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> > Fear and loathing of the 10 weight

AftonAnglerFebruary 17th, 2008, 7:36 am
Brule, WI

Posts: 49
Mention the words “10 weight rod” to most fly anglers in our neck of the woods and they kind of blanch, get a sheepish grin and babble quietly about how they might go saltwater fishing someday and would then consider using one. Dig deeper into the psyche of these anglers and you will find a fear and loathing of the workhorse of the big rod world - a fear and loathing that I feel is unfounded and counter productive.

Step it up I say! Learning to cast the ten weight will make you a better caster and will open a whole new world of fishing options and will develop at least one forearm of impressive muscles.

Greetings All

I am doing a bit of digging around for thoughts and feelings about the use of the 10 weight fly rod outside of the saltwater flyfishing community...

I know we are all here celebrating the joy of all things trouty but I also know we are a diverse and slightly twisted lot of anglers so I am interested to know if you own a 10 weight, how you use it, your feeling on its utility, etc.

Also, I am interested in those who do not have a 10 weight and have not used a 10 weight...what are your thoughts and feelings on the workhorse of the big rod lot?

I avoided the "TEN" for most of my early years of fly rodding for various reasons - mostly a trout angler on little waters in Wisconsin, had little to no budget for an "exotic" rod (are they not for tarpon fishing anyway??), was kind of intimidated by them, etc.

My first experience with a TEN was down in the Keys. I was a college kid going to school out in Bozeman and had been banging the banks of the Jefferson and Beaverhead Rivers with an eight weight and thought that was about as big of a rod as I would ever need...well my dad sprung for a couple of days of guided fishing during a Fort Lauderdale spring break trip and I was indoctrinated into the world of big rod casting the hard way - full immersion!

I struggled and got yelled at by a cranky Keys guide for two days and went home with a sore arm and a bruised ego...vowing to never do that to myself again but also wanting to step it up someday and get good at all aspects of the casting form.

I put the TEN into the back of my mind for about a decade and a half...then I got into king salmon fishing over on the Lake Michigan tribs! My first couple of outings were pathetic...I went totally undergunned with seven and eight weights and busted up all kinds of gear. Funny but true!

The first trip over to Baldwin, MI saw me stranded on the bank of the Little Manistee with a toasted Martin Multiplier and an exploded butt section of a 8 wt. Cortland travel rod that I figured would be more than enough...HA! Luckily I had a good friend who took me under his wing and got me outfitted with a TEN and I managed to collect my dignity and land a few hot kings. I was hooked from then on.

But, could I justify owning my own TEN? I was still a bit of a cheap skate and still mostly a trout angler...

It was after I started guiding full time and really began to fish "across-the-board" and developed a full range of casting skills that I began to understand the utility of the TEN....

I also began to dabble into the world of warmwater fish - bass, carp, northern pike and muskie and this facet of the sport caught fire in my soul. Now the TEN is my favorite stick and the one I measure other rods performance against.

How about you?
See you on the Water.

Brad Bohen

The Afton Angler
TroutnutFebruary 17th, 2008, 8:49 am
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
As long as you aren't using it for brookies... :)
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
DanoFebruary 17th, 2008, 8:51 am
Vanderbilt, Michigan

Posts: 101
Interesting read, Brad...

What really caught my attention was your mention of the Little Manistee; what used to be my "home stream" until I moved out here. Though my "home stretch" was from about 2 miles above the weir, down to the mouth.

The first time I considered a big stick was by accident back in 1982. I was doing some late season trouting, the last weekend in August. I was fishing a run that I knew held some healthy sized Browns so I was using my bass rod; an 8' 7wt Berkly "Cherrywood" that I re-built. I had tied on a #12 Adams Humpy (yellow floss body) and began casting to a promissing hole. On the 5th cast I got a hit, one that is so fresh in my mind it's as though it happened yesterday. The water literaly exploded as a monster slammed my fly, didn't even need to set the hook. What followed next was the most thrilling 30 seconds or so I had yet to expereince on any lake or stream.

It very quickly became apparent that a King had taken my fly, I only saw him once but I know it was in the 25-30lb range and I had no chance of landing him. So I pointed my rod tip downstream as he made his run so the tippet (3x) would break and not my rod. My reel was a Phlueger Medalist 1494 and line was comming off so fast that the drag actually started to smoke. So I plunged the whole shebang into the water. The tippet snapped when all the line and all 100ft or so of the backing was out. I think I was nearly in a state of shock and had to reel up my line, sit on the bank, and smoke a cigarette...

