The rhythm of casting soothes me. The different fly rods I own all have a slightly different rhythm as they bend slightly differently with the motion of my arm and the weight of the lines, leaders, and flies. I bought a new rod this week — my first high end rod — and I used it on Saturday for the first time. After about 20 minutes, I had adjusted to the action of the rod and felt like I had a smooth and crisp motion. My confidence in fishing increased, and I ended up having a very fun and successful day on the river. 

As a child, I was mesmerized by my father’s metronome, with the sliding weight and constantly swaying pendulum. Part of my attraction to the device was the fun in catching the pendulum and securing it at the center of the arc: its constant movement stopped in the center of the wooden obelisk by a tiny metal catch. With the slightest nudge, it could release and continue its marching beat. I often visualize and even hear the repeated clicking in my head when I cast. With my new rod, the sound of the metronome returned to me, and I realized that recently I lacked the abrupt stop at the end of the forward cast. Subconsciously, I felt the need to improve my casting to justify the purchase of the rod. I didn’t see the pressure I was putting on myself in the moment, but it gave me a chuckle as I was preparing to write my blog.   

A fly rod is the distinctive tool of the fly angler. While the weight of the line propels the leader and fly, the rod is what drives the line and acts as the extension of the angler. The amount of control, accuracy, and power you can generate from the fly rod dictates whether you can place a fly in a specific location. Often the fly rod is the most expensive piece of equipment a fly angler owns, and there are many choices in brands, sizes, and types creating an approximate $150 million industry (

My purchase of the fly rod was possible only after  patiently saving gift cards that were generated from credit card points over a long period of time. I’ve been very brand loyal to Orvis because of that credit card and my satisfaction with their products and customer service. I am beginning to develop quite the arsenal of Orvis rods, and I have researched other brands and sought advice from others. There are many useful blogs and articles describing the process of finding the best rod for each individual, at least in size and type. One of the best articles I read is at Big Sky Fly Fishing. As I was reading through the articles on the different rods, I connected with recent processes in buying cars. Organizing the mental flow of my research and emotional effort around a large purchase showed some similarities that I felt should be evaluated further. My large purchases have followed a process of:

  • Identifying Need and Timeframe
  • Determining Desired Functions
  • Considering Status and Story
  • Making It Happen

Big purchases start with a need. Something is causing an inconvenience, pain, or stress that I feel required to address. Whether it’s a roof, car, or fly rod, I will feel a compelling need to make a choice and decision in a period of time. The intensity and pressure of the purchase drives my timeframe and amount of research. Potential scarcity and the missed opportunities of not making the purchase seem to greatly influence my level of research and decision making. 

Function becomes the dominant thought following a determination of need. Fear of being foolish and spending money on something that doesn’t work how I expect or doesn’t fully meet my needs is a negative consequence that I have a hard time handling. Casting the line and fly, managing and mending the line on the water, and landing fish are the three primary functions of a fly rod. During a guided trip with Domenick Swentosky, I used the rod I just purchased. It had the functionality for contact nymphing and enough versatility/backbone to cast small dries and lighter dry dropper rigs. The experience helped cement my decision, but I didn’t try any other rods with similar functionality. With other purchases, I will research through online and library references to compare and evaluate functionality. 

The next phase in my process is sometimes subconscious. Seth Godin’s marketing philosophy of “People like us do things like this” pops in my head when I think of brands and the story they tell. Popular fly rod brands include: G. Loomis, R. L. Winston, Sage, Scott, Orvis, Hardy, Thomas and Thomas, St. Croix, Douglas, Cortland, Temple Fork Outfitters, Redington, Cabela’s and Echo. They each have their own story, image, specialties, and niches. 

Do you want an expensive, high-end rod with the latest technology? Do you want a rod built by a company with a long and storied history? Do you want a rod from a new, small company taking on the establishment? Do you want an economical rod that gets the job done? Do you want to support American-made products as your priority? Do you like West Coast or East Coast companies? The answers to these questions help to define our values, connect with companies that match our ethos, and help us convey an image about ourselves to others we meet. 

I noticed yesterday that I felt a twinge of embarrassment about having an expensive rod. I don’t want to feel or be perceived as ostentatious or wasteful, and part of me also feels like I don’t deserve to spend a bit of money on something for an individual hobby. My relationship around money is definitely complicated and something I struggle with when any purchase I make seems extravagant. Saving up gift cards over a year helped to quell that guilt, but I also don’t like potentially being perceived as frivolous by others. 

Once a decision is made, I then make a plan on how to complete the payment and handle the logistics. If I need to save up gift cards or set up financing, I like to be prepared and have options for how to handle any situation and not act from a position of ignorance in working with others. For purchasing my fly rod, I like supporting local fly shops, so I worked with Hunting Creek Outfitters to order my rod. Similar to other purchases, I want to find a vendor who I trust and who shares my values. I tend to connect with folks who act with integrity, are open and friendly, and have consistent follow up. Dealing with aggressive or condescending sales people over my lifetime has turned me into a not-the-most-pleasant shopper. Our experience with roofing companies was particularly unpleasant (until we found True North Remodeling). But the vast majority of fly shop employees who I have met are courteous, helpful and honest. 

I set out to write my blog this week to describe the rhythm of life and how fly fishing helps me keep that rhythm. What I discovered were the buried feelings I have about what I deserve and how I feel about money. Like the pivot on the metronome and the smoothness of a casting stroke, we need to have a base to stand on and steady ourselves. Seeing what influences my decisions and frames my mindset around things like a significant purchase helps me solidify that foundation and feel good about my decisions. I’m looking forward to casting my new rod, catching more fish, spending time on the river, and seeing what there is to see.

3 Replies to “The Thrill and Lessons of Casting a New Rod”

  1. Hey Scott!
    I think one of the most important factors you mentioned was you had the opportunity to try out the rod you purchased when you were with Dom. I feel the best way to purchase a rod is to try it out for a day. There are many fly fishing shops that will let you take a rod out for a short period to test out a rod. No better way to help you make your decision than having the rod in hand and using it on stream. Also, one big factor is what line you’re testing it with, an old dirty line or a brand new line, it makes a BIG difference. Also what type of line you’re testing it with, my suggestion is to test it with the reel setup that you plan to actually use on that rod. I’m very familiar with that uncomfortable feeling you had when you purchased your rod, but I rationalized it, HA, by knowing the enjoyment it will bring me which puts me in a good mood, makes my fishing experiences more enjoyable, which relaxes me, which helps me enjoy my day and life more, which benefits my interactions with others, if that makes any sense, HA! So, good luck with the new rod, have fun and enjoy life, you deserve it!

    1. Thanks Scott! It was very helpful to use the rod in the stream and I also used my reel and line so that checked off both the boxes you mentioned. I could tell the difference and I feel like I got what I paid for, but I also know anyone can catch fish on more economical rods too! I’m going to try my best to enjoy the rod for a long time! Thanks for commenting as always!

  2. I am so glad you got a new rod! What a treat!
    Saving up from gifts and rewards made this the perfect way to purchase something no one else could have selected for you! And for a while you were excited about getting it! Also thrilling! Anticipation!
    I am happy it worked out for you and that you will have endless hours of enjoyment ahead!

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