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Why Your First Lightweight Fly Rod Should be Fiberglass

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February 12, 2014

Why Your First Lightweight Fly Rod Should be Fiberglass

By Kirk Deeter

I have a friend who is still somewhat of a newbie to fly fishing and needed some advice on picking out a new rod. He's been out a couple seasons with his 9-foot 5-weight graphite rod (the size many trout anglers start out with). Now he's thinking about branching off with a lighter model that he can use to chase smaller brookies and cutthroats in small streams. He asked about several high-end, fast-action graphite rods before I stopped him with a question of my own: "You ever think about a fiberglass rod?

He shot back a puzzled look and said he had a little bit, but he thought fiberglass rods were somewhat of a novelty — the kind of rods you buy down the road once you've built up a full arsenal of graphite.

I begged to differ. In fact, I told him fiberglass is exactly where he should start for what he wanted to do. And if you're thinking about a 3-weight or lighter, you should think hard about fiberglass, right off the bat. Here are three reasons why:

Number one, that classic slow action of a fiberglass rod really helps you feel your casts. You sense the rod loading and unloading the line, which will help you develop a good stroke. And that's exactly what all anglers should work on, especially beginners.

Second, when are you really going to boom out big casts in the small stream environment? Better to have a rod with which you can roll cast, mend, and pop short casts at small target zones, rather than a super-fast action rod that you won't really use to full capacity. Sometimes the super-fast modern graphites are about as functional in light rods as a V-8 engine would be on a riding mower. Sure, I imagine that could be fun. And if you want to fish a lake that has smaller fish, but requires long casts to reach them, a fast graphite rod might be the ticket. But fiberglass gives you feel and all the casting oomph you practically need for most in-close fishing environments.

Lastly, fiberglass can be much more affordable. You don't have to spend several hundred dollars to find a perfectly fun and functional fly rod that will do everything my friend wants to do.

Here are some solid options:

There probably isn't a better budget option out there than the Cabela's CGT rods, which right now are on sale for less than $75. My friend Cameron Mortenson of "The Fiberglass Manifesto" is the guru of all things fiberglass, and he had some nice things to say about this rod.  http://thefiberglassmanifesto.blogspot.com/2012/08/first-look-cabelas-cgt-series.html  I've also fished this rod quite a bit recently and I will vouch for its value.

The Redington Butter Stick ($250) is one of the darlings of the fiberglass world right now, with good reason. I made it my recommendation in our Sportsman's Wish List before the holidays.  

Orvis has jumped into the glass market with a very smooth, classic Superfine series. The rods sell for $400. What you get for that price is some nicer "made in America" components and construction, and very consistent action.

And if you want a high-end fiberglass rod, the Scott F2 series is priced north of $600. These rods still offer a full flex, yet a faster recovery than many others. And they're heirloom quality. 

I don't know if I fully convinced my friend. Maybe you can back me up and sway his opinion.  Then again, maybe you will talk him out of fiberglass for starters.

Comments (10)

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from kirkdeeter wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

THIS JUST IN... I am told that you can get an extra 10-percent off that $75 sale price on the Cabela's CGt by entering the Promo Code “24TEN” if you order at cabelas.com before midnight tonight.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

For $75 bucks it's a no brainer. Buy the glass and be the envy of others on the river.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dogrel wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

There's also the Eagle Claw Featherlights for less than $40.
Not only are they much better than the Eagle Claws of old, they are still durable enough to take anywhere, or to put into the hands of a beginner without too much trepidation or fear of breaking a thousand dollar rod.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

Great post. I learned on a fiberglass rod and still use it quite a bit for bluegills and slinging big bass bugs.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from wittsec wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

I just bought my very first fly fishing setup and it happened to be fiberglass (price based mostly) so I'm glad I won't be cutting myself to short while I learn to enjoy all that fly fishing has to offer.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from El Fuego Juan wrote 9 weeks 22 hours ago

Picked the CGT 2wt last year for use on small streams and beaver ponds. What a blast catching small Brookies with this rod occasionally I actually get the feeling however fleeting that I actually know what I'm doing.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dougfish wrote 9 weeks 4 hours ago

I'm moving to mostly glass. Fish my GD's old Wonderrod, getting my old Wonderrod rebuilt, and just bought some other vintage glass for less than $100. Adding some vintage reels, too. New rods? Add the new Echo Glass. I just picked up the 3 wt. Wow, it is light. $199 and has a lot more flex than the CGT. (They stiffened up the newer CGT's.) Don't rule out custom builds. There are a lot of great blanks being turned out now. And really talented builders. Some are very reasonable.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcmesq wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