This was on a Sunday, the following Thursday I found myself in Ada on my way back from a business trip to Grand Rapids. Stopped in at Dick Pobst's "Thornapple Fly Shop", stepped up to the counter and bought me an Orvis "9 x 9" blank, Rodon reel seat w/re-movable fighting butt, a half wells grip, and all the guides and what not. Then I went and got me a bigass Shakespere reel, 1765 as I recall.

Needless to say, this was the beginning of my fishing for Salmon (and Steelhead) with a fly and used both WF-9-F and WF-9-F/S lines.

So, no, I've never fished a 10wt line and I can't imagine one being too far different from a 9wt. I never felt intimidated by going with the 9wt nor did I have any problems in "adjusting" to the longer rod (my trout rod was a Fisher 7.5' 4/5wt) or heavier line. I recall that the biggest adjustment was not so much as throwing the heavier line but just getting used to having a reel bigger than Baltimore on the butt end of the rod. Truth be known, I found it easier to make very long casts, mebbe it was that "9 x9" 'cause that baby could really shoot...FWIW.


Edit in: Two valuable lessons I learned from that initial experience. 1. That Salmon on a spawning run will take a fly (at that time the prevailing thought was that they didn't) and 2., in that part of the state (Manistee) the Kings begin their runs toward the end of August.

Since the Little Manistee is closed to fishing from the weir down to the mouth on September 1st (at least it was up to the time I moved out here), my buddy and I would always hit the Little Manistee the last two weekends in August to play with the Kings, those are most memorable of times....we had the river to ourselves.

Eventually, all things merge into one...and a river runs through it.
Shawnny3February 17th, 2008, 10:05 am
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Nice stories, gents - very entertaining. I can't say I've ever used anything larger than a 7-wt, but I'd like to change that at some point. I might do a little surf-fishing in the Outer Banks this summer, so maybe I'll get into some of that heavy tackle then. It's nice to read about some of your experiences before I try it.

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
DanoFebruary 17th, 2008, 10:33 am
Vanderbilt, Michigan

Posts: 101

You can't imagine how entertained I still am by just recalling my expierence to mind...

The feelings are still so vivid, I'm just as jazzed now as I was then. It truely was life changing in regard to Salmon and Steelhead angling with flies; I've never been the same since.

On a sunny windless mid-morning day, on a stretch that's less than 30'wide, not a human being within 7 miles or so, then a cherry bomb goes off in the water not more than 20' away. I nearly left a deuce in my waders...


Eventually, all things merge into one...and a river runs through it.
AftonAnglerFebruary 17th, 2008, 10:38 am
Brule, WI

Posts: 49
Thanks folks for the input...

I am working on a project about the 10 weight and your thoughts and insights are very usefull.

Keep em coming...
See you on the Water.

Brad Bohen

The Afton Angler
Jmd123February 17th, 2008, 11:29 am
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2611
Dano: a cherry bomb? Was some SPCA terrorist hiding in the streamside shruberry waiting to ambush you? STILL LOL!!!

Brad, here's my personal (9-)10 weight story. It's an old Fisher 9.5' 9-10 wt. I bought as a pike-fishing tool back in 1990. The only reel it's ever had is an old Sage Model 108 caliper-drag model of the same vintage, with a flourescent orange 9-wt. line ("Pike and bass are not line-shy.") The first fish I caught on it was a rock bass about 6" long that attacked my extra-large purple woolly bugger - greedy little things - and was giving a prompt flying lesson. Later that year it delivered on it's pike-handling abilities, with the largest being 25". Ever since I have used it for salmon & steelhead, yet without any luck. I have considered replacing (though probably keeping) it with a 7-8 weight, because it is rather ponderous to cast for any length of time. I'm sure the newer 10-weight sticks are much lighter and handier, especially at the high end of the price range.

