't in common use for another decade. Since by then graphite had largely replaced fiberglass as the material of choice for plastic rods, you're likely to find very few fiberglass 3wt rods, especially in anything approaching today's ubiquitous 9 foot lengths.

But since the quest for purity is indeed self-defined, I suspect that searching one out will be a large part of the fun:thumb:



Well-Known Member

Re: the question, is a $400 graphite all that much better than a $50 fiberglass?

No, of course it isn't. However, the graphite rod is lighter weight, almost certainly a much faster action, and will cast a line further for a given effort.

I still have several fiberglass fly rods, but I haven't cast one in well over a decade, maybe longer. I like the feel of the lighter weight of graphite rods mainly. I can't really say that I use them to cast further, because I can cast as far as I need to with a fiberglass rod. And I don't catch more fish with graphite rods. I used to do the majority of my fishing with a 6 wt Scientific Anglers and an 8 wt Lamiglass fiberglass rods. I didn't have a lot of rods and couldn't afford to buy whatever I wanted on a whim, so those two rods have landed more trout and steelhead than all the rods of any material combined that I have acquired since.

One thing is very clear to me. The fish don't know or care how much I spent on my gear. They only care that the presentation is good, and rod material doesn't matter on that count.



Active Member

One thing is very clear to me. The fish don't know or care how much I spent on my gear. They only care that the presentation is good, and rod material doesn't matter on that count.

Exactly. However it is also true that we fish for enjoyment. And, as others pointed out, you should choose you equipment appropriately.
Graphite vs Fiberglass. To me it is not an issue of which one you would use as all rod designs regardless of the materials they are constructed out of will have a sweet spot for range and comfort of casting. Fish what you are comfortable with and is right for the sittuation. I own rods from both types of materials. I like graphite when I need to fish distance and have to punch the wind all day. I like to use 7' and 8' rods in the 5 and 6wt range for smaller streams where I need to load the rod quickly and still make a quiet presentation.


Skunk Happens
I wish I had some extra money so I could pick up a glass rod. Always wanted to try one, as I think I lean towards slower actions myself. Perhaps I'll sell/trade a rod or two sometime to get my hands on one.
Sportsman's Whatever here in Spokaloo carries a WW Grigg fiberglass rod with a reel for $70. As a dedicated cheapskate, that's right up my alley. The reel is probably crap, but if the rod is as good in general quality as my graphite Grigg, it will be a good deal in my book. YMMV.

My one glass rod is something I bought from a garage sale as a kid. Didn't get the fly thing figured out back then, but hung onto the rod. I love to fish it.

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
I have only one glass rod, a recent custom build that I acquired from a WFF member. I have over a dozen of the newer age graphites. I enjoy each of them. That glass rod, with the right line and when the caster remembers that slow and steady can deliver the fly on target a fair distance if the stroke is not rushed, is a very fun rod.
Well I started in the 60's with fiberglass. Granted it was not high end glass but it worked
and I caught a few fish. When graphite came along, I tried it. It was better, at least to my senses. I bought several. All have been fit to my casting style and my preference. I have an old Sage RPL 8 wt that I used in Canada for steelies. It did it's job. I picked it up the other day and compared to the last rod I bought, it feels like a telephone pole. My latest however, is a 5 wt. It cast like a dream.

I have never been a cast master and fish within 60 feet of where I am standing in a stream. That is my style and I enjoy it. I have a slow casting style and enjoy a slower
rod more than the fast snap of a fast action.

That said, I guess I will stay with what I have. All graphite.
I wish I had some extra money so I could pick up a glass rod. Always wanted to try one, as I think I lean towards slower actions myself. Perhaps I'll sell/trade a rod or two sometime to get my hands on one.
As someone already pointed out. You don't have to spend a lot to get a decent glass rod. I bought a minty Fenwick not long ago, for a very reasonable price. Many of the vintage glass rods are selling for under(or just a bit over) $100. The popularity has driven the price up, but it's nothing like cane prices. Here's a couple links to browse when you get the time

Fiberglass and graphite both have there place in fly fishing... Fiberglass is not "cheap" anymore, there's a lot of good glass out there today. For small to medium streams, fiberglass can be a wonderful material. That's not to say that I will fish fiberglass exclusively. I have a few graphite trout rods that I feel are practical in more situations than fiberglass. Both materials can be developed to achieve the actions one desires.

The trend in graphite, though it is not always the case, is faster and more technology... this turns off a lot of people, not all though. Fly fishermen want rods that fish on the stream... not cast the whole line in a parking lot. The new fiberglass fly rods are designed by fishermen, they won't win over the entire fly fishing community. They will be suited for small to medium water and perform well.

All the materials have their place. I fish bamboo, fiberglass, and graphite. Each one is a little different in design. I wouldn't want to fish my bamboo with streamers or nymphs... the bamboo rods I own are outstanding dry fly rods for small to medium waters. The fiberglass rods I design are for small to medium waters, yet they will fish streamers, nymphs, and dries well... though graphite, in some cases, would excel over them. The extra length in graphite for distance and line control (mending) is something to consider when that is needed the waters you fish.

Fiberglass is a capable material for fly rods, here's a 8'0"-#5 that can cast plenty of line, retain feel for the caster, and play fish with tippet protection and strength.
Reading this thread I hear the same thing being said, " I find my self using my medium and slower rods" instead of the faster rods. Seems like the more I fish the same thing for me. Glass and Boo seem to have a slower action most of the time. I had a Steffen that I fished and did not like it as much as I thought I might. I keep going back to my Sage LL's. The glass rods load nice, but I like the "feel" of a graphite stick. I guess fishing for years as a "bait chucker", I like the extra sensitivity I get from graphite. My one Boo has that graphite sensitivity, and loads so sweet, but I'm afraid to use it and have something happen to it.


Active Member
Do any of you know where fiberglass spey rod blanks can be purchased? TIA
Go to the fishing rod section of Tim's site: He lists one 12' glass rod if you want a Spey. That said, the Guy who rolls these things (here in the US) MAY be able to make up anything you want. That said, hit the Lamigls web sit they (or did) list several short single handers.

One other place to contact is Angler's Workship (Woodland,WA) you might be amazed at what they have sitting in their warehouse.


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