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Old 06-02-2013, 11:34 AM
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Default How I Balance a Reel to a Rod

In actual casting, some feel that rod/reel balance is unimportant. In fact, at FFF Casting Rendezvous, you may see experts cast a lot of line out on a lawn, unthread their reel seat and place the reel on the soft grass or in their hat for protection and just cast the rod and line sans reel. It is indeed a different and pure sensation. This is, however, not fishing.

As a sight fly fisher in both sweet and salt water, I have spent countless accumulated hours standing in a river or upon the deck of a skiff waiting for the trout to rise or the bonefish or bass to appear. My rod is cradled in my arm or lightly griped in cast-ready mode. Too heavy anything in fly fishing is unnecessary but too light a reel on a given rod creates the sensation of tip heaviness as gravity strives to drop the rod tip down against the counterbalancing reel. Unconsciously fighting against these few ounces multiplied by those countless hours proves tiresome.

I find it difficult to accurately predict what reel will optimally mate with a new rod. Even manufacturer combined outfits often are in error. Also, reel makers line recommendations for a particular reel are often little help...I have a famous brand 8-weight reel on my 6-weight moderately light weight rod. There is no discernible formula to match rod and reel as the reel weight is given sans backing and line and the rod weight and its swing weight are quite different.

At the January Somerset Show a couple of Winters ago I cast, outside where there was room to do it, G.Loomis's NRX 9'/#4 and fell instantly in love with it. One of those brilliant Steve Rajeff designs, it capitalizes on the unique properties of 4-weight line...perceptibly lighter and more delicate than a #5 yet adequately more mass for line feel and articulate manipulation than too light #3. Hardly a small stream special, this is a 4-weight for dry flies on big rivers. With its stout butt and softer tip this is an iron fist in a velvet glove that gives up nothing in distance or control to many a 5-weight. I selected the original flat gray with cerulean blue opaque wraps with black reel seat over the newer "pretty" dark green to allow my rod to shout from a distance; "I'm an NRX!" It seems implausible that G.Loomis, operated independently in Washington State but owned by reel giant, Shimano, does not have a made by Shimano, Loomis branded fly reel to match it but it does not. Shimano, are your reading this? Looking at the black anodized reel seat and the rod's silica nano high-techness, I said to myself, "It's a no-brainer, a black Nautilus FWX 5/6 should be perfect."

It wasn't. Oh, the reel is terrific and a pleasure to fish with but is too light for the NRX which weighs more than a 5-weight in my quiver that was delighted to be recipient of the new reel. I found an older reel in my drawer that weighs 5.7 oz. compared to the FWX's 3.8 oz. that works OK but is a little too heavy and though this BBS Mid-Arbor performs fine it does so with far less charm than the rod deserves.

So here is what I do, I take a bunch of reels from among my decades old arsenal and, regardless of line size, try them on the rod for balance. As I don't know their empty weight, I look them up on-line...even on discontinued reels it is relatively easy to obtain. Through this trial and error process I determined the NRX needs a reel of 5 to 5.2 oz., empty, and I proceeded to search the Internet for a reel I like in this weight or one new to me that I am interested in trying. Many of the Californians on our Forum love their Galvans which have little footprint here in the East. It is made in America, its proportions are good, it has handsome, modern good looks, the T6 weighs 5.2 oz. and, as required by this rod, it is available in black. I am awaiting UPS's big brown truck.
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Old 06-02-2013, 12:55 PM
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Default Re: How I Balance a Reel to a Rod

For me balancing out a rod/reel is pretty easy/quick. Just takes a few paper clips and some light lead weights. Not to worry about having a line on the reel as most of 'the line' will be out the tip-top when you fish. The backing adds next to nothing to the reel weight (but you can easily compensate).

For context, this works for both 2handers or a 1hander, but 'getting it right' is easier with a '2.' First choice is do you want the rod to fish 'tip light' or 'tip heavy ... about 1/2 oz difference in where you end up. With a 2hander the balance point is where your upper hand will normally be as you cast.

Anyway, back to the paper clips. Open them up and (daisy chain as you add weight) and hook one in the reel seat. Add a 1 oz weights until you 'almost' get there, then go to 1/4 oz weights till 'your there.' (Again, the fish tip heavy, tip light bit.) Once you've hit the 'sweet spot' back off 1/8th-1/4 oz to take into account the backing/uncast fly line.

Fred
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Old 06-02-2013, 06:44 PM
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Default Re: How I Balance a Reel to a Rod

I keep it pretty simple. I put on a series of lined out reels that I think are in the right weight range; thread the line out through the tip top, let it hit the floor and look for a balance point just above the gap between my index and middle fingers.

My most recent rod is a 6" Scott F2 glass 2 wt. I paired it with a Hardy Flyweight reel lined out with Rio Gold and, wow, what a nice feel.

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Old 06-03-2013, 04:15 PM
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Default Re: How I Balance a Reel to a Rod

The Galvan T-6 arrived. Handsomely carved from a block of aluminum it is reminiscent of other excellent modern reels that have had as much metal removed as possible while still maintaining structural integrity. As the T-6 has the capacity for heavier lines than my intended #4, it afforded me the luxury of winding rich red-orange #30 Dacron backing onto it making its arbor even larger. I like the thicker backing not for extra strength but because it is easier on my hands when I have the exciting pleasure of having a trout remove it from my reel for me. With a Bimini twisted into the backing I looped on the #4 RIO Gold and mounted the loaded reel on the NRX...perfect! The weight is just right and the black anodization is a match for the reel seat hardware. Even the techno attitude of the rod and reel are in harmony with the counterpoint of the red backing to the opaque blue wraps.​ All I need now is to be on the River. I will finalize this report when the rising trout make this new reel sing.
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Old 06-04-2013, 05:38 AM
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Default Re: How I Balance a Reel to a Rod

Sounds nice - have fun with it!

Pocono
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