Well Brad, welcome to the world of warmwater fishing! I have at least an hour drive or more to any decent trout water, but I have a stream full of highly cooperative smallmouth, rock bass, and bluegill practically in my backyard. I'm on the opposite end of the tackle scale from you - I'm currently into a 7 ft. 3 wt., on which I caught a 16" smallmouth (2.5 lb.) last summer (up in northern MI). I also caught a 5.5-lb. largemouth in TX on a 5-wt. But if you have good pike/muskie water in close proximity, the 10-weight would be my choice too, simply given the scale of the fish you can tie into! You could probably show some hardware bass anglers a good whuppin' with it too, especially on (my favorite) popping bugs and the like.

Enjoy the big stick and let me know how you've done with the big boys on it.

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
DanoFebruary 17th, 2008, 11:42 am
Vanderbilt, Michigan

Posts: 101

I sorta got carried away...

Tackle technology has come a very long way since 1982 and while I no longer have the previously mentioned tackle (another story and a painfull one at that), I can only surmise how easy it would be to throw heavy lines, what with boron rods and graphite reels.

When I was in Dick's shop, I had narrowed down my choices to the "9 x 9" which Orvis designed specifically for a 9wt line and the "Shooting Star" which had tapers from 9wt to 12wt. Remember too, that Orvis, at that time, was new to grafite technology. So my choice for the "9 x 9" was based on Dick's advice. As for as reel choice, I certainly couldn't afford the "bar stock" aluminum reels, nor would I have gotten one if I could. I'm was and still am a Phlueger man (all my fly reels are 60s and 70s era Medalists). I chose the Shakespere because it was identical in construction as a Medalist, right down to the drag. The 1765, as I recall, was slightley bigger than the 1495 Medalist and that's why I chose it.

Any who, my current "big stick" is a Fenwick Eagle GLC, EF908 (9' 2pc for an 8wt). It's reel is a Medalist 1495 spooled with a SA WF-8-F Mastery Series Distance Taper and another spool with a SA WF-8-F/S Ultra3. I can fish with this rod all day long and throwing 50 to 60 foot casts nearly seems effortless, it too is my favorite rod. Because the waters I fish most are slow and gin clear, my FlyLogic FLP+ 804/2 (2pc, 8' for 4/5wt) that I built gets the most usage. I digress...

My essential take with heavy rod/lines is that, yes they do have their place other than on salt flats. One's basic casting stroke(s) need not be changed, though when throwing a sink tip line the timing in regard to loading the rod and applying the "power stroke" needs to be slightly altered but, that's basically true with any sink tip, no? I have no experience what so ever with fully sinking lines. I've also found, as mentioned previously, when great distances are required a heavy line is far easier to cover than, say a 4 or 5 weight. This is particularly so when any sort of wind is present. I've never fished "the flats" but, I would even go so far to say that in using a heavy line one would not need a shooting head, provided they have a fundamentally sound casting stroke.

It's been awhile since I've priced any of the "new fangled" reels but, I will say that if an old fart like me can cast an 8 weight line on a 37 year old Phlueger Medalist 1495 all day long (and play 5+ lb trout to boot or 9 wt "back in the day") without feeling the effects the following day, most of the "youngsters" here (and possibly the more well heeled) shouldn't be concerned with going "heavy". On wide rivers or lakes when "delicacy" is required just put on a 12' leader/tippet....FWIW.


Eventually, all things merge into one...and a river runs through it.
CaseyPFebruary 17th, 2008, 12:30 pm
Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653
having used an 8wt for bonefish the last three years in Key Largo, we've upped the ante to a barely used 10wt with a veteran Tioga reel because that's what the equipment list for the Yucatan specified: 8 for bonefish, 9 for permit, 10 for baby tarpon. sounds like an Orvis salesman, doesn't it?

in our limited experience, BFB and I have decided that the only similarity between salt- and fresh-water fly fishing is that it's better if you see the fish first. the wind, the sun, the one-person-at-a-time fishing, and the big equipment do not leave one with that magical one-ness with the universe found in small stream fishing with its small stream equipment, trees, birdsong, and the occasional fox trotting along the path. salt water fishing is about catching, and the guides do indeed get cranky if you get troutly on them.

that said, the equipment works exactly the same way. and it's fun to blast that line out with a big rod! we're practicing on the grass at the moment, and even i can sling that fly the length of the house. when the ice is off the pond, we'll add water to the mix. i've used the 8wt for the bass when practicing there--bluegills are fine for tuning up on your 4wt, but a huge fly makes sure they don't take to the air at the end of the heavier line. there's very little scary about the big stuff--it's just heavier!
"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra

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