Part nuts-and-bolts guide, part reflection on the wiles of marketing and those of us who fall for them, The Classical Angler has written a fascinating account of how slow-action fly rods were usurped by the busy-bee tempo of the stiff, modern counterpart and how they are gradually making a comeback.
Finally, I know that a stiff rod with slow action is not an oxymoron.
Flyfishing is lucky in this respect, for on a very different sporting playground, I once experimented with a couple of wooden-headed golf clubs that I suspect had been built not long after hickory was replaced by metal when it came to the club’s shaft.
Slow-action? Reach the top of your backswing with those whippy antiques and you could have poured yourself a Martini in the time it took for the clubhead to embark languidly on its return journey. Had I ever been able to make the club’s unwinding coincide with the head’s impact with the ball, I’m sure the latter would have travelled some way but it was a timing exercise tantamount to catching lightning in a bottle.
With the exception of a few nostalgics who continue to play with hickory-shafted clubs for old times’ sake, golf’s past is past where clubs are concerned, yet fly anglers can still switch from one generation of rod manufacture to another and find their fishing enhanced for more than merely sentimental reasons, as The Classical Angler has explained so inspiringly.
“Now the generation of anglers that have never tasted this wine need to have the courage to question things, and pick up a rod like the Orvis Superfine Touch or Superfine Glass, and see what has been hidden behind the yellow curtain all these years.
Soft rods are coming back, and like the LP, the sound will be like nothing else since.”