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In defense of the long rod
by Robert D.
The Kurenai Long 61 over the Rappahannock River
For any of you debating picking up a long two-handed rod, don’t.
Early last year I purchased a Kurenai Long 61, intending to use it on the local rivers for redbreast sunfish, smallmouth, and such. Those of you who live in the mid-Atlantic know what happened next. It rained, and continued to rain for the entire year. It would have been suicide to try to wade any of the rivers, so the Kurenai got set aside for drier times. It took to this July, but the rain finally started to slow down. I took a day off from work and made plans to be in the lower Rapidan soon after dawn.
On stepping into the river, three things immediately became apparent: 1) The water was about a foot higher than I was expecting. 2) The water was much swifter than I wanted to wade in. 3) The water was incredibly murky. I slogged through for a few minutes in water up to my liver, my wading staff finding all the deeper holes I couldn’t see but was about to step into, before giving it up.
Fortunately, I had a plan B. Ten miles to the north was the Rappahannock River. I reasoned that whatever little summer storm had flooded out the Rapidan would be better handled by the larger river. Amazingly, I was correct, and the river was lower and clear (and about 15 degrees warmer). Here I was finally able to get a line on the Kurenai and put it through its paces.
With a #3.5 line and a big size 4 popper the rod cast well, but the wind resistance of the popper proved a bit difficult to turn over. The smallmouth proved utterly uninterested in the popper, and the wind was starting to pick up a bit, so I tied on a #4.5 line and a size 6 Clouser minnow. The rod cast this setup like it was made for it.
I’m right-handed, have had surgery on my right shoulder, and have a left shoulder that acts up from time to time. Despite this, the 20’ long Kurenai casts like a seiryu rod for me. If one applies power from the hips, the shoulders aren’t hardly used at all. It’s easy to get the hard stops at the ends of the back and forward casts. In fact, the rod is so easy to cast that I found myself casting it one-handed occasionally. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but it works well enough.
I’d like to fill the rest of the picture slots with all the fish I caught, but it was not to be. The sum total of the day was two 5” bluegill (come to think of it, it may have been the same bluegill). The rod was sensitive enough to feel the light hits, and while the fish weren’t even close to a match for the rod, I was still able to feel them fight.
At one point I saw a school of some kind of small silvery minnow holding in the main current, darting here and there to pick off tiny morsels. I rummaged through my box until I found some little size 22ish midge pattern. The rod cast this tiny fly equally well, and lightly set it down on the surface. The fish attacked it, but it was apparently too big, as not a single one managed to even hook itself.
At the end of the day three large carp cruised by me in a deep eddy. I thought about how much rod I’d have to fight with, how much power there was to spare when fighting the little bluegills, and the 4x tippet, and cast at them without another thought. I didn’t hook any, but didn’t spook any either, even when a gust of wind collapsed my cast on top of a fish.
If your water has the overhead room, there’s really no reason not to consider a good two-handed rod.
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” – Benjamin Franklin
"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." Col. Robert Venables 1662
As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.
The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.
Beware of the Dogma