I further disagree that deep flexing, soft tipped rods offer requisite tippet protection; I consider this a function of angler technique. Even "fast action" rods like NRX and Zenith have surprisingly supple tips that are responsive without being soft.
Now that the larger manufacturers have finally caught on that a rod can be more the just one-dimensional full flexing or stiff, I half agree with you. It wasn't too long ago that fast rods were just that, fast. Those older stiff and fast rods were simply not light tippet friendly but indeed fish indeed were landed with them while dancing on the edge of tippet failure. How many of those fish survived the long waltz it took mere mortals to land them with those tomato stakes is questionable, but yes, fish were landed with those rods.
We are now lucky to have rods that have both the starch needed down low in the blank to land big fish and toss a long line yet have supple tip and upper-mid sections that allow them to be used off the tip for close-in casting with feel and that helps protect tippets during the fight.
What a great time to be a fly fisher when we can compare what is available in gear for us today when compared with what was used in 'the good aold days'.
I further disagree that deep flexing, soft tipped rods offer requisite tippet protection; I consider this a function of angler technique.
But for those without the technique it most certainly is. If I were a guide and I was to take a client to water where there was a high chance of midge activity and fine tippets I would NOT hand them a fast action rod and 6x tippet and say have it.
How many an accelerated learning curve is unrealized by fly fishers whose day guide limits them to "catching fish" by setting up some sort of bobber-hopper-dropper-whatever-weighted rig and rowing it through the honey hole for them. A little guide-assisted experince in seting the hook and playing a fish to net quickly informs an angler of how to apply appropriate pressure with rod angel and reel drag.
OK very good point, still I'm a full flexing rod junkie and the only time fast action rods have bee useful to me is in the surf. So admittedly I'm biased. If you fish with one style rod your technique develops with that rod I got away from the fast stuff after I got away from salt water so my technique is based on glass/cane soft tipped fuller flexing rods. In retrospect we're as diverse as the flies that fill our boxes and to say "you can't do this or that with that rod" misses the mark as much as saying Sage is better for Western waters and Orvis is best left to Eastern waters.
"I was born to fish" Lee Wulff
"There's more B.S. in fly fishing then there is in a Kansas feedlot." Lefty Kreh
" It ain't over till it's over." Yogi Berra
"Your not old,you've simply acquired a patina." Swirlchaser
I think it is safe to use whatever rod you like anywhere...well let me think about that. I have no agenda to promote one type of action over another. My personal preference is for a moderately fast action rod that generates gobs of line speed but also features a reasonably compliant tip section; not slow enough to collapse under load but surely capable of refined, short distance tight loop formation with feeling. Interestingly, West coast honcho, Sage has made their big splash this past fall with deep flexing Circa and East coast perennial brand favorite, Orvis has stiffened the tapers of their best-ever Helios. I have yet to cast either but it goes to the point that location, even if it is Texas-based, is not the deciding factor in rod action style.
Back to East vs. West, is there an imperative in rod action that differentiates use on the Farmington in CT or the spring creeks in MT's Paradise Valley where, in both cases, 4-weight or lighter line rods are the norm? Conversely, the Housatonic or the Big Hole? Is a fly delivered with more delicacy or more authority with slow, medium or faster action rods?
Isn't that best determined by the individual? Like you said you prefer a moderately fast action rod where I have said my preference is for a slow full flexing and based on our individual technique that has developed through fishing our preferred rod actions there is no right or wrong answer to this ongoing question.
I quote from myself below from the previous thread to address the issue of subjective personal preference compared to an attempt at objective analysis. In fly fishing we have intentionally elected to eschew mechanical advantage and strive to capture a fish in as inefficient and difficult manor as possible...and then, most often, release it. One could refine this further by limiting oneself to dry flies only or one style of tackle only. I used to know a man who only fished short cane rods with classic reels even on brawling Western rivers. He handicapped himself and was proud of it. In this Eastern vs. Western rod design question, while surely there is a place for a preferred rod action, the question is, why? I know another man who lives in the West who does not care for big, famous, Blue Ribbon waters and confines his fishing to secluded, little creeks. His tackle reflects hid preference and, on the rare occasion he meets me on a big river he invariably observes how his tackle is out-of-place. So, regardless of the part of the country we fish, how does presentation of a fly correlate to your rod choice?
"Most of us agree that one should cast several competitive rods side-by-side to determine which feels best...this is, of course, subjective. Alternatively, George Anderson in his 5-weight shootout, lays out specific criteria and strives to establish objective analysis of like type rods. He is about equally admired and criticized for attempting this. I am in the camp of respecting and praising his efforts but that does not make his "winners" the right rod for each of us because of our subjective preferences based on our personal abilities, styles and preferences. Let me put this outside our fly fishing realm for a moment. You are shopping for a new vehicle of a specific type, you are a regular, competent and experienced driver but not a track-trained expert. Car&Driver Mag. does a comparison piece of the "8 Best Vehicles of the Type You Are Considering", you buy it on the news stand. Do you want the testers/evaluators of these cars to be regular guys like you and me or expert analysts of the subtle differences of suspension and drive train design and how it effects real-world performance and handling? Similarly, One-Fly champion, Anderson and his cadre of professional Montana guides are probably better and/or more frequent casters than most of us. They can not tell us what our individual preferences "should" be but they CAN evaluate accuracy at varied distances, swing weight, tracking precision, smoothness of taper transitions and build quality of similar competitive products. I know, "he is trying to sell rods", and I hope he does but he was not a Hardy dealer until after Zenith blew his mind beating out previous winner Z-Axis."