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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I asked the clerk at the Fins and Feathers Tackle Shop in Coeur d'Alene, "Would it be okay to use a 4 wt rod on the Coeur d'Alene River?" Suddenly I saw smirks on all the faces of the guys working there. "Well," one guy replied, "you might find yourself wondering what that huge mystery fish was that just broke off your line." :eek Needless to say, I stuck with my 6wt.
 
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I am wondering what the rod has to do with the leader/tippet you use? I have used everything from 3x to 7x tippet with my 6foot, 3wt rod. I have fished the Coeur d'Alene, St Joe, Clark Fork, Selway, etc, etc, and the rod has worked great. It is my leader that breaks when I have a big one on, not my 3wt line! I smirk back when they are thrashing around the bank in the brush trying to cast that 9' rod around. My 6 foot sneaks through the brush to the good spots. I use it floating rivers too! I would use the 6 weight when you need farther casts (windy, big rivers, spooky trout) or are going for bigger trout. Like over 20 inches/5lbs. But that's just me. Good luck to all!:dunno
 

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What does the rod have to do with the leader/tippet?!

Here is a perfect example:

Yesterday I was on Silver Creek, ID with Bhudda, it was about noon, and the fish were working the blue damsel flies hard, smashing them on the surface. I happened to have one with me, but after a few refusals, had to go down to 5x flouro to get anything to look at it. I was fishing my six weight, anticipating catching one of the 28" browns I had seen the previous three days. I rose a brown about 24" to my damsel, and got so excited I broke him off on the strike. Had I been fishing my four weight, I probably wouldn't have broken him off, because a lighter rod is more forgiving on delicate tippets: it absorbs more energy.

On the topic of what it matters for the fish size, I'll give you a little bit of homework :professor

Take a six weight rod and a three weight rod. Rig them both with 3 feet of 8 pound monofilament, use the same material so you can be sure you're getting the same results. Starting with the three weight, attach a large log to the end of your tippet. Throw it in the river. Try and get it back. Next, take the six weight and do the same thing.

Lighter line rods do not have the same backbone for lifting fish as heavier lines do, regardless of the tippet breaking strain. I hooked a sturgeon on the Columbia with AlpineTrout a month or so ago, and couldn't even turn the things head with my six weight. The rod was bent all the way into the butt, and I lost the fish because of it. Had I been fishing a 12 weight with the same tippet, I would have had twice the lifting power.

Here is another point: When I was younger and was a beginning fly fisherman and didn't know any better, I went on a winter time trip to the Fryingpan River in Colorado, which used to be one of my home waters. In order to hook the fish on the 'Pan, you have to use really light tippets, i.e. at least 7x. The fishing a mile below the dam is for rainbows that get to about 15 pounds, but you stand in one place all day, casting your little mysis shrimp patterns. I had just bought a new rod, a 7'9" Winston LT 3 weight, beautiful little small stream rod. It was so expensive and I loved it so much that it was all that I wanted to fish, even though casting a double nymph rig with split shot was a pain in the ass. On this trip, I caught two of the biggest rainbows of my life, I won't bore you with the measurements, but one was double digits, in pounds. It took me a full hour an a half, so long in fact my friend had time to drive to town and buy some more beer and smokes, and still made it back. The fish just sat on the bottom of the river, I couldn't move him no matter what I did. While I was hooked into this fish, a guy walked buy, looked at me, and said, "What rod you using?" I happily told him, as I was proud of my new fly rod. He shook his head and said, "When I hook the big ones like that on light rods, I just break them off." It took me a few years to understand what he meant, but after catching a lot of big fish, I figured it out.

No offense to you, Smooth, as I know you said you'd use a larger rod when catching larger fish (and I think that what ceviche was saying is that there are larger fish in the Coeur D'Alene river), but this is for everyone else. Catching big trout on very light rods isn't cool, it isn't honorable, it isn't envious, it's cruel and it's wrong. All your doing is tiring out the fish, and his chances of surviving the fight decrease tremendously the longer you fight him. So that's my speal on light rods, light lines, and conservation... :thumb

worldanglr
http://www.worldanglr.com/
http://www.patagonia-expedition.org/

Many men fish their entire lives without ever knowing it is not the fish they are after.

