I'm curious if anybody has any insight on an ideal reel to rod weight balance ratio when matching a reel to a rod. Given rod and reel manufacturers' advancements in weight reduction I wonder if the weight ratio affects rod performance or not. I've always been a believer in "just cast it and see if you like it" but I'm interested in what other's have learned.
I normally haven't had the money to pay particular attention to balance. But one thing is certain, and that is that shaving a few fractions of an oz off the actual reel weight makes less and less difference the larger the reel.
For example, I recently bought a Nautilus 11/12. Dry, with a 12 wt spool it weighs 8.6 oz. as opposed to 8.3 oz with the 9 wt spool in the same frame. So the 9 wt weighs 96 1/2% as much as the 12 wt.
But loaded with line an backing the same reel weighs 13.15 oz in the 12 wt version and 11.3 oz in the 9 wt version. So the 9 wt now weighs only 86 % of what the 12 wt weighs.
Just something to keep in mind.
As far as casting, yes I definiitely feel a huge difference between a loaded Gulfstream and a loaded Nautilus, much preferring the Nautilus for casting pleasure. But reels this big will always make the rod feel off-balance. Smaller reels, not so much but lighter (in saltwater) always feels better to me.
I've learned to put the lightest reel that will hold the line weight and amount of backing needed for your particular application. I bought a new TFO BVK 8wt rod awhile back and purchased one of the latest greatest super large arbor machined reels for it Big $$$$......I fished it a few trips and decided I hated it with that big heavy reel on it! It felt like I was casting a telephone pole with a gorilla on the end of it.
I feshwater fish so I really don't need alot of backing or a super duper drag, I just wanted a Really Nice Sexy Reel for a change. I wound up taking it off selling it to a friend for a small loss and replacing it with a Lamson Waterworks Konic 2.0 that weighed half as much ......I now Love the combo! It cast like a dream and dosent wear my arm off.
'Balancing" an outfit.....something that was (and still may be) very important in the old days of bamboo, has become very difficult if not impossible, now that we have graphite composites. I remember back then, being told that if the reel didn't balance with the (bamboo) rod, one risked breaking the rod. I still remember going to Abercrombie & Fitch in NYC (1959) and having my Orvis Manchester balanced with a Pflueger Medalist reel and HDH-6 fly line. BTW, the fulcrum was where the cork grip and the blank met.
For offshore big game and inshore sight fishing, IMO, balance should take a back seat to other qualities that a saltwater rod and reel need. First of all, if you are fishing in either venue, you will not be making a lot of casts in the relative sense, so proper balance is pretty much meaningless because fatigue comes from sources other than casting (we hope). Large fast and powerful fish mean that more metal is required in a reel, for durability and reliability. You shouldn't care what the thing weighs.
Blind casting is different, I'll agree. Personally, I like a little heavier reel. When picking up line off the water, the extra weight behind my hand, helps that part of the rod go "down," while the tip section comes "up," lifting the line off the water. It's not much but every little bit helps. But for those of you who want something that "feels" more in balance, simply move your hand back on the rod's grip. There is no law that says you have to hold a fly rod, such that your thumb is at the very front of the grip.
In fact, when I feel myself getting tired and my casts start becoming sloppy, I move my hand back on the grip, such that it almost butts up against the reel. This changes the momment of the cast and naturally slows the cast, making them much more efficient. The custom grips that I use for all my personal rods, all have a shape that facillitates this. The cork is raised and I can butt the heel of my hand against it. Works for me!
Last edited by Permit Rat; 07-02-2012 at 10:30 AM.
Here (I hope) is a picture of the grip that I make for my fly rods. These are 2-piece 7 and 8 wt. rods that I will give to my students/clients, if necessary. Here you can see where the heel of the hand would butt up against the raised rear portion of the grip. The fulcrum of the rod (where it balances) with the reel on it, is about 3 inches from the front end of the grip. I imagine that if I had the head of the fly line outside the rod tip, that this outfit would come danged close to balancing perfectly, even with the hand in the "normal" position.
I am also building a 1-piece 8 wt. that only I will use. And since I will be the only one using the rod, the scissors point to the general area where I will add a thumb-brake on the grip of that rod. This means I will have a thumb brake if my hand is in the back position that I mentioned in my previous post. The thumb brake is already obvious for the hand in the normal casting position. All standard half-wells and full-wells grips have this feature, at least to some extent. I like to exaggerate it just a little.