Fly Rod Glossary

Terms from our Fly Fishing Glossary related to fly rods, help understand terms used in fly fishing specifically related to fly rods.

Action: An elusive, but important characteristic of fly rods. Fly fishing rods are said to have fast or slow action. Fast action fly rods are generally stiffer overall, but bend more at the tip, generating higher line speeds longer casts, especially into the wind. Slow action fly rods, appear to flex their entire length, giving the sense of a more compliant feel.

Bamboo: oldest rod building material still in use; the classical fly rod materialused by very few mainline manufacurers and specialist fly rod bespoke manufacturers.

Blank: Fiber glass and graphic fly rods (which also have fiber glass) are produced by wrapping sheets of graphite and fiber glass around a carefully tapered steel rod (called a mandrel). The hollow rod that results from this process is called a blank. It has no guides, ferrules or reel seat.

Casting Arc: the path that the fly rod follows during a complete cast, usually related to the face of a clock.

Damping: reducing excess vibrations in the rod blank when unloading the fly rod during a cast. This causes fewer waves in your fly line resulting in more power & distance for less effort.

Double Handed Rod: A rod that is held with two hands to cast, usually longer rods 12 o 15 feet used for Salmon Fly Fishing

Ferrule: A collar that is found at the point where sections of a fly rod are joined. The end of one section fits inside the end of another, in an overlapping fashion at the ferrule.

Fly Casting: standard method of presenting a fly to a target using a fly rod and fly line; involves many different casts.

Fly rod: The special fishing Fly rod  constructed so as to cast a fly line. Fly rods are generally longer and thinner than other types of fishing rods. The special design involves careful attention to the way the fly rod bends because that bending action determines how well it can help cast a fly line. Originally split cane bamboo, now other materials, especially fiberglass and fiberglass with embedded graphite fibers are used. Fly rods are rated in their stiffness to match fly lines of different weights. (a number 7 fly rod should be used with a number seven fly line).

Loading or Loading the Rod: A term used to describe the effect of the weight of the flyline and the momentum of the cast upon the fly rod. A loaded rod is bent or loaded more with a greater casting force and a heavier line.

Reel seat: The part of the fly rod - made of aluminum, wood, or graphite and located just behind the grip - where the fly reel is attached.

Rod Flex: The manner in which the fly rod bends during the cast during the acceleration phase of the cast. Tip-Flex rods bend primarily through the tip section, Mid-Flex rods bend down into the middle of the fly rod, and Full-flex rods bend throughout the entire rod during the cast. 

Spey: A particular casting technique using special double handed fly rods and a modified roll cast. It is named after the river in Scotland where it was developed.

Split cane rods: Fly rods constructed of six pieces of split cane bamboo, which are triangularly shaped, tapered and glued together.

Stripping guide: The guide nearest the fly reel on a fly rod, usually more substantial and larger in diameter than the snake guides nearer the tip. It is called a stripping guide because in bringing in the fishing fly, the line is pulled over this guide with a lot of force.

Switch rod: are short length two handed fly rods that allow the caster an optional use as a single handed fly rod if desired, or if advantageous to do so, a Switch Rod is shorter than two handed fly rods.

Tip section: The top section of a fly rod, smallest in diameter and furthest from the rod grip.

Unloading the Rod: unbending the rod. Transferring the casting energy from the fly rod back into the fly line.

Winding: Wraps of thread that are used to attach the stripping guides and snake guides on the fly rod blank.

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