Friday, January 19, 2007

Fly Fish with Mel: How to Equip for a Trip to Maldives - Rods

Fly-weight, Welter-weight or Heavy-weight?

The greatest enemy a fly angler might face while fishing the flats is wind. A mere 30km/h 'breeze' is enough to drastically reduce the distance you can fish; and any faster, ruin your fishing holiday.

In the Maldives, there will always be wind but between January and May, they are at their mildest. Even so, on the windward side of the island, where the pounding surf holds prowling GTs and Bluefins, you will need to contend with a constant, sometimes stiff breeze.

Typically, saltwater flats fishing requires a faster action-rod that has enough power to punch the line through a stiff breeze. Rods in the range of 6 wt - 10 wt are the norm for us.

A 6 wt rod is perfect for days of light breeze and for fishing in the lagoons (usually in the lee of the island). As the winds pick up or if you choose to fish on the windward side (the surf, as we call it), a 7 wt - 9 wt should help to give you a little more reach. The 10 wt, in our case, is used specifically to target big bruisers. Casting 4"- 6" synthetic Clouser minnows, huge GTs are the main target off the surf or in the deeper channels. A 10 wt rod comes in really handy to turn the fish from heading straight into the corals.

My arsenal of rods include a 5-piece Winston XTR5 6wt (9') , a 3-piece Sage RPLXi 8wt (9') and a 3-piece Sage RPL+ 6wt (10'), of which, the Winston is my favourite. With travelling restrictions on flights being so strict nowadays, The Winston XTR5 rod breaks down to 5-pieces that measure just below 24" and it comes with an aluminium tube which makes it packable into most luggages. However, since my other rods are of 3-piece configuration, I chose to make my own rod case but you can also buy them off the shelf. Perhaps I will write a "how-to" for the rod case.

The Winston XTR5 (XTR is short for extreme) is listed as having a 'very fast' action. Despite it being very light, this rod is capable of handling a stiff wind and heavy flies. I usually use a line one weight above my rod's rating. Over-lining the rod, I am able to really load the rod and make it work for me. This, of course, is a personal preference.

The 10' Sage RPL+ is a gem to cast. The extra length translates into, more distance for the rod tip to travel to build up line speed. This translate to less power on my stroke since the rod does most of the work for me. On this rod, I also utilize a line one weight heavier.

My Sage RPLXi is the only rod that I do not overline. Being an 8 wt rod, it is able to handle most wind conditions on the flats, except, maybe a howling gale. I match this rod with a Scientific Angler 8wt Bonefish Taper Intermediate line.

Some of the other rods that the group have tried using include:

Winston XTR 6wt - 8wt

Winston Boron IIx 6wt - 10wt (Ultra light and slightly 'slower' than the XTR)

Sage XP 5 wt

Redington CPS 8wt

In a nutshell, bring along a faster rod to handle the changing wind conditions but most importantly, bring the rods that will allow you to enjoy the targeted species without being overkill. If the biggies come and take your offering, pray hard and play hard. With a little luck, you just might land that fish, even on a small rod.


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