I came back from a day of Striper fishing yesterday a little arm weary (worked very hard to get very few fish - they're still not running like they were a couple of years ago up here in Maine). I was fishing with a Sage Xi-2 9'0" 9 wt., which I know has a very good reputation as a saltwater rod. I liked that rod a lot for fishing Bonefish/Permit on the windy flats off Mexico last year, but for chucking 3-5" Clousers and Deceivers all day, it's a little stiff for my casting style.
I'm not really sure if I'm making a general statement here or one that's specific to me, but when I'm casting a 300 gr sinking tip line with a heavy, fluffy fly at the end of it, there's a distinct yank/tug at the end of the backcast and the forecast when that fly turns over at the end of the casting stroke. For me, all a stiff, tip-flex, fast action rod like the Xi-2 does is to amplify that tug and "horsing" the fly through a limited number of false casts gets my arm pretty tired by the end of the day; particularly when I'm casting for distance (admittedly, I'm a chronic false caster, but I do keep my false casts to a minimum when I'm fishing in saltwater).
Towards the end of the day, I switched to a Redington CPS 9'0" 8 wt., a more medium/fast rod, and noticed a nice difference in managing my cast with those big flies.
When I got back to the local Fly Shop, I discussed the situation and they recommended a Scott A3 9'0" 9 wt. I took the rod out, cast it with the set-up that I fished all day and thought that it seemed like a pretty decent rod. It handled the yank/tug from the fly very well; perhaps even better than the CPS, but had good butt strength for landing, I would say, fish in the 3-4' size range.
Does anyone have any experience fishing the A3 for saltwater species? I've always though of it as a fresh water rod. It seems like it might be a good rod to add to my arsenal for fishing Stripers(?) What do you think?
One of the benefits of a rod that flexes a bit more during casting is that it works better to work line out quickly in an urgent casting situation or after you've stripped alot in. I fish a Scott HeliPly 9wt that flexes enough to help feed line out but doesn't wimp out when needing to throw 60'+ in a 25+mph wind. If the A3 worked that way for you when you tested it, it sounds like a good fit.
Another possibility is to add some weight to the fly line you fish on your current 9wt. I kept a 4' section I cut off of a 150 grain Teeny-ish line (to better suit my 4wt) that I often add in between a floating line and leader. My 7wt is a bit too stiff to fish well in tighter situations (casting under 40') and that short section of weighted line works well to add in some flex.
Something as simple as a 2' section of T-8 could make your 9wt flex better during normal casting. It won't eliminate that thump you feel while casting, but it might allow you to achieve the same depth with lighter flies and thus have smoother turnover in your casting stroke. Cortland's "Mini-Head" kits also would work, but if I were to use those I'd rather make loops with nail knots than use their braided loops. (but that's a whole 'nother topic)
Cortland's "Mini-Head" kits also would work, but if I were to use those I'd rather make loops with nail knots than use their braided loops. (but that's a whole 'nother topic)
That's what I do..6' of LC-13.... to get down deep anyways
Other than that I routinely overline my rods when striper fishing.
Med-fast rods by one weight, fast rods by two.
For example on my 10wt St Croix Legend, I fish a WF12F
You could always go to a heavier line for the Xi2 to eliminate that thump. I prefer the 9 weight Xi2 with at least 350 grains when I throw large striper flies. It will flex the rod more down the midsection. That will eliminate some of the thump that you felt.
Thanks for the advice. I'm definitely starting to develop an appreciation for a more medium flex rod for casting larger flies; for the reasons that BigCliff mentions.
I'm fishing a 300 gr sink tip line now; which is a pretty heavy line in and of itself. A lot of times with Stripers, I'm fishing right up against a reef or shoal, where there's a drop-off (which is where the Stripers and Blues often times push the bait fish), so anything sinking faster than what I've got on the rod now is going to give me a lot of snarls with seaweed.
I'm going back to give the Scott A3 9 wt. another try. If I like it as well as I did yesterday, then I think I'm going to make a purchse (it appears to be reasonably priced; compared to some of the others).
Anyone out theres with specific experience fishing this rod in saltwater? Let me know.
I have a question. At the end of your cast where you feel the "Yank/Tug" do you see a slight drop of the fly? How much line do you have in the air? Looks like I had two questions.
I'm usually casting sidearm because of the wind when I'm on the ocean (fishing from a boat), so it's a little tough to answer whether the fly drops down when I feel the yank/tug; which others have described as a "thump". I would guess that it probably does; which I realize could mean that I need to start my next casting stroke earlier; but I don't think that's reallly the problem. I have probably 40-60' of line in the air most of the time; the more line I have out, in general, the less thump I get at the end of the cast. It's most noticable with 20-30' of line out. And it's more noticable with a fast action rod (Sage Xi-2); less noticable with a medium fast action (Redington CPS) and, based on my experience with the Scott A3, still less noticable with a medium action rod.
Another note, Rio's Clouser lines are specifically intended to eliminate/reduce that thump when casting heavy flies. Its popular enough to where you could probably find somebody in your area with it in a 9wt that you could try out.
The thump that you are experiencing is the mass of the striper fly (anything from size 2 to 4/0 - you tell me) at the end of your back cast. Your rod can't dampen it as much compared to a size 6 bonefish fly because the rod is only flexing at the tip. It seems like that you have already figured out that you want to flex the rod more towards the midsection.
Before you buy a Scott A3 rod, try this. Cast your Xi2 with a WF9 Rio Outbound or Outbound Short (both lines weight 375 grains) or a 375 grain shooting head. These lines will bend your rod more towards the midsection to dampen any shock. Maybe a $70 change in fly line might be the fix that you need.
When I used to own an older Sage RPLXi 9 weight, my main striper line was a 300 grain Airflo Depth Finder integrated shooting head. The rod cast the line fine. I noticed a thump on the back cast, but it didn't bother me. I also had a 350 grain Scientific Anglers Mastery Streamer Express integrated shooting head that I used for shallower conditions. That extra 50 grains eliminated the thump.
Here in Northern California, most striper guides who have 9 weight Xi2s as their boat rods will use 350 grain shooting heads at the lightest.
I went back to the shop, cast the 9 wt. Scott A3 again and also cast my Sage Xi-2 9 wt.; a side-by-side comparison. I cast as large a fly as I though I was likely to be fishing; a 4/0, and I liked the A3. No thump with the 300 gr. SA Streamer Express line that I plan to fish with it. The thump was definitely there with the Xi-2. I didn't try it with a heavier line (350 gr or better).
I bought the A3. It gets a '"sea trial" next Wednesday; off the mouth of the Kennebec River.