- Henry David Thoreau
 
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Receiving Smirks at Fins and Feathers Tackle in Coe...

World -
Great info as usual, and I'd expect no less. However, I've landed too many 20" + trout on a 3-weight in QUICK FASHION on fine tippet (6x, 7x) to agree on your final paragraph.

It's only wrong to do this if a trout will be overplayed as a result (I've seen this done on heavier rods/tippet) - ditto wrong. And I don't do it to be cool, honorable, or envied. I do it out of necessity - big fish eating small flies. And it is perfectly do-able. However, if a certain fish is roughing me up pretty good, I'll gladly part company in the interest of the fish's welfare. And, of course, I wouldn't recommend people just go out and chase large trout on small rods, either, unless they are fully educated and able to play a large fish as efficiently as possible (and willing to end it if necessary).

I've discovered, from my very first big fish on a 3 (after a chunk of years with a 4wt LL), on light tippet, that I can actually land fish more quickly (most - ping go the rest) than with a stouter rod because I can exact constant, unrelenting pressure on the fish at all times. I won't bore you with fish sizes/time to hand recounts. Save it to say I won't go over a few minutes.

I just think people need to be educated on playing a fish quickly, and handling/releasing properly. But no light lines on big fish? C'monnnnn, man.

:smokin
 

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Les Johnson
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Receiving Smirks at Fins and Feathers Tackle in Coe...

I have fished the North Fork Coeur 'd Alene River for years. We now keep our trailer at the river all summer and fish there almost weekly. From July 4 through the end of the season we always use 4-weight rods. The largest trout I've landed from the river was a very chunky rainbow 22" long that probably topped 4 pounds. My reel was an old Hardy LRH which handled a couple of big runs without a problem. Cutthroat in the river range from 8 to tops of around 20". A 4-weight is fine for these fish.
There are some mighty large bull trout in the mainstem Coeur 'd Alene I'm told (downstream from I-90)and this may be what the clerk at Fins and Feathers was talking about.

Les Johnson
 

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Receiving Smirks at Fins and Feathers Tackle in Coe...

Wildram007,

Perhaps I wasn't descriptive enough in my description, or left out some key parts. The thing that gets me really worked up is walking past a guy on a river who's hooked into a big fish and there is almost no pressure put on the fish at all. Thirty minutes later he's still fighting it. That, I think, is a bit of a different problem: Undergunning a fish rod wise vs. mis-playing a fish.

I agree, most anglers need a bit of education on how to land fish quickly, and how to effectively fight one. A friend from Tasmania was up here last year and I was showing him around. He'd learned to fly fish in Tassie, and had only caught trout. I took him chum fishing, and broke out my big gun, the 10-12 weight Composite Developments sailfish rod and five feet of straight 20 pound. To make a long story short, I let him hook a few chums on it, and he had no idea how to play them. He put just as much pressure on them as he did trout, which wasn't nearly enough.

I've been a light line enthusiast for as long as I can remember, way back before my fly rod days. My father and I used to spend a lot of time floating rivers and catching smallmouth on 2 pound test with ultralight spinning rods, so I've always had a love for it. I've also landed a lot of big fish on light rods, now, after I've learned over the years how to do it.

My whole issue is that most people don't know how to do it right, and the fish gets overplayed. I corresponded with a biologist that works for Troutlodge at Rocky Ford, and the number of fish he said he finds every day, dead, at the drain at the bottom of the public water staggered me.

I can see that the ending of my previous post was a bit misleading, but it's past the editing period. Thanks for helping clarify what I was trying to say earlier, because it's a good point I failed to mention :thumb

worldanglr
http://www.worldanglr.com/
http://www.patagonia-expedition.org/

Many men fish their entire lives without ever knowing it is not the fish they are after.

- Henry David Thoreau
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Receiving Smirks at Fins and Feathers Tackle in Coe...

