These three members of the “under nine” club are often on the author’s boat.

You’ve probably heard folks call fly rods buggy whips, right? Those folks probably don’t own a flyrod. Or you’ve heard what is my least favorite nickname—“the long rod.” Well, I hope you don’t work a fly rod like a whip, and some of the fly rods out there aren’t so long.

They can be pretty short in fact. And short can be better, in some situations. I fish a variety of short rods, from 7-foot to 8-foot, 4 inches. Though I won’t make recommendations here regarding manufacturer or rod series (but will mention G. Loomis and Echo) I will address the characteristics insofar as casting goes, suggest adjustments in your casting stroke, and reveal the ideal applications for the rods.

A 9-foot length is considered most practical for all-round Florida saltwater fly fishing. It’s also well-suited for bass bugging. A 9-foot rod helps you keep maximum line in the air for long casts. It helps you pick up an appreciable length of line on the water to recast. It also helps you keep a taut line well above “stickups” such as mangrove shoots on the shallows as you fight a fish. But it is not necessarily better for short-to medium-range casting, and can even be a hindrance in close quarters, such as a tree-or brush-lined pond, mangrove creek, and others. Also, you will discover that most short rods are terrific fighting rods—they are less parabolic if built correctly.

Although there are exceptions to the following generalities, the first thing you’ll notice is that a sub-9-footer feels stiff. Not nearly as much flex as the typical 9-footer. You’ll also be under the impression that it is light in the hand, termed “swing weight,” which makes

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