Fly Rod Design | Understanding Fly Rod Action & Power

Fly Rod Design | Understanding Fly Rod Action & Power

Have you ever wondered what makes a fly rod slow, medium, fast action, 5wt or 8wt?

In this video Tim Rajeff of Echo Fly Rods talks us through how fly rods are rated on a deflection board during the design process and what determines a fly rods action vs. the fly rod power.

Fast Action Fly Rods

Fast action fly rods like the Scott S4S, Sage TCX, Sage VXP, Redington Predator,  and a number of other rods have become very popular over the last decade.  When used in the right scenario these rods have a place, but all to often I see anglers using fast action rods in situations that don’t require it.

Fast action rods are stiff fly rods that require more energy from the fly line to effectively load the rod.  Since the rod is stiffer, when the load in the rod is released, it will release the greatest amount of energy.  This high amount of energy release correlates to more line speed. Effectively loading fast action rods also requires a greater amount of casting ability.

Pro’s & Cons of Fast Action Fly Rods

  • Greater line speed for casting into wind and for distance. (If you can’t form tight loops and don’t effectively use a double haul the rod won’t help)
  • Quick & solid hook sets when fishing deep and using heavy tippet.
  • Fast actions rods are not good at roll casting since they bend at the tip and not at the middle section where role casting is done.
  • Poor at mending which like a roll cast is done from the middle section of the rod
  • Fast action rods require more line out of the tip to effectively load the rod
  • Since the rods are stiff, they do not cushion light tippet well and tend to bend out small hooks.

Medium/Fast Action Rods

Medium Fast Action Rods are the Most versatile fly rods you can by.  They are just stiff enough to cast for distance and line speed when you need to, they bend enough in the Middle to allow for decent role casting & they will load in short range casts. Examples of medium fast rods are Sage ONE, Scott S4, Scott A4, Echo Carbon, Redington Voyant, TFO BVK.

Pros & Cons of Medium Fast Fly Rods

  • Very Versatile all around fly rods for those needing multiple uses from a rod.
  • Medium fast action rods are good at a lot of things, but not great at anything. In fast action rod situation there will always be a better fly rod, and in technical tailwater situations a medium action rod would be best suited.

Medium Action Fly Rods

Medium action rods are designed intentionally to decrease line speed. A parachute Adams doesn’t need to hit the water at 100MPH, it needs to land like a fluffy dandy lion. In short casting situations, medium action rods will still load with as little as two feet of line out of the rod tip.  This allows you to effectively feel the rod load and unload while you cast.  Medium Action fly rods bend in the middle and thus are the best roll casting fly rods. They also are the best mending fly rods.

Favorite Medium Action Fly Rods: Scott G2, Sage Circa, Redington Tempt

Pros and Cons of Medium Action Fly Rods

  • Allow for the best line control and feel at short range
  • Excellent at role casting and mending
  • Best rods for fighting fish on light tippet and small flies
  • Easy to feel the rod load for novice anglers
  • Negatives of medium action rods are weaker hook sets when fishing deep, hard to cast in windy conditions.

Slow Action Fly Rods

By today’s standards, most rods produced before 1990 would be what we would all consider slow.  True slow action rods by design still are being produced. Scott Fly Rod Company makes rods in both bamboo and fiberglass which is “working man’s bamboo.” Slow action rods are not functional but really fun to fish with.  They make small fish feel big, and the extremely slow tempo and bend in the rod during the cast allows you really feel the cast happen.  Favorite slow action rods are the Scott SC or Scott F2 fibertouch rod.

Be sure to see Tim’s Video on Fly Rod Stiffness.

It’s time to nail down your 2024 fly fishing trip with Minturn Anglers.

About the Author

Justin Nolan

More Articles