Streamside | Fly rod length vs Fly Rod Reach — Devin Olsen does the math

by | Aug 4, 2017 | 6 comments

Leave it to Devin Olsen of Tactical Fly Fisher to make a physics equation out of the length of a fly rod vs the actual reach of the fly rod.

No, really. Leave it to Devin.

I’ve often wondered and commented to friends that the 10 foot rod seems to reach a lot further out into the water than my 9 foot rod. Like, a lot more than just one foot further.

I suspected that some calculations with hypotenuses and things were in order to find the answer — which is why I’ve never buckled down and figured it out. I was an English major, with a minor in Philosophy, and those types of numbers mixed with Greek letters and symbols make my brain hurt.

No worries. Devin did it for us.

This may all seem like an unnecessary plunge into Algebra, but if you’re looking for a new fly rod, the length is arguably the first thing to consider.

So, how much reach does an extra foot of fly rod really get you?

Find Devin’s blog post full, of charts, techie breakdowns and a pertinent video at Tactical Fly Fisher.

Thanks Devin. Now I know the reality behind my own perception.

Photo by Bill Dell


Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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  1. That made my small brain hurt. Phew! I really don’t have time to ponder such things. Phew! again! Any problem solved with numbers always has scared the hell out of me. Phew! one more time. I gotta put some ice on my head. Ha! It was interesting.

  2. Pondering how to keep the flies in the same straight seam at distance during drift when fishing to the side of trout (as in blog) when cast starts slightly upstream (french). Can’t find answer on their dvd.
    As the fly drifts down directly in front of you, was rod tip lifted prior, then dropped as flies go below angler position in order to keep them in same straight seam? Just keep same bow in sighter? Otherwise the flies will pull and follow an arc out at distance, crossing seams; no good.
    When fishing more upstream/more under the rod tip and close (polish), I typically leave rod height/bow unchanged.


    • Cool thoughts.

      When tight lining, I rarely fish past the point where the flies are past me in the drift. As soon as they’re below my position, I pick up and recast because of the point you make above.

      If I want to fish long drifts that start above my position and finish below it, I add a suspender and let it do the work of leading the flies. Then I stay tight to the suspender. That defeats the trouble you mentioned about crossing currents.

  3. I use a bobber when fishing cross stream at some distance. Then I lift my leader off the water to the bobber. The bobber helps prevent the leader from being pulled towards me.


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