Awesome round of discussion!:beer2 This has caused me to rethink the "under-rodding" issue. I think that next time I find myself looking at skinny water that I know I can cast across with a lighter rod, I'll go with the 4wt. Should I hook up with a fish larger than the rod can handle, I'll just enjoy the fact of the hook up and break off the fish. Beside, why would anyone attempt to bring a bull trout to hand? Those fish are endangered, thusly taboo, anyway. Better to drop tip and break it off.

As far as wind is concerned, the C&R section North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene, though gusty as it was, could have just as easily been handled with the med-fast action of my 4wt. Besides, the more delicate presentation of the shorter, smaller rod and lighter line would have lessened the chance of me spooking fish. I'm a skinny water novice, so I need all the help I can get. Thanks to all of you guys for enlightening me by latching on to my story. :thumb
 
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Receiving Smirks at Fins and Feathers Tackle in Coe...

Fine discussion, but...read my post again, please.
I still don't agree "breaking off" has to do with a smaller rod size. Fine opinions (and I agree) about overplaying a fish, but that isn't what the question was. The guy at the shop (according to the original post) apparently laughed and mentioned "huge mystery fish breaking off the tippet on a 4 wt rod.
I reiterate: tippet strength is independent of the rod. :beathead
I did not say the rod did not matter when playing a fish.
Yes, because you can't deccelerate (F=MA, force = mass x acceleration) the fish as fast, you might not break a tippet off as quickly on a big fish, and that is the opposite of what the shop guy said! Again, I maintain a 3wt will NOT break off FASTER than a 6wt.:beathead :professor
 

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This is a very good topic indeed. It all boils down to how does one play a fish. I have caught a fair share of bigger fish on lighter rods and in some ways if done right they will break down a fish very quickly IF you let the rod work and use side pressure on a fish. If it wants to run let it run. Any fish will tire very quickly with side pressure. Straight pull back pressure is fighting the strength of a fish. The best thing with a lighter rod is that it will absorb shock much better than a heavier rod. It is a faith issue as far as I am concerned. I have found that if I let a fish shake and bake so to say with a light leader on a light rod I will have more success than trying to dominate the fish. The rod is the shock absorber! A light rod is far more forgiving than a heavy stick and it is easier to keep a constant side pressue on your quarry. Light rods are a technique unto themselfs but they work well if used correctly.
Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Receiving Smirks at Fins and Feathers Tackle in Coe...

Perhaps there was an assumption on my part that I forgot to include in my reply. I do tend to work with one tippet lighter than what might be otherwise appropriate. This started from having a fish nose into some weeds (smart fish!) and my not being able to break it off easily. I'd rather surrender the fly than continue jamming the poor fish's face into a weed bed. :rofl If I'm using the lighter rod with a light tippet, true the rod will perform better as a shock absorber, but the lighter tippet will be more likely to break when you want/need it to. That sounds very appealing to me. :thumb

One other thing. After reading a British article on C&R and fish fatalities, I've become acutely aware of the lactic acid build-up factor in the muscles of fought fish. The L/A build-up is that burning sensation you get from not breathing enough when running up stairs. Nowadays, I'm willing to wait for as long as it takes for the fish to swim on its own.
 

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Receiving Smirks at Fins and Feathers Tackle in Coe...

I agree Dave. I wasn't meaning you need to bust off big fish when you hook one on a light rod, but chasing big fish on light tackle is an acquired skill, and if you play the fish straight up and down, you're not going to get anywhere. Here are some tips: :professor

1) As Dave said, apply side pressure as much as possible. This wears the fish out quicker because it forces him to turn his head, which requires energy. To apply side pressure: When the fish runs upstream, keep constant pressure on him. When he stops, lower your rod to the water (sideways), either to the left or to the right, and pull. If he won't pull one way, switch back the other way. You'll feel when he turns his head. Repeat.

2) The most important thing, I feel, is never letting the fish rest. When I used to guide the number one problem that I saw with people trying to land big fish was: a big fish will get tired, hold in the current on the bottom, and most people just hold onto him. Try and turn his head, try and get him to move, change the angle. Never let the fish rest.

