Fly Fishing Rod - What Does Fly Fishing Rod Action Mean?

"Understanding rod action will help you choose the perfect fly fishing rod"

One of the terms you will hear a lot in fly fishing is the ‘action’ of the rod.  This refers to the flexibility of the fly fishing rod.  The faster the action, the stiffer the rod!  These days many manufacturers put a marking on them that tells us the action of the rod.  Action is also referred to as flex in fly fishing parlance.

Types of actions

  • Fast action/tip flex
  • Medium action/mid flex
  • Slow action/full flex

 

Fast action/tip flex – This is the least flexible of all fly rods and is stiff for most of its length, except at the tip of the rod.  This means, when you cast the fly fishing rod, it bends only at the end.  The rest of the fly rod will be straight without any flexibility.  With this, you need to exert very little energy for casting and it will cast very far.  It is easier to move or change the position of the line using this rod than it is with slow action rods.


Medium action/mid flex – This rod has better flexibility than the fast action rods but not as much as the slow ones.  This is the reason they are called medium action. When you cast the medium fly fishing rod, it bends half the length, from the middle to the tip and the rest of the rod remains completely stiff.


Slow action/full flex – As the name suggests, this has slow action and is the most flexible of all three and it bends for most of its length, almost assuming a U shape when casting.  These rods cannot be cast as far as the others and most of the casting energy is on the rod and not on the line.  But they are great shock absorbers when fighting a fish.


The more flexible the rod is, the less forgiving it is.  The easiest way to determine the action of a fly fishing rod is to take the rod in your hand and shake it to see how flexible or where it flexes.


Now that you’ve determined what the action of a fly fishing rod is, let us look into which one is good for you.


The action that you should have for your fly fishing rod is dependent on what type of fishing you are going to do, what type of fish you will be going for, where you will be fishing and the weather conditions.


The action that suits you the best…


Fast Action - If you are going to make longer casts, interested in fishing for larger fish and fishing in windy conditions on a regular basis, then the fast action fly fishing rods are excellent for use in such conditions.  These rods are very powerful and ensure quick and long casts, and you can catch the largest of fish with ease. The drawback with these rods is that they cannot be used in small creeks or rivers and fishing for trout on light tippets can be a nightmare.  They are very tough for beginners to handle and will take away the fun from learning.


Medium Action - If you are a beginner, then you would do well to go in for a medium action fly fishing rods.   These rods are wonderfully versatile and allow slower line cast, giving you more control.  They are used by many expert anglers too.  They can easily make longer casts and are as good in smaller creeks or rivers.  If you have the intention of fishing in all types of waters; from large rivers to the smaller creeks and you cannot afford to or do not wish to buy different rods for various conditions, then the medium action rods are perfect for you.  These are the most popular rods in the market.


Slow Action – If small creeks and small rivers are where you are going to fish most of the time, or you are going to fish for trout with light tackle, then it is advisable to go in for a slow action fly fishing rod.  Beginners will have better control over them and are great for making short casts.  Smaller fish can be caught with ease using the slow action rods.  These are not meant for long casts and windy conditions, and are not versatile like the medium action rods.


Before spending all that money on buying a fly fishing rod, it is essential to understand the action of the rod based on what and how you are going to be using your fly fishing rod.