This spring has again brought a successful hatch of new rods to my rack. A strange phenomenon that seems to occur each year and the only explanation I can offer my wife when new rods mysteriously appear is, "They must be reproducing just like the little birds do each spring!"
The first hatchling was a delicate looking little thing only 6'6" long and with a slender body with the markings spelling out 3wt Lamiglas. (A custom creation of fiberglass)
The latest was a husky brute 11' long with a long (2-hand) cork grip and a husky body with the markings spelling out 5wt Wright McGill.
With both these rods I soon began to question the accuracy of the markings!
The glass rod is supposed to be a slow action, but this delicate little stick seemed to be really struggling to get a wf3f line out. When casting the 30' of line that is associated with the rating it felt like it was bending into the cork!
On the opposite end of the scale the 5wt (I was unsure if this was a spey rating or a single-hand rating, and Wright McGill did not respond to emails when I asked) seemed like it needed something even heavier than the wf9f line I initially tried casting overhead on it.
I spoke with Steve Godshall about the two-hand rod and we decided to try the "common cents" measurement of ERN to come up with a starting point for selecting a line. Common cents ERN is a simple measurement of extending the rod horizontally and then adding weight to the tip until it deflects ⅓ the rod's length and comparing that weight to a chart provided. For the Wright McGill rod the weight to bend the rod indicated it was in reality almost an 11 weight (single hand) rod! (I presently have an 11wt line ordered so I can see if this is actually correct. The rod will cast a wf9f line with an overhand cast, but feels underlined to me. I'm going to overhand casting for comparison since I'm new to spey casting and have no experience to guide me in how the rod should react to the load of the line.)
From the measurements I took Steve suggested a 525gr short Skagit head for the rod.
My guess is that whoever decided to label that rod as 5wt measured it as a spey rod (8wt) and labeled it as a switch rod (with a single hand rating) and subtracted instead of adding the 3 weight difference??????
For the 3wt rod I ordered a 2wt line to try, and it had done much better for me. A few days after I checked the two hand rod I was fishing with the little stick and the thought of checking it using the common cents method popped into my mind.
I came home and checked it and came up with an ERN of just over 1. Is this rod is actually a 1 weight instead of the 3 weight marked on it? It sure performs much better with a 2weight line than with a 3 weight line!
It seems to me the common cents ratings I'm getting are in fact much closer to the true line weights the rods perform best with than the markings on the rod would indicate using.
I know these aren't high-dollar rods, but it seems like the manufacturers are missing the line ratings by quite a bit! I can see a rod feeling better to a person in an unusual casting application when over or under lined one weight (something I commonly do), but missing by 2 or 3 weights seems a bit extreme to me!