3) Learn your rod and learn the breaking strain of the line. Here is a trick I learned when working on the light tackle marlin boats off the coast of northern Australia and New Zealand: take your favorite light line fly rod, attach your average tippet class to it. Attach a scale to a fixed object, the best scales to use are the ones that have a stopper on it, so that this doesn't require two people to do. Attach your tippet to your scale, step back, and pull. Go back and see how much pressure you're putting on the leader. It's likely a lot less than you think. The key is to keep the same amount of pressure on the fish at all times, this pressure should be equal to 1/3 of the breaking strain of the tippet. Why 1/3? Gives you a good margin for error, that, and most people use a clinch knot, which is only an average of 78% of the breaking strain of the line, if it's tied right! Try a uni-knot, it's over 90%.

4) Learn your knots, you'll lose a lot less fish that way. Geoff Wilson's book of knots is invaluable, it's cheap, and it includes average breaking strains of the most popular knots. Experiment. Use the same technique described above, except pull STRAIGHT back until the tippet breaks, mark the breaking strain, and repeat five times with each different knot. Again, if you're too lazy to do that, read Geoff's book, it includes the results of his tests.

As Dave mentioned, one of the biggest problems, and the reason I wrote the above posts, is that people don't use them correctly :) This results in a lot of dead fish, and that's less fish for me to catch :reallymad

The trouble with ligher rods, although they may be more forgiving, is they often lack lifting power. This is what I was trying to say in my above posts. Regardless of the breaking strain of your tippet, you reach a certain point when the rod can no longer apply any more pressure. This is especially true of shorter light line rods (you'd be amazed how much 6" will change the taper of a rod). Here is another example, aside from my sturgeon one above.

I was fishing streamers on a float on the Yak one day, using 8 pound tippet, and my 9' 6 weight rod (which happens to be very soft as far as 6 weights go). I snagged a huge log while we were going past, and since it happened to be the only one of my favorite streamer that I happen to have, so naturally I didn't want to lose it. My buddy managed to slow the drift boat and somehow I managed to pull this huge log to the surface in the main brute of the current. I recoverd my fly, although just barely. Had I been using a 3 weight or a 4 weight, with the SAME tippet class, I wouldn't have been able to lift that log. The same is true if that had been a big fish: the fight would have been more like 30 minutes instead of 10 minutes When light lines aren't used correctly, and even sometimes when they are, they can kill fish. When you max out the rod (usually when you feel the graphite bend down into the cork handle) there is nothing more you can do to lift the fish. That's where people end up having hour and a half fights with large fish that sometimes die when released. That was my whole point, which looking back, I needed to clarify. You just can't land a BIG fish as fast on a 4 weight as you can a 6 weight, regardless of tippet class. Try my experiment that I mentioned in my first post, and you'll see why.

worldanglr
http://www.worldanglr.com/
http://www.patagonia-expedition.org/

Many men fish their entire lives without ever knowing it is not the fish they are after.

- Henry David Thoreau
 

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Receiving Smirks at Fins and Feathers Tackle in Coe...

That was a good explanation and clarification. And yes if a rod is too limber then it becomes self defeating. That is why I am not a fan of rods lighter than a 5 wt. If a fish isn't big enough for a 5 wt. then so what.
Personaly I like a rod that can apply about three pounds constant pressure as pretty much a minimum rule of thumb.
This will generally be sufficient for say up to a 10lb. fish, depending on the situation of course. Though a little on the light side I can still get the head out of the water. Rod lenght and rod action also play a role but that is getting way into it.
Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Receiving Smirks at Fins and Feathers Tackle in Coe...

Les,

You don't happen to keep your trailer at Richard Cook's RV park? He owns a auto repair shop in Coeur d'Alene and was the guy who fixed my truck (Truly an honest fix-it man, that Cook!). He told me about his place and that, the evening before I brought in my truck, he fished until 9:30pm, it was so good. That last weekend of June/first week of July was showing an incredible evening hatch. No doubt you go there when you do for that reason.
 
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