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A beautifully conditioned North Isaland backcountry rainbow

The Fly Rods


Who am I? A retired environmental research scientist with a love of natural places and fly fishing, together if possible, I have been fortunate to fly fish in many areas of the world.

After fly fishing for 50 years and building fly rods for 35 years, I have watched with some concern the fascination with carbon fibre rods with ever faster actions and 'stiffness'. While useful for distance casting and for fighting large fish, these rods require the angler to concentrate entirely on their casting. Many people find it difficult to develop and maintain the timing necessary with these rods in a real fishing situation. Like a high performance car the power band is narrow with little tolerance for error.

Those of you fortunate to have fished with a good cane rod will appreciate how smooth and fluid they are to cast, how you can feel the movement of the line in the air and how the line glides onto the water. Fibreglass rods had more of this feel but were quickly replaced by carbon fibre in the late 1970s because of its lighter weight, particularly for longer light line rods.


Modern uni-directional fibreglass takes advantage of developments in matrix materials to reduce the weight of the blank while retaining the smoothness of the action. They make marvellous rods for fishing rivers and streams and around lake margins and can add significantly to your enjoyment of the day. Thomas and Thomas’s objective for their Heirloom fibreglass rods is “a cane-like action that paints the line onto the water” - a nice concept!

Many of the top fly rod firms, Scott, Orvis, Hardy, Redington, Seele and Echo are now making fibreglass rods and blanks are available from specialist fibreglass rod firms such as EPIC and CTS in New Zealand, Tom Morgan Rodsmiths, Steffen Brothers and McFarland Rods in the United States and Kabuto and Ijuin-Rod in Japan. Many other companies are entering the fibreglass rod field and fibreglass rods are now very popular in the US and Europe.

While not being car door proof, fibreglass rods are stronger and more tolerant of bumps and knocks than high-modulus carbon fibre rods. (Please don't put this to the test!)

Carbon fibre blanks that provide excellent performance while being a little more forgiving are available from the better rodmakers.  Usually these rods are described as having a mid action but they can still put out a long line when required. Due to their wider tolerance I find they perform better in adverse conditions. Good fishing performance is not necessarily a function of the ‘latest and greatest’ super fast carbon fibre but more often balanced power, properly designed for your particular style of fishing.

Browse this Web site for more information about Ian Musto Fly Rods. If you have any questions or would like to speak with me regarding  fly rods, please e-mail me at or call me at Canberra 02 6161 8620 (International: +61 2 6161 8620).

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