Dry Fly Fishing with a Nymphing Rod


As I wrote about last year, I ended up getting a fancy Allen Icon 10 foot 4 wt rod for Euro style nymphing.
Since then I've put a lot of mileage on this rod and it's pulled in a lot of fish. One of my initial hesitations about going with a 10 foot "specialty" rod was the thought that I'd have to go to a different rod when fishing dries. Now granted, you won't fish the same leader setup on a dry fly rig than you would with a euro rig, but I was still worried about how it would cast and affect my presentation of delicate dries to big attractors.

Allen Icon Series Rod
So I ended up working the 10 footer into my dry fly fishing repertoire for the past few months and have really been impressed with the results. Rather than thinking I'd throw the 10 footer when I didn't want to nymph but still go to the 9 footers for normal dry fly fishing, I've now ended up opting to reach for the 10 footer for most of my small stream and river situations.

Here are some points of interest in case you want to consider a nymphing rod that can be used for double duty:

  • Similar to the concept of using the longer rod to control your line and presentation for nymphs, the same applies to dry flies. Duh. Bigger dries on a smaller water produced more fish on my 10 footer than I think I would have seen with the shorter "small stream" rods I have due to drag control and presentation factors. I was really impressed with the way I could flip a bit of leader out with the fly and maintain a totally drag free drift by virtue of that added rod length. I was reaching over crazy side currents and working flies into back eddies and pockets I don't think I would have been able to with a shorter rod.
  • Related to the idea above, I've found that mending line with a 10 footer is also a much easier and accurate process than with a shorter rod. More line control again. Better drifts. More fish.
  • I was initially worried about going from my 7 1/2 foot or 9 foot rods to a 10 footer and tangling with the trees and overhanging branches or bushes. What I found was that yes, I had to be a bit more mindful of my casts and rod placement, but this was offset by the fact that I wasn't doing as much false casting due to the longer reach of the rod. Plus, when needing a bow-and-arrow style cast, the 10 footer did an excellent job at flinging the fly into confined spaces.
  • As I mentioned initially, if you're going to Euro nymph and then expect to just tie on a dry fly with the same leader setup, you're not going to have as smooth a casting or presentation motion -- especially with smaller lighter dries. I've done well with bigger attractor patterns and it works ok. But to get the best performance, you'll want to swap out leaders. Going with a loop-to-loop connection or something similar that's easy to swap out will pay dividends.
  • Think of it this way: You can't as easily pull out a 9 foot rod and do the tight-line or Euro style nymphing as you can use a 10 foot rod for dry fly fishing. Ideally, you have a specially-trained rod monkey that holds your specialty rods and follows you around on the water all day swapping out your rods like a caddy does on the PGA tour. But until then, I'm leaning more towards a 10 footer as more of an all-around rod in a lot of situations.
  • Now, one minor complaint: Probably the only downside for me on a 10 footer has been the extra workout my arm and wrist will get. At first I chalked it up to being out of shape, but I've since found that I definitely have more sore muscles and aches after throwing the 10 footer all day. Euro-style nymphing alone, with your arm cocked like it is will definitely do that, but I think the longer length just requires a bit more force (think of the force it takes to open a really wide door vs a shorter door). And not a big deal, but something worth mentioning.

Anyhoo...that's just my two cents on the matter. Everyone will be different, but for me, the next couple of rods on the radar for purchase are both 10 footers. I think they're definitely worth a 2nd look.