The Original

Which Rod and Line Weights Work Best Fishing The Farnsworth Fly

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Here’s a question I get asked all of the time. What are the best weight fly rods and fly lines to use when casting the Farnsworth Fly?

For me anywhere between a five and a 10-weight fly rod works best. Most fly fishermen I know like to use a seven or an eight weight fly rod, depending on how hard the wind is blowing. Remember, wind is always a factor when fishing on the ocean.

When it comes to fly lines, I always use a line heavier than what the fly rod is rated for. So, on my eight-weight fly rod I like to cast a nine-weight line. I guarantee you the fly rod will load much faster and get the fly to the fish a lot quicker. My next choice would be an intermediate weight forward fly line. The intermediate fly line will sling the fly just underneath the surface, where a lot of bait will hold.

If you are an experienced caster I would recommend using a full sinking line. When you cast a full sinking line, you don’t need to make multiple back casts. One back cast should be enough to load the fly rod and make the cast. Full sinking fly lines put a lot of stress on the tips of fly rod‘s so be careful not to snap a tip. Getting the Farnsworth Fly down deep with those twister tails will really attract the fish you’re looking for.

Tip of the day: One Little trick for getting knots and tangles out of your fly line is, first cast a fly line out as far as you can, hold the rod with your right hand just below the first stripping guide and hold your left hand just below the real seat and spin the rod counterclockwise about a dozen times. Most of the time this will take the tangling out of the fly line .

So, let me share with tell you short story. When I turned 45 years old a very good friend bought me the flyrod of my dreams. It was a Sage TCR 5 weight rod. At that time in my life it was the top-of-the-line fly rod and one that I could not afford to buy. I was thrilled to death to have it. The next day I practiced casting in the Boston Common, a central public park in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. People thought I was crazy. One week later I was on my way to go tarpon fishing in the Florida Everglades.

When I showed up to meet the guide at the dock I said I wanted to use a five-weight fly rod to catch small tarpon with something called the Farnsworth Fly. He just looked at me and laughed and said that will never happen. I remember looking him in the eye and saying, ‘you’ll see.’

Most people who fly fish with a guide for the first time always lie to them and say they can cast really well. A good guide can always tell whether you can cast well or not so my advice is to be honest and let him see how well you cast before he puts you on a fish. Just to let the guide know that I wasn’t messing around with him that day I stood on the casting platform of the boat and made a couple 80-foot casts with my five weight and the silver Farnsworth Fly. I zipped it right between two alligators. The two gators started growling and stirring up the water and violently thrashing back and forth. It startled me at first to see how excited the gators became and the guide just stood there laughing at me. It was a new and wild experience for a fly fisherman from New England.

At about the same time we started to see tarpon rolling everywhere and I couldn’t wait to put that silver fly on top of those fish. Sure enough they started hammering the fly and the guide couldn’t believe it – I couldn’t keep the Tarpon off that silver Farnsworth Fly or the alligators away from the baby tarpon.

Luckily the guide was very experienced at releasing the fish and keeping the gators away. We must have caught 15 tarpon that afternoon. Needless to say that five weight fly rod and those silver Farnsworth Flies were very productive that day and the moral of the story is you can definitely use a five-weight fly rod with Farnsworth Flies!

Tight lines.


PS. Be very careful fishing off a casting platform in the Everglades surrounded by hungry alligators. Save the beer for the end of the day!

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