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  1. #11

    Default Re: How important is rod/reel balance?

    I think balance i somewhat overhyped but I don't think it's completely wrong to shoot for it.

    As an example, I recently picked up an 8'6" 4wt that I took to with me to DC. I didn't have time to pick up a reel for it so I ended up using a spare 5/6 MFC Madison II on it. That reel is heavy even for it's weight class but on the 4wt, it was extremely heavy. Did this affect the number of fish I caught? No, but the imbalance was noticeable. I later switched the reel out for an Okuma SLV 3/4 and the difference was night and day.

    With that said, would I be able to comfortably fish with the MFC reel on there all day? Absolutely - the lighter reel was just more comfortable.

    Example 2 - 9' 8wt BVK. I had the allen alpha ii on there initially and despite being a great reel, it really was quite heavy. After 5 or so hours, I was definitely feeling the imbalance. I later switched that reel out for the new Kraken which is much lighter and the difference was enormous. Fishing for 10 hours...not a problem.

    I guess what this boils down to, at least for me, is that on lower wt rods, the imbalance isn't that big of a deal. When it comes to longer casts on heavier gear like an 8wt or higher, the imbalance poses a pretty big issue.
    Less likey, more green dots

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Lake of the Woods/Rainy River Minnesota Canada border

    Default Re: How important is rod/reel balance?

    I think what you are describing is weight and not balance. I agree it's easier to cast something light all day, but as far as that being a function of balance, not so much.

    See where that rod actually balances with both reels and I'll bet it is within far less than an inch of each other.

    OK, I took the biggest and smallest reel I own and put them on my lightest rod weight wise. My 7 wt. Winston. This rod wieghs less than my older 5 and 6 weight rods. Here are the reels I used. The big one is a Tibor 13/14/15 wt. reel loaded with a Carron Jetstream long belly line. It weighs 1 lb. 11 oz. with the line reeled all the way in. It is 5" across and is grossly oversized for this rod. The small one is the tiniest reel I own with a line on it. You get the idea with the two together. It is grossly undersized for the rod.

    The line is reeled in all the way, making this as exagerated as possible. Note that with the monster Tibor, it balances on one finger well to the mid grip. People confuse heavy with balance. This reel balances well within where you could use it with your hand on the grip.

    The teeny tiny reel, balances off the grip to the forward, but not to the point it would make it hard to use.

    In order to get a rod/reel so out of balance that it would be a pain, you need to try really hard to do it. If you are going to make it where it is off in an annoying manner, get the smallest reel you can find. This whole going lighter and lighter is going the wrong way for balance. For weight you are swinging all day then sure, but that is not balance. That is weight. Hence the TWO terms.
    Last edited by Guest1; 04-27-2013 at 03:11 PM. Reason: Add more evidence

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  4. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    MD Suburbs of DC

    Default Re: How important is rod/reel balance?

    After Ards' initial response, I took his advice and read through the other threads discussing balance - and didn't come back to this thread (that I started) until now.

    First, I want to say thanks for all the responses! I've just become really serious about fly fishing this year, though I've been doing it for maybe 4 years. I started with a rod that I've really never been able to cast very well. When I decided the time had come to invest some real cash in what turned out to be three new rods, I decided I'd better get an education before I spent the money. The responses and information have been very helpful.

    After taking everything in and experimenting with different rods/reels, I basically agree with everyone here. Unless you go to extremes like in Dans' example above, balance is usually determined in a few ounces of weight and seems to make little if any difference in how a rod performs. I suspect lighter is always better in that it is less tiring to fish all day and lighter likely gives a better feel of the line. Neither of these things have anything to do with balance though, but rather the overall weight of your rig. The supposed balance point changes too depending on how much line you have in the air leaving the tip increasingly more "heavy". Again, it seems weight only matters in how well you can feel your line, feel your rod load, and feel the fish.

    I really appreciate all the input.


  5. Default Re: How important is rod/reel balance?

    I feel though balance is crucial, I bought a TFO Lefty Kreh finesse series 2 wt and the grays gs reel was a bit too heavy, making it back heavy and I think out of balance. The balance point of the rod was right before the reel seat and the rod just didnt have the feel. I bought a battenkill from Orvis, and that pushed the balance point of the rod back up onto the cork handle about 3 inches, it casts better and I don't have to fight the offset.

    Opinion: balance is conceptualized as "To each is own." I personally like things working together and not one force overpowering another.

  6. #15

    Default Re: How important is rod/reel balance?

    Rod balance is important in fishing and not in casting.

    That is why the French nymphing DVD says to balance the outfit with a heavy reel. This results in an outfit that is tip-light/butt-heavy when the line/leader system is out. You don't need to force a tip heavy rod/reel into a tip up position for fishing.

    The outfit may be heavier over all, but you are not fighting the natural balance of the rod/reel to keep it tip up during fishing.

    The rod/reel/line should be balanced for the type of fishing you do with the amount of line you would normally have out. If you mainly fish streamers from a boat as musky fly fishers do in the USA, you want a tip heavy set up.

    If you keep your rod level most of the time or do all kinds of fishing so the rod angle varies, you want a neutral balance point with the nominal amount of line out of the rod tip.

    One can also adjust the balance point by holding the rod higher or lower on the rod grip once the cast has been made to account for the amount of fly line out.

    Whenever the question of rod and reel "balance" is raised, there are those who will maintain that the reel balances the rod during the cast. This is a carry over from spin and casting rods and reels where the line weighs virtually nothing AND the cast is always made when the line has been wound all the way in. So in spin and casting rods a reels the amount of line and the weight of the combined line and reel is fixed. Regardless of the length of the cast, the rod and reel has a fixed balance point.

    This is not so with fly casting. The amount of line varies during the cast and the length of line that is cast will vary from cast to cast. In addition, when we pick up line and recast , we do not start with all the line back on the reel. Indeed, it is advantageous to begin with some line out of the rod tip. So the balance point is not fixed but varies throughout the cast.

    Secondly, there is the mistaken belief that a "balanced" fly casting outfit will somehow allow us to cast further and more effectively. This is not true. In reality, a rod without a reel with the line lying loosely on the ground is the most efficient way to cast. The reason is that the reel and line held on the reel contribute nothing to the cast. They actually hinder the cast by adding mass to the casting system that has to be accelerated and decelerated during the cast.

    If the cast were made like a teeter totter with a pivoting of rod at the balance point, I can see the need for the counter weight of the reel. But that is not how a cast is made. The power stroke of the cast is made with the wrist locked and not with the rod pivoting like a windshield wiper.

    Charles Ritz wrote in A Fly Fisher's Life (1959):

    Fly Angler's OnLine "Bamboo Rods Part 29"

    "Before describing my methods of examining rods, here are a few considerations I believe to be of importance.

    Let us first rid ourselves of a widespread idea, which I have often had occassion to point out as false or, at least, much exaggerated: the reel does not balance the rod; though in the past when rods were ten feet or more, very long and heavy, a reel as a counterweight did produce the illusion of balancing the rod in the hand; but it is the line which plays the principal role owing to its weight and the shape of its taper. It is, indeed, on the line that the rod depends above all for giving its maximum, and yet retaining its balance. The ideal would be to be able to fish with the reel in your pocket."

    Vincent C. Marinaro wrote the following about rod balance, "In the Ring of the Rise," Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, copyright 1976, pp. 39-41.


    In 1889 R. C. Leonard, a tournament caster, stepped to the platform without a reel on his rod and simply coiled the line at his feet. With that abbreviated rig he proceeded to smash all existing distance records, including his own, by a wide margin. It was a shocking thing to competitors and spectators alike. It was a momentous discovery from which not only tournament casters but fishermen as well should have profited. That early-day pioneer discovered an extremely important principle in rod dynamics. It amounts to this: That the caster must move the useless weight below the hand as well as the useful weight above the hand; that the removal of dead weight below the hand helped to overcome inertia more quickly, increasing the tip speed, thus imparting a greater velocity to the projectile or fly line. It should have been a valuable lesson to everyone, but it wasn’t. It remained only among the tournament casters for many years.

    If you examine the books and catalogs of those early days you will discover that manufacturers and fishermen-writers discussed very learnedly and extensively such things as “fulcrum point,” “counterpoise,” “balancing the fly rod,” and “letting the rod do the work,” none of which has any merit whatsoever. Not until very recently has there been an awareness of this valid principle. It is evidenced by the availability of numerous fine, very lightweight reels on the market today. In view of this trend I should not be discussing this subject at all, except for the fact that I am frequently surprised by the comments of writers and the recommendations of suppliers or manufacturers prescribing a specific size and weight of reel to balance a particular rod. There can be no such thing as balance in a fly rod. There can never be a fixed “fulcrum point.” Every inch that the cast is lengthened or shortened changes the alleged balance and every unnecessary ounce in an unnecessarily heavy reel dampens and degrades the cast. If you wish to explore this a little further, you can try an experiment as I did some years ago. If you have or can borrow enough reels, let us say in two-ounce increments, all the way from the lightest, about two ounces, to something about eight or nine ounces, you will have enough to make the experiment. Use the same weight of line on the same rod for all trials. With the lightest reels the casts are sharply and cleanly delivered flat out with enough velocity to turn over the leaders. You also get a tighter front bow if you want it. As the reels get heavier there is a noticeable lagging in the forward loop until finally with the heaviest reel there is decided dropping of the loop, and probably a failure to turn over the leader properly. This effect is most pronounced on long casts. And consider how much worse it could be with those reels that were manufactured with a hollow arbor into which the purchaser was urged to pour lead pellets through a little trapdoor in order to correct the balance of his fly rod!

    You can suit yourself about these matters but for me there is only one sound system and that is: Use the lightest possible reel of good quality and adequate capacity no matter how long or heavy the rod may be . . . ."

    As both Ritz and Marinaro state, if you remove the reel and place it on the ground and cast just with the rod and line, it is much easier to cast. I have done that and I agree with Ritz and Marinaro, the reel is not needed to balance the rod for casting. The feel of the cast is actually the line causing the rod to bend. It is the moving line outside the rod that "balances" or provides the dynamic resistance that causes the rod to bend.

    I realize that there will be those that will not believe Charles Ritz or what I have written. You owe it to yourself to try casting with the reel on the ground as I did.


    "Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"..........Szent-Gyorgy

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  8. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    MD Suburbs of DC

    Default Re: How important is rod/reel balance?

    Quote Originally Posted by eightyfour View Post
    I feel though balance is crucial, I bought a TFO Lefty Kreh finesse series 2 wt and the grays gs reel was a bit too heavy, making it back heavy and I think out of balance. The balance point of the rod was right before the reel seat and the rod just didnt have the feel. I bought a battenkill from Orvis, and that pushed the balance point of the rod back up onto the cork handle about 3 inches, it casts better and I don't have to fight the offset.

    Opinion: balance is conceptualized as "To each is own." I personally like things working together and not one force overpowering another.
    I don't own, nor have I fished with a 2 wt rod. I can see your point though. Perhaps my comment should have read more to both extremes at the heavy AND the light side. Trying to cast a rod that feels like an upside down hammer could easily take some of the fun/feel out of casting and fishing, and would not fall under my definition of matching the rod and reel.

    I guess my response was more geared toward a more common sense approach to balancing your rig where balance isn't as important as matching your equipment - buying lighter reels for today's lighter rods (that are within a reasonable weight range for reels designed to work with that weight and length rod) seems to be the more important point. In the conversation of balancing versus matching, matching may be the more important term with an emphasis on keeping things (reels) lighter being overall better. This reduces fatigue (in extreme cases with heavy reels) and gives better line feel (with likely all rods). For those who consider buying a size 3 reel to share with rods that range in size from 3 wt to 7 wt would take the balance question to an extreme, not be matching at all and make the 3 wt through 5wt rods much less fun to fish with.

    When I started shopping for new rods, the sales people spent a lot of time talking about balancing the reel and rod. The conversation was really over reels that were, for the most part, within .3 to one full ounce of each other. On a shorter 2 wt rod, I could see an ounce being somewhat noticeable. On an 8 1/2 or 9 foot rod, I agree with the rest of the comments in this thread. I believe those comments are all largely intended to address this type of conversation. It is not as important as it is sometimes made out to be.

    Silver Creek also makes a valid point for doing exactly the opposite on a rig purchased for one specific type of fishing rather than a more all purpose solution.

    There is an exception to every rule as Silver Creek mentions. In my opinion, lighter is likely (almost) always better, but is much less important than what many salespeople make it out to be. I'm really speaking to those who don't have $500-$1,500 (more if it's a bamboo rod) to spend on a rod/reel/line combo. Those who can afford to spend this kind of money are likely buying better reels that match the quality and size of their rods. For the $500-$1,500 crowd, I am not the guy you should be taking advice from.

    For newer anglers and/or those on a budget, choosing the right reel should be a compromise between fitting their budget, whether they will use the reel for a purpose other than to store the fly line, the type of drag they want, type of arbor, quality/strength of the reel (machined vs. not and weight), designed to work with the size line you will be using on the rod, matching the rod itself, and for those who care... finding a reel that looks good with the rod they are putting it on. A $50 reel can catch as many fish as a $300 reel. As the price and quality of your equipment improves (rod included), what you can do with that equipment improves. However, the person buying a $150 rod shouldn't feel like they have to buy a $300 reel to "balance" the rod. This was the only point I was trying to make.

    I should also say that before I started this thread, I did not feel comfortable answering this question myself. I put all of this together in large part from information learned on this site and putting that information to the test while rod/reel shopping in a number of shops and on-line stores/reviews. (I hope I got it right ;-)) I really appreciate how helpful those in this forum have been to me. All the input is much appreciated!!
    Last edited by ts47; 06-02-2013 at 01:58 PM.

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