I just started to take fly fishing seriously, and I got lucky in the beginning and stumbled over a 7 1/2' and an 8 1/2', 3 wt fly rod, both made of glass. I love them in their weight class for both their bend and feel, yet it still seems like there is definitely a place for my 9' 5wt and my 10' 5wt, both made of graphite. For longer casts, casting into wind, and catching larger fish with heavier weight fly line, graphite has its place, too.
I have fished all my life, like I am sure all of you have. So, I've been exposed to the glass vs. Graphite choice, before. As with West Coast saltwater fishing, it depends on fishing application as to which material is superior, and at times it can be a personal preference choice, when either rod material could be used. (Some of the best large tuna fishermen I know prefer heavyweight glass rods!)
As much as Mr. Deeter is absolutely right about a lesser-weighted fiberglass fly rod being an excellent choice not only for fishing characteristics, but for price, it seems like one buying fly rods has to use the same thinking I have used before, based on application and choice. In the beginning of this new discipline to me, I have been able to be smart, as well as save a lot of money, using this frame of mind in building my fly fishing arsenal, buying both fiberglass and graphite fly rods, depending on application, and choice.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 8 weeks 4 days ago

I do a lot of very small stream fishing and my preferred rod is a short stiff rod. I fish stream you can jump across with ease and a 6-7' 5-6wt is ideal. You can cast very accurately with very short casting strokes(often horizontally because raising your ros isn't an option) to keep your casting tight and your line free from the trees and bushes that surround you on tiny water.
Last year I got a glass rod and it would be the last rod I would give a beginner to fish these streams with.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 8 weeks 4 days ago

I've always had a glass rod on hand for teaching kids, because they can feel it load. I also have several in my arsenal for small stream fishing, because you can load it easily and they roll cast beautifully. Finally, I believe they cast big deer hair bugs well, because they force you to slow down.
I look at my fly rod collection like one would look at a set of golf clubs. While I wouldn't want to huck flies in the surf with a glass rod...they come in handy streamside, hairing the pads and for teaching folks how a rod loads.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from kirkdeeter wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

THIS JUST IN... I am told that you can get an extra 10-percent off that $75 sale price on the Cabela's CGt by entering the Promo Code “24TEN” if you order at cabelas.com before midnight tonight.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

For $75 bucks it's a no brainer. Buy the glass and be the envy of others on the river.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dogrel wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

There's also the Eagle Claw Featherlights for less than $40.
Not only are they much better than the Eagle Claws of old, they are still durable enough to take anywhere, or to put into the hands of a beginner without too much trepidation or fear of breaking a thousand dollar rod.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

Great post. I learned on a fiberglass rod and still use it quite a bit for bluegills and slinging big bass bugs.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcmesq wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

I just started to take fly fishing seriously, and I got lucky in the beginning and stumbled over a 7 1/2' and an 8 1/2', 3 wt fly rod, both made of glass. I love them in their weight class for both their bend and feel, yet it still seems like there is definitely a place for my 9' 5wt and my 10' 5wt, both made of graphite. For longer casts, casting into wind, and catching larger fish with heavier weight fly line, graphite has its place, too.
I have fished all my life, like I am sure all of you have. So, I've been exposed to the glass vs. Graphite choice, before. As with West Coast saltwater fishing, it depends on fishing application as to which material is superior, and at times it can be a personal preference choice, when either rod material could be used. (Some of the best large tuna fishermen I know prefer heavyweight glass rods!)
As much as Mr. Deeter is absolutely right about a lesser-weighted fiberglass fly rod being an excellent choice not only for fishing characteristics, but for price, it seems like one buying fly rods has to use the same thinking I have used before, based on application and choice. In the beginning of this new discipline to me, I have been able to be smart, as well as save a lot of money, using this frame of mind in building my fly fishing arsenal, buying both fiberglass and graphite fly rods, depending on application, and choice.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wittsec wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

I just bought my very first fly fishing setup and it happened to be fiberglass (price based mostly) so I'm glad I won't be cutting myself to short while I learn to enjoy all that fly fishing has to offer.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from El Fuego Juan wrote 9 weeks 22 hours ago

Picked the CGT 2wt last year for use on small streams and beaver ponds. What a blast catching small Brookies with this rod occasionally I actually get the feeling however fleeting that I actually know what I'm doing.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dougfish wrote 9 weeks 4 hours ago

I'm moving to mostly glass. Fish my GD's old Wonderrod, getting my old Wonderrod rebuilt, and just bought some other vintage glass for less than $100. Adding some vintage reels, too. New rods? Add the new Echo Glass. I just picked up the 3 wt. Wow, it is light. $199 and has a lot more flex than the CGT. (They stiffened up the newer CGT's.) Don't rule out custom builds. There are a lot of great blanks being turned out now. And really talented builders. Some are very reasonable.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 8 weeks 4 days ago

I do a lot of very small stream fishing and my preferred rod is a short stiff rod. I fish stream you can jump across with ease and a 6-7' 5-6wt is ideal. You can cast very accurately with very short casting strokes(often horizontally because raising your ros isn't an option) to keep your casting tight and your line free from the trees and bushes that surround you on tiny water.
Last year I got a glass rod and it would be the last rod I would give a beginner to fish these streams with.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 8 weeks 4 days ago

I've always had a glass rod on hand for teaching kids, because they can feel it load. I also have several in my arsenal for small stream fishing, because you can load it easily and they roll cast beautifully. Finally, I believe they cast big deer hair bugs well, because they force you to slow down.
I look at my fly rod collection like one would look at a set of golf clubs. While I wouldn't want to huck flies in the surf with a glass rod...they come in handy streamside, hairing the pads and for teaching folks how a rod